Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards is “Representing Memphis” by Booker T. Jones and featuring Matt Beringer and Sharon Jones) from the 2011 album, The Road from Memphis, on Anti- Records.
Booker T. Jones will forever be recognized as the frontman for the Stax Records house band, Booker T. and the MGs, in the 1960s. The Memphis born and raised Jones was a talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from adolescence, and wrote his first and perhaps still most recognizable hit at sixteen, “Green Onions.” After the MGs disbanded, Jones carried on with his solo act and popped up as keyboard player or producer on albums by various artists, from Ray Charles to Rancid. But then, he went on a 15-year stretch without making any albums under his name until 2009’s Potato Hole. His musical career has stretched almost 50 years, but he’s still making his wealth of musical knowledge richer by taking a course on digital recording and by continuing to diversify the roster of incredibly talented artists he’s worked with, most notably on this month’s release, Road from Memphis.
The latest album from Jones he produced with ?uestlove of The Roots and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith). The Roots, who themselves have become something of a ubiquitous backing band, support Jones on all songs, but other guests include Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Lou Reed, and on today’s featured song, Sharon Jones and Matt Beringer of The National. On “Representing Memphis,” Booker T. lays an irresistible, chilled groove under the powerful duet, in which Beringer’s caramel-toned vocals hold up surprisingly well to Jones’ effortless vocal power. The message is simple, to champion hometown love, “from the ‘hood to the burbs.”
Booker T. Jones has handful of live performances at blues festivals coming up in various cities in the US and Europe, including one in Washington at the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival in July. Check his website to see if further dates pop up in the near future. For now, here’s another new song, “Everything Is Everything,” filmed in the studio with The Roots: