Clips & Pix: Southern Avenue/80 Miles From Memphis

In a short amount of time, Southern Avenue has become one of my favorite new band. It all started when fellow blogger Music Enthusiast  included this firecracker Memphis blues and soul quintet and their tune Don’t Give Up in a recent post. I immediately liked what I heard.

Don’t Give Up and the tune I’d like to highlight in this post, 80 Miles From Memphis, an uptempo blues with a cool groove and amazing singing, are both on the band’s eponymous debut album. Produced by Kevin Houston and released in February this year, the record appeared on none other than Stax Records, the storied Memphis soul label (now based in Los Angeles) that in its heyday had artists like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Booker T. & the M.G.’s and Albert King under contract. According to a story in the Commercial Appeal, Southern Avenue is the first Memphis act signed to Stax in five decades – pretty incredible! For more on Stax, see my recent post.

Named after the street that runs from the east of Memphis to Soulsville, the original home of Stax, Southern Avenue was formed in 2015. The band’s line-up includes Ori Naftaly, an Israeli blues guitarist who came to the U.S. in 2013; Tierinii Jackson (lead vocals); her sister Tikyra Jackson (drums, vocals) and Jeremy Powell (keyboards). Daniel McKee, who plays bass on the recording, has since left Southern Avenue. The band is currently relying on a couple of different bassists during shows.

I just find it very refreshing to listen to these guys. Oh, by the way, their album entered the U.S. Billboard Top Blues Albums Chart at no. 6 during the week ended March 18 and remained in the chart for four weeks. Not bad for a debut – I hope they’re just getting started!

Sources: Wikipedia, Commercial Appeal, Billboard Charts, YouTube

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8 thoughts on “Clips & Pix: Southern Avenue/80 Miles From Memphis”

    1. One of the things that distinguished Stax in the late 50’s and 60s was the racial diversity among its staff and house band during a time of segregation and the civil rights struggle, especially in the South! Interestingly, there is some of that diversity in Southern Avenue as well – an Israeli blues guitarist playing with African-American musicians.

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  1. You will doubtless find this amusing but apart from a few songs I had never listened to the entire album. Doing that today. Terrific stuff although I am lukewarm on the guitarist. It’s not that he’s bad. It’s just that I would prefer maybe more of a Steve Cropper-ish sound. I dunno. Am I being too purist?

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    1. While there are certainly better guitarists, I think this guy is quite okay. I also find the band’s story intriguing: An Israeli blues guitarist getting together with these two African American firecracker ladies to form this band. In a way, this cultural mix is a beautiful reflection of the old Stax label!

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      1. Oh yeah, this guy is by no means a bad guitarist, don’t get me wrong on that. It’s just that I think given the nature of the music I was expecting a style of playing that was funkier and low-down. As to Stax, stay tuned on that one.

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