If you consider yourself to be a fan of music, and you want to get away from the rigors of day-to-day life for a spell, chances are you just might find something to tickle your fancy on the Americana Music Triangle – and while you’re at it, you just might be in for a little bit of education.
The Triangle connects cities and towns throughout the southeastern portion of the United States that have a distinct and unique story to tell – much of it concerning music. Starting in Nashville, the Triangle ventures south through Franklin, into Alabama, Louisiana, back up through Mississippi and Arkansas before winding up in the Volunteer State.
Along the way, travelers will become acquainted with the stories of a wide variety of musicians that went on to change the musical world – ranging from W.C. Handy, Bobbie Gentry, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, B.B. King, and Loretta Lynn.
However, while the primary focus of the Americana Music Triangle is on music – there is a lot more to learn. In part one of this three-part look at a section of the Triangle, CMChatLive.com shines the spotlight on three areas that are within day trips from the Music City, but also worth a trip from anywhere across the world.
MUSCLE SHOALS, ALABAMA
The Rolling Stones recorded here. So did Cher, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Aretha Franklin. And – that’s just for starters. If the walls of Rick Hall’s famous FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals could talk, they would tell a tale of love lost and found, growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, and late night rendezvous. FAME – along with chief competitor Muscle Shoals Sound Studios – helped to usher in a unique era in American music.
In Muscle Shoals, there is no walls separating music by genre or class. There’s simply two kinds – good and bad. And, there’s been much good music to come from the walls of the historic studios in town – sounds that revolutionized the music business that we know. It’s still possible – (and overall, quite affordable) for an aspiring artist to walk into FAME and attempt a shot at the goal line for history. On the day that I visited the studios, there was a new band laying down tracks. Take a look at the walls of the studio, and you will see pictures of many of the acts that have made history there.
In addition, while you’re in town – you will definitely want to check out the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, a complex that tells the stories of many of the artists from the state that have gone on to national prominence, such as Hank Williams, Lionel Richie, Sonny James, Nat “King” Cole, and the band that shares the same name as the state – Alabama. Fans can walk on the bus that the Country Music Hall of Fame members ventured down the highway in during their commercial heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.
You will also want to check out the birthplace of W.C. Handy, which is open for tours. You will find an “against the odds” story that will touch and inspire the human consciousness. Off of the musical path, one might want to check out Tom’s Wall. Built in the 1980s by native son Tom Hendrix in honor of his great-great grandmother, who was a Yuchi Indian during the Trail of Tears era. Tom’s Wall stands as the largest un-mortared rock wall in the United States and the largest memorial to a Native American woman. The wall stands as a tribute to the many challenges that she faced along the way, and is quite breathtaking. Take a walk along the wall, and you will find yourself immersed into a story that will touch you down deep. Visitors from around the world have also added their own personal effects to the collection over the years.
For more information regarding the Muscle Shoals/Florence area, go to www.VisitFlorenceAl.com
Next week, in part two of our look at the Americana Music Triangle, we travel to Tupelo, Mississippi, where we’ll find out how a trip to the hardware store changed the musical world as we know it for a youngster – who became one of the most iconic artists in history!