Music » Livewire

The Box Tops

With Cold Cold Hearts. Friday, March 2, at the Beachland.

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Memphis has long been a city that stews together a wide set of varied influences: southern soul, rockabilly, R&B, country, blues, and pop. And the Box Tops -- who stumbled into a perennial hit while barely out of high school with 1967's "The Letter" -- proudly wore their soul on their sleeves.

In what must be the most easygoing reunion of all time, the Box Tops -- including lead singer, cult figure, and Big Star dude Alex Chilton -- ended up back together a little more than 10 years ago at the behest of bassist and keyboardist Bill Cunningham. The reunion was a pure lark -- just to try out a technologically updated studio. But now, instead of churning out oldies for fat ladies in halter tops every summer -- or simply bowing to Chilton's name -- the whole band remains invested in down-home generosity and continued discovery. At the same time, their performances do help to "explain where [Chilton] came from, as well as where we come from," Cunningham says. "When you start looking at everything, and you dig deep enough, you'll see that a lot of people knew one another, and a lot of people influenced one another."

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