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April in Alabama

Posted: Apr 23, 2008

Nothing could be more beautiful than April in Alabama and, in my case, nothing could be more exciting. I recently returned from the Alabama Studio Weekend in the Quad Cities—just forty-forty five minutes from my home on Elk River—and I feel as if I have spent two days in a kinder, gentler (and definately greener) New York City.

I had Bloody Marys with Billy Reid at Pickett Place, barbecue with Alabama Chanin at McFarland Park, a gourmet dinner at Ivy Green catered by a troop of the finest chefs, and I watched the screening of J. D. Wilkes' documentary film Seven Signs at Robert Rausch’s fabulous GAS Studio in Tuscumbia—and all day long there was music.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the opening day events on Friday which included a visit to Chanin’s new “Factory” on Lane Drive in Florence, sampling locally prepared gumbo at Pope’s Tavern Museum, and feasting on oysters and collard greens at Pickett Place. Next year nothing will prevent my taking part in the entire glorious weekend. You can read all about this weekend in my feature New York City Southern Style: Alabama Studio Weekend. And you can also read about last year’s celebration, Alabama Adventure Weekend, in the RiverVue archives.

I hesitate to tell the world about this incredible event as it is the best kept secret in the south, and it’s intimacy is half of its charm. But I cannot resist sharing such a phenomenal experience. So check out my feature on the Alabama Studio Weekend.

And the month is not over yet! Elk River may not be the Quad Cities, but this Friday night some very talented and fascinating folks will be gathering at chez moi for an evening of food and fellowship. I will be playing host to such luminaries as Peter Thompson of Zane Records (Reading, England) and his lovely wife Diana, the legendary Dick Cooper, filmmaker Moises Gonzales of Albuquerque, environmentalist and musician Charles Rose, and a smattering of my Elk River buddies. All of this was made possible by my long-time friend and Shoals native Deryle Perryman who is here from New Mexico to do some work on his most recent project, a documentary about Vietnam Veterans. Check out Swampland later this weekend for a full report.

--Penne J. Laubenthal

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CAFIELD says...

The weekend was so phenomenal. Penne, your words captured the event so well. Much Gratitude, Carol

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