Stax To The Max Returns to Memphis


Submitted to Cashbox Canada

For the third year in row, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is taking it to the streets with its STAX TO THE MAX, all-day, outdoor, FREE music and arts festival. This year’s event, billed as Arts Memphis Presents Stax to the Max, takes place Saturday, April 27th, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.

Stax Records, an American record label started in Memphis, Tennessee,was founded in 1957 as Satellite Records and the name Stax Records was adopted in 1961. The label was a major factor in the creation of the Southern soul and Memphis soul music styles, also releasing gospel, funk, jazz, and blues recordings. While Stax is renowned for its output of African-American music, the label was founded by two white business people, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton  STewart/AXton = Stax) and featured several popular ethnically-integrated bands, including the label's house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s. One of the biggest stars signed to Stax was Otis Redding, who had the major hit ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a museum located in Memphis, Tennessee, at 926 McLemore Avenue, the former location of Stax Records. It is operated by Soulsville USA, which also operates the adjacent Stax Music Academy.

Stax to the Max in MemphisStax to the Max in MemphisCanadian Icon Mel Shaw Talks About the Stax To The Max Show:

SG: how did it happen that the Vic High R&B Band were the first Canadian group selected to appear at Stax to the Max?
Mel: That happened while my wife Fran and I, with two associates from Canada, were visiting Memphis for the development of DREAM SINGER The MUSICAL Memphis Edition.The invitation for the group to perform came from the Soulsville Foundation CEO Mark Wender during our meeting at his office. He realized that our recording schedules in Memphis would coincide date wise with their big once a year Soul Celebration called STAX TO THE MAX. Mark was aware, through our discussions, that the Vic High R&B Band were young but serious musicians and that they had played BB Kings in Nashville. I assured Mark of their professional manner and that they would have a great deal of respect for the Stax tradition.

SG:That will be a lifetime memory for the young band. Tell me more about the meeting.
Mel: We were meeting with Mark to talk about the Stax history, the Memphis talent scene and the impact of Stax Records on the history of Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Popular music. The Stax Academy has been developing young Memphis artists for over ten years and inspiring everyone with the Stax heritage for over fifty years. We will have an opportunity to see several of the Memphis acts on Apri 27th when the Vic High R&B Band get a chance to perform.

SG: When did you get the Vic High R&B Band involved with Dream Singer?
Mel: It all came about when I called for some demos of this HIGH SCHOOL R&B BAND from Victoria that was causing a stir. I found out that Eric Emde created the R&B Band concept of young high school musicians and singers playing R&B over twenty years ago. Stax Museum of American SoulStax Museum of American SoulIt took me long enough to hear of them and what impressed me was they have been mentored by BJ Cook, a well known Canadian songwriter, and Martha Reeves from Martha and the Vandellas. I thought, I have to hear this group and when I did it convinced me they could be a core unit for an eventual DREAM SINGER VICTORIA EDITION of the musical. I was right. Now Eric, who by the way is also the musical director as well as founder, agreed to record two songs on behalf of the Victoria edition. As it turned out, we made it happen in Nashville during a full week visit in 2012.

SG:How did that turn out for them?
Mel: Fran and I made sure it would be the trip of a lifetime - performing at BB King's Blues Club, producing an HD video of the group performing and strutting up and down Nashville's Broadway Avenue.

Stax and SunStax and SunSG: Now the first Vic High R&B release. When will you go to market?
Mel: We have the first release - HIGHER AND HIGHER made famous by a Dream Singer inspiration artist, Jackie Wilson all ready to go, but we have a video only half finished. The beginning was shot at BB King's in Nashville and will end with the Vic High band in Memphis strutting down Beale performing the song. we will then release  the track and the video. It may even be in 3D.

SG: I believe the young group is going to enjoy every minute of this Memphis experience.
Mel: I agree Sandy. It is their first time in Memphis and they are excited to be a part of the premiere MEMPHIS happening, Stax to the Max all day concert. Fran and I are thrilled for them as they experience being in the Soul, Rock and Roll and Blues centre of Memphis. They truly will be  experiencing the heart of the city and its music. Your story will be great for the band and for the Stax Academy group as well. So thank you CASHBOX CANADA for helping to tell their story and getting the word out on the new generation of deserving artists. Oh, by the way, they will be recording their follow up track for the musical courtesy of John Schorr, president of the SUN STUDIO, the birthplace of Rock and Roll. We currently have recordings coming from six city editions for Dream SInger The Musical.

This year’s festival, held behind the Stax Museum, features all-day live music, arts performances, vendors, nonprofit booths, food trucks, children’s activities, and more, with people from all over the country and even Canada participating. And in honour of the Stax Museum’s 10th Anniversary in 2013, the event promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
Musical acts include:

* The Soulsville Charter School Jazz Ensemble
* The Vic High School R&B Band from Victoria, British Columbia
* The Monophonics (psychedelic soul and funk from San Francisco)
* Swingtime Explosion (17-piece big band from Memphis)
* Stax Music Academy
* Headline Act: For the headline act beginning at 5:30 pm on the main stage, Stax to the Max is having an old-school Stax and soul throw down, with the Garry Goin Band backing Stax legend William Bell, longtime Memphis soul singer Toni Green, and Kirk Whalum, with rare Memphis appearances by Stax legends the Temprees, the Mad Lads, and the Astors, the latter of which hasn’t performed together in over 40 years.

According to Stax Museum communications director Tim Sampson, “We have a junket of 25 European journalists traveling to Memphis to cover the Stax Museum’s 10th anniversary and we wanted to give them and the crowd a real Stax experience. With the young people of the Stax Music Academy and the performances by the Stax veteran artists, we hope we will convey to everyone that the Stax Museum is more than just a museum, but also a community, a family if you will, that uses the legacy we preserve to bring things into the present and take them into the future.”

For more information please contact Tim Sampson 901-485-8735 or

Vic High R&B BandVic High R&B Band