Memphis Music at it's best is served up at Neil's Music Room. I was there again last night, which is where you can find me almost every Thursday night. I have been following Jack Rowell’s jam for two years now. Jack and I have become close friends over that time and yet I, like most Memphians, take our Memphis musicians for granted.
Since I have been doing my radio show Memphis Music Inner View (Memphis music history told from the inside) on AllMemphisMusic.com, I have been interviewing Memphis musicians and producers. After sitting down and talking to them, I am starting to truly appreciate not only what they do but who they are.
Watching the show at Neil's last night was a lot different. For instance I know Jack so much better after interviewing him. I knew he had a big heart, I just didn’t realize to what extent. Jack started the jam to bring Memphis musicians together. He has also put some fundraisers together to benefit musicians and played in many more.
I remember watching him on a Sunday afternoon at the East End Grill jamming while Red Velvet sang “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” AT A BAR. At Neil’s during the Pat Taylor fund raiser (to help pay medical bills for cancer) he had everyone in the room, and it was standing room only, hold hands and pray for Pat’s recovery. He is also one of the best guitar players in Memphis.
Last night as I looked up at him on that stage as I have a hundred times before I saw him in a different light. I saw a man with a heart as big as Texas, a music minister. All the things I learned about him in our interview. As he brought musician after musician up to jam with him and his band Triplthret, he talked about their careers and talents. He not only shares the stage, he turns it over to them.
He brought Eric Hughes up and talked about how hard he works. Eric jammed with the band and then sang a couple of original tunes. As I watched Eric perform I thought about when we sat down and talked. He told me how much he enjoys writing songs and how hard he had worked to learn how to play and hone his songwriting skills. Before, I thought he was a great blues singer, now I see him as a great blues artist. As he said in the interview “you and I know two hundred great musicians that we see in the clubs.” I was sitting and talking to a friend but through the interview and adding the music to the show, I became a big fan.
I watched the bass player of Triplthret and that’s the way I had seen him before, last night I saw a Grammy award winner, songwriter and cancer survivor Steve Cobb. A man who is known for his talents all over the world but not so much in his own backyard.
Then Greg Reding took to the stage, another man I have seen play many times that I saw differently last night. I knew Greg as a brilliant guitar player whom I now know also plays bass and organ. A man who has had an amazing career playing with a lot of interesting people. A man with a great story to tell and a talent for telling it in a most unusual way.
These four musicians alone represented Tony Joe White, Ace Cannon, Albert King, the Gentrys, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Black Oak Arkansas, Al Green, The Beale Street Blues Kings, Winner of the Memphis Blues Society's "Battle of the Blues" and a Grammy Award winner. These are the people who play in the clubs in Memphis. I urge you to heed what the Doobie Bros told you to do and “Listen to the Music” but really listen to it. Savor it and realize that musically there is no place in the world like Memphis and no music like Memphis music.