Tribute and Variety
Shows are super successful. The buyer gets more bang for the buck, spending the same amount on
4 to 6 names.
The audience gets to hear a variety of artists. Win Win!
"Where there's smoke there is fire," the
saying goes. But where there’s smoke and fire, it just may be a live performance by The Bar-Kays. The funk-o-matic Memphis group has been setting audiences ablaze for the past four decades.
Originating as the Stax Records’ house band in 1966, The Bar-Kays were born from soul music and turbulent times. At the end of Jim Crow’s reign, these young Memphians were finding their musical voice and offering listeners a safe haven from the racial unrest surrounding them. In a city known for singing the blues and birthing rock n roll, the sound of soul offered a raw, and real-deal, relevance to a young African American community seeking a sound of its own. The Bar-Kays were the epicentre of this fertile creativity.
The Bar-Kays have a career total of 29 albums, including 1 platinum album, 5 gold albums, and 20 top ten singles. The Bar-Kays music has been sampled by everyone, from Coolio to Will Smith, to old schoolers like Cameo. Their career has been documented in music institutions such as The Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. The Bar-Kays recently were asked to donate iconic stage garb and musical equipment to the esteemed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Bar-Kays’ purposeful soulfulness first carried them to a chart-topping perch in 1967 with the hit, “Soulfinger.” The vibrancy of their approach landed them the plum backup spot for the legendary Otis Redding on his final worldwide tour. The tour, however, had a disastrous finale with Otis Redding and four band members perishing in a tragic plane accident.
The spirited band soldiered on, recruiting vocalist Larry Dodson and the new Bar-Kays became the premier house band for Stax Records. This edition of the Bar-Kays went on to play on records behind such artists as Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Soul Children and Isaac Hayes. They were integral to Isaac Hayes’ landmarks such as “Hot Buttered Soul,” “Black Moses,” and the GRAMMY Award-winning album Shaft.
Though the group had many successes in the studio, they felt most at home burning it up live. “Our stage show was important because when we came back, we only had one hit with ‘Soulfinger,’” says founding member James Alexander. “However, we came up in an era where you didn’t need a record to work. If you had a great show you could work. We were a great opening band because everyone knew we would get the show started off right. We ended up opening for everyone, from the Temptations to Parliament Funkadelic.”
Throughout the 70’s the group evolved into a funk powerhouse and continued to score hits on the R&B charts throughout the ’80s. During this era, the Bar-Kays had hits with “Shake Your Rump To The Funk,” “Move Your Boogie Body,” “Sex-o-Matic,” “Anticipation,” “Freakshow On The Dance Floor,” “Hit and Run,” “She talks To Me With Her Body,” among many others. Their booty-shaking tracks were backed up by an electric live show that featured a bold sense of fashion. “Prince, Rick James, they were coming to our shows, checking out our wardrobe,” Alexander notes with a smile.
Alexander and Dodson joined forces again in 1991 with a fresh backing band. They found relevancy in the hip-hop pioneering 1990s and took their prowess back to the stage. They also broke new ground with the single, “The Slide,” which was widely accepted by enthusiastic dance fans and garnered strong chart action. A stint with Curb Records saw a hit with “Everybody Wants That Love.” In 2011 they had radio success with “Return of the Mack.” “James and I are old pros but our band is very youthful,” states Larry Dodson reflecting on the Bar-Kays recent successes. “As a result, we have always been able to bridge the gap between old and new and reach many people.”