Tuesday, October 8, 2013


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!




  1. So strange I was just listening to him on the Watkins Family Hour Podcast. This sounds like a great show!

    1. I'd never seen him, Evan, so I am glad I did (who knows how long he'll keep at the touring game).

  2. Very cool. So glad you celebrated your birthday in style.

    On an unrelated note, for some reason I can't get any sound when I play YouTube. It just turned off on me a couple of days ago. My sound works on everything else. So, it isn't my computer. I am completely stymied. And my Thursday posts are not looking good!

    1. Lee was having a similar problem on my last post but he figured it out.

  3. Sounded good. Sorry you had to spend your birthday with that lush STM (JUUUUUUUUUST kidding!), I'll wager it was a blast!

    1. It was CW-I had not seen Stephen T. in quite a while, so that was good catching up, and Booker T. was the perfect background music.

  4. Computer down. Know a good repairman, LC? Typing on a Nook right now. Will add a good comment when F-FFF is operational again.

    Listening non-stop to POTATO HOLE in my truck since your birthday. Fantastic recording!!!
    - D-FensDogg

    1. I wonder where Acer computers are made...I tried to find out online but had no luck...they are probably cheaper than a repair guy....

  5. Wow what a cool show and a cool place. Hope I can go there sometime.

    Happy Birthday old man!

    Wrote By Rote

    1. Well, Lee-keep checking their calendar, and if you see something you like, I'll get tickets and you can come out and go!


  6. Sounds like a hell of a birthday, and you got a great birthday present out of it. Give me some live Booker T. over a screeching version of "the happy birthday song" as sung by my friends and family ANY DAY.

  7. So you didn't know 298 of your guests. If you really think about it, do we really know anybody?

    1. Exactly....but why couldn't they have at least presented me with cards filled with birthday cash?

  8. LC ~
    Computer up and runnin' again.

    First... just got home from work about 90 minutes ago and will be in bed, sleeping, soon'z I submit this comment.

    When I have a chance, I really need to do some Googling and get the name of Booker T's current guitarist again (I've forgotten it), and then see if I can locate him on any YouTube videos. That guy's facial expressions were a show all alone! Just watching him make faces entertained the hell outta me (best onstage facial expressions EVER!)

    The next day after the show, I started thinking maybe I should have purchased Booker T's newest CD and had him autograph that one instead, especially since he played 2 or 3 songs from it ('66 Impala', 'Fun', and maybe something called something like 'Good Time'?)

    But soon afterwards I read some Amazon reviews that convinced me 'Sound The Alarm' was not very good. Two songs that were particularly denigrated were '66 Impala' and 'Fun'.

    I agree, 'Fun' is not much. But I thought the studio recording (your video here) really captured that "East L.A." feeling (which is clearly what it intended to do - think 'Low Rider' and a few other songs by War).

    As I listened to '66 Impala', I was thinking that the percussion was better on the studio recording than in the live version that we heard at the show. I also thought: "It sounds sorta Poncho Sanchez-like".

    While 'Fun' was playing through my computer speakers, I scrolled back up to '66 Impala' and saw that PONCHO SANCHEZ really DID play percussion on the studio track! (Am I good, or what?!)

    All in all, I made the right decision to buy 'POTATO HOLE' at the show and to have Booker T. autograph the cover of that one. 'POTATO HOLE' is one incredible album! I still have it playing non-stop in my truck and it's friggin' fantastic! It might remain in my truck's CD player until it's time to bring in the Christmas CDs.

    I almost hate to admit this but... other than a few of the truly classic, Classic, CLASSIC 'Booker T. And The MG's' tracks - such as 'Green Onions' (of course!), 'Soul Dressing', and 'Melting Pot' (and maybe one or two more) - I think the stuffs on 'Potato Hole' is even better than the stuffs I know from the legendary 'BT&TMGs' lineup.

    Can you believe it-uh?!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. You may not remember, but I have been a Drive By Truckers fan for years, and loved when they backed up Bettye Lavette.

      I probably had a few of the BT/MG's classics prior to "Potato Hole" but that one instantly became my favorite.

      I like the two subsequent discs fine, but if you were only going to buy one, I also think you made the right choice.

      Funny you mention "Low Rider" as I thought "Fun" was kind of an homage to that.

  9. How cool is that! Happy 'late' Burthday!