The name Alabama has such beautiful assonance, its flow of "a" makes its own Southern comfort! So the sound of "Sweet Home Alabama," one song in a stellar soundtrack for the documentary, Muscle Shoals, is proverbial music to the ears, an anthem to the Southern rock that flourished in this idyllic spot.
A mecca for recording artists from the Allman Brothers to Simon & Garfunkel, Dylan to The Rolling Stones, Muscle Shoals, Alabama occupies a singular space in music history. Yes, there's Memphis and Nashville, but Muscle Shoals had its own magical vibe. As Mick Jagger and Keith Richards testify, the place was integral to the recording of "Wild Horses" and "Brown Sugar." With Fame studio founder Rick Hall as impresario, and central focus, this film under the able direction of Greg "Freddy" Camalier, limns a significant chapter of Americana, where Aretha Franklin recorded "I Never Loved a Man," backed by the white soulful house band, a turning point in her career.
Fitting then, a celebration for this documentary's premiere last week at The Jazz Room at the General on the Bowery featured a concert that had the crowd dancing on the banquets. Candi Staton, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman and the legendary Swampers performed well into the night for an audience that included Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Michael Shannon, Peter Cincotti, and Dana Delany. At one point, you could see the golden haired Goldie Hawn snaking through to the band. As packed as the room was, nobody stood still.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.