Southern Avenue is a Memphis street that runs from the easternmost part of the city limits all the way to Soulsville, a neighborhood that was the original home of Stax Records. Southern Avenue is also the name of a fiery young Memphis quintet that embodies its home city’s soul, blues, and gospel traditions, while adding a youthful spirit and dynamic energy all their own. “If Memphis music is a genre, this is it!” proclaims American Blues Scene magazine. The radio program Memphis Made on Rock 103 FM calls Southern Avenue, “one of the most talked about bands in Memphis.” The group’s self-titled debut album is a breath of fresh air, with its own unique blend of gospel-tinged R&B vocals, roots- and blues-based guitar work, and soul-inspired songwriting. And its upcoming release on the fabled Stax label is a testament to the young combo’s talent and vision.
Southern Avenue features five young but seasoned musicians who came from diverse musical and personal backgrounds to create music that spans their wide-ranging musical interests, while showcasing the powerful chemistry that the group has honed through stage and studio experience. The band is composed of Memphis-born, church-bred sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson, a soulful, charismatic singer and a subtle, powerful drummer, respectively; guitarist Ori Naftaly, an Israeli-born blues disciple who first came to America as an acclaimed solo artist; versatile jazz-inspired bassist Daniel McKee; and keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax’s legendary music academy and the newest addition to the group.
The band members’ diverse skills come together organically on Southern Avenue, released last February by Stax Records, a division of Concord Music Group. Produced by Kevin Houston (North Mississippi Allstars, Lucero, Patty Griffin), the ten-song album features guest appearances by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and trumpeter Marc Franklin of the Bo-Keys. But it’s Southern Avenue’s own potent musical chemistry that drives such soulful originals as “Don’t Give Up,” “What Did I Do,” “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” “Love Me Right,” and “Wildflower.” The band also pays tribute to its roots with an interpretation of Ann Peebles’s Memphis soul classic “Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love.”
The best debut we’ve heard so far this year, and an immediate ‘must have’ release.
It has the real music from the real new soul capital of the Streets of Memphis. It is old and yet sparklingly fresh at the same time. It is music alive and well.