Liner Note Authors: Jim Lancaster; Stanley Booth.
Recording information: Ardent Recording; Sam Phillips Recording.
Photographer: Pat Rainer.
Memphis, Tennessee has long been one of America's great cities for music, but the '70s saw the town going through a difficult and often painful transition. The city's place in the civil rights movement became a troubling legacy in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination, and urban renewal and changing tastes came together to turn Beale Street, one of the city's landmarks, into a testimony to poverty and neglect. In 1979, musician, producer, and proud son of Memphis James Luther Dickinson paid homage to the musical and cultural history of his hometown with the album Beale Street Saturday Night, an audio vérité collection that features the music and stories of Beale Street's past and present. The album includes performances from veteran blues artists Furry Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, and Grandma Dixie Davis, as well as younger interpreters of the Memphis blues traditions such as Sid Selvidge and Mud Boy & the Neutrons, interspersed with interviews with people who witnessed the glory days of Beale Street as a haven for both music and wild living. Created with both love and vexation, Beale Street Saturday Night is a fascinating time capsule of Memphis' past and a meditation on the challenges of the future, many of which remain relevant in the 21st century, while the music is timeless. ~ Mark Deming