Hot Watts

Film/Music Friday, August 17

In 1972, Stax Records — a prominent (now defunct) southern soul, funk and blues label — staged a benefit concert in Los Angeles for a predominately African-American crowd of more than 90,000. Dubbed Wattstax and held seven years after the Watts Riots as a part of the annual Watts Summer Festival, the concert promoted Stax artists while celebrating African-American culture and empowerment. Filmmaker Mel Stuart was hired to document the event, but rather than produce a run-of-the-mill concert film, he decided to focus more on the African-American experience. His film crews engaged Watts neighborhood denizen on street corners, and in restaurants, barbershops and churches, then augmented these "man-on-the-street"-style interviews with scathing comic commentary on race relations by a young, then relatively unknown Richard Pryor. This footage, along with various candid musical moments in Watts, was interspersed with memorable Wattstax concert performances by Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, the Staple Singers, the Emotions, the Bar-Kays and several others. See Wattstax this Friday night during a pair of WMNF-hosted screenings; an 'MNF DJ spins R&B before and after both. Fri., Aug. 17, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Beach Theatre, 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach, $7, 727-360-6697, beachtheatre.com.

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