The Jazz Arts Group’s Inside Track series welcomes one of America’s most prolific, distinguished and instantly recognizable musical forces, Booker T. Jones, to the Lincoln Theatre stage on Saturday, May 1, touring in support of his new Grammy Award-winning album, Potato Hole.
With Booker T. and the MGs he led one of the first-ever integrated groups to soul immortality. As a producer, he has helmed sessions for million sellers. With Potato Hole, Hammond B3 alchemist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Booker T. Jones has written the boldest, most dramatic chapter of his fifty year career. With backing from the Drive-By Truckers and guitar contributions from Neil Young on nine of the album’s ten tracks, Potato Hole is the rawest, funkiest music Booker T. has recorded since his archetypal hit “Green Onions.” Featuring a mixture of newly written songs and a trio of intriguing covers (including OutKast’s “Hey Ya!”), Potato Hole captures Booker T. at the critical peak of a renewed creative phase in his storied career.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee on November 12, 1944, Jones’ interest in music manifested itself early, and as a child he both sang gospel in church and received classical training on the piano. A fascination with the Hammond B3 grew to the point where he funded his own organ lessons with newspaper route money and by his teens, Jones found himself at Stax Records, first as an underfoot hanger-on and soon on staff, as leader of the house band. Backing fabled stars like Rufus and Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Eddie Floyd both in the studio and on the road, the teenager’s multi-instrumental prowess – on keys, brass and reeds – was impressive. With his Memphis Group cohorts Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson, Jones laid out the blueprint for the fabled Stax sound and reaped his own rewards with a string of hits that frequently crossed over to the pop charts. Jones post-Stax resume has been equally impressive, recording with everyone from Bobby Darin to John Lee Hooker and producing for numerous artists (including Bill Withers’ signature “Ain’t No Sunshine” record and Willie Nelson’s 1978 multi-platinum blockbuster Stardust). Jones and the MGs re-formed to serve as house band for the famed 1991 Bob Dylan tribute at Madison Square Garden (which led to a sustained alliance between Neil Young and Jones). Along the way, he’s also scored numerous films and enjoyed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Potato Hole demonstrates that not only is Jones’ talent and power undiminished, it also reveals how much there is to his music that we’ve never heard before. “The Hammond B3 and me have this thing goin’ on. It’s always there inside me. I’ve heard whole pieces in my head that I’ll never even remember–and now I’m finally getting them out,” he explained. “It gives me a freedom that I didn’t have… I sort of had it with the MGs in the ‘60s, but even then it was more murky. This is lot more clear. I don’t know how to put it, except it’s like I can see again.”
Columbus’ very own ‘60s soul revival Nick Tolford & Company kick off the evening at 8 PM.
Tickets are on sale now for $25 (orchestra) and $30 (loge) and available by phone at 614-469-0939 and through all Ticketmaster outlets. Call 614-294-5200 or visit www.jazzartsgroup.org for more information.