Powell plays keyboards in the Memphis soul/blues band Southern Avenue, currently on-tour across the U.S. and Europe in support of their new album on the legendary Stax label.
Upcoming tour dates include May 23 at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City and May 24 at Brooklyn Bowl for Rock and Wrap It Up! Presents A Tribute to The New York Giants.
Find out more at www.southernavenueband.com
NAME: Jeremy “Mr. 88” Powell
HOMETOWN: Memphis, TN
MUSICAL TRAINING: I am self-taught on keyboard, but I started playing the Hammond B3 organ in church when I was around 10-years-old. I was in marching and jazz band for trumpet in middle and high school, including after school training at the Stax Music Academy from 2002-2014. I used my trumpet theory lessons to teach myself keyboard theory.
FIRST GIGS: My first paying gig was at the age of 17 at a juke joint in Memphis called the Blue Worm. I began playing music full time at 21 years-old, when I picked up gigs with various artists on Beale Street.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock and Booker T. Jones are all major influences for me.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Right now, I have so much music in my head that I'm just working hard to get that out to the world first. Also, we're so busy on the road that I tend to sit back in the van and let my bandmates fight over playing road DJ!
INSTRUMENTS PLAYED: Organ, piano, trumpet and drums.
MY BIG BREAK: It’s funny to think of a “big break,” like winning the music lottery. Musically I feel extremely lucky right now. We have a great new album out on the Stax label, which for a Memphis-bred musician is a dream come true. I have been fortunate to play music in front of thousands of people from all over the world, and I am beyond blessed to be able to have a career doing what I love.
LATEST ALBUM: Our debut album with Southern Avenue on Stax Records (Concord Music). I loved making this album and I enjoy the different elements of “Memphis music” found in the songs. There’s soul, blues, rock, funk...and we love to jam these songs out live. It was a ton of fun to make the album in and around Memphis (some tracks were cut at the legendary studio, Jim Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch about 40 minutes from town) and I'm really proud of the way it came out...and that fans across the globe really seem to dig it! Our album was also released as an LP and was actually pressed in Memphis as well.
FAVORITE KEYBOARD GEAR: I prefer a Yamaha Motif XF-8 setup with a Roland KC-550 amp. I have a pretty simple setup. I use the Yamaha volume pedal and a simple sustain pedal, although I wouldn’t mind adding a portable Hammond B-3 and Leslie, or a Yamaha Montage to my collection. If I have to use another keyboard, I definitely always prefer 88 keys on it.
WHAT’S NEXT: I am looking forward to getting some of this music out of my head and into some songs with my Southern Avenue bandmates Ori Naftaly, and Tierinii and TK Jackson. We are all on a mission, I think, to get some new legendary music out into this world. I am also blessed to play Beale Street with some pretty amazing Blues musicians who are based out of Memphis when I am not on the road with my band. This is my home, and it is a major hub for all types of music these days.
ADVICE: Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Hard work and practice are required to accomplish anything. Just because you have a natural talent, doesn’t mean you don't need to work on your skill and refine your technique. Learn the technical parts of music, but don’t ever let them limit you. Open your mind to new types of music. Lean from them. Learn the blues. It is from this music that most other forms of roots music was formed, from jazz to country.