Maybe it was Memphis. Or maybe he was born with rhythm. But when the teenage Jeff Weintraub picked up his first guitar, it sure felt right. Like many of his Memphis peers in the 1960s, Weintraub was in a garage band with several of his friends, playing standards by the Kinks, the Beatles, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. Calling themselves the Bounders, they rocked local venues and competed in battles of the bands at ’60s clubs like The Bitter Lemon. And, before college became the band’s Yoko in 1967, the friends fed their music obsession by visiting their hometown’s classic blues, rock and jazz joints––which was how Weintraub and company met B.B. King.
This was not just the usual brush with celebrity. This was an actual, honest-to-God meeting. The Bounders were regulars at Club Paradise, Memphis’ most famous blues club––which, at the time, was home to renowned bluesmen like King, Little Milton and Bobby “Blue” Bland. One night after a show, Weintraub and his friends got backstage and knocked on King’s dressing room door. They were pleased to find that the great musician was just as nice in person as he’d seemed on stage. And they were even happier when he wanted to hang out.
But that wasn’t even the highlight of the evening. That came later when King caught Weintraub staring at his legendary guitar, Lucille. “He said, ‘You wanna play it?’ and I said ‘Sure!’” he says. “I got to play Lucille in his dressing room surrounded by my band buddies. He wouldn’t remember me today, but that was one of the seminal moments in my young life.”
Music took a back seat for a few years as Weintraub––now an employment and trial attorney with Weintraub, Stock, & Grisham––pursued his career. But a couple of years ago he and his friends decided to get the band back together. As they practiced and rekindled their onstage chemistry, Weintraub discovered that he and his friends were better musicians than they were as teenagers––and that he wasn’t the only musically inclined lawyer.
“It turned out that there are a number of lawyers in their 50s who play in bands in Memphis, and lots more across the country,” says Weintraub, who also serves on the board of the Memphis Orchestral Society. “It’s really been a neat discovery.”
Now known as Sky King, the band also includes TV producer Steve Hutchinson, high-tech personnel recruiter Mike Bayer, retired banker Walter Reed and printer Bill Hall. But come Saturday night, they’re all just musicians having a ball.
“Maybe it’s our generation,” Weintraub says. “Today there are older people from all sorts of jobs and professions who play in bands. One of my best friends is a top pediatrician who plays in a classic rock group. Why do we do it? It’s challenging, it’s hard work and it’s flat-out fun.”
To hear Sky King, check out gigleader.com/band/Sky-King