Discussing @StaxRecords and Its Impact on Memphis at @RhodesCollege

Bands, entertainment, events, Memphis, music, videos

The recent release of Robert Gordon’s superb new book Respect Yourself: The Rise and Fall of Stax Records has unleashed a flurry of renewed interest in Stax Records and its impact on Memphis. On March 6, 2014, a panel discussion was held at the student center at Rhodes College in Memphis, discussing the history and significance of Stax Records on the city of Memphis. Such panels had been held before, but this one was significant, as it featured voices from Stax that have not been heard quite as often- drummer Willie Hall, songwriter Bettye Crutcher, bluesman Don Nix and pianist/songwriter Marvel Thomas. Don Nix spoke forcefully and at length about how Stax was a different sort of place racially compared to Memphis at large until after the assasination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bettye Crutcher talked about how she became a songwriter, and Willie Hall talked about his early career as a drummer at Stax. Altogether it was a fun and uplifting experience.

Harold Mabern and George Coleman Live at Rhodes College

Bands, entertainment, events, music

On November 23, 2013, two of the greatest jazz musicians to ever come out of Memphis, pianist Harold Mabern and saxophonist George Coleman appeared in concert at Blount Hall on the campus of Rhodes College. For both musicians, it was their first time back in Memphis in many years, and ended up being something of a reunion of Manassas High School alumni in the audience, including activist and former Manassas and Rhodes student Dr. Coby Smith. Despite suffering a stroke some time ago, George Coleman sounded as good as ever, and his son George Coleman Jr. was the drummer for the evening. But perhaps the highlight of the evening (for those who stuck around) came after two sets of great jazz music, when Harold Mabern spoke to the few of us left in the hall about his good friend and mentor Phineas Newborn Jr, who was also a Memphian, and arguably the best jaazz pianist ever.