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 (February 19, 2005)

Scott Bomar, Carl Wise and Willy Hall (c) P. Montier

Excepts of an article by Sherman Willmott in the Memphis Flyer (

The films Hustle and Flow and Forty Shades of Blue scored big with audiences, distributors, and award-givers at the recent Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, simultaneously changing Memphis music history.

Scott Bomar got the job as music director and hired most of the Bo-Keys to score the film. Former Stax players Willie Hall, Skip Pitts, Ben Cauley, and Marvell Thomas, along with Mark Franklin, Hector Diaz, Derrick Williams, and Bomar himself, played while the film was shown on a screen in Ardent Studios.

Bomar: “We set the rhythm section up in the studio and had a screen showing the film. And we had charts and we were playing to a click track. We watched the film as we played. Most of it was in one take. It took us a full day to get the rhythm section down. The next day we did the horns. Then percussion overdubs. We recorded the full thing in 2 days. The one really cool thing that happened was that Isaac Hayes came by. Before he left, he told us, ‘You’ve been blessed by Moses.’ That was pretty cool!”

The soundtrack and film also feature a potpourri of Southern and Memphis musicians: Nashville rapper Haystack plays a DJ; Isaac Hayes, Juicy J of Triple 6 Mafia and Al Kapone play Ludacris’ right hand men; Josey Scott of Saliva does duty as a convenience store operator; DJ Qualls plays a rapper named after Shelby Bryant of the Clears, and, of course, Ludacris plays a rapper. On the soundtrack are three or four songs by Memphis musicians Al Kapone and Triple 6 Mafia, as well as ones by Jason Freeman, Willie Hall’s son Gangsta Pat, Calvin Newborn, Mark Lemhouse, and Al Green. Says Bomar: “It’s real cool that Al Kapone is involved cause he’s the first rapper in Memphis I’d heard of. It’s cool that Willie Hall is on the soundtrack and so is his son.”

After the songs were recorded in Memphis, Bomar headed West for the mixes. “We mixed it out at Sonora studio in California where Nancy Sinatra’s new record was cut. It’s the Los Angeles’ Easley place--lots of vintage equipment and a really cool guy who runs the place. Then the dialog was mixed in at Dane Tracks, where Dog Town & Z Boys and Riding Giants were mixed.”

The actual soundtrack release has not been decided upon yet. The sale of the film happened so quickly that minor details like who will release it and what songs will be on it are still unfolding. Ludacris has a deal to release some sort of soundtrack from the film, and there may be a couple of different releases involved with the music. Bomar is out in California right now trying to keep tabs on the Memphis music in the actual soundtrack release, as well as working to find an agent. “That’s one of the beautiful things about the music from Hustle & Flow. The music in the movie was not determined by the boardroom of a studio but was done by the real guys.”


Funky Films POSTERS & Soundtracks of the '70s EXHIBIT
 (February 5, 2005)


Whatever the merits of the films they advertised, the posters created during the 1970s era of so-called "blaxploitation" cinema are incredible: Garish action paintings of bikinied Amazons, fur-coated pimps and guns-a-blazing cops, all taking aim at that devil of oppression known as "The Man".
50  collector's items -- from "Coffy" to "Dolemite" to Isaac Hayes in "Truck Turner" -- are on display in Memphis, as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music plays host to the traveling exhibit, "Funky Films & Soundtracks of the '70s."
The exhibit -- which includes soundtrack album art for such Stax hits as "Shaft" and "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" -- will be on display through April 8 at the musuem at 926 E. McLemore.

See more on the Commercial Appeal web site at,1426,MCA_570_3520209,00.html


Stax's Studio A to host concert series
(January 30, 2005)


An audience sitting under dimmed lights and cloth-draped cafe tables topped with glowing votives set the mood for Isaac Hayes as he recorded his first album almost 30 years ago.

Now it's the intimate lounge setting the Stax Museum of American Soul Music plans for a series of live concerts called "Last Mondays In Studio A!" beginning Jan. 31.

Museum officials are lining up artists from various music genres, particularly artists from the heyday of the old Stax Records label, to perform from 7 to 9 p.m. on the last Monday of each month. They'll play music and talk with the audience.

The first concert will feature local jazz and blues artists Di Anne Price & Her Boyfriends. Admission is $20, but free to museum members. The event includes complimentary wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres.

The series is designed to attract more museum visitors and members, said Tim Sampson, spokesman for the Soulsville agency, which opened the museum in 2002 on the label's former site, 926 E. McLemore.

And, he added, "We're developing ideas to, at some point, film and record these concerts and conversations as a possible television production."

But the series also keeps with Soulsville's tribute to the legacy of Memphis music and the old Stax Records label, whose artists included Hayes, The Staple Singers, Otis Redding Jr. and Rufus Thomas.

The concerts will be in the museum's replica of the legendary Studio A, where Hayes recorded his first album, Presenting Sir Isaac, which includes the standard "When I Fall in Love."

"That was and this is entertainment," said Deanie Parker, Soulsville's president and executive director. "We're still presenting what is uniquely Memphis and out of Soulsville USA."

For details and an updated artist lineup, visit Web site at

From Pamela Perkins, The Commercial Appeal (


(December 4, 2004)


Craig Brewer's new made-in-Memphis movie contains will have its music score by Scott Bomar and several former Stax musicians, including Isaac Hayes. The photo above, shown at Ardent studios in Memphis shows (top, from left) Shie Rozow, Isaac Hayes, former Stax producer Randy Stewart, Marvell Thomas, Craig Brewer, Marc Franklin, Al Kapone, Skip Pitts, Scott Bomar and Matt Martone; (front) John Singleton (left) and Willie Hall.

Memphis musician Scott Bomar, 30, has been a longtime force on the local club and recording scene (and a cousin to Justin Timberlake). Brewer's film marks Bomar's debut as a soundtrack composer, although his former band, Impala, scored "Teenage Tupelo" (1995), a readymade cult film by Memphis director John Michael McCarthy.

Singleton and "Hustle & Flow" producer Stephanie Allain gave Bomar their blessing after hearing his work as bass player and band leader with the Bo-Keys, a retro-soul instrumental combo inspired by such Stax bands as Booker T. & the MGs, the Mar-Keys and the Bar-Kays.

In addition to Pitts, Thomas and Cauley, Stax drummer Willie Hall, 54, is playing on the soundtrack. At Stax, Hall played with Hayes, who dropped by the recording sessions last week. Apparently, he approved: "You've all been blessed by Moses," said the performer known as "the Black Moses."

Aside from Cauley, 57, the horn players are relatively young. They included Kirk Smothers, 41, on baritone sax, tenor sax and flute; Derrick Williams, 40, on tenor and alto sax; and Bo-Key Marc Franklin, 29, on trumpet. Franklin also wrote the horn charts for the sessions.

Other musicians contributing to the soundtrack were percussionist Hector Diaz, drummer Paul Buchignani and Bomar himself, who played bass as well as guitar and keyboards. In addition, local hip-hop experimentalists DJ Redeye Jedi of the Tunnel Clones and Empee of Kontrast will remix some of Bomar's soundtrack recordings.

Bomar said "Hustle & Flow" might be the right movie for the right time. "The climate of the country is very similar now to what it was in the blaxploitation era," he said, citing the current atmosphere of war and political divisiveness. "So, conceptually, it makes sense that a movie set in a modern time would contain music that reminds us of Memphis's past."

More on the Commercial Appeal web site:,1426,MCA_494_3347060,00.html


(December 4, 2004)


Three students squeeze together in the darkened San Francisco recording studio, looks of intense concentration on their faces. It's a school for digital recording, and they are running an exercise on their own. Two are young amateurs. The third is soul great Booker T. Jones.

Technology in recording studios has changed over the past 10 years, leaving many veterans like Jones in the dust but creating opportunities for newcomers like Schickman and Perez.

"I outlived the recording medium I was brought up with," said Jones, who began recording as a 16-year-old 10th-grader in 1960 at Stax/Volt studios in Memphis. He scored his first national hit two years later, "Green Onions."

Jones took the first eight-week program with more than a dozen other students. But the second-level course is a hands-on intensive routine with only the three of them sharing the equipment. Instructor Gordon runs through an endless list of bewildering details in his two-hour lecture/demonstration before leaving the three students on their own to figure out how to work their way through the complicated exercise in the Pro Tools instruction manual. Perez operates the board, while Schickman and Jones try to figure out what to do next.

"I don't know if I'm ever going to be a real operator," said Jones. "But I need to know what a real operator does. If I want to stay in the music business, I need to know this. How can I be the guy in charge and not understand this stuff?"

He sold his own analog recording equipment ("basically gave it away," he said) several years ago and closed the small studio he maintained at Berkeley's Fantasy Records, which quickly installed Pro Tools equipment in his vacated room.

Jones flew down to Los Angeles last month and supervised a Pro Tools session with Nelson at Henson Studios, formerly A&M. "All their analog machines were out in the hall," he said. Satisfied that he was now qualified to produce the session, Jones ran everything through analog pre-amps in front of the Pro Tools setup to give the sound more warmth. He expressed great pleasure with the results.

The re-formed MGs still play occasional dates. Jones went back to Memphis last month after finishing the Nelson session in Los Angeles to receive an honor from the University of Memphis and play a rare hometown concert with MGs guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn at the new Pyramid Arena, home of basketball's Memphis Grizzlies. "I saw more people I knew than I knew what to do about," said Jones. "It just didn't stop."

He and his wife, Nan, moved to the Bay Area more than 12 years ago. They live in Tiburon, where they raised three children, two still in high school, the oldest attending UCLA. At a surprise birthday party she threw for her husband at their comfortable home last month, there wasn't a single rock star or show business mogul in attendance, although a number of people had children who played sports with the Jones kids.

from the San Francisco Chronicle. See complete article at


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