A visit to Memphis offers many attractions. And new ones are coming on line every year. One of the newer and must see is the Stax Museum. Stax Records is tied closely to Memphis music. There are many familiar names in its record vault.
If you cannot make it to Memphis, or if you want to prepare for a trip, Saturday May 26 WRTC will host a 7-hour Stax Records feature. The sounds of Memphis will be all over the Hartford airwaves as “Greasy Tracks” host Chris Cowles features a seven-hour program on WRTC spotlighting Stax Records. The show runs from Noon to 7 pm EDT. Based at Trinity College, WRTC is at 89.3 FM and online at http://www.wrtcfm.com — it is Hartford’s true alternative radio station.
The third-annual edition of the “Soulsville” special will feature more than a dozen interviews with artists and those associated with Stax, while the incredible contributions of the Memphis Horns, the 40th anniversary of the epic WattStax concert and the music of Rufus Thomas will be spotlighted throughout. Thomas was the figure of Memphis Music from the ‘40s. He continued as a DJ on WDIA. The historic station became the first U.S. radio station programmed by African-Americans in 1962 even though its ownership is white.
Keeping with the theme of past shows, listeners will gain an insight to the story of the label that came to define soul music with contributions from those who played a part of the “Stax Sound”. More than 80 Stax tracks will be played during the show.
Another one of the Stax Stars is Isaac Hayes. Besides his singing, he was an actor and had a Memphis restaurant.
“Sadly, the way radio programming has evolved over the years, there’s less and less Stax music getting airplay,” says Cowles. “Stax artists and writers have made incredible contributions to America’s rich musical legacy — their material and the story of the label is too important not to share.”
Tom Shaker, who presents “Soul Serenade” on public radio’s WICN-FM in Worcester, Massachusetts, will co-host the program which will include music from Stax humble beginnings in 1957 through its demise in the 1970s as a recording entity.
Scheduled guests include Memphis Horns founding member Wayne Jackson; keyboardist Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and The MGs; James Alexander and Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays; writer/producer and founding member of the Mar-Keys Don Nix; vocalist Mavis Staples; Tim Whitsett who headed East/Memphis Publishing; veteran session pianist and producer Marvell Thomas; vocalist Vanesse Thomas; Tim Sampson of the Stax Museum; Deanie Parker, singer/songwriter and later head of Stax publicity; engineer/producer Boo Mitchell of Royal Studios; and Rick Nuhn of Concord Records.
Other special guests will be added and there will be CD giveaways all through the program.
Perhaps not a household word like Motown, Stax proved over its often-turbulent history that it could more than keep pace with Detroit’s “Hitsville U.S.A.” as the label churned out innumerable classic hit singles and introduced the world to some of the most captivating soul and blues artists ever to grace the stage or the airwaves.
Previous guests on the program include: Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, David Porter, Sir Mack Rice, Kirk Waylum, Mable John, Al Bell, Rob Bowman, Skip Pitts, Jody Stephens, Terry Manning and John Fry.
Focusing on soul, blues, jazz and funk, “Greasy Tracks” debuted in 1995 and is the longest-running program of its kind in Connecticut, regularly airing on Saturdays, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Today, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located at the original site of Stax Records, pays tribute to all of the artists who recorded there with a rare and amazing collection of more than 2,000 interactive exhibits, films, artifacts, items of memorabilia, and galleries designed to keep Stax alive forever.