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Southern Avenue: Watefront Blues Festival preview

BY SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Southern Avenue brings their take on the classic Memphis-soul sound to the festival tonight at 8:00PM

Stax Records, the legendary Memphis label, has enjoyed a resurgence as of late, reissuing classic recordings and, for the first time in a very long time, putting out new releases.

Southern Avenue, who appear at today's Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, was fortunate enough to be one of the first new acts to have an album released on Stax during its revival, a self-titled debut album rich with the sounds of Memphis soul. The band plays tonight on the First Tech Blues Stage at 8:00PM.

I recently had the chance to talk with Ori Naftaly, the band's founder and lead guitarist, about the project and their take on the classic soul vibe.

What kind of musical influences did you have?

Just what I'm doing now, honestly. Soul music and everything that is soulful, whether it has a solid rock angle, funk, blues or jazz. A lot of jazz. In Israel growing up I had to really dig in order to find something other than James Brown or something like Aretha Franklin. A lot of other artists I had to really dig for. Then You Tube came out when I was older and I was able to really research. I can play a lot of genres and write for a lot of genres, but soul is the most natural thing for me. This is me.

What was it like recording for Stax, that's quite an accomplishment?

It's not like I never thought we'd so Stax, but I knew where I was going to end up with all my hard work. I work very hard so I knew my time would come. With Stax, we started the band in September 2015 and we signed in June '16, like 8, 9 months later after i started the band. That was the crazy part. We all knew we've got something good and a major label would end up helping us record and support us, but Stax, and this quick, was unbelievable and still unbelievable.

As a new band, how do you build your fan base?

We're really touring all over the country, trying to find our market and see where people are coming and not coming. But, every time we come back they show up in more numbers. It's really about investing in different cities and states at this point. We can have hundreds of people in Tampa that we never expected to come and we have no idea where they came from. Then we play a bigger city like and it changes. You can find us play for 10, 20 people, or you can find us play for thousands, it's really that time of our career.


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