Monday, July 16, 2012

The July Newsletter from the MSMA

Welcome to the
MSMA Newsletter!

     The annual W.C. Handy Music Festival starts July 20th here in the Shoals.  This festival showcases our rich local talent as well as some amazing musicians from all over the planet!  Music is everywhere during the 9-day festival.  The Blind Boys of Alabama will headline this year's festival.  We hope that you will come and be a part of the great musical heritage that we have here in the Shoals!  You can download the Handy Events Calendar here:

     Thank you to Steve Melton for reminding us not to forget about the recording engineers that are a huge part of the Muscle Shoals legacy.  Stay tuned for some feature articles highlighting the guys that were "behind the scenes" during recording sessions for The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Paul Simon and many, many more!

     Please forward this newsletter to anyone that might be interested in the Shoals music scene.  We want to continue to promote our music beyond our borders.   Thanks for your support!

Christine Ohlman Joins The Decoys for Handy Show

By Terry Pace

     A powerhouse voice in the world of pure, unadulterated American rhythm-and-blues and soul-drenched rock ’n’ roll will be joining the Muscle Shoals Music Association and a stellar array of Muscle Shoals musicians for a spectacular, spirit-lifting concert celebration during the 2012 W.C. Handy Music Festival.
     The beloved “Beehive Queen” herself – electrifying soul singer Christine Ohlman – will headline the MSMA fund-raiser on Thursday, July 26, at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center in Florence, Alabama. The Shoals’ own Wildwood Ruminators will open the show at 7 p.m. The “Queen of Blue-Eyed Rock and Soul” will perform – backed by the all-star Muscle Shoals band The Decoys – beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show – co-sponsored by Northwest-Shoals Community College, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Marriott Shoals – are $10 per person and available at the door.
     “Soul music has always touched me so deeply, and never deeper than the music of FAME, 3614 Jackson Highway and Muscle Shoals Sound,” maintains Ohlman, who lives in Connecticut but considers the Southern-soul mecca of Muscle Shoals her musical second home. “I absolutely treasure, as well, the people of the Shoals. It's like being part of a special, ultra-heartfelt family, and I am honored to be called its adopted daughter.”
     Renowned worldwide as the long-time vocalist for NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live Band, Ohlman earned universal critical praise for her 2010 release with Rebel Montez, The Deep End. The album – which was honored on five national Top Ten lists – features unforgettable collaborations with special guests and duet partners Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, Marshall Crenshaw and the late, great Levon Helm. Award-winning music historian Peter Guralnick – author of Sweet Soul Music, Lost Highway, Feel Like Going Home and the two-volume Elvis Presley biography Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love – hailed Ohlman’s music as “tough, tender, thoughtful and sassy – R-E-A-L, as Sam Phillips was wont to say.”
     For her Handy concert with the MSMA, Ohlman says she’s particularly honored to be performing live with world-class Decoys musicians Scott Boyer, Kelvin Holly, David Hood, N.C. Thurman and Mike Dillon – seasoned players that she considers “the current standard-bearers” of authentic Muscle Shoals soul.
     "Our set on July 26 will lean heavily on Shoals favorites of mine – with a sprinkling of Memphis Sun classics thrown in as a nod to Sam and Jerry Phillips – melded with some of my more soulful originals – and, of course, ‘Love Make You Do Stupid Things,’ ” Ohlman explains. “It’s a dance concert, so don't plan on sitting down for long. Let's celebrate the heart and soul of the Beehive/Shoals connection – and raise some money for the good work of the Muscle Shoals Music Association while we're at it!”
     During her visit to the Shoals, Ohlman will also perform as a special guest during the Handy festival’s climactic headliner concert by the Grammy Award-winning Blind Boys of Alabama beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at Norton Auditorium in Florence. Tickets for that concert are $30 per person.
     “Sitting in with the Blind Boys promises to be especially memorable for me – what a gift, what a joy!” Ohlman concluded. “I only hope to be able to give back with my music some of the love that has been showered on me.”
     In addition to the Ohlman concert, the MSMA will also co-sponsor (with Pillar of Fire and the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library) two special W.C. Handy Music Festival editions of The Screening Room film series at the library in downtown Florence. Admission is free.
     Legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section musicians Jimmy Johnson and David Hood will help introduce the concert documentary Wattstax (1973, featuring the Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Luther Ingram, Eddie Floyd and other Muscle Shoals and Memphis recording artists) at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 24. Muscle Shoals singer, songwriter, guitarist and former Little Richard band member Travis Wammack and Shoals native Ken Lovelace – guitarist, fiddler and leader of Jerry Lee Lewis’ band for the past 45 years – will help introduce the concert documentary The Legends of Rock ’n’ Roll (1989), featuring Lewis, Richard, James Brown, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Bo Diddley, at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 26.


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

     A chance meeting in an airport sparked an idea that turned into a Muscle Shoals music institution. In 1981, while waiting on a flight, Florence veterinarian David Mussleman and Sheffield/Yale University musician and educator Wille Ruff started talking about their shared interest in the music that originated in the Muscle Shoals area. This conversation led to the formation of the Music Preservation Society and the W.C. Handy Music Festival.

     In August of 1982 the first of thiry years of this great hometown attraction was held at Norton Auditorium. The headliners were jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and the Mitchell/Ruff Duo. Every year since the festival has featured artists from all genres with acts such as vocal groups Take 6 and Manhattan Transfer, blues artists Bobby Blue Bland and Little Milton, R&B stalwarts Percy Sledge and Clarence Carter, jazz instrumetalists Jimmy Smith and Ramsey Lewis. Representing more modern music have been Mac McAnally and the Drive-By Truckers.

     The Blind Boys of Alabama will headline this year's festival as we enter the next 30 years of Handy celebrations. 

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 Bottletree

Big Deal

Local band Bottletree releases self-titled EP.  Bottletree is James LeBlanc, Angela Hacker, Scott Boyer III, Byron Green, Jon Davis & Zach Thomas.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit will record 
2 live shows on August 17th at Workplay 
in Birmingham, AL, and August 18th 
at Crossroads in Huntsville, AL.
The Civil Wars release video from their performance at Bonnaroo
Photo of Holli Mosley

In The Studio 

Holli Mosley
James LeBlanc
Larry Byrom - Alicia Keys overdubs
Finding Harmony - film - Billy Zane, Alison Eastwood, Anna Margaret
Judd Hall
Ace Records Remastering

@The NuttHouse
Belle Adair
Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson
The Local Saints
Billy Smart/Jacob Lovell
Mike Pyle
Wildwood Ruminators

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

Songwriter demos for Bud McGuire, Mike McGuire, Rusty Moody, Marty Lewis, Ronny Vines, Norm DeVasure.
Jingles for Hughes Radio, Carlsbad, NM….Hightower Media/KMOO, Mineola, TX….WBCD Radio, Jasper, IN….Cumulus Radio, Tuscaloosa, AL.

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

Hall of Fame Rises from the ashes

     Northwest- Shoals Community College has reopened the doors to Alabama’s musical Legacy.
     The Alabama Music Hall of Fame has been closed due to lack of funding from the state for the past eight months. Within this time, Northwest-Shoals Community College has devised a plan to lease the AMHoF and its 40 acres of property for $5,000 per month for six months. After receiving Alabama Community College System Chancellor approval, Wiley Barnard, Executive Director of the Hall of Fame, and Dr. Humphrey Lee, President of Northwest-Shoals, formally contracted on May 25 to make this plan a reality.
     While the hall of fame itself will still be under Barnard’s direction, the college will assume responsibility for day-to-day expenses and pay the hall of fame a $5,000 per month lease.
     The ultimate goal of Northwest-Shoals President Humphrey Lee is to purchase the buildings and the roughly 40 acres surrounding the hall.  The property can be used for expanding the college campus, and student interns can assist Barnard in the facility’s operation. The purchase must be approved by the state board of education and the two-year college chancellor.
     According to Lee, reopening the AMHoF could bring a great infusion of energy to the Shoals. “I think this is the perfect time to reopen the Hall of Fame,” he said. “The Shoals area offers so much this time of year with the different festivals and tourism packages. This will just give our local tourism bureaus one more thing to showcase.”
     Barnard echoes Lee’s sentiments and he is relieved to finally be able to reopen. “This a tremendous day for the area,” said Barnard. “We have been working so hard to get to this point. I believe visitors to our area and the community will really reap the fruits of our labor.”
     The AMHoF will be open Thursday-Saturday from 11am-5pm.


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