I’m really grateful to Ivan for giving me the opportunity to be part of Live From Center Stage, working behind the Camera and hosting Interviews. I feel that all my life experiences have led me here. I grew up having a love for music, having an aptitude at an early age, but after Suzuki violin and later, trumpet lessons, I realized my role in the process would be that of the listener, and appreciator. I’ve been lucky in my travels to live in Augusta GA as a child (Home of James Brown), and most of my life in Memphis TN. (Stax, Sun Studio). I do have memories of dancing to JB’s I got Ants in My Pants as a young kid. I grew up raiding my older brother and sister’s record collections. Mostly 70’s top forty. The first 45 I bought on my own was EWF’s Shining Star. I wore the groove flat, I played it so much. However, most of my musical revelations occurred in Memphis (and MS).
I remember the first time I heard Funk was in Jr High, for the first time (our school had a jazz funk band). A friend of mine could bring me to tears when she’d play the sax. Something clicked, I realized that music could touch people on an deep emotional level, even at 14. I remember seeing my first band, while at an Auto Show at the Convention Center downtown, with my dad. Probably a Bar-Kay’s cover band. I was blown away by the power of the singer, the horn section, and thumping Bass. My dad couldn’t pull me away. To this day he still remembers me being under a spell. My first concert, I ushered to get in free, was Loggins and Fogleberg ,The Longer Than Tour. I was amazed by the light show most of all. My interests in school became theater, and my hobby was photography. I was lucky my family encouraged and supported me in these endeavors. Theater got me into college to Calarts. When I returned to Memphis, I continued to study theater, film and photography at Memphis State. Where I became the music reviewer for our local paper, The Helmsman. But my dream was to be a film actor. I ended up doing 25+ years of community theater. I did get to do extra work (Great Balls of Fire, Walk The Line, My Blueberry Nights, to name a few.) I even got to be a featured extra in two of the Bar-kay’s Videos.
Growing up in the graceful land of Elvis, I found myself drawn to the more soulful side of the city. The roots of Elvis’ soul. Aside from being blessed to have musical friends, I was lucky enough to see Albert King before he died, to hear Anna Peeples, in the rain. Buddy Guy down by the river. The Memphis Musicfest was definitely a yearly treat. Some other memorable concerts and humblebrags. I saw Joan Jett open for the Police, The White Stripes and the Black Keys before they started playing arenas. But my most religious musical experience was going down to Gravel Springs MS, to catch the Turner/Burnside family picnic and goat roast. Authentic hill country blues at its best, and the continuing tradition of blues drum and fife.
Revelatory. My love and passion for music (and camerawork), along with being an unofficial PR and manager for my musical friends has brought me here. To this place, Live from Center Stage. I still feel like I have the same joy and as I did when I heard Michael Jackson’s Rockin Robbin on a neighbor’s jukebox for the first time, or why I obsessively played Stevie Wonder’s Boogie On Reggae Women 50 times in a row on my college jukebox. Hearing Booker T and the MG’s, and Al Green still makes me homesick. Music really is a powerful thing. Here on Live From Center Stage has been such a joy to help support, especially the new musician still trying to figure out the terrain. Like the groove on my Shining Star 45, which I still have. Although it may be worn down, like a holy object, it’s magic will always be part of me. All of its love and happiness. – Andrew Diggs