R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

Coming Home To Soulsville


You've never seen anyone happier to be standing in a cold October rain out on a Memphis street than I was on the morning that I visited Soulsville, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which has operated since 2003 on the site of the original Stax Records studio on McLemore Avenue in Memphis.

The museum is full of exhibits, music and memorabilia. It opens with an award-winning, history of soul documentary that drops you off into a 1906 Mississippi country gospel church. A pre-Stax exhibit honors Ray Charles, James Brown and other soul forefathers. The Stax exhibits include Otis Redding's famous favored brown suede jacket and Isaac Hayes' head razor and hair tonic, famous pink and orange reversible silk robe, and (in)famous 1972 peacock blue, gold plated Cadillac El Dorado.

Best of all is its reconstruction of the original Stax recording studio and control room, down to their tape recording decks and master lathe machine. Here you can walk right up to Al Jackson's studio drum kit and the very Hammond B-3 organ from which Booker T. Jones sliced and diced The MG's famous "Green Onions." Standing with the MGs' instruments on the very ground where they created so much funky and blue magic is a truly awesome experience, like climbing on-board the mothership.

Echoes of Sam and Dave, of Johnnie Taylor and Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Bar-Kays and The Staples Singers and so many others still resound through Soulsville, truly hallowed and holy, historically soulful ground.

in this playlist.