Stax Records Memphis Soul Music Rhythm & Blues Otis Redding Eddie Floyd Booker T. & The MG's

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(April 24, 2003)

Porretta Soul Festival


The 16th edition of "Porretta Soul Festival - Tribute to Otis Redding" will take place in Porretta Terme (Bologna, Italy) at the "Rufus Thomas Park" between July 4th and 6th, 2003.

Thanks to the artistic direction of Graziano Uliani, this year the festival will feature the exclusive performance of Solomon Burke, who recently won the Grammy Award for "the best contemporary blues album".

Also, a tribute to Rufus Thomas will be performed by Carla, Marvell, Vaneese Thomas and the Memphis All Star Rhythm & Blues Band, Billy Preston, who was named "the fifth Beatle" for joining the Liverpool Fab Four in hits like "Get back" and "Let it be", the newest revelation Ellis Hook and many more.

Italian R&B bands will also appear during the festival and Luciano Morotti is organizing a photo exhibition titled "On the roads of Soul".

The European preview of the movie "Only the strong survives", directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, will be presented by the directors and the producer. The movie, which is expected out in the United States soon, will be distributed by Miramax and already had its previews at Sundance Festival and in Cannes. It is a documentary on the legends of Souls (Rufus & Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, Isaac Hayes, Sam Moore and Ann Peebles), all of whom are "old friends" of Porretta Soul Festival.

On 29th April, 2003, celebrations for the opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music will begin in Memphis; Porretta Soul Festival will have a prime role with more than 30 hours of film recordings which will be permanently displayed at the Museum.

The celebrations will be covered by the Italian national TV network RAI 2, which is preparing a special show, "Searching the roots of Soul".

The radio broadcast "Hobo" of Radiouno RAI, which will be on from May 12th through June 30, 2003, will introduce a selection of the best Italian blues bands participating in Porretta Festival.

Information is available at


(April 21, 2003)

Rufus & Carla Thomas

Much of what the public hears from old soul singers these days isn't the sweet sound of -music but the bitter din of complaint. Given their famously bad contracts and spotty bookings, there's ample justification for the controversy.

But the makers of "Only the Strong Survive" - a documentary about the soul shouters of the golden age - hope to put the focus back on the reason we care about these artists to begin with.

"We wanted to make a movie about music, not lawyers," explains the film's co-producer, Roger Friedman, who conceived the project. "We'd like people to come out of this movie dancing."

They just might, given the exuberant performances that pack the 90-minute flick, directed by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Pennebaker helped -pioneer concert movies with his 1968 "Monterey Pop," which captured Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who, Jefferson Airplane and others performing at the first rock-era music festival.

"Only the Strong Survive" centers on some of the singers who helped define '60s and '70s soul, among them Wilson Pickett, Sam Moore, Isaac Hayes, Jerry Butler, Ann Peebles and Carla Thomas.

It also features the last footage of Carla's dad, Rufus Thomas, who died at age 82, shortly after he participated in the film. His longevity stands in striking contrast to many of the soul greats. Some key artists the filmmakers wanted to -include died before they could reach them, including Betty Everett, Homer Banks, Edwin Starr and Pops Staples. Just last week, Little Eva (of "The Locomotion" fame) died at the age of 59.

The generation's mortality rate provided an urgent incentive for preserving the singers on film. But Friedman says his initial inspiration came from the 1999 edition of the annual concert for the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

"When these singers perform, you can still get a chill up your spine," he says. "I kept saying, 'Why isn't anyone filming this?' "

An entertainment journalist, Friedman met Pennebaker at a birthday -dinner for the actress-singer Chynna Phillips, and mentioned his idea for the movie. The filmmaker had shot classic footage of Otis Redding at Monterey, but wasn't sure what shape Redding's surviving peers were in. Friedman brought the filmmaker to see Jerry Butler at the Apollo in 1999, and that convinced him to attempt the project.

At first they faced suspicion from the performers, as Pickett makes clear in the actual film.

"Everyone was wary," Friedman says. "Some felt they'd get ripped off - or that the film would never come to pass."

The group the Dells felt they'd gotten burned by Robert Townshend's fictional soul movie, "The Five Heartbeats," and couldn't be won over for the project. According to Friedman, Al Green wanted "more money than the entire budget" to take part.


All who did take part were paid for their contributions - which wasn't always the case when they were making legendary music. Since the soul greats seldom wrote their own songs, they weren't entitled to royalties, even though their whoops and cries helped define numbers like "Soul Man" or "In the Midnight Hour," which play constantly on every oldies station in the world. "We've all enjoyed their work daily for the last 40 years," Friedman says. "Yet we haven't paid them for it."

(Hayes, who did write his own work, lost the rights to his publishing in a bankruptcy proceeding years ago.)

In the movie, the singers actually spend more time wryly laughing about the situation than grousing about it. And there are no "Behind the Music"-style confessionals - though Moore points out the $8-a-night Eighth Ave. flophouse that he used for selling drugs in the '70s after his hits ran dry.

Nearly all the stars took a dip late in that decade when disco made them seem irrelevant. Only a few, like Johnny Taylor and Ben E. King, briefly made the transition. The movie alludes to that shift, but generally is skimpy on history. Friedman says he wanted more narrative and context, but Pennebaker's cinima viriti style forbade it.

"His idea is to let these people show you what they're like - not to tell you what they're like," says Friedman.

It was also Pennebaker's idea to show Friedman talking to the stars in the movie - unbeknownst to him. "I thought he would cut me out of it," Friedman says. "But he wanted someone to be a guide. When I saw myself on film I immediately went on the Atkins diet and lost 30 pounds."

A key part of the film captures a -reunion concert for Stax Records artists like Hayes, the Bar-Kays and the Thomases. Though much of the movie focuses on Stax's gritty Memphis sound, instead of Motown's smooth Detroit style, Friedman says that simply had to do with which artists were available -during shooting. But the result is a nice corollary to last year's documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," which saluted the musicians who played on the great Berry Gordy records.

Some of the singers and producers cut from "Only the Strong Survive" will appear on the DVD version. They include Willie Mitchell, Jerry Wexler, Will Bell and the Stylistics. In addition, Friedman and Pennebaker hope to put together a -sequel, for which they've targeted Ashford and Simpson, Gladys Knight and others.

All of them fulfill Friedman's essential description of a vocalist in this genre. "When they sing," he says, "you can feel their soul."

"Only the Strong Survive" opens May 9.

In the midnight hour
Sunday, April 20th, 2003


(April 10, 2003)


Monday, April 28th
Morning STAX Celebrity Golf Classic
with David Porter & Friends
  Proceeds benefit Stax Music Academy & Museum
Isaac Hays & Mavis Staples, co-chairs
Celebrity Golfers include:
Loren Roberts, Richard Roundtree, Julius Erving, & Stedman Graham

Spring Creek Golf Course
Collierville, TN

$500.00 per player
Private Event - Players Only
Tuesday, April 29th
8:00AM - 12:30PM Conference & Luncheon at the Soulsville Campus
Ticket Price: $65 plus $5 per ticket handling fee

8:00AM - 11:00AM  Conference
11:30AM - 12:30PM  Luncheon
Ticket includes Free Museum Tour &
Book Signing by select panel members
panel TBA
7:30PM "SOUL & ROLL" at the Gibson Lounge
Ticket Price $25 plus $5 per ticket handling fee

These tickets will be $35 at the door
Line-up for this event:
Big Star
Little Milton
The Bar-Kays
Linda Lyndell & Mable Johns
Doors open at 6:30PM
Show begins at 7:30PM
Gibson's Bar & Food Service will be available
Wednesday, April 30th
8:00AM - 12:30PM Conference & Luncheon at the Soulsville Campus
Ticket Price: $65 plus $5 per ticket handling fee

8:00AM - 11:00AM  Conference
11:30AM - 12:30PM  Luncheon
Ticket includes Free Museum Tour &
Book Signing by select panel members
panel TBA
Concert at The Orpheum
scheduled artists include:
Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MGs, Mavis Staples, Jean Knight, Wilson Pickett, Bootsy Collins, Solomon Burke, Jimmie Vaughn, Ann Peebles & Luther Vandross
  Ticket Prices:
( this ticket includes an after show party at Isaac Hayes' restaurant
with entertainment, food and bar)

$85, $65, $50 & $25 plus $5 per ticket handling fee
Thursday, May 1st
7:30PM WattStax movie premier and concert at The Orpheum
See this award winning documentary featuring:
Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Luther Ingram, Rufus Thomas & Richard Pryor.

The Film will be followed by a live performance featuring various Stax artists and friends.
  Ticket Prices:
$30, $25, $20, $15 & $12 plus $5 per ticket handling fee

Reservations at


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