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The Bo-Keys

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The Memphis-based retro-soul act the Bo-Keys trace their roots back to 1998, when musician Scott Bomar was enlisted to create a supporting band for Sir Mack Rice. Bomar decided to revive the sound and sensibility of Memphis in the '60s -- the golden age of Stax/Volt, American Sound Studios, and Hi Records -- and to that end, he enlisted some veterans from the scene, including Ben Cauley, Charles "Skip" Pitts, Howard Grimes, and Archie "Hubie" Turner. The Bo-Keys' lineup proved somewhat flexible but their deep soulful sound remained the same. So expert were the Bo-Keys in keeping the Memphis sound alive, they wound up getting contracted to support a number of artists on records and appear in film and television projects that needed a dose of the real deal. After forming the first version of the Bo-Keys for the 1998 Mack Rice project, Bomar continued with the band, shaping the lineup as they performed live dates. In 2004, they released their debut album, The Royal Sessions, but they received a bigger boost the following year by playing the score for the Terrence Howard-starring hip-hop drama Hustle and Flow. This boosted the Bo-Keys profile and soon they were in other Hollywood productions, including the 2008 Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac vehicle Soul Men; on the soundtrack was the Bomar-produced Anthony Hamilton song "Soul Music," which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. The group's next major project was supporting Cyndi Lauper on her 2010 album Memphis Blues, which Bomar produced. The second Bo-Keys, album Got to Get Back, appeared in 2011, and in the years that followed, they released a series of EPs: Writing on the Wall, I Need More Than One Lifetime, and the Dark End of the Street came out between 2012 and 2013. The Bo-Keys next big project was the 2016 album Heartaches by the Number, a salute to country-soul. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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