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The Civil Wars Play Tornado Benefit at Historic Shoals Theatre in Florence, AL

Posted: May 28, 2011

Once again the marvelously magical duo, The Civil Wars (Joy Williams and John Paul White), took the stage in front of a sold-out house and a wildly enthusiastic audience. This time they were playing John Paul's home town of Florence, Alabama

Almost exactly thirty days after tornadoes devastated portions of Alabama, The Civil Wars teamed up with Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil, and Dylan LeBlanc in a benefit concert for Alabama tornado relief in the historic Shoals Theater in downtown Florence. Numerous organizations and individuals, such as designer Billy Reid, donated their time and talents to support the event. All of the proceeds, which totaled over $20,000, were donated to the relief effort.

The Civil Wars (YouTube video interview), which has taken the county's folk rock scene by storm, consists of California native Joy Williams and Tennessee born John Paul White. The two met in a song writing workshop in Nashville about two years ago and the rest is history. Their passionate following grows larger every day and their recent album, Barton Hollow, debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on iTunes' overall albums chart earlier this year. All the songs on the album are orginal compositions by Williams and White.

During Wednesday's concert, John Paul White introduced each band and thanked the musicians, sponsors, and other individuals, including the board members of the Shoals Theatre, who had so generously supported the project. White also thanked Billy Reid who is renowned as a benefactor of art and music in the Shoals area and recognized the Florence Salvation Army for their hard work during the recovery. Following the Doc Dailey performance, the audience viewed a short video of the tornado devastation which concluded with a tribute to the Salvation Army.

Doc Daily & The Magnolia Devil, a country/folk/rock band that has opened for such acts as Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, kicked off the evening's performance and super-charged the audience with their Neil-Young-like vocals and driving bass. The band is touring to promote Dailey's debut album, Victims, Enemies & Old Friends, most of which was recorded locally. In the fall of 2010, as part of a Billy Reid fashion campaign, the band was featured in a short film by Vice Magazine (VBS TV) and Levi’s entitled, Americana: The Muscle Shoals Sound.

Dylan Leblanc  who was joined on stage by his songwriter father on rhythm guitar, has just finished a stint playing with the Drive-By Truckers in April and is touring Europe to promote his debut album, Paupers Field, which was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals and released in the fall.

Following LeBlanc, The Civil Wars walked onto the stage and blew the audience away with their plaintive ballads and haunting melodies. They literally seemed to glow with an erie luminescence, as a result of the blue back lighting. For over an hour, the duo charmed and captivated the crowd, performing most of the hits from Barton Hollow as well as a couple of covers, including a dark and melancholy rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" that elicited spontaneous cheers. Following their finale, "Poison and Wine," The Civil Wars exited the stage to thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Their next stop will be London, England, and then later this summer they will return to Florence to play an already sold-out concert.

The beautiful and historic art deco Shoals Theater on Seminary Street in Florence is an amazing venue. Completely renovated and with comfortable slide-back seats and excellent acoustics, it is a popular venue for concerts, movies, plays, and other performances. The theater can seat well over 800 persons, counting the spacious balcony. On Wednesday night, May 25, the theatre was packed with fans and friends. Check the Shoals Theater web site for upcoming events. Meanwhile, don't miss the Billy Reid Shindig weekend to be held the first weekend in June in downtown Florence. (photo collage of the Shoals Theater)

----Penne J. Laubenthal


Swampland: Muscle Shoals

Review of The Civil Wars' Barton Hollow  

Billy Reid Shindig 2011 weekend


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