Southern Sounds

Gregg Allman is Back and Better Than Ever

By Matt HendricksonSouthern SoundsAugust 24, 2015

“Garden. And. Gun. How ya doing, man?” Gregg Allman sounds just plain giddy, giving a little extra oomph for each word. The last time G&G talked with the rock and roll icon, he was recovering from a liver transplant and the post-op medication he was on had zapped much of his energy. But today, he’s on the good foot: joking and laughing with a sizzle in his voice that is as infectious as it is gravelly from nearly 50 years of being a rock God.

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The Story Behind "Sweet Home Alabama"

By CJ LotzSouthern SoundsAugust 13, 2015

In the late 1960s, in Jacksonville, Florida, a clean-cut gym teacher named Leonard Skinner sent student Gary Rossington to the principal’s office because his hair touched his collar. The teenager’s shaggy mop was a brazen violation of Robert E. Lee High School’s dress code. When Rossington and some of his friends and schoolmates—singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins, drummer Bob Burns, and bassist Larry Junstrom—were searching for a new name for their fledgling rock group—they drew on memories of the incident. Lynyrd Skynyrd (vowels changed  “to protect the guilty”) was born.

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First Listen: Forty Years Later, a Blues Legend Finally Gets His Due

By Jessica MischnerSouthern SoundsJuly 30, 2015

“You may never have heard of Spooner Oldham, but you’ve definitely heard his music. His keyboard buoyed Percy Sledge’s plaintive “When A Man Loves a Woman,” kept tempo for Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” and lent churchy soul to countless other hits by stars such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, even the Drive-By Truckers. Though the Alabama musician gained industry acclaim in the 1960s as a rhythm and blues pioneer while recording in Muscle Shoals and later in Memphis, his fame has been largely limited to a cult fan following. That’s about to change.

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A Music Festival Like No Other

By Elizabeth HutchisonSouthern SoundsJuly 24, 2015

More of an old-fashioned backyard barbecue or laid-back house party than a sprawling, sweaty Coachella-style rager, Wildwood Revival (August 29-30), offers a boutique music festival experience. “It’s a festival for people who don’t like festivals,” says founder Libby Rose. “It’s an anti-festival.”

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Why Traveling Musicians Love Asheville

By CJ LotzSouthern SoundsJuly 15, 2015

For the past twenty years, a musical movement has been growing in Asheville, North Carolina. While famous cities like Nashville, Tennessee, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, are known for their legendary recording studios, Asheville has emphasized something more pedestrian—quite literally. Traveling street performers—called “buskers,” who play everything from guitars to banjos, washboards, and spoons for a living—are pulled toward this Southern city and can be found everywhere from the corners of Pack Square to the sidewalk in front of Woolworth Walk.

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Rising Stars’ Lesser-Known Hits: A Playlist

By Jessica MischnerSouthern SoundsJune 30, 2015

There’s no shortage of big time musicians who have gotten their start at Eddie’s Attic, an old-school listening room in Decatur, Georgia. The Indigo Girls, the Civil Wars, Jennifer Nettles, and John Mayer have all proven their singing and songwriting mettle on the venue’s small stage.

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First Listen: Indigo Girls

By Jessica MischnerSouthern SoundsMay 26, 2015

It’s been four years since the Indigo Girls released an album. Happily for their fans, the wait for a follow-up is over. On June 2, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers will release One Lost Day, a 13-track record filled with the harmonies and emotionally crafted lyrics for which the Girls have become famous. There’s “Happy in the Sorrow Key,” a sonically resplendent meditation on life and loss. “With the death of my dad in late 2013, my whole world shifted and many songs I had started took on a different feel and urgency,” Ray says. “This is one of them. Musically, I was inspired by the feel of Paul Weller and The Jam, but then I also wanted this big orchestral bridge to mirror the feeling of laying in my bunk at night on the tour bus and drifting off to sleep scared but in awe of the process of life.” “The Rise of the Black Messiah” marries rhythms of mandolin, drums, and bass with lyrics inspired by the story of a man wrongfully convicted and put to death in prison to create a narrative tour de force (imagine Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” as an even angrier protest anthem). But the album—the girls’ 14th—has lighter moments, too. “Elizabeth,” a sweet old-fashioned love song, “is the story of kinship and music and whiskey,” Saliers says. “It’s an homage to New Orleans and a distant love that began there.”

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Willie Nelson's Life in His Own Words

By CJ LotzSouthern SoundsMay 5, 2015

At age five, the man who would become known for ‘Red Headed Stranger’ earned the nickname ‘Booger Red’ after an unfortunate nose-picking accident. That colorful tale is just one of many Willie Nelson shares in his new autobiography, It’s a Long Story: My Life (Little, Brown), which was released today.

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First Listen: Shelby Lynne's New Album

By Jessica MischnerSouthern SoundsApril 29, 2015

Shelby Lynne first hit the music scene in 1989. Now, after 26 years, 13 albums, and one Grammy (for Best New Artist, belatedly bestowed in 2001), she's still singing and writing emotionally charged songs that bridge the gap between Delta blues, Memphis soul, and classic country. Her latest release, I Can’t Imagine, out May 4, is no exception. Featuring 10 tracks written in bursts between 2012 and 2014, the album is both a tribute to Lynne’s adopted home of California and a reminder that this Alabama girl still cherishes her Southern roots. “I feel free to explore the California thing, but you can’t get rid of my South,” Lynne says. “I go everywhere on the planet singing, and everybody knows where I’m from.”

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Your Spring/Summer Music Festival Calendar

By Elizabeth HutchisonSouthern SoundsApril 17, 2015

Down South we don’t need much of an excuse to put on a festival. Just about anything will do. There’s the annual hollerin’ contest in North Carolina; the Road Kill Cook-off and Harvest Festival in West Virginia; and events dedicated to every fruit and veggie ever grown in Southern soil. When it comes to music, though, Southerners drop the silly and pull in some serious talent, rolling out an impressive lineup of world-class festivals as soon as the weather warms up. Bonnaroo, in Manchester, Tennessee, and Hangout Fest, the three-day beachside blowout, in Gulf Shores, Alabama, are the schedule titans, but if neon tank tops and glow sticks aren’t your thing either, there are plenty of other great outdoor music-fest options for the rest of us.

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