Beale Street Saturday Night, the classic album produced by the legendary Jim Dickinson, is to be re-released through Omnivore on April 14. The album featured Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis and local legends Sid Selvidge and Dickinson’s own Mud Boy & The Neutrons.
When Memphis’ Beale Street — a hub of music and activity since the 1860s —was being plowed under for ‘urban renewal’ in 1976, James Luther (Jim) Dickinson — who had played with the Stones, Ry Cooder, and the Flamin’ Groovies (later with Bob Dylan and the Cramps among others), as well as produced Big Star, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Alex Chilton (also, The Replacements, Green On Red, and Mudhoney) — decided to not only celebrate the legacy of great Memphis music, but make the mythic street back into the place where both the blues and rock ’n’ roll originated.
A cadre of Memphis musicians, photographers, artists, thespians, and ‘appropriate weirdos’ gathered under Dickinson’s direction to record the heart of Beale Street, past and present. From blues legends Furry Lewis and Sleepy John Estes to singer-songwriter Sid Selvidge and Dickinson’s own Mud Boy & the Neutrons, Beale Street Saturday Night is an audio trip through Memphis music history.
Recorded in places varying from artists’ homes, to Ardent Studios, to the Orpheum Theatre, Beale Street Saturday Night was originally created as a fundraiser for the Memphis Development Foundation to help restore Beale Street’s legendary Orpheum Theater. This reissue will serve a similar purpose, as a portion of the proceeds will go to support the radio program Beale Street Caravan, which focuses on Memphis music, new and old.
The reissue of Beale Street Saturday Night (on CD, digital, and LP on clear vinyl with download card) features new liner notes from producer Jim Lancaster (who worked on the original release) and previously unseen photos by resident Memphis expert Pat Rainer, who also worked on the original recording, as well as a cover photo by William Eggleston. (This first-ever reissue of Beale Street Saturday Night was curated under the supervision and with the blessing of the Dickinson family).
According to Luther Dickinson, “Only in Memphis would young white record producers put such raw black music and storytelling together to create an integrated southern masterpiece. Only in the grooves of this record does this Memphis exist, the ghosts telling the stories to the kids, aged memory and youthful fantasy combining to create a world all its own. Only James Luther Dickinson could have produced Beale Street Saturday Night. World Boogie is coming.”
In 1977, Memphis was officially declared ‘Home of the Blues’ by an act of Congress.
1. Walkin’ Down Beale Street — Sid Selvidge
2. Hernando Horn — Fred Ford
3. Beale Street Blues — Grandma Dixie Davis
4. Big Fat Mama/Liquor Store — Sleepy John Estes
5. Ol’ Beale Street Blues — Prince Gabe
6. Furry’s Blues — Furry Lewis
7. Rock Me Baby— Teenie Hodges
8. Rock Me Baby — Alex Chilton
9. “Ben Griffin was killed in the Monarch . . .” — Thomas Pinkston
10. Frisco Blow — Johnny Woods
11. On the Road Again — Mud Boy & the Neutrons
12. “Mr. Handy Told Me 50 Years Ago . . .” — Thomas Pinkston
13. Chicken Ain’t Nothin’ But a Bird — Furry Lewis
14. Roll on, Mississippi — Grandma Dixie Davis
Watch the trailer for Beale Street Saturday Night: