This gallery contains audio treasures of music from our Archives.
Click the ear to enter the gallery. Click the subjects name for more biographical information.
Open Hear Gallery
The performers in this exhibit shared their music with festival goers from 1989 to 2002. Each tune is unique and draws you closer to the artists as their music defines themselves, their families and communities. Kick back and listen or get up and dance as each performance tells you more about the musical roots of the Memphis/Delta region.
must have played
Tell It Like It Is
hundreds of times over the years we recorded and presented him. Each time I heard the song I'd picture him playing in a small cafe about 2 or 3 in the morning. A few folks would be up dancing and he'd think back to his youth dreaming about that woman who left him leaving him and his piano to ponder the future.
James "Son" Thomas
grew up in Leland, Mississippi down the road from Greenville, deep in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. The rich delta soil, the hot summer days, and the need to tell his story gave Thomas the framework for his musical moods to erupt in songs like
had a gift of telling great stories mixing his songs with his harmonica and guitar playing. This time he picks up his guitar to talk about his future wife.
and her singing partners got tired of working with bands to accompany their music. Thus began an amazing career of singing acapella religious songs. When
Effie Parker and The Vance Ensemble
complete their rendition of
Mary Don't You Weep
you are right with them watching the Pharaoh's Army not make it across the Red Sea.
Billy Mitchell & Red Adams
use their fiddle and guitar to take us away from wherever we are and ride on the
Orange Blossom Special. Known as the Fiddling Sheriff of Tupelo, Mississippi, Mitchell won numerous fiddling contests which sprung up across the South in the 1970s and 80s.
From 1997 to 1999 the Center's premiere band was a group where each member's musical skills shined. In this cut
opens the tune,
accents the number with his saxophone and singer and drummer
I Took the Front Door In
sound like a new number every time you hear it. Thanks to bassist
for making this music come alive every Saturday night at our home at 209 Beale Street.
has played at nearly every festival the Center has produced since 1982. His shows varied each year with players and songs attracting new audiences each time he performed. With the 1992 Festival staged on Beale Street he belted his rendition of
Beale Street Mama. Backed by his sons
Luther and Cody, Paul Taylor, Jim Spake and Al "Fish" Harris
Jim Dickinson paid tribute to
Grandma Dixie Davis
who years before learned from
and performed at many of the early Memphis Music festivals.
walked on the stage, audiences would sit back and sigh and remember where they were when they first heard her classic tunes record at Stax. This rendition of
B A B Y
tells you why she is called the Queen of Memphis Soul. Backed by her brother
on keyboards the music Carla Thomas and father
took festival audiences back to the days of Memphis Soul.
From the first cluck of a chicken, the audience would rush to the stage chanting "Ruf, Ruf, Ruf". Everyone knew it was time to celebrate with
as he performed
The Funky Chicken. In this final segment Rufus has invited audience members to the stage to do the funky chicken while the entire festival crowd danced just like Rufus told them to. Rufus made the music, the dance, the heat of the summer all come together each time we all did The Funky Chicken. Rufus, thank you!