Booker T. Jones just going with the flow
For the Nevada Appeal
As a child of Memphis, Tenn., Grammy-award winner Booker T. Jones spent every possible moment hanging around outside the clubs on the now famous Beale Street, where so much great music continues to be born.
“I spent a lot of time in the backseat of the car waiting for Mom to finish errands, or sitting outside the clubs and it was hot blues, Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, the organ and horns, great music spilling into the streets and hot people inside,” he said. “People were looking for a good time and it was a dangerous place with gambling in the back rooms and me hearing some of the most amazing jazz and blues.”
He heard, never saw, Blind Oscar playing his B3 Hammond organ, an instrument Jones has mastered and made his own.
“He was my inspiration and the first time I ever saw (a B3 at Stax Records) I got a start in my heart,” Jones said. “It’s almost worth the 425 pounds of dragging it around.”
“Without Beale Street, I wouldn’t have my music and there would be no Booker T. Jones.”
The face of Beale Street was not kind in those days, being a place of constant recession and segregation. However, the music that spilled from the smoky clubs, inspired a small boy to find a way to express himself.
These impressions, memories and images are brought to life on Jones’ latest offering, “The Road From Memphis,” reminding us what it is we have loved about his music since the release of “Green Onions” in 1962, when he, with the M.G.s introduced a whole new sound to the world.
Jones brings his band to Carson City on Wednesday, headlining A Concert Under the Stars, a fundraiser for the Greenhouse Project. This will be, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this legendary musician perform.
But for Jones, it is simply what he does. “The music is in me and I just want to play it,” he said.
Tapping into what he calls his “creative muse,” Jones often dreams his music, keeping a moleskin covered book by his bed, in which to capture the bits given to him in his sleep. Though the technology has changed through the years, Jones, ever the student, has continued to attend school to keep abreast of rapid change. For him, “it is still the same as when I was a boy trying to get the tape recorder to work,” he said. “I still got music gurgling down inside that wants to be heard.”
The seed for renewal was planted when Jones was asked by Jimmy Fallon to come to New York and sit in with the house band for a week. They clicked and everything flowed from there. Jones returned home and began creating.
“It’s hard to put a timeline on music, but we started (this project) in August 2009 and it’s always a trick to balance new releases with the right people and time,” he said. “The timing for this has been good.”
Jones and his wife Nan have raised their children, and are now focusing on life with children in college.
“We have great kids, Nan’s enjoying an empty house and she has been such a help in managing all the details that creative people have a hard time with,” Jones said. “It’s a great gift of love to give.”
For the most part, Jones is in a place of flow.
“I have arrived at a place where I feel I am floating and landing in the right places at the right time and I’m enjoying it, just going with it and it works
A Concert Under the Stars takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to Adele’s Restaurant in Carson City. Adele’s will host a backyard barbecue featuring High Sierra Brewing Co. beer and a no-host bar will be available. A live auction will also take place. This year, Planters on Parade – flower boxes painted by local dignitaries – will be sold.