the motown / stax revue

One of the main goals of The Extended Play Sessions is to preserve, promote and advocate for traditional American Roots music. Within that goal we're always trying new ways to educate the audience about historical perspectives and comparisons to different styles of music. We did it with the Blue Note and Verve jazz tributes and recently we tried it with a Motown / STAX Revue band. The idea was to draw distinctions in the style of music between to those two legendary soul labels and their place in music history in the 1960's.

STAX Records began as Satellite Records in 1957 and changed to STAX in 1961. It featured several popular ethnically integrated bands (including the label's house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s) and a racially integrated team of staff and artists unprecedented in that time of racial strife and tension in Memphis and the South. The label's use of "one studio, one equipment set-up, the same set of musicians and a small group of songwriters led to a readily identifiable sound. It was a sound based in black gospel, blues, country, and earlier forms of rhythm and blues. It became known as southern soul music.

MOTOWN Records was based in Detroit and played an important role in the racial integration of popular music as an African American–owned label that achieved significant crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its subsidiary labels (including Tamla Motown, the brand used outside the US) were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as the Motown Sound, a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence. Motown was the most successful record label of soul music, achieving spectacular success for a small label: 79 records in the top-ten of the Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 1969.

With the idea in hand Boston based drummer Brandon Mayes put together a solid 5 piece ensemble and a spectacular set list that highlighted the distinct sound between the two labels. Singers Neph McCrary and Sarah Seminski handled the vocals with power and authenticity while the rhythm section of bassist Carl Torye and Mayes kept the beat and keyboardist Yusaku Yashamura and guitarist Eric Vincent provided all the necessary fills to make the music pop. Both Neph McCrary and Sarah Seminski have booming soulful pipes and solid stage presence.

It was an incredible night of music with hit after hit in front of a sold out house. Mission accomplished.


Neph McCrary - vocals
Sarah Seminski - vocals

Yusaku Yashamura - keyboards

Eric Vincent - guitar

Carl Torye - bass

Brandon Mayes - drums



The Session Crew

Produced and edited by:
Bill Hurley

Maribeth Arena

Bill Hurley
H. Nat Stevens
Joanne Craig

Eric Nordstrom
Connor Quigley

Mixed by:
Connor Quigley

Lighting/Special Effects:
Rick Smith

Stage Production:
Gerry Earabino

Dan Busler Photography