Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Stax Museum & My Own Personal Renaissance

So, this last weekend K.C. and I went to Hot Springs, AR and Memphis, TN to perform. We performed in Hot Springs on Thursday and our Memphis gig wasn't until Saturday night, so we arrived in Memphis a day early to spend some time with our fabulous friend, Cindy. She had asked what we wanted to do or see in Memphis, and the only touristy thing I wanted to do was see the Stax museum.

If you don't know what Stax Records is, or who was on the label, PLEASE click the title of this entry and go check out the Stax museum website, or just Wikipedia that shit. Because you NEED to know. Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG's, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers...the face of 60's rough edged soul (as opposed to the extremely clean sound of Motown) and the sound of smooth 70's R&B and funk, Stax changed music forever. Their indelible contribution to pop music history is a beacon of awesome amongst the pop music mediocrity offered by the mainstream these days.

The museum is fantastic...it details how soul music came about as a mixture of blues, country and gospel, and how, without the gospel tradition, there would have been no soul, no R&B music. It talks about the raceless, colorless view that the Stax Records employees and artists employed in their business--the staff of the label contained blacks and whites, and the musicians were both black and white as well. A video in the museum also talks about how, after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, things were never the same--it was as if an illusion had been shattered, and the company never felt the same after that.

It's quite challenging for me to explain what I felt walking through the exhibits. I felt privileged to be there, and so full of emotion when confronted with the powerful nature of what Stax meant not only to music, but to civil rights, to the culture in which it found itself in the 60's. This music REALLY MEANS SOMETHING, and I don't think its value can be overestimated. I was close to tears multiple times walking through the museum, and when we left my heart was so full I feared it might burst at any moment.

It just so happens that this experience coincides with a bit of a renaissance musically for me...it kind of ties into what I was talking about in my entry a few weeks ago when I talked about my friend Kyle playing songs off his iPod to me in the car (Adjusting My Bad Attitude...). I'm having a definite renaissance in terms of my listening, and I think it really ties in with an improvement in my emotional and spiritual well-being. I feel better, I'm happier, and so I'm enjoying music MORE, which makes me feel even better, and happier, so I enjoy the music EVEN MORE, which makes me feel better, and happier...It's an upward spiral that I am doing my best to foster.

I am hoping that this leads to a greater renaissance in terms of my creativity as well, but I'm not quite there yet. I have a couple of projects I need to see to their end (like getting out the Weird Files EP that has been sitting in the can for well over a year), and I think that will enable to me to think clearly and engage future creative projects (like the next Dr. Pants album!!) HEAD ON.

The Stax museum was INSPIRING. It is one of a number of inspiring experiences I've had lately, and I am truly grateful for that. I also want to say how grateful I am to still be doing music full time as K.C.'s husband, guitarist and business partner, and that I don't think any of the rest of this would be possible without that reality.

I hope to have a mixtape or two to post within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, go find something new and exciting to listen to.

No comments: