The stage set up on the back parking lot behind the museum and Stax Music Academy featured a series of performances from local and out-of-town school groups, as well as former Stax artists The Astors, The Temprees, The Mad Lads and William Bell. In addition there were children’s crafts and recreational activities and food vendors, and a crowd of several hundred turned out on Sunday, after the event was postponed from Saturday due to rain.
Today at the Stax Museum, a listening party was held for the new album from Wendy Rene, a Light in the Attic compilation that makes available for the first time all the recordings Wendy made for Stax in the early 1960’s, including some that had never been released. Wendy Rene was there to meet people and sign autographs, and great music was provided by a crew of Djs spinning rare soul, including DJ Daniel and Scott Bomar of the Bo-Keys. Also on hand were local rap stars Playa Fly and Cities Aviv, trumpeter Ben Cauley, Stax historian Deanie Parker and music journalist Andrea Lisle. Truly a great occasion to celebrate a great person and some great music!
In some ways, Charles “Packy” Axton was the forgotten man in the Stax Records saga. The son of one of the partners, Estelle Axton, he was a saxophone player in the original Stax band, the Mar-Keys, along with Don Nix and others. Exiled from Stax by his uncle, Jim Stewart (by some accounts due to drugs and/or alcohol), he recorded only a handful of sides before dying tragically in 1974, only in his thirties. But the really hip Light in the Attic Records label out of Seattle has assembled all the material they could find into one cool CD called “Late Late Party”, and the album release party at the Stax Museum was something of an all-star gala, despite the odd time of 4 PM on a Tuesday afternoon. Scott Bomar of the Bo-Keys was there, as well as Andrea Lisle, local Memphis music writer, Robert Gordon, the author of It Came From Memphis, legendary bluesman/photographer Don Nix, who had been Packy’s bandmate in the Mar-Keys, and L. H. White, who was the “L.H.” in L. H. and the Memphis Sounds, who cut four sides under Packy’s direction that would ultimately come out on the Nashville-based Hollywood label. Altogether, it was a good time with good music, and the only sad thing being that Charles “Packy” Axton never saw such acclaim during his lifetime.