In 2009 Booker T. Jones teamed up with Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young on the scorching, Grammy-winning LP, Potato Hole. It was a late-career triumph that brought a whole new audience to Booker T’s music and reinvigorated his undeniable sound for the modern age. For those who were lucky enough to catch the music legend’s set at the Grand Opening of Pearl Street Warehouse in the Wharf District in Washington, DC, it was clear that Potato Hole, and the two albums he made after that, were no fluke. More importantly, the now seventy-two-year-old soul man shows no time of slowing down anytime soon.
Supported by his son Ted Jones on guitar, Darian Gray on drums, and Melvin Brannon, Jr on bass, Jones tore through a quick, but potent set of older hits like “Green Onions”, Muddy Waters “Mannish Boy”, and the mighty Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” (Jones played second guitar on the latter two.) Mixed in with those newer classics to which he brought a renewed sense of urgency too. His all-instrumental take on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything” (which he covered with his friends The Roots on 2011’s The Road From Memphis) found members of the crowd spontaneously offering their own take, singing along to the modern day inner-city anthem. In the same spirit, his take on the late Prince’s “Purple Rain” with just him and his son on stage highlighted its core of a plea for eternal peace that clearly resonated with a stunned DC audience.
It’s wild to think that Booker T’s music, which rose to prominence/helped soundtrack the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s is now, and sadly, just as relevant in 2017 as it was then, but true soul music never ages. And it never dies. “Green Onions” might have got asses moving way back in 1962, but the real triumph was that it was delivered into the world by a multi-racial band that knew what anyone who is on the right side of history knows, that we are at our best when we’re getting down. Together. Everything IS everything, and love rules over all. Booker T. Jones still believes that, and anyone who was lucky enough to be in the room for this intimate performance does now too.