- Thursday, March 29, 2018, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$35 - $62
The last time the soul band Southern Avenue blew through town, I commented in these pages that maybe a decade on the road would put grit into their sound. Sounds like they’ve done it in just six months. Tierinii Jackson, frontwoman and singer for the band, puts it across with a ripe Mavis Staples-like gospel intensity despite her relative youth. To hear Ori Naftaly tell it, Jackson was his tipping point. Her voice, he told a reporter, gave him goosebumps. So he rolled the dice and asked her to join his blues band. Jackson’s answer was yes with one condition: he had to hire her sister too.
Southern Avenue performing "Don't Give Up" at Music City Roots Live From The Factory on 1.25.2017
Naftaly is an Israeli-born guitarist. He learned American blues while growing up in the Holy Land. As the story goes, it was the International Blues Challenge, an annual contest in Memphis, that brought Naftaly stateside in 2013. He did not win, but he liked what he saw of the U.S., got an artist’s visa, started a band, and eventually crossed paths with the Jackson sisters. With Tierinii in front and Tikyra on drums, Jeremy Powell on keys, and bassist Daniel McKee, Naftaly had his dream band by 2015. Their new band name is a nod to the legendary Stax Records — Southern Avenue was basically the studio’s address.
Southern Avenue likewise entered the International Blues Challenge. They did not win either, but they did land a deal with Stax. No, soul is not this generation’s music. Neither is it fueled by the social demons of old that made the original soul/blues flow like molasses even as it cut like a razor. But Southern Avenue works because they update the place where the Staples Singers and an entire generation of gospel/soul got lost to a changing culture. And if an Israeli bluesman and his cohorts can keep this music from going to the museum of past glory, then so be it.
Galactic also performs.