In 1967, iconic Memphis soul label Stax took some of its best artists — Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, and more — on a tour of Europe. The trip put a racially integrated band and some of the era's most feverish black R&B singers in front of mostly staid audiences that had never seen anything like it before. And Stax's fiery performers didn't tone it down: their stages became swamps of sweat night after night, as each singer tried to outdo their predecessor over the unrelenting groove of the Stax house band, Booker T. and the MG's.
The Stax revue performances are now legendary, for good reason. And tonight, psych-soul outfit Harry and the Hit Men will be performing the entire 1967 Stax Revue concert from Norway at the Great American Music Hall. Although nothing could match the original shows, tonight is pretty much guaranteed to become a wild dance party.
The Santa Cruz group specializes in Stax and Motown covers, but even for them, learning to perform the more than hour-long Norway Stax show presented a few challenges. “It was tough,” recalls band member Scott Markson, who plays keyboards and trumpet, and also sings. “These are just incredible performances. It's very inspiring, which was a big help, but it definitely took a lot of time.”