The Music on the Half Shell headliner Tuesday is Southern Avenue, a band named after a Tennessee street that runs from east Memphis to Soulsville, the original home of Stax Records, where soul music took off.
“They’re a high-energy five-piece band that is Memphis blues from top to bottom,” said Half Shell committee President Clint Newell.
The Memphis quintet melds various genres including soul, rock, rhythm and blues, country and jazz, with some acoustic rock guitar thrown in combined with brass to embody the city’s soul, blues and gospel traditions.
“They’re young, they’re hot and they just released their first album in February,” Newell said.
The band’s musicians may be young, but they’re experienced, bringing diverse musical skills that are beneficial for both stage and studio ventures.
The musicians are Tierinii Jackson, who contributes soulful vocals, and her sister Tikyra Jackson, who plays drums. Both were born in Memphis and raised singing in church.
Guitarist Ori Naftaly is an Israeli-born musician who played blues and funk and worked as a solo artist when first coming to America. Bass player Daniel McKee is jazz-inspired, while keyboardist Jeremy Powell studied at the Stax Music Academy.
The band came together when Naftaly met Tierinii Jackson and decided to leave his solo career behind to expand his musical vision. The two started rehearsing and writing music together and collaborated with similar ideas.
“When I saw Tierinii perform, I thought, ‘This is why I came to America.’ I met her and we clicked,” Naftaly said in an online biography. “We had such a good vibe, and suddenly I didn’t care so much about my solo thing.”
At that point Naftaly put the songs he had written during his solo career behind and wrote a whole new set of songs with Tierinii Jackson. The band soon came together as Southern Avenue and grew so close it felt like family.
The band wrote all its songs during the first nine months of being together and soon began touring throughout America and Europe. It eventually scored a record deal with Stax Records and released its first album earlier this year.
The band’s recent album is self-titled, called “Southern Avenue.” It’s available with track samples on the band’s website at www.southernavenueband.com.
The 10-song album features guest appearances by trumpet player Marc Franklin of the Bo-Keys and Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. The band plays originals on the album with a tribute to the Ann Peebles’ classic called “Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love,” in her Memphis soul style.
“I’ve waited all my life to be in a band like this, and it’s amazing to me that I get to play with these people every night,” Naftaly said. “Our goal is to keep doing this for a long time and leave our mark. We’re trying to build a legacy.”
See Southern Avenue play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Nichols Band Shell in Stewart Park, 2041 NW Stewart Park Dr., Roseburg. For more information about Music on the Half Shell, visit www.halfshell.org.