Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Memphis Music Fest August 24, 2013

Memphis Music Fest: Stax Volt Time Machine Running Smoothly

                                                     By Glen Creason

     The trouble with tribute shows like “the Memphis Music Fest” featuring stars of yesteryear is that the spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. At this concert, the second in the Cerritos Center season, much of the material was drawn from the Stax record label heyday with the lady and gents who sang those greats now solidly in the AARP demographic. Plenty of gray hair on both sides of the footlights but the memories and melodies seemed to breathe new life into everybody in attendance and the energetic men and woman on stage. Every single performer was up to the task with nary a musical wrinkle in sight. In fact, in the case of Booker T. Jones I would say the man has never played better or stronger on his Hammond B3 than he did at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday night. As a matter of fact, everybody sounded strong and enthusiastic and that sweet, swinging Stax-Volt sound was absolutely invigorating for the well-dressed crowd.

     The entire proceedings were backed by the rock solid Bar-Kays whose bassist James Alexander kept the beat along with the unsung heroes: the rhythm guitarist and an unbelievably tireless and talented drummer whose names were lost in the funk.  Jean Knight started the fireworks, exploding through “Supernatural,” her own “Mister Big Stuff,” and the infectious “Toot-toot” that seemed to clear out all the soul-cob-webs and get the crowd standing and moving. The first of inspirational septuagenarians William Bell came forth looking very clean, as was his strong voice. The man who is credited with creating the Stax-Volt sound sounded fine in his set with “Easy Coming Out,” “I Forgot to Be a Lover,” “Trying to Love Two” and even a “Sad Song” in tribute to the King of Stax, Otis Redding.  Eddy Floyd, the other fit 70-something was still charming the ladies and singing with plenty of soul. His anthem “Knock on Wood” got most of the crowd on their feet. The undisputed high-light of this show or season was Booker T. Jones’ magnificent “Green Onions” which filled the hall to the rafters and another utterly rambunctious oldie “Time is Tight” that really and truly never sounded so good.  After Booker T. the Bar-Kays just would not allow the energy level to dip below out of sight and their “Soul-Finger” followed by a rousing tribute to Otis Redding sent the delighted crowd into the Summer night happily recalling 1966 and feeling like they were there again.


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