Saturday, June 16, 2012

Muscle Shoals Music Association Newsletter

The Muscle Shoals Music Association Newsletter
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Welcome to the
MSMA Newsletter!

Thanks to your support, the MSMA is adding new members all the time!  There is much work to be done promoting Shoals area music and we should all join together in that effort.

Big props to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit for leading the nominations for The Americana Music Awards!  He is nominated in 4 categories.  His latest album, "Here We Rest", was recorded right here in the Shoals.

The MSMA and The Marriott will be co-sponsoring a W.C. Handy event on Thursday, July 26th at The Marriott Convention Center.  The event will feature Christine Ohlman ("The Beehive Queen" from the Saturday Night Live Band) and The Decoys.  We will have all the details for this show in our July Newsletter.  Mark your calendars now!  You don't want to miss this one!  

photo of The Grateful Dead

Donna Jean Godchaux's Long, Strange Trip

By Jimmy Nutt

Donna Jean Thatcher Godchaux MacKay has many names and has lived many lives, it seems.

Every time I go to David and Donna MacKay’s house in Florence, Al., I stand in the hallway and stare at a picture of Donna, Jeannie Greene and …………..ELVIS!  Both of the girls have big smiles on their faces as Elvis puts his arms around them for the shot.  The picture was taken during sessions for “From Elvis in Memphis” back in 1969.

She was known then as Donna Thatcher.  In addition to singing with Elvis, she also appears on albums from Percy Sledge, Cher, Boz Scaggs & Johnny Jenkins.

Fast forward to 1972, San Francisco, Ca.  Donna Thatcher becomes Donna Jean Godchaux and is a member of The Grateful Dead along with her husband Keith Godchaux.  She tours and records with The Dead for nine years (which is like touring for 18 years with any other band!).

After Keith’s tragic death in a car accident, Donna meets David MacKay, who was a Bay Area musician at the time.  David and Donna marry and end up back in Florence, Al. where it all started for young Donna Thatcher.

Donna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 as a member of The Grateful Dead.  She is one of four Shoals area natives to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Spooner Oldham, Percy Sledge and Sam Phillips are the other members of that elite club.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is spotlighting the Grateful Dead with an exhibit that runs from April 12, 2012, until December, 2012.  The exhibit is called Grateful Dead:  The Long, Strange Trip.

“The Grateful Dead is a band that is identified with a remarkable era in American history, and, inasmuch as they embody that era, their work is timeless,” says Jim Henke, Vice President of Exhibits and Curatorial Affairs. “They’ve inspired many performers and bands, but none has exhibited their musical depth and cultural resonance. In a 30-year career, this group wrote their own rules and created a community unlike any band before or since.”

Donna Jean will be speaking at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on July 7th, 2012, as part of the Hall of Fame’s Educational Program.   The program is for students of all ages and the general public.  The interviews are filmed for the new library and archives which just opened this year.  There will be a question and answer portion of the interview for the audience.

Currently, Donna tours with the Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson.  The band consists of Donna (vocals), Jeff Mattson (vocals, guitar), David MacKay (bass), Freeman White (keys) & Joe Chirco (drums).

The Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson will be recording at The NuttHouse Recording Studio this month.  Pete Lavezzoli will be joining the band on drums for these sessions.


David's Diary 

Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section Bassist David Hood has kept all of his work diaries from the mid-sixties to the present. Because they contain information that spotlights the rich history of Muscle Shoals Music, he will share one segment of his diary in this column each month.

By David Hood
Thirty-eight years ago this month (June 3, 1974), Atlantic Records Executive Vice President Jerry Wexler and superstar singer/songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson started production on what would become a true classic record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. The album is "Prone to Lean" and the artist is Muscle Shoals' own Legendary Leaning Man, Donnie Fritts.
This album included songs by Donnie and co-writers Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, Tony Joe White, Eddie Hinton, Troy Seals and Kris Kristofferson. The musicians were an all-star lineup that featured Pete Carr, Jimmy Johnson, Tony Joe White and Eddie Hinton on guitars; Roger Hawkins and Sammy Creason on drums; David Hood and Jerry Masters on bass; Barry Beckett, Mike Utley and Spooner Oldham on organ, keyboards and vibes; and Mickey Raphael on harp. Joining Donnie for the background vocals were Rita Coolidge, Billy Swan, Dan Penn, Kristofferson, John Prine, Spooner Oldham, Eddie Hinton, and Jerry Wexler. This album has become a cult favorite and a true collector's item.     

What else??

Canadian artist Bobby Wills recently filmed a video here in the Shoals.  The song is called "Show Some Respect."  It was written by Bobby Wills, Walt Aldridge & Mike Pyle.  The video has scenes from Downtown Sheffield, UNA and Muscle Shoals.
Check it out at:

Max Russell continues his Shoals Songwriters Showcase every Thursday from 6 til 10 at Frank's Italian Restaurant (500 N Montgomery Ave., Sheffield, Al).  There are 2 featured artists each week hosted by Max Russell.

MSMA 2012 Board
of Directors

Jimmy Nutt - President  
Rodney Hall - Vice President
Larry Bowser - Sec/Treasurer  
David Hood - Past President

Wiley Barnard
Dick Cooper  
Nick Martin
Suzanne Bolton  
Terry Pace
photo of Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

Big Deal

Jason Isbell leads the nominations
for the Americana Music Honors and
    -Artist of the Year
    -Album of the Year (Here We Rest)
    -Song of the Year (Alabama Pines)
    -Duo/Group of the Year
    (Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit)
James LeBlanc gets a cut on Gary Allan's forthcoming album.
"Hungover Heart" is the song title.
It was co-written with Matt Warren.

Big River Broadcasting wins at Radio Ink's second annual Digital Awards
Best Radio Station Website (Markets 101+)
WXFL-FM/Florence, AL

photo of Belle Adair

In The Studio 

Billy Zane
Spooner Oldham and Mark Narmore
Holli Mosley
James LeBlanc 

Angela Hacker
Melody Aires with George Gee
Stephen Padilla
Michael Richardson

@G-Legacy Recording Studio and Productions
Meka B
Cookie Mane

Kevin Richardson
Dillon Hodges
Kristen Hemphill

@The NuttHouse
Bobby Denton
The Fiddleworms
Pat Huggins
Wildwood Ruminators
Jeremiah Grube & Will McFarlane

@RNRDSS (Loretto, Tn)
Johnny Sandy
Hope Stamps
Sam John Passarella
The Sharp Family
The Leoma Singers
A Pair of Aces, Curtis Hall
Chad Bradford & the Damn Band rehearsals
Jeff Quillen Band 

@Studio 144 - Jay Burgess/John Springer
The Nova's
Belle Adair 

Canadian artist Chad Edmonds
Songwriter demos for Bud McGuire, Mike McGuire, Rusty Moody, Marty Lewis, Curtis Wright, Ronnie Vines, Randy Bruce.  Jingles for KMOO Radio, Mineola, TX….WBCD Radio, Jasper, IN….WKDZ Radio, Hopkinsville, KY….KLWB Radio, LaFayette, LA.

If you would like to be included in this column, submit your information to before the 7th of each month.

Christine Ohlman

"I've come here tonight to set your souls on fire," she'll tells an audience. And she will.

This queen of blue-eyed rock n' soul, who grew up loving equally the sweetness of a Memphis horn line and the raunch of an electric guitar riff, whether played by Muddy Waters, Keith Richards, or Pop Staples, teased her blonde hair into a beehive in honor of Ronnie Spector and never looked back, picking up a guitar and forging a career as a songwriter in the process. She’s the current, long-time vocalist with the Saturday Night Live Band, whose latest CD, 2010’s The Deep End, was honored on five national Top Ten lists and features special guests/duet partners Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, and Marshall Crenshaw, plus Levon Helm, GE Smith, Andy York, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, Catherine Russell, Big Al Anderson, and others.

Christine will be appearing with The Decoys during the WC Handy Festival on July 26th at the Marriott Conference Center.


Membership is $10 for one year.
Donations are accepted.
Simply click the link below to pay through PayPal.
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Send check or Money Order to:
PO Box 2383
Muscle Shoals, Al 35662

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Mission Statement

To preserve and promote the legacy and future of Muscle Shoals music.

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Copyright © 2012 MSMA, All rights reserved.
Welcome to the Muscle Shoals Music Association Newsletter!
Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 2383
Muscle ShoalsAL 35662

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