Memphis Slim – Stackolee – Home Is Reborn As Music Collaboratory
For years, the historic home of blues artist Memphis Slim, just a block away from the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, could have inspired a blues song itself.
A fallen tree leaned onto the wide porch, damaging part of the roof of the crumbling structure. Vegetation had begun growing on the inside. But after years of planning and months of construction, the house reopened last month as the Memphis Slim Collaboratory, a low-cost music studio and workshop space developed through a partnership between Community LIFT, the University of Memphis, LeMoyne-Owen College, the Memphis Music Foundation, the Hyde Family Foundations, and ArtPlace America.
Slim, best known for the blues standard “Every Day I Have the Blues,” lived in the two-story home at 1130 College in Soulsville before moving to Chicago in 1939. The original structure had to be demolished because it was in such poor condition.
“The intent was to renovate, but the contractors spent about $25,000 looking into how to do that before they realized it wouldn’t be possible,” said Charlie Santo, a city and regional planning associate professor at the University of Memphis.
But the original bricks from the chimney and wood from the house frame were salvaged and reused in the new two-story construction.
Downstairs is now home to a full recording studio, and upstairs, there’s a computer lab, where musicians can work on promotional materials or upload music online. Workshops will be hosted in the computer lab space. Although the collaboratory held a grand opening at the end of April, they’re still hooking up equipment inside, and it may not be open for recording sessions for a few more weeks.