Mon 13 Jun 2011 to Sun 19 Jun 2011

by Booker T

The Road from Memphis starts with a young Booker T. Jones hauling his stack of newspapers to Phineas Newborn’s front yard where, while folding them for his after-school delivery route, he could listen to the jazz great practice piano. It ends with Booker and The Roots roaring through a set of both timeless and contemporary originals (and propulsive covers of Gnarls Barkley’s 'Crazy' and Lauren Hill’s 'Everything Is Everything').

Along for the ride are vocalists Matt Berninger of the National, Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones, Lou Reed, and Booker himself, telling the story of how the funk/soul sound that Booker helped invent spiraled out from Memphis, touching The Root’s hometown of Philadelphia, New York and Detroit.

The Road from Memphis is classic Memphis soul, and classic Booker in the tradition of 'Green Onions’, but beyond that it is the story of a sound, and how Booker, working with the inheritors of his sound, is keeping a tradition alive. ‘Green Onions' is one of the most popular instrumental tracks of all time, one of Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time, and credited with introducing the Hammond B3 to rock music. The Roots, Booker’s backing band for The Road from Memphis, are well known for their work on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, their own albums and singles, and hit collaborations like 2010’s Wake Up with John Legend. Produced by Booker, Questlove of The Roots, and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith). Engineered and recorded by Gabriel Roth (Sharon Jones, Amy Winehouse).

There’s timelessness to these new tunes, but also a startlingly contemporary feel. The Roots are pulling something from Booker, but Booker’s also sending The Roots somewhere they’ve not gone—it’s a union of musicians, nourishing each other. The culmination of the exchange may be in “Everything Is Everything,” when Booker brings on the distortion, the madness, the pulsating aggression that is a new sound for him, that takes him to a new place and then winds down like great sex, a new seed planted.

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