Take Me to the River: Memphis Soul and R&B Revue | Carolina Theatre | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Take Me to the River: Memphis Soul and R&B Revue 

When: Thu., Jan. 25, 8 p.m. 2018
Price: $38-$59

For reasons too varied and involved to be detailed in this small space, Memphis was one of the hottest spots on the planet for classic soul and blues sounds in the sixties and seventies. The old "something in the water" cliché might actually not be so far-fetched in this case either, considering the city's proximity to the Mississippi Delta.

Now-legendary labels like Stax and Hi Records took the R&B influences of the fiftiess and channeled them into something new, putting a whole generation of soul giants on the map in the process, including Al Green, Otis Redding, The Staples Singers, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and countless others. Now, inspired by the Memphis soul documentary Take Me to the River, three shining lights of Southern soul are headlining a tour that takes the music back to its source.

William Bell, Bobby Rush, and Don Bryant are true soul survivors, each having a career that reaches back well over half a century. Bell was a central part of the Stax scene—he began performing and recording in the fifties, but when he joined the Stax stable in the sixties, his career soared. Besides releasing immortal singles like "You Don't Miss Your Water" and "I Forgot to Be Your Lover," the Memphis native wrote classics for others, including the blues standard "Born Under a Bad Sign," which Albert King popularized.

Bobby Rush started out on the bustling blues scene of Chicago in the sixties, but by the early seventies he was cutting funky, sexy soul tunes like "Chicken Heads," which earned him a gold record. He subsequently made his way down south, where he became a linchpin of the burgeoning soul-blues scene and a star of the so-called chitlin circuit, with Memphis being a mainstay on his itinerary. Rush has gained even more renown over time, winning a Grammy in 2017 for his album Porcupine Meat.

Besides being a powerful vocalist, Memphis-born Don Bryant was at the core of the songwriting team for Hi Records, the label that brought Al Green, Ann Peebles, and others to fame. Bryant co-penned his future wife Peebles's signature song, "I Can't Stand the Rain." Joined by members of the legendary Hi Records house band of the seventies, Bryant, Rush, and Bell—with some younger performers adding a modern touch to the mix as they did in the film—tackle not only their own tunes on this tour but also other Memphis R&B evergreens by the likes of Otis, Al, et al. —Jim Allen



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