The Bar-Kays

SXSW showcase reviews

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Photo by Aubrey Edwards

The Bar-Kays

Dirty Dog Bar, March 19

Call it the Beale Street Invasion. Memphis Music Foundation's Thursday night showcase was a reminder that the resilient Tennessee town is forever a haven for American music. After hip-hoppers Free Sol filled in for 8Ball & MJG, who missed their flight, and rockers Lucero drenched the crowd in bourbon-inspired grit, the Bar-Kays headlined with a Delta soul/funk party they've pumped for the past 40 years. The faces have changed – only bassist James Alexander plays on from the original lineup that lost four of its six members in the plane crash that also killed Otis Redding – but the groove's just as tight; the spirit's just as high. The 10-piece roared through a 20-minute funk odyssey before howler Larry Dodson called for 1967 classic "Soul Finger." Caught up in classic Stax fervor, Dodson and Alexander moved into a five-song Redding medley – "Can't Turn You Loose," "Try a Little Tenderness," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," "I've Been Loving You Too Long" – which kick-started a "Freakshow on the Dance Floor" and proved that time-tested vets shake intergalactic 1980s funk just as well as they blast 1960s soul. The Bar-Kays were a thrill.

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