Archives for category: Gregg Allman

2010, Corb Lund, Hayes Carll, Lucinda Willianms, Hayes’ parents.

September used to be back to school month, now that school starts early, September is not only when the CMA’s hit Nashville, but, when the world comes for Americana, Bluegrass and where Next Big Nashville morphed into Soundland and moved to October.

While Nashville may be known for the CMA’s , Eric Church and Taylor Swift, it is also known for what Rolling Stone called the “coolest music festival in the world”, The Americana Music Festival hits the city for the ultimate pub crawl from September 12th-15th.

Dan Baird with Brad, 2010, Cannery Ballroom, Stones Tribute

Past years have seen everybody from Don Was to Robert Plant to Nashville’s Own, Justin Townes Earle put on some great showcases.  Last years’ awards show mashed up Gregg Allman, Robert Plant with The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars and Mumford and Sons (sorry, the name reminds me of Sanford and Son). In fact, it seemed like a hybrid MTV awards show where music mattered and all sugar pop was left at the end caps in Wal Mart.

This year proves to be no exception, some notable sets will be Memphis night at The Rutledge featuring sets by Jim Lauderdale and the Mississippi All-Stars, okay, yes, I’ll say it again, Jim Lauderdale and The Mississippi All-Stars also a late set featuring an all-star jam playing the music of Big Star.

For those with a traditional view of what is “Americana”, Corb Lund will be at Mercy Lounge this Wednesday followed by a tribute to the late Levon Helm. In fact the line-up seems to be all inclusive with The Wallflowers, Mindy Smith, Chris Scruggs, Rodney Crowell among others playing all over the place for several nights.

As far as Americana goes, the easiest party route is to hang between Mercy Lounge and The Cannery Ballroom with an occasional run to The Basement for some harder to find sets.

Don Was, photo – Brad Hardisty

The problem is, this year, there are some great line-ups at The Rutledge and the Station Inn that will make that shuttle route a little difficult and may necessitate borrowing somebody’s 20-speed bike to get around each night.

Peelander-Z at Exit/In, NBN 2010 – photo – Brad Hardisty

The awards show at the end of the event, always proves to be a magical evening at The Ryman. This year should be no different. I am rooting for Alabama Shakes in the Emerging Artist category as well as Jason Isbell (Alabama represent!) & The 400 Unit with Album of the Year, Here We Rest.

The Dillards, IBMA 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

Not to be outdone, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Week runs from 24th-30th at, for convenience, The Nashville Convention Center and Renaissance Hotel. The IBMA Convention is not just about showcases, but, people are encouraged to carry around their guitars, fiddles, mandolins  and join in the jam sessions that run almost till the sun comes up every night.

You could say Ricky Skaggs is our local Bluegrass patron Saint, with yearly residencies at The Ryman and a new album, Music to My Ears coming out this month, but, there are many new young artists playing traditional bluegrass as well as pulling in some modern ideas and pre-war non-bluegrass styles.

This is the real rebellion. While the music industry is finding a million ways to make computers sing and dance and auto-tune any Disney character into stardom, both the Americana Music Festival and the IBMA World of Bluegrass celebrate real musicianship, communal collaboration and a reason for a Luthier to keep honing his skills in search of the perfect tone wood.

This recipe continues to build both communities with younger generations every year.

After all, how many times can the music business reinvent the 70’s and the 80’s?

Mike Farris hanging at Mercy Lounge, Americana 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

So, while commercial Country is now going to be shown every week in the night time soap, Nashville, basically re-spinning the movie Country Strong, “Americana,” which can claim anything from pre-war anthems to Red Dirt scene country and Bluegrass, New Grass and all its modern heirs are really the new cool. These two celebrations are really the underground cool.

As far as Soundland? What happened? Well, it’s now on October 6th and after a peak year three years ago that featured major music business players talking about the next generation of music delivery and several days of new music, it is now one day down by the river with bands that already play Lollapalooza and other big festivals.

Wanda Jackson signing autographs at Mercy Lounge after Jack White produced album showcase, Americana 2010.

There are only a few locals, when Nashville could really do a Next Big Nashville with such a burgeoning Indie Rock and other type Music Scene, we get Soundland with just a couple of token Nashvillians, PUJOL and Nikki Lane.  I guess we are going for national respect and now start-ups like Secret Stages in Birmingham are filling in the gap. Can I just say…huh?

– Brad Hardisty, Nashviille, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Kenny Vaughan at Mercy 2011

This would be the year that Indie makes more news in Nashville than Country; what Music City is known for. There seems to be much more going on with the ever developing spider web of Funk, Rock and strange magic underbelly from the Gulch to East Nashville.

Before, we get into this weird year, 2012 with its three Friday the 13ths exactly 13 weeks apart, the intrigue of political discord, 12/21/12, which lines up with Rush’s “Temples of Syrinx” released in 1976, prophecy being realized, “Our great computers, fill the hallowed halls, We are the priests of the temples of syrinx, All the gifts of life, Are held within our walls,” ha! Computers, what a blessing and a curse as all the creative occupations occupied by humans are eliminated by this gift we call knowledge at our fingertips. Remember, when Rush wrote “Temples of Syrinx,” a computer took up a whole room. Well, Steve Jobs, one of the great Priests of the digital age has passed onto the spiritual realm.

The Mayan calendar ends shortly after the election, maybe the world won’t come to an end, but, probably a lot of music will be written about end times and there will be an uptick of heavy dirge and Metal music. This may be the year to contemplate life listening to Dark Side of The Moon again or about sinister underlying forces in Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime.

Before we move through this “L” shaped recovery, one of the most mentally difficult times I can remember in my life, let’s rewind.

 As far as music, 2011 was a “run for cover” year as the “360 deal” pop artists keep spinning their “larger-than-life-80’s-on-ecstacy” fluff with the bands that happen to still be signed to major labels sounding not too far off the Katy Perryesque mark. I think the bands were put on warning, “Rock radio is dying so you better have “Moves Like Jagger.”

Okay, before I get to something positive, there were some disappointments. Janes Addiction, while preparing to release their newest album, The Great Escape Artist, put down their last effort, Strays  as not being that good, when in fact Strays did have a couple of great guitar hooks, while this dark piece, weak on guitar, ended up being more reminiscent of Porno for Pyros.  There was not one solid hook on the entire album.

Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to put together a solid if not remarkable effort with new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who may be capable of taking on some Frusciante and Slovak, but not as innovative. Frusciante was a trailblazer; this is like replacing Eddie Van Halen.

So, with FYE the last major chain in Nashville closing its doors at the old Tower Records site, you got your choice, you have major league fluff, really not much different than the cotton candy days before The Beatles and The Rolling Stones crashed the party or you can go outside the box, think for yourself, show up at a Grimey’s in-store or a showcase at The End.

Hello Kelly at The Rutledge, photo courtesy- Jeni George

As far as bands go, Jeff The Brotherhood, joins the two member band fray that goes nationwide, well deserved with great shows locally and at Bonnaroo and beyond. As far as other local rock acts, Hello Kelly always put on a solid show when I saw them this year as well as The Onethroughtens that played solid sets at both the Third Man Vault show and some fashion meets art consortium at Mercy Lounge.

Kenny Vaughan at Ernest Tubb Record Shop

As far as favorite shows, Kenny Vaughan’s record release at Ernest Tubb’s downtown location was the place to be this year with Marty Stuart, the Fabulous Superlatives as well as Chris Scruggs playing to a packed room with about half being friends and relatives.

Jeff Beck at Ryman 2011

Jeff Beck at The Ryman was another phenomenal show as well as the Americana Awards that saw not only The Avett Brothers and The Civil Wars, but, also Robert Plant and Greg Allman bookending appearances with Buddy Miller providing the musical proceedings.

Okay, now for my top ten of the year. Many recordings are sounding more analog in the Indie world, if not recorded analog, the attempt to match the style with the sound that would come out of the influential era a must.

10.  Jeff The Brotherhood  – We Are The Champions

Starting out with some punk rock Buck Rogers guitar laser blasts subsiding into gnarly Maestro phase shifter on “Hey Friend” clocking in with a long intro, the writing is strong, simple and effective. Jeff gets a major label deal off this one. It will be interesting to see how that goes. Their own label, Infinity Cat, being one of the major local indie labels to develop a short roster that has been hitting every club and festival that they can, Jeff the Brotherhood came up with a solid piece of work.

9. The August – Dear Chicago Love Nashville

Jacky Dustin has one strong Country voice, this Chicago band has been down here chasing their Country music dreams for a little while, not waiting to get signed, they put this great piece of Country rockin’ song cycle out themselves.  Big labels, in their search for solos and doubles, have so far overlooked this great band. What’s wrong with a great band that writes their own songs about cranking The Rolling Stones and talking about where they came from? This is not a one trick pony going from the double-time “We Write Our Songs” to the getting more than you bargained for sultry “Love Me Like A Stranger,” this is probably the best “unsigned” country band in Nashville.

8. Graveyard – Hisingen Blues

This was a find while traveling out to Utah to do interviews, stopping it at local indie record shop, Gray Whale and picking up a recommendation. The Swedish rockers are somewhere between first album Black Sabbath and Vincebus Eruptum, Blue Cheer. The recording sounds like it was done on an old well worn 4 track reel to reel with non-Marshalls, more like full blown, old Sound City amps or something. There doesn’t seem to be anything above 8k on this album. It plays like a record found at a garage sale from an old Vietnam era stoner. They are playing this month at Exit/In on January 20th.  The early Black Sabbath slow un-blues of “No Good, Mr. Holden” and stoner boogie, “Buying Truth (Tack & Forlat)” are stand outs.

7. Mastodon – The Hunter

It’s weird to think that a Metal band that was conceived at The Nick in Birmingham and worked its way out of Atlanta, would earn its wings being lauded not only by Metallica but attendees at such indie festivals as Coachella with 2008’s, Crack The Skye, busting out everywhere. It was hard to follow up Crack the Skye which would be their Dark Side of The Moon, but Mastodon do a great job on such cuts as the “Sweet Leaf” groove of “Curl of The Burl” and the Dream Theater flavored, “Octopus Has No Friends.”  

Dedicated6. Steve Cropper – Dedicated, A Salute to The 5 Royales

Steve has the opportunity to pay tribute to guitarist, Lowman Pauling, who was one of the biggest influences on Stax soul as the great era of the Sixties would kick in full effect. The King records office, run by “Duck” Dunn’s brother in Memphis, brought in some of the strongest soul artists of the day from around the country. Booker T. and The MG’s, Otis Redding and many other artists were influenced as the music changed from rhythm and blues to soul. This has an all—star vocal cast from Delbert McClinton on “Right Around the Corner” to Steve Winwood, B.B. (Beale Street Blues Boy) King, Steve Winwood, Lucinda Williams and an A-list that contribute to this project.

5. Gary Clark Jr.  – The Bright Lights E.P.

With some gritty Black Keys meets The Burnside Exploration bluesy soul of “Bright Lights,” kicking off this four song cycle, there is a little Paul “Wine” Jones thrown in here, this Texan, all things, including a little hill country blues, is more of a promise than a full album. It was good enough to make Rolling Stone’s list for the year and earns a place on my list as well. The fact that it is on Warner Brothers makes it really twisted.

4. Tony Bennett – Duets II

With many of the classic icons now “Dust in The Wind,” it really is amazing that Tony Bennett still sings like a prizefighter. Mr. Bennett could hold up everything by himself, but, the interesting match-ups with Mariah Carey, John Mayer (yes, John Mayer), Willie Nelson, as well as Lady Gaga’s best performance to date on “The Lady is a Tramp” makes for an instant standard. The most prized track is Amy Winehouse’ last recorded performance of “Body and Soul.” The Nelson Riddle style strings make this record sit on the top shelf with the best early Sixties era Frank.

3. Kenny Vaughan – V

Kenny shows up on a lot of Nashville records, known as Marty Stuart’s guitar slinger, Kenny takes center stage with The Fabulous Superlatives providing back up, the album rocks as much as it steeps in mystified netherworld Country, blasting off with “Country Music Got a Hold on Me,” stopping mid-point with the instrumental, “Wagon Ride” before ending up in a rockin’ Country church, “Don’t Leave Home Without Jesus.”  Sonically, this has the frequencies in the right place with no high-end ADD busy bee stuff going on. Well done!

2. Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

If I could be in a band right now, this would be it, with only a strong sense of songwriting being the guide this is all over the map with heavy 70’s influenced, “Might Find It Cheap” being probably the best structured song I have heard this year, to influences from accoustified Dylan to southern fried Tom Petty, I think there is a concept going on here, but, more than anything this is worth at least a dozen listens.

1. Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

We may never know how far Amy could have gone. She absorbed Dinah Washington, Donny Hathaway as well as The Ronnettes with equal grace. Amy not only did some great covers, but, was a songwriter on par with the best. This disc has some raw original versions showing Amy supporting herself on guitar. Amy had all three talents, great voice, great musician and great songwriter. She was a triple threat in a class of one. Amy is the best voice of the last twenty years. This collection takes us all the way from the very beginning on the demo, “The Girl From Ipanema” to mid career, Stevie Wonder influenced, Amy Winehouse penned, “Half Time” to the current torn heart on a sleeve, Leon Russell cover, “A Song For You.” This is a chronicle of a flame that burned hot and way too fast. She should be here now.

Okay, that’s it.  Watch out for Imelda May. She actually played at 3rd and Lindsley this year. Imelda would have been on the list with Mayhem except it is a 2010 release, but, watch out, there is More Mayhem coming out at a Grimey’s near you.

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis’ stripped down take on the Forties as well as some Ska and Hawaiian music on Smoking in Heaven continues where the last one left. They’re heading for the Big Day Out Festivals in Australia and while not making much of a dent in the States, the recording is a vintage gear monger’s dream. They accurately feel like recordings made in Chicago or Memphis way before Sun.  

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Hayes Carll Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

After the Americana Music Association Carnival pulled out of Nashville, the big question is, what does Americana sound like? A friend of mine said that it would have at least one acoustic instrument in the mix, to give it that authentic roots thing. Jim Lauderdale as he hosted the Americana Awards did a spoof show tune, “That’s Americana!” It was hilarious and it was great because Americana is not a particular sound.

Americana is one of the strangest music references ever, at least when the word “grunge” came along, it meant one of the bands that came out of Seattle at a certain time. Americana is like a radio format for everything that doesn’t fit the current formats, yet, it is getting some of their artists like Mumford and Sons into the mainstream. Not to mention Will Hoge.

A mention was made by one of the show reviewers in Nashville Scene that they were glad that the “old farts in flannel shirts singing post Grateful Dead stuff” were gone and they could have the Exit/In back.

I get the feeling that a lot of people are stumbling onto Americana artists and not even knowing it, in Rolling Stone or when their friend says “listen to this” and pulls up something on their IPod by The Civil Wars or The Avett Brothers.

If you haven’t heard about these artists in the last year, then you live in a bubble. Americana is not only an award at the Grammys now, but, a launch pad, much like Indie format radio, where artists can get their “legs” as they mingle with legends like Gregg Allman and Robert Plant who are flying the banner.

One thing that Americana is not is electronic. Americana may have some roots in any American genre such as Blues, Soul, Gospel, Country, Folk and on and on, but it is definitely not about Kraftwerk or the modern Pop that is all made up on an Apple computer.

Blind Boys of Alabama Americana Fest 2011 Cannery Ballroom

Americana is as much about Red Dirt singer/songwriters like Hayes Carll as it is the roots gospel of The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Blind Boys of Alabama, Alabama Music Tribute at Cannery opening night

I guess if you are looking for a root to Americana you would probably have to go back twenty years in Nashville when about sixty California transplants started gathering to Nashville. Some of them became mainstream songwriters like Jeffrey Steele or Darrell Scott (most recently, Robert Plant & The Band of Joy). The one thing that did happen is they shook up the system.

Kenny Vaughan Americana Fest 2011 Mercy Lounge

Back in those days, Rosie Flores and Lucinda Williams would hang out all night, shutting down two or three bars only to meet up with Billy Block for breakfast.  A good chunk of these people bucked the Country music machine at the time or made some changes to it. They stayed true to themselves and this whole Americana thing has kind of caught up with them and now they are riding a jetstream of new found respect and popularity.

People like Jim Lauderdale who can go from playing straight up bluegrass to roots country to writing Robbie Robertson style music with a Grateful Dead lyricist represent the diversity of what is currently happening. It’s like the alternate universe of “the music business as usual” with a handmade vibe.

Most of what Bob Dylan does nowadays such as Modern Times could be classified Americana.  Many of the Americana Artists really jump from box to box, especially Mumford & Sons and Justin Townes Earle, who have as much Indie respect as they do Americana clout.

Kenny Vaughan packed it in then packed it back up at Mercy

The most interesting thing is that the genre has strong roots outside of the U.S. in places like Australia and Europe. Many of the artists make more money over there when they tour. This is nothing new, we as Americans many times pass on what is really cool about our culture and opt in for the corporate sell, “the spin.”

Americana is mainly artist and fan driven; it is really Indie at its core. If you like the Muscle Shoals era Dan Penn written songs alongside The Avett Brothers, more power to you. It really is the old saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

Robert Plant, Entertainer of the Year, The Ryman acceptance speach

You don’t have to buy into acoustic singer/songwriters or flannel shirts and old farts to find something there for yourself. Chances are you are listening to some Americana format music without realizing it. If you’re not sure where to start then it might as well be Buddy Miller, Robert Plant said he heard Buddy the first time when he toured with Emmylou Harris a few years ago and he seemed to embody everything American music, blues, gospel, rock, you name it. Robert said that Buddy will always be a part of whatever he does in the future. Emmylou Harris, at this year’s awards at The Ryman, said, they should call the Americana Award “The Buddy” because he has won so many of them.

By the way, a note to the Nashville Scene writer, when you refer to a group of music fans as old farts, just realize that you are probably being referred to as an old fart by somebody, it could be an 11 year old on a skateboard listening to some punk band out of California and thinking the same about you.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Throwing the CD in brought back my encounter with Gregg Allman in 2007 at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham, listening and watching Bonnie Bramlett sing from the back wall in the black out of view from the audience, “You know I played on her stuff”, Gregg said as he was leaning on my arm to get a little view from the back curtain, I told him, “Hey, Gregg, we can switch places”, “No, I’m fine” and like clockwork, “Well, I gotta get ready” and he disappeared down into the dressing room as if he had her set memorized because ten minutes later she was done and Gregg was on.

Hanging with Bonnie Bramlett, Alabama Theater 2007

That was the one and only time I hung with him and it felt like hanging with an old friend because history precedes the man.  This was the voice of The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East and “Midnight Rider.” Well, what does this all have to do with this new T-Bone “The hardest working producer in show business” Burnett Produced disc have to do with that show?  Mainly because of the off the cuff, off the set list piece that Gregg asked the horn section if they knew, Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose”, which he sang as if he was ready to be Otis.

Gregg at Alabama Theater 2007

Gregg is one of the most soulful voices there is. He doesn’t have to talk to the audience his voice live is mesmerizing with a mix of Southern Blues and Soul that only a few like him can say they are there, namely Joe Cocker, lesser known Eddie Hinton and maybe you haven’t heard of Topper Price but you should.

Low Country Blues is full of covers that feature horn sections, Hammond B3 and some acoustic instruments and shaky handmade sounding percussion things that would be associated with the Americana thing nowadays. The best parts if dissected remind me of that night in Birmingham with the full horn section, organ and a full band turning out Sixties era Memphis Soul on cuts like “Blind Man” by Texan Record label exec, Don D. Robey who managed Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown back in 1949 and had his biggest success with Big Mama Thornton’s #1 hit “Hound Dog” on his Peacock Records.

Indeed from the roster of songs and the depth of history of blues and soul in the tracks I wonder if it was Gregg saying I always wanted to do this or T-Bone digging into his vast treasure chest. They both had a lot of musicology to bring to the table.

Gregg brings a strong self co-penned with Warren Haynes track “Just Another Rider” which is almost an extension of something Otis might have done after “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay”, with its mix of soul and Lennon/McCartney beat. It was clear Otis was ready to mix it up after Monterey Pop.

Muddy Waters, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” really gets the Americana Acoustic blues treatment that feels more like Hill Country Blues down in the fields of Mississippi then uptown Chicago. This cut should have had Pinetop Perkins on that Piano but you can’t ask for everything. This was only a stone’s throw from 1920’s Memphis Jug Band material.

He really get’s Fifties style B.B. King down on “Please Accept My Love’ with that straight eight Ride and long Sax lines. It really feels like Memphis in the fifties with B.B. King and Fats Domino on the radio and cruising around late at night looking for where the girls are hanging out.

Amos Milburn

Another Texan, Amos Milburn shares the distinction of having a couple of his songs recorded on Rounder Records, many years have passed since George Thorogood recorded “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” until Gregg took on “Tears, Tears, Tears” which continues a lot of threads that connect the late forties and fifties music on this disc with the theme of many a Blues tune “Tears in my eye, Blue as I can be, Just had another woman to walk out on me.” This is where you are going to hear the distinct Hammond B3 of Gregg, in a nice jazzy post-war blues number.

If that wasn’t enough there is Otis Rush represented “Checking on My Baby” with Doyle Bramhall II featured prominently.  It’s amazing that this album came out of Village Recorders when it sounds like it should have come out of Houston, Memphis or maybe a little Chess Records recording out of Chicago.

One of the best ways to get to the root of the blues is the finisher, “Rolling Stone”, treated with a branch between The Allman Brothers band type rhythm and delivery with some Dobro and other spices such as a great walking bass note on the piano that brings things full circle.

It really captures the roots of Soulful blues which represents what Gregg is made of as he was finding his path early on. There is a great story in the liner notes about Gregg and Duane going to a B.B. King Concert in Nashville when they were young and that was their defining or divine moment when you think of what came after.

Did T-Bone do it right? He has done so many records in the last few years, that obviously not everyone is going to be right, but, he does the legend Gregg Allman in a good way that opens the doors for more stuff. He obviously can lead this into the Americana arena but, the best parts are really the Hammond B3, horn section late Sixties Soul feel. Gregg could do that all day and I would never bet bored. I think this is the CD that will make Eric Clapton search out T-Bone for some Production work. I think Eric will be jealous of this one.

This is a slow simmer, best heard late on a moonlight drive maybe through the southlands of Northern Florida or Southern Georgia; if you can’t be there you can sure feel it. Well done T-Bone! You done Gregg right. I always have in mind what will be my top ten for the end of the year. It is only January and this is one Allman flavored contender.

 – Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Eddie Hinton,white shirt w/ Wayne Perkins

Before heading down to Helena, Alabama to visit my sister and pickup my Soldano speaker cabinet, I picked up the latest Oxford American Magazine, their annual music issue because it was all about Alabama music not only in written word but featured a CD with 27 tracks, some of them extremely rare all telling different stories from different times and different parts of the state, not just regional but a mix of Blues, Rock, Gospel and even Zappa label material.

I threw in the CD as I headed down 65 towards Birmingham and took the ride through the Birmingham soul of Ralph “Soul” Jackson to Curley Money out of Dothan, Alabama. It was a wonderful ride and I learned things I didn’t even know being in the Birmingham Scene for a few years. I was happy to see the story told about how the Indie Rock Scene started with Jim Bob and The Leisure Suits with drummer, Matt Kimbrell (RIP). I saw his brother, Mark Kimbrell play  in 2007 at a Sunday night Jazz Jam with Chris Fryar (then of The Allman Brothers Band now The Zac Brown Band) at Marty’s in the Five Points area.

 Blues cannot be any rarer than Dan Pickett and Country more honest than Charlie Louvin and they all are here. Well at least for what one can do on a single CD without going to the obvious such as Brother Kane or The Commodores.

Eddie Hinton ID shot

As the music went on and I read the great essays, I kept asking myself where is Eddie Hinton? Obscure or not, the story of Muscle Shoals or the heart and soul of what is Alabama cannot be told without Tuscaloosa bred Eddie Hinton.  It is possible for somebody looking at Alabama from the outside to miss the mark but if somebody is a serious Muscle Shoals or Alabama music fan or musician you cannot escape learning the story of Eddie Hinton.

“When I first came to Muscle Shoals it didn’t take very long before I became aware of Eddie’s singular talents- as a composer, lyricist and gifted Composer- and was touched by his original, offbeat and engaging personality…When the greatest artists came to Muscle Shoals they would hone in on Eddie – Aretha, Cher, Lulu, Bob Dylan would end up on the back porch of the Jackson Highway Studio with Eddie, pickin’ guitars and communing quietly in the Alabama evening. To this day I still play his records with great enjoyment. He remains unique – a white boy who truly sang and played in the spirit of the great black soul artists he venerated. With Eddie, it wasn’t imitation; it was totally created, with a fire and fury that was as real as Otis Redding’s and Wilson Pickett’s.”- Jerry Wexler, Producer with Atlantic Records.

Where’s Eddie? Can you find him?

I had heard, in reverence, several times about Eddie Hinton. Local Musicians in Birmingham would say “He was the greatest.” The most important revelation was when I talked to the “Swampers”, the Musicians that knew and worked with him at Muscle Shoals Sound.

On April 18th 2007, there was a benefit for Scott Boyer, who was a songwriter and played in Cowboy on Capricorn Records back in the Seventies. I had the opportunity to be part of the stage crew where a Muscle Shoals all star line up with everybody from David Hood, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and a cast of characters played with Bonnie Bramlett and Gregg Allman headlining.

I caught story after story from a time going back thirty plus years. I got into conversations and often asked who the most important player was during the Muscle Shoals era and over and over again the name Eddie Hinton came up. His story is one of triumph, tragedy and post mortem glory. In the last few years his recordings have been gathered from out of print Capricorn Records to rare self released material and put onto a collection of CD’s.  They are not easy to find but one can start with Anthology-1969-1998 A Mighty Field of Vision.

Marian McKay

Late last Saturday I went and saw Charlemagne Records’  Marian McKay singing jazz standards at Crestwood Coffee Company with The Mood Swings.  Charlemagne Records is the one of last independent record stores in Birmingham not unlike Grimey’s  it has a long rich history when Marian, her brother  and a best  friend started the shop in 1977 and it has remained at the same location in the Five Points area since then. The shop has lately seen a resurgence as vinyl is becoming increasingly popular among collectors.

We talked about the Alabama issue of Oxford American and how fantastic it was and the people they didn’t forget but when I brought up the fact that Eddie Hinton was not included there was nothing but silence. Eddie was the elephant in the room. Obviously, there were others left out but he was the one who sat in the doorway of Muscle Shoals Sound trading licks and stories, had Duane Allman crashing on his floor when he came to do session work and had style and songs that only fit in Muscle Shoals, where when he ended up moving because of a small marijuana bust in the seventies that forced him to leave town kind of lost his stride and place in the world. He remained an Alabaman to the core even if it meant living in his van in Birmingham in later years before he passed away in 1995.

Eddie with his trusted Tele

There are so many tracks not known by most the world but worthy to wave the Muscle Shoals flag such as “Concept World”, “Sad and Lonesome” or “Heavy Makes You Happy.” It is singular talents such as Eddie Hinton that I discovered while living in Alabama that make me proud that I was a part of that scene for some years.

The State of Alabama has gotten behind this presentation and declared 2011 “The Year of Alabama Music”. I am going to do my part by spotlighting at least one artist a month with roots in Alabama past and present.  I may have been born in California but Alabama is where I met Gregg Allman, Willie King, Tim Boykin, Mark Kimbrell, Chris Fryar, Adam Guthrie, Mandi Rae, Ian, Rick Carter, Kendra Sutton, Topper Price, Rickie Castrillo, Marty, Nathan Whitmore, Rick Kurtz, Rooster, Perch, Billy, Heath Green, David Hood, Kelvin Holly, Jesse Payne and Taylor Hollingsworth.  Alabama, the beautiful, where I got my “Mojo”.

Marian McKay & Her Mood Swings/ Live/ Birmingham,AL 1/8/2011

I may call Tennessee home but my heart is in Alabama.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tennessee     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com