Soul satisfyin' Booker T. at the Little Fox 

Celebrating a professional music career that spans nearly a half-century, Booker T. Jones has been many things to many people. Though he has recorded and performed with Otis Redding, Willie Nelson, Albert King and Barbra Streisand, Jones made history as the bandleader and keyboard player for pioneering Memphis soul band, Booker T. & the MG’s.

This Sunday, Jones performs at the Little Fox Theatre in Redwood City.

"This is the best time of my life right now — this is the best time in my career that I’ve had. So I’m fortunate, I’m enjoying it," Jones says. "I don’t have to make widgets at a company. I can go downstairs and turn on my keyboard or pick up my guitar, and go play for somebody or talk to somebody about playing. It can’t get any better than that."

That this is the pinnacle of Jones’ career is a revelation. Formed in 1962, Booker T. & the MG’s made waves in the music industry with a unique take on instrumental soul. In addition to serving up its own hits, the group functioned as the house band for legendary Memphis soul label Stax Records, creating what came to be known as the "Stax sound" on recordings with Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and others.

Even then, says Jones, "We weren’t making widgets. Everybody was happy to be at work."

Jones is perhaps best known for the 1962 hit "Green Onions," recorded by Booker T. & the MG’s when Jones was still a high school student.

"If you asked me what my favorite song is, I’d have to say ‘Green Onions,’" he says. "It’s amazing to me that it’s been my favorite for all this time, because it was sort of the first one that I’d really recorded. But it really is, because it captures a special moment in my life, you know? It’s kind of like this diamond in my life that’s kept its glow."

Jones recently earned a particularly high musical honor. Last month, Booker T. & the MG’s were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2007 Grammys.

"This was to me, quite a bit more than a Grammy," Jones says. "I never considered I would be a candidate for something like that. I was surprised, and pleased, naturally. It gave me a place to belong; it made me feel like I belong in music history. ... I don’t know of a more prestigious award that I could get for doing what I do."

IF YOU GO

Booker T. Jones plus Ron Thompson

Where: Little Fox, 2209 Broadway, Redwood City
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $18 to $20
Contact: (650) 369-4119 or www.foxdream.com

Watch a video of Booker T. and the MGs playing "Green Onions" at Examiner's Video Blog.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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