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Friday, June 6, 2008

Stax On Film

posted by on June 6 at 12:06 PM

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The only thing more impressive than Isaac Hayes’ gold-plated El Dorado Cadillac inside The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is an entire authentic, 100-year old Mississippi Delta church. Relocated to the site when it was built around 2001, the church’s front doorway serves as the museum entrance after you leave an introductory film about the label’s history. You literally have to walk down the aisle between the aged, wooden pews and “pay your respects” to the roots of Memphis soul as admission to the rest of the exhibits.

I visited the movie theater turned recording studio turned museum/music academy on McLemore Avenue in south Memphis when I traveled down to the capital of the mid-south a few years back. It’s both a dazzling distraction amidst the rough neighborhood that it’s still hoping to revitalize and a first-rate tourist mecca for pilgrims of the Memphis sound. Once unaware, the museum definitely opened the eyes (and ears) of this ignoramus to realize there was more to Booker T. & the M.G.’s than “Green Onions”.

Starting this Sunday and running thru Thursday, the Northwest Film Forum is screening Respect Yourself: The Stax Record Story and Wattstax - the former, a documentary chock-full of archival material put together to mark the 50th Anniversary of the label and the latter, a documentary of the 1972 Stax label memorial concert for the Watts riots, re-released for 35th Anniversary screenings.

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