Monday, October 27, 2008


Our great friend and supporter, John Fry, founder of the renowned Ardent Studios, has donated the historic Auditronics console, which was used for many years in his studios, to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The console was often used in shaping the sound of countless Stax Records hits during a period when Ardent worked closely with the Stax label and recording studios.

The console was made by the Memphis company Auditronics, owned by Welton Jetton and Steve Sage. Auditronics had supplied smaller consoles to both Ardent and Stax in 1966. The donated console was fabricated from amplifiers and equalizers made by Spectrasonics of Odgen, UT. The 20-input, 8-output console was installed at Ardent's location on National Street in 1969 and moved to Ardent's present location on Madison Avenue, where it served in Studio B until 1985. Auditronics also supplied Stax with an identical console for its A Studio in 1970.

Songs recorded on the Ardent console now at the Stax Museum include Isaac Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul; The Staple Singers' The Staple Swingers; Best of Sam & Dave; Led Zeppelin III; James Taylor's Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon; Big Star's #1 Record and Radio City; ZZ Top's Fandango and Tejas; the Bar-Kay's Too Hot to Stop, Booker T. & the MGs' McLemore Avenue, and hundreds of other recordings that define the sound and songs of a generation.

A little-known fact to many: Estelle "Lady A" Axton produced the crazy 1977 Rick Dees mega-hit "Disco Duck." And yes, it was mixed on this console!

Thank you, John, for this great donation and ALL of your support.


Pictured at top, David Moreu and Valencia Robinson with students of The Soulsville Charter School at a special screening of "Down to Earth."

Last week, a new short film by Spanish journalist and filmmaker David Moreu was screened at the Barcelona Blues & Boogie Festival to rave reviews. This was all the result of one email in the summer of 2007.
David Moreu emailed us looking for a photograph of Booker T. & the MGs for an article he was working on and after much correspondence, he eventually ended up traveling to Memphis in November 2007 to cover the Stax Museum during our Stax 50th Anniversary celebration. While here, he conducted interviews with many people for several articles he later published in the Spanish press. But he interviewed his subjects on film.

After a lot of hard work in the editing room, Moreu finally finished "Down to Earth," a 30-minute documentary about Memphis and the Civil Rights Movement and its relation to soul music, particularly that of Stax Records. The film includes interviews with former Stax Records publicity director and former Soulsville CEO Deanie Parker; Stax songwriter and recording artist David Porter; Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, who was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was assassinated there in 1968; Memphis-based soul singer Valencia Robinson; Hi Records legend Willie Mitchell; and various barbers and beauticians from the Soulsville, USA community.
The film had been screened only once before, privately at the Stax Music Academy for special guests and students from The Soulsville Charter School. The Barcelona screening was the first public screening, and we hope there are many more!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


William Bell.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the newly renovated Levitt Shell in Overton Park in Memphis, this coming Friday night, October 3rd at 7 p.m. will be the perfect time. There's a free concert by none other than Stax royalty William Bell, backed by the Bo-Keys, that hard-working Memphis soul band that includes other Stax royalty Ben Cauley and Skip Pitts!

The newly renovated Levitt Shell (where the Stax Music Academy Summer Soul Tour Band opened for Kirk Whalum recently) is great. Gone are those uncomfortable benches and now there's a nice grassy lawn that slopes down to the stage, landscaped grounds, food consessions by Memphis restaurateur Karen Blockman Carrier, and just a great vibe.

I can't think of a better way to spend a crisp October evening than hanging out under the stars and listening to William and the Bo-Keys. And for free? Can't beat that!