Beale Street Saturday Night
Release date: April 14, 2015
First-ever reissue of 1979 Memphis classic album, with proceeds to benefit Beale Street Caravan.
Beale Street Saturday Night is a Jim Dickinson masterpiece. He captured the community and spirit of Memphis Blues in the ’70s, splicing analog recordings together into an un-banded record only imagined, much less realized, in Memphis.
The ’70s were a dark time for the city. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. changed Memphis’ soul and soul music. After the assassination, the city tore much of downtown down, bulldozing the path of MLK’s march, Dickinson would point out. Beale Street, which had been a vibrant neighborhood and cultural Mecca, was shuttered at the time of this record. A stain. Stax was demolished, literally.
Dwelling in the ruins, the Memphis underground music community was rich in character at the time of Beale Street Saturday Night. The Blues masters had been interacting and making music with the youth rock ’n’ roll art underground bohemian outlaw musicians for years now, creating the “world boogie” (which is still coming). These musicians and artists had reached out in the darkness of segregation and found each other through the brotherhood of music and the freedom of rock ’n’ roll, led by the coffee shop record collecting Yankee youth of Bill Barth and John Fahey, and the Southern illumination of Sam and Dewey Phillips. Mud Boy & The Neutrons rose out of the swamp of the Dream Carnivals and Memphis Blues festivals to carry on jug band music, drug fueled improvisational roots music and performance art, but that’s another’s story.
This is not a field recording. Jim produced these multi-tracked recordings in The Orpheum Theatre, at Ardent and Sam Phillips Studios, and in his home on his beloved Ampex 8-track. He loved the concept of a hi-if recording of a lo-fi sound. He said Johnny Woods could read his mind in the studio. This is an example of the world boogie, the country blues masters and the crazy white boys, locking themselves in world class recording studios for late night recording sessions because they loved playing music together—Mud Boy & The Neutrons (Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge, Lee Baker, and Jimmy Crosthwait), Fred Ford, Sleepy John Estes, Prince Gabe, Furry Lewis, Teenie Hodges, Johnny Woods, and so many more.
This is the setting and cast of characters for Beale Street Saturday Night, a fantasy soundtrack to an alternate Memphis reality, the history of Memphis music told by its creators to the future. Living legends in dark rooms with microphones, casting spells and telling lies, transcending time, space, and, most importantly, race. Only in Memphis would young white record producers put such raw black music and storytelling together to create an integrated Southern masterpiece. Only in the grooves of this record does this Memphis exist, the ghosts telling the stories to the kids, aged memory and youthful fantasy combining to create a world all its own. Only James Luther Dickinson could have produced Beale Street Saturday Night.
World Boogie is coming.
Walkin’ Down Beale Street– Sid Selvidge Hernando Horn– Fred Ford Beale Street Blues– Grandma Dixie Davis Big Fat Mama/Liquor Store– Sleepy John Estes Ol’ Beale Street Blues– Prince Gabe Furry’s Blues– Furry Lewis Rock Me Baby– Teenie Hodges Rock Me Baby– Alex “Ben Griffin Was Killed In The Monarch”– Thomas Pinkston Frisco Blow– Johnny Woods On The Road Again– Mud Boy & The Neutrons “Mr. Handy Tonld Me 50 Years Ago”– Thomas Pinkston Chicken Ain’t Nothin’ But A Bird– Furry Lewis Roll On, Mississippi– Grandma Dixie Davis