Memphians are known for their non-traditional nature which translates in a number of unique ways. Luckily, the same unconventional approach was taken to the inaugural induction ceremony for the Memphis Music Hall of Fame held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Memphis. The ceremony contained no long-winded acceptance speeches or stale slide shows of inductees. Instead, four “story-tellers” shared the legend and history of each inductee. Video, audio and classic pictures added a little flavor to each inductees tale.
There were a few inductees on hand to perform as well as family members who carry on the family talent. Performances included Jonathan Blanchard honoring gospel songwriter, Lucie Campbell, Marvell and Vanessa Thomas honoring their father, Rufus Thomas, Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Star’s honoring their father, Jim Dickinson.
I think it was unanimous among attendees as to what the highlights of the evening were. After they took the stage there was certainly no question as to why they were being inducted. Bobby “Blue” Bland’s understated and yet extraordinarily powerful performance was a fine example of how a one artist on a stage can convey a pure connecting emotion to an entire audience. It actually took me by surprise, not because I doubted his talent or anything like that, I just did not expect to get so much out of it Saxophonist George Coleman delivered a flawless performance, showing off his jazz chops that are certainly steeped in the blues.
Although it has not received as much attention as some of the other performances, Steve Cropper leading the house band on, “In the Midnight Hour,” was a personal highlight since I have long loved his guitar work on so many Stax classics, not to even mention the man is an original Blues Brother!
If I could change anything, it would be to have a few less inductees for the year (which I hear will be the case in coming years) so that each could have had more time in the spotlight. There were no lightweights in this group by any stretch. Let’s take our time with this one guys… with any luck we will have many more induction ceremonies and chances to honor the plethora of talent this city has brought to the world.