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Release: Jan. 21, 2000

Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples headline 'Memphis R&B Revue' Feb. 12

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Booker T. Jones, who hit the top of the charts with Booker T. and the MGs, and Mavis Staples of Staples Singers gospel fame will headline the "Memphis R&B Revue" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. The concert is part of the UI celebration of African-American History Month.

Memphis, Tenn., has been a musical crossroads, including being one of the first stops on the northward trek of blues and jazz. The city has welcomed and mixed a wide variety of musical styles, including not only blues and jazz but also gospel, rock and country -- infusing them all with the city's own soul.

Stax Records was the sound of Memphis in the 1960s and '70s, and the Staples Singers and Booker T. and the MGs were two of the label's mainstays.

The MG in Booker T. and the MGs stood for "Memphis Group." The son of a Memphis high-school math teacher and a school secretary, Jones was sneaking into Memphis clubs to play as early as the age of 14, and he began to perform at Stax sessions at the age of 16.

His MGs, with guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Duck Dunn, became the "house band" for Stax, backing up artists including Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. Jones performed on some of the most influential records in R&B history, including "Born Under a Bad Sign," "Hold On, I'm Coming," "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "Try a Little Tenderness."

In 1962, when Jones was a senior in high school, his group cut "Green Onions," which sold a million copies, and was followed by six other Top 40s hits, including "Hip Hug-Her," "Groovin'" and "Soul-Limbo." The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

In the 1970s and '80s Jones produced hit recordings of Willie Nelson, Bill Withers, Rita Coolidge and Earl Klugh, and performed on recordings with Bobby Darin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, Barbra Streisand, Boz Skaggs, Soul Asylum, John Lee Hooker and Kris Kristofferson. The re-formed MGs were the house band for Bob Dylan's Tribute Concert in 1991 and toured Europe and the United States with Neil Young in 1993.

Since 1993 Jones has been honored with three Bammie Awards as outstanding keyboard artist in the San Francisco Bay area, and he has scored films and contributed music to features including "Get Shorty," "White Men Can't Jump" and "Little Big League." His next film project is "Empress of the Blues," based on the life of Bessie Smith.

With her father and siblings, Mavis Staples first achieved stardom on the gospel circuit, before the Staples Singers crossed over into R&B and pop music. The Staples Singers became one of the most influential groups of the '70s, pioneering "contemporary gospel" and leaving their mark on everyone from Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind and Fire to the Winans and Amy Grant.

In 1987 Prince signed Mavis Staples to a long-term contract on his Paisley Park label, including the CDs "Time Waits for No One" and "The Voice." She was the opening act for his "Nude Tour" and a part of the "Love Sexy" tour.

Her most recent project is "A Tribute to Mahalia Jackson" on Verve. Hal Horowitz wrote in CD Reviews, "Only Lucifer himself could fail to be moved by her awesome singing."

The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is the corporate sponsor of the "Memphis R&B Revue" through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $35, $32 and $29. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price. Hancher volume-purchase discounts are still available.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Learn more about Booker T. Jones and Mavis Staples on the World Wide Web at <http://www.rosebudus.com/jones/> and <http://www.rosebudus.com/staplem/index.html>. For information and calendar updates on UI arts events, visit <http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr>.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Direct interview requests to the Rosebud Agency, 415-386-3456. The fax number is 415-386-0599, and the e-mail address is <Rosebudus@aol.com>.)