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Drive-By Truckers To Headline 2011 W.C. Handy Festival in Florence, AL

Posted: Jul 07, 2011

A concert by the Drive-By Truckers with special guests The Decoys,  along with music icons Donnie Fritts and Spooner Oldham, will conclude the week long 2011 W. C. Handy Music Festival on July 30. The concert will be held at the Norton Auditorium on the University of North Alabama campus in Florence, Alabama. No one hates to see that evening sun go down during the weeklong W. C. Handy Festival because the music starts early in the day and continues far into the night.

This year the main attraction at the annual Handy Festival will be the Drive-By Truckers who need no introduction. The Truckers have been touring since February of this year promoting their latest album "Go Go Boots." On June 21 the Truckers appeared on the David Letterman show and were welcomed effusively by Letterman, who declared himself a huge fan. The Decoys, which includes Swamper David Hood the father of Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, along with guests stars (and Hall of Famers) Fritts and Oldham will open the concert on Saturday evening. The concert on Saturday, July 30, will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, begin at $25.

As a part of the finale on Saturday, July 30, The Music Preservation Society in partnership with Alabama Folklife Association will present a series of events on the final Saturday of the Festival titled "Rocking the Blues: The Story of Rock in The Shoals," which will culminate with the headliner concert featuring the Drive-By Truckers and other legendary Shoals musicians.

The day will begin at 1 p.m. in the Guillot Performance Center at the University of North Alabama beginning with a talk and discussion "The Revolution that Started in Florence, Alabama." led by Peter Gurlanick. Peter Gurlanick is a renowned music guru and author of numerous books including Last Train to Memphis. I had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him speak when I was at a summer seminar at the DeBois Institute at Harvard in 1997. He is not to be missed.

At 2:30 p.m. on that Saturday there will be a panel discussion, entitled "Passing Down the Shoals" coordinated by Dr, James Hall, University of Alabama Humanities Scholar, and moderated by special guest music historians, Terry Pace and Robert Palmer will take place.Also participation in this panel are first and second generation music legends, David and Patterson Hood, Jimmy and Jay Johnson, and others.

The July 30th afternoon events will conclude with a screening of the rock documentary about Drive-By Truckers, "The Secret to a Happy Ending," at 4 p.m.  followed by a question and answer session. "The Secret to a Happy Ending" was selected for the Best in State award at the 2011 George Lindsey University of North Alabama Film Festival. All the afternoon events at the Guillot Performance Center are free.

The fun may culminate on the last weekend in July, but the fun starts next Thursday night, July 14. I encourage you to begin celebrating the festival and the Year of Alabama Music with the following pre-festival events-- the 10th Annual Bluegrass Festival in Rogersville, Alabama (Thursday night through Saturday night, July 14-16) and "Hot BBQ and Cool Blues" at the GAS Design Center in Tuscumbia on Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m.

The Festival proper kicks off on at 6:30 pm Friday, July 22, with the fabulous Charles Rose Trio, Huntsville's own master of the blues Microwave Dave, and the Thompson Trio at the Listerhill Credit Union in Muscle Shoals. During the following week these musicians and dozens of others will be playing at various venues during the week as will internationally known jazz trumpeter Ken Watters, the Decoys, blueswoman Debbie Bond, and a host of other Alabama musicians.

From July 22 through July 31, there will be numerous musical, theatrical, and other events daily throughout the Shoals including the Courtin' the Blues Parade on the evening of July 22, the Dadoorunrun the morning of the 23rd, a live perfomance of The Life of W. C. Handy, and several showings of the film The St Louis Blues with Nat King Cole.

For the full W. C. Handy Festival Schedule and information on ticket prices for concerts, go to the W. C. Handy Festival website. Most of the events during the Handy Festival are free.

-----by Penne J. Laubenthal
Further sites to explore on Swampland
     More About W.C. Handy and the 2010 Festival

    The Drive-By Truckers: Southern (dis) Comfort

    Interview with Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers


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