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Celebrating The Year of Alabama Music with a Series of Articles by Jane DeNeefe

Posted: Jan 10, 2011

This year, 2011, we are celebrating the Year of Alabama Music. The December 2010 issue of the Oxford American features twenty-seven Alabama musicians including such familiar names Odetta and Dinah Washington along with a host of names that are not so familiar. OA editor Marc Smirnoff says "Because of the wealth of musical genres that come from Alabama, and the wealth of great artists within those genres, it is impossible to define Alabama music in a single blurb. Which is just the way we like it. We enjoyed the complexity and richness of our target state."

Here on Swampland we are pleased to present the first in a series of articles on the roots of rock and roll in Huntsville, Alabama, by freelance writer Jane DeNeefe . This first installment is entitled The Roots of Rock and Roll in the Rocket City.

Jane DeNeefe, in addition to being one of the co-authors of Alabama's Civil Rights Trail: An Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom, is a member of the Rocket City Rockophiles, a committee investigating Huntsville's rock and roll past. The Rockophiles are a volunteer research committee. Librarian David Lilly, musician Jim Cavender, writer Jane DeNeefe, music collector Kip Shepard and others have been working together to uncover the history of rock and roll in Huntsville.  In 2009 Jim Cavender hosted musicians from the Rockophiles project in a live concert and recording session at the Huntsville Public Library, where a CD of the event called “Bookaroo” is now for sale.

The group has interviewed over a dozen musicians  from the “baby boom” generation who were teenagers in the 1960s. They have also collected recordings, photographs and other ephemera as part of a long term work-in-progress to document the evolution of Huntsville's rock & roll scene.

DeNeefe, apparently, does more than write. Here she is reading an essay on WLRH about winning "Bo Diddley's Personal Dance Contest."

---Penne J. Laubenthal

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