In an exciting diversion into the Memphis music scene this month, BGP are pleased to be releasing "The Royal Sessions", the debut album by the fabulous Bo-Keys.
The band boast the finest pedigree of any currently active group in Memphis. Founded by bassist Scott Bomar, who at 28 is a veteran of Memphis' garage music scene, the Bo-Keys also features guitarist Skip Pitts, best known for his work with Isaac Hayes and Rufus Thomas (see: Theme From Shaft and Do The Funky Chicken)-.-drummer Willie Hall, a veteran of the Bar-Kays and Isaac Hayes' "Hot Buttered Soul" album and organist Ronnie Williams who has recorded with the Bar-Kays and David Porter. Bomar complemented this core group with two Memphis-based horn players - Marc Franklin (trumpet) and Jim Spake (saxophone). Though Franklin and Spake are relatively young like Bomar, they are veterans of recording sessions and concerts with such luminaries as Al Green, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Ike Turner, Ann Peebles and others.
As the name implies, "The Royal Sessions" was recorded at Willie Mitchell's legendary Royal Studios - birthplace to Al Green's unprecedented string of hits in the 1970s, and other timeless recordings by Ann Peebles, OV Wright and Syl Johnson.
"The Royal Sessions" comes at a time when Memphis music - past, present and future - is enjoying a bona fide renaissance and the Bo-Keys are an integral part of the action. 2003 saw the opening of the Stax Museum and academy on the grounds of the former Stax Studios (aka Soulsville, USA), and the release of Al Green's first secular album, in over 25 years, "I Can't Stop" (Blue Note) made with original producer Willie Mitchell and Scott Bomar as engineer on the album.
Ace are releasing the Bo-Keys album in association with Yellow Dog Records (who are issuing the album in the US). Based in Memphis, TN, Yellow Dog was founded in 2002 with the goal of cultivating the American musical heritage. The label features artists who emphasise innovative approaches to authentic American musical roots traditions: blues, jazz, soul, old-time country and Appalachian styles. By providing support for recording, production, promotion and distribution, Yellow Dog Records brings this vital music to new and wider audiences.
The Bo-Keys are a perfect example of this aim. Don't miss out on this, their fine debut!
By Dean Rudland