Ok, not really, but I did go to see Booker T. (he who used to be backed by the MG's) on my birthday at the Musical Instrument Museum's intimate 300-seat theater, accompanied by longtime friend and Hammond organ junkie Stephen T. McCarthy.
If you live in Arizona, the Musical Instrument Museum, or the MIM, as locals refer to it, has an incredible auditorium, with acoustics that every act I have seen here raves about. The museum subsidizes the ticket prices, so the shows are usually quite reasonable (often as low as $30), and while most of the acts are a little, shall we say, long in the tooth, they've featured Todd Snider, Edwin McCain, and in a couple of weeks, Vanessa Carlton. I've been to ten shows this year, and am considering becoming a donor. This photo gives you an idea of what the hall looks like (not a photo from the show, as cameras are prohibited)..
We sat in the front row pretty much at Booker T's right elbow, and while they weren't the MG's the band was tight and entertaining, and it was a great show.
The set list focused on title tracks from classic albums and tracks from his most recent two releases, "Road To Memphis" and "Sound The Alarm." There were also tracks from the various artists albums he was a creative voice when Booker T. And The MG's were basically the Stax Records studio band.
A great rendition of "Knocking On Heaven's Door" followed the revelation that Booker T. had played guitar on that song at Dylan's request.
His third most recent release (with the Drive-By Truckers) happened to be what I had in the car, so I got that signed after the show.
Stephen T. purchased the same title and got his signed as well (his second autograph request, Chuck Berry being the first).
Considering the show was how I celebrated my birthday, Booker T. did, sort of, play at my birthday party. It's just that I did not know 298 of the guests.
I've never done a proper review of Sound The Alarm, which was released in late June. For Booker T.'s tenth studio album, he returns to the scene of his first hit ("Green Onions"), Stax Records.
There are songs on Sound the Alarm that sound as though they could have been written back in those days.
“Feel Good” has a bit of a lazy feel that suits this week's Phoenix weather perfectly (we're finally below triple digits), and “Fun” is just that- a three-minute party of stomping percussion, irrepressible bass and jittery, dancing Hammond riffs. “66 Impala” is a cheesy blend of organ and sax.
Continuing in the spirit of his last two discs (where he was backed by The Drive-By Truckers and The Roots, respectively), most of the tracks find Jones collaborating with hot young artists, be it Bill Withers' daughter Kori, R&B singer Luke James, or guitarist Gary Clark Jr.While I prefer Potato Hole (with the Truckers) of these three recent releases, all three are excellent, and you can't go wrong with Sound The Alarm.
So break out the bourbon, turn down the lights, and put this record on!
AUSTIN CITY BLUES