• Alabama Music Hall of Fame set to reopen Oct. 17
• New York Daily News gives Muscle Shoals 4 out of 5 star review
• Swampers to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman
• Muscle Shoals movie opens this month in United Kingdom
• Capri Theatre brings the Muscle Shoals documentary to Montgomery
• Hall (Rick) of fame
• Alabama launching bass tournament for amateurs
• National survey shows hunting, fishing and observing wildlife provide economic benefits for Alabama
• German journalists visit Alabama
• Mobile and Alabama tourism exhibits at Birmingham, England tourism show
• State tourism website features Fall Color Map
• Alabama Tourism Department hosts Tourism Workshop in October
• Lynch appointed CEO of Aldridge Gardens
• Tuscaloosa and the U of A nominated in 10Best Readers Choice travel award contest
• Registration for Travel South Domestic Showcase is open
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Alabama Music Hall of Fame set to reopen Oct. 17
by Lucy Berry,, Sept. 6
The shuttered Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia is set to reopen to the public Oct. 17 after closing about nine months ago because of state budget cuts, The TimesDaily in Florence reports.
Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell made the announcement this week during the hall of fame’s board meeting in Birmingham. The date of the reopening is scheduled a day before the “Muscle Shoals” documentary opening in Birmingham.

The 12,500-square-foot music hall on U.S. 72 in Colbert County will operate from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday after reopening.

The meeting in Birmingham was the first gathering of the hall of fame board since Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Sentell, Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Judy Ryals and State Finance Director Bill Newton last month.

Sentell, Ryals and Newton replaced former members Jimmy Johnson, Norbert Putnam and Hank Locklin, who resigned shortly after former Executive Director Wiley Barnard left his position with the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in August.

New York Daily News gives Muscle Shoals 4 out of 5 star review
by Jim Farber, New York Daily News, Sept. 27
A small Alabama city played giant role in records, drawing performers like Wilson Pickett, Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd

When people have no way of explaining why amazing things keep happening in the same place, they ask a common question: “Is it something in the water?”

A new movie about the music of Muscle Shoals goes the extra mile on that score. In trying to fathom why this remote area of Alabama birthed some of the most deeply emotive soul and funk music of all time, the film points to a spirit in the local river. According to Indian mysticism, Muscle Shoals contains “the singing river,” an inspiration for many aboriginal songs and rituals.

Luckily, for less fanciful viewers, “Muscle Shoals” also offers more trenchant reasons — including a rough-and-tumble producer with a killer feel for Southern roots music (Rick Hall) and a rhythm section able to churn out the greasiest beats known to man (the Swampers).

As Greg Camalier’s movie dutifully points out, this sleepy town and its two nondescript studios — FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound — provided the inspiration and fidelity behind such gut-wrenching classics as Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man,” the Staples Singers’ “I’ll Take You There,” Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” and gripping records by Etta James, Wilson Pickett and Arthur Alexander. Later, the studios helped capture the heat of rock acts like the Stones, Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The story of Muscle Shoals, like many that began in the 1960s, touches on race and politics, as well as music. Casual fans might be surprised to learn that the core band on some of history’s most soulful music was entirely Caucasian. At the time, that also came as news to Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, who speak in the flick. We hear too from Bono, Keith Richards, Gregg Allman, Steve Winwood, Jimmy Cliff and Clarence Carter.
Aretha talks about finally finding her sound at FAME in 1967, after years of tepid, overproduced records for Columbia. Atlantic Records’ late exec Jerry Wexler brought her down there. The rhythm section of drummer Roger Hawkins and bassist David Hood, along with players like Spooner Oldham, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Beckett, created a sound as forceful, honed and profound as Franklin’s voice. One reason had to do with the close placement of the mikes to Hawkins’ drums, creating a special crispness and intimacy.

Creative czar Hall arises as a fascinating, if forbidding, character. A childhood of poverty and neglect shaped his tough adult character. No doubt that attitude had much to do with a painful split from his core band, who departed in 1969 to form Muscle Shoals Sound, there own studio. It’s left to the viewer to infer the real reason for the split. The film leaves things frustratingly vague.
In another oversight, the movie presents Muscle Shoals’ mix of black and white Southern musicians as unique. In fact, that same sensibility informed Stax Records and its studio, 150 miles north in Memphis. Likewise, Stax had a sound and a rhythm section similar to that of Muscle Shoals, which is left unmentioned.

The movie also glosses over the studios’ less-stellar efforts. Though Traffic’s Steve Winwood talks about his excitement at working with the Muscle Shoals band, the result was 1973’s depressingly anemic “Shoot Out at The Fantasy Factory.”

Luckily, such missteps and oversights prove rare. More often we get to hear from folks like Gregg Allman, talking about his brother Duane. He created a brand new rock-soul sound with Wilson Pickett on their version of “Hey Jude.”

Or we hear Richards speak about the Stones’ experience recording key parts of “Sticky Fingers” at the studio. He claims that, were it not for the small matter of a drug charge banning him from the States at the time, the band would have recorded “Exile on Main Street” there as well. Richards’ speculates about how various Stones classics might have sounded had they been cut in this special place. “I think they might have been a bit funkier,” he says.

Might the water have been responsible for that? By the film’s end, you may even believe.

Read more:

Muscle Shoals movie opens this month in United Kingdom
The documentary Muscle Shoals will be presented, from Oct. 23 – Dec. 15, at 27 theaters in the United Kingdom. The movie celebrates Rich Hall’s FAME Studios and the artists that came to FAME and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios to record. Alabama’s Muscle Shoals area became the “Hit Capital of the World” beginning in the 1960s.

In London, the film will be in eight cinemas, in October. The movie will then move to 19 other U.K cities.

For a list which includes the screening dates, go to
The film is expected to increase tourism travel to the Florence/Muscle Shoals area of Alabama by helping expose Alabama’s rich music heritage to the United Kingdom. As a result, the Deep South USA website and newsletter is helping to promote the movie by posting links to the Muscle Shoals film’s trailer and theater dates.

Deep South USA is an alliance of the tourism departments of the states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee in the United Kingdom.

Capri Theatre brings the Muscle Shoals documentary to Montgomery
The Muscle Shoals Documentary will be showing Oct. 25 – 30 at the Capri Theatre in Montgomery.

Hall (Rick) of fame
The story of a studio owner, his house band and the fabulous music they made together.
by Lois Wilson, Q Review Entertainment, Nov. 2013
Muscle Shoals, Dogwoof. In cinemas Oct. 25

Throughout the ’60s, when racism was endemic in the Deep South, white producer Rick Hall welcomed Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Etta James et al to his Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to record. He couldn’t eat with these singers in public, but inside 603 East Avalon he made the most amazing music with them and his all-white house band the Swampers.

“You just worked together, you never thought about who was black and who was white,” says Clarence Carter in this excellent Greg Camalier documentary on Hall and his cohorts, as the social and political walls came tumbling down.

Hall’s story, told by himself and the musicians he worked with, plus astonishing archive footage from his recording sessions, is fascinating, but filled with as much tragedy as it is with success. “We grew up like animals,” Hall says of his poverty-stricken upbringing, which saw him sleep on a straw bed, on a dirt floor in a shack with no toilet or bath. Worse still, his brother fell into scalding water when he was three and died; his distraught mother left the family home to become a prostitute; his father was crushed to death by the tractor Hall had bought him as a present. “It made me bitter, driven, I wanted to be special, I wanted to be somebody,” he says. Taking Sam Phillips as his model, he set up his equivalent of Sun Studios, got early success with Arthur Alexander’s You Better Move On, which The Rolling Stones covered, and through Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman caught the attention of Atlantic Records boss Jerry Wexler. Wexler sent Wilson Pickett to him first – “he had a very quick temper,” says Hall of the singer, who was “prone to kick your ass” if he didn’t like you. He liked Hall though. “We were right down in the nitty gritty,” Wilson said about the making of Land Of 1000 Dances and Mustang Sally.

Things didn’t go so well during the recording of Aretha’s I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You). Hall and her then hubby, Ted White, got into a fight – the result, Aretha finished the album in New York with the Swampers and Wexler told Hall, “I will bury you.”

He didn’t, though, and Hall went on to rejuvenate an ailing Etta James with Tell Mama and inadvertently invented southern rock when young guitarist Duane Allman dropped by and convinced Pickett to record Hey Jude.

Shortly after, the Swampers left to set up their rival studio at 3614 Jackson Highway. “It was total war,” says Hall as the Stones, Traffic, Bob Dylan and Bob Seger came through their door. A good job, then, that Hall says, “I thrived on rejection. I wanted to prove the world was wrong and I was right.”
His magnificent work and this first class profile does that.

Alabama launching bass tournament for amateurs
Anglers will compete for $10,000 first prize
by Phillip Rawls, AP, Oct. 1
Alabama is launching a series of bass fishing tournaments for amateur anglers with the goal of generating tourism dollars from Mobile to Florence.

Gov. Robert Bentley and other officials announced the creation of the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series on Monday. The team-style tournament will be held on 10 lakes on the Alabama Bass Trial. Then the championship will be held on an 11th lake.

Program director Kay Donaldson said each of the tournaments is expected to have an economic impact of $500,000. She said participants usually arrive three to four days in advance to scout locations and spend about $300 per day.

Bentley said one of the owners of the Birmingham-based Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, Don Logan, suggested the tournament to him two years ago as a way to attract amateur fishermen to the state in the same way the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trial attracts golfers. State officials worked with the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, BASS and others to make it a reality.
The state is putting $50,000 into the first year. State Senate budget committee Chairman Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said it is an investment that will bring back extra sales, gas and lodging taxes paid by competitors.  “I always call it clean money,” Bentley said.

The tournament trail will feature two divisions. The northern division tournaments will be Feb. 1 at Lake Guntersville, March 22 at Pickwick Lake, April 5 at Neely Henry Lake, May 31 at Wheeler Lake, and June 21 at Logan Martin Lake. The southern division will be March 1 at the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, March 15 at Lake Eufaula, April 19 at Lake Jordan, May 10 on the Alabama River at Millers Ferry, and June 7 at Lay Lake.

Each tournament will have a $10,000 first-place prize and will pay 20 places. The maximum number of boats is 200.

The top 50 teams from each division that fished in all five events will advance to the championship, along with the top 25 student boats from both divisions that fished all five events. Those 125 teams will compete Oct. 10-11 on Lewis Smith Lake in Walker County.

All of the lakes are part of the Alabama Bass Trail, which is a series of lakes that state tourism officials use to promote outdoor activities in Alabama.

National survey shows hunting, fishing and observing wildlife provide economic benefits for Alabama
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has joined with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in highlighting results from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

According to the survey report, 1.7 million people participated in wildlife-related recreation in the state of Alabama in 2011, generating $2.7 billion for the state’s economy. The Alabama state report measures public participation in hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other wildlife-dependent recreation, as well as how much money is spent pursuing these activities. It is now available online at:

The survey, conducted every five years by the USFWS and the U.S. Census Bureau, has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, state, and private organizations use the information in managing wildlife and wildlife-related recreation programs, and in forecasting trends in participation and economic impacts.
Highlighted in the state report is the following:
• $2.7 billion total spent on wildlife-related recreation in Alabama.
• $456 million spent in Alabama from fishing-related activities.
• $913 million spent in Alabama on hunting-related activities.
• $734 million spent in Alabama on wildlife-watching activities.

Complete survey results are available at:

German journalists visit Alabama

A group of journalists representing German publications toured several cities in Alabama on a tourism research trip last month.

In Alabama, the journalists visited tourism sites in Montgomery, Birmingham, Florence, Muscle Shoals, and Huntsville. They made stops at the Dexter Avenue King Parsonage, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church, W.C. Handy Home & Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House, FAME Studios, 2614 Jackson Highway Studio and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The group also took a historic tour of downtown Montgomery, visited Kelley Ingram Park during the week the statue honoring the four little girls killed in the 1963 church bombing was erected, was entertained at a music and light show at Spring Park in Tuscumbia and enjoyed an evening walk in Big Spring Park and downtown Huntsville.

Special audio recording interviews were held at Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

The journalist were on the first ever FAM trip from the German office of Brand USA, billed as “Taste it – Southern Cuisine & Whiskey” which meant the group was also treated to some of Alabama’s best food. The group dined at Central in Montgomery, Chez Fonfon in Birmingham, Swamper’s Bar and Grill in Florence, Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken in Muscle Shoals and The Bottle in Huntsville. The group stayed at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel, Marriott Shoals Hotel and the downtown Holiday Inn Huntsville.

Alabama’s live music was on display during the trip as the journalist past by musicians playing at The Alley and outside bar at the Renaissance in Montgomery, live music at Swampers in Florence, bluesman during lunch at Champey’s in Muscle Shoals, several street performers in Huntsville’s Arts & Entertainment District weekly event as well as a music duo at Humphrey’s in Huntsville.

To see the Brand USA German Facebook postings made during the trip, go to and scroll down to dates September 18-21. From Alabama, the group went to Tennessee and Kentucky before returning.

On the tour was Holger Vonhof of the Frankfurter Neue Presse, a daily local newspaper with circulation of 231,000; Dirk Hautkapp, of WAZ, a daily regional newspaper with circulation of 770,500; Michael Soltys of Sudwest Presse, a daily regional newspaper with circulation of 300,000; Phillipp Obergabner of Stuttingarter Zeitung, a daily local newspaper with circulation of 197,000; Julian Earwaker of the English language German Magazine Spotlight with a circulation of 69,000. Also on the trip was Brittan Latendorf from the German office of Brand USA and Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department.

The tour was made possible with the help of each of the attractions, hotels, restaurants and DMOs of the sites visited. For more information on Alabama Tourism Department’s international tourism efforts, contact

Mobile and Alabama tourism exhibits at Birmingham, England tourism show

UK In-Market Representative Della Tully joined Patty Kieffer, Senior National Sales Manager Mobile Bay CVB at the Leisure Industry Week in Birmingham, England in the United Kingdom from Sept. 23 – Sept. 26. Tully and Kieffer exhibited at the conference to promote the World Leisure Congress which is to be held in Mobile Bay in September 2014. The show also provided an opportunity to educate leisure professionals about Alabama as a destination for both leisure and convention business. Leisure Industry Week (LIW) is one of the UK’s leading exhibitions for the leisure industry providing an annual meeting place to connect professionals with leisure services. Attendance figures awaiting confirmation but expected to be approximately 12,000 including visitors and exhibitors over the course of the three days.

For more on the Leisure Industry Week show, go to:
For information on the World Leisure Congress’ first ever American event, go to:

State tourism website features Fall Color Map
An interactive map on the Alabama Tourism Department’s website allows visitors to see the predicted fall color change for each weekend this fall. The map, a list of recommended viewing sites and a fall colors driving route are all available on the state tourism website at
Large concentrations of hardwoods make Alabama State Parks some of the best places to enjoy the fall color change. Joe Wheeler has an excellent viewing spot next to the dam and near the cabin area on the Lawrence County side. Autumn scenery can be found at DeSoto State Park at Little River Canyon and DeSoto Falls. Monte Sano has views of the Tennessee Valley along the Warpath Ridge Trail and its overlook. Cheaha’s Bald Rock and Pulpit Rock trails both have excellent views. Cheaha is the highest point in the state at 2,407 feet above sea level.

With cooler days and lower humidity, autumn hosts a variety of outdoor festivals. Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, recommends several events designed around being outdoors and enjoying the fall weather.

Outdoor events scheduled for this fall include Cullman’s Oktoberfest celebrates the city’s German heritage with food, music and arts on Oct. 5-12. The National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores on Oct. 10-13 is one of the nation’s premier outdoor festivals with fine art, arts & crafts and plenty of shrimp.

Belle Chevre in Elkmont celebrates the grand opening of their new goat cheese creamery on Oct. 12 with the Southern Reinvention festival featuring Southern artisans and live entertainment. Break’n Bread at Birmingham’s Railroad Park on Oct. 13 features signature dish tastings from nearly 40 local restaurants. The city of Mentone celebrates its annual Colorfest on Oct. 19-20 with a weekend of arts & crafts, family activities and live entertainment.

The Alabama Renaissance Fair in Florence on Oct. 26-27 transforms the city’s downtown park into a medieval experience. The National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Nov. 1-10 celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and is the nation’s largest peanut festival. The Pike Road Arts and Crafts Festival in the city of Pike Road on Nov. 2 features an arts and crafts market on the grounds of the historic 19th century Marks House.

Alabama Frontier Days in Wetumpka on Nov. 6-10 features reenactments from French Colonial times to the Early American period. Nearly 200 songwriters from across the country will be performing in venues all along the Alabama Gulf Coast during the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival on Nov. 7-17. The 6th annual Oyster Cook-Off featuring all-star chefs and live entertainment is Nov. 9 in Gulf Shores.
A complete list of fall events is available at

The Science of Fall
Several different factors go into producing Alabama’s wonderful fall colors. During the summer, leaves are given their green color by the chemical chlorophyll that the tree sends its leaves in order to conduct photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which trees take in sunlight and convert it into chemical energy while releasing oxygen. The shorter days and cooler temperatures of fall reduce the amount of chlorophyll the tree sends to its leaves. Since the chlorophyll is less and less in the leaves, the leaves begin turning from green to hues of yellow and orange.

The vibrancy and variation of leaf color is determined by how much sugar is “trapped” in the leaf. The tree produces sugar during the warm afternoon, but it becomes trapped in the leaf when the night turns cool. The more sugar a leaf has trapped in it, the brighter its color will be and the more variations you will see of reds, bright oranges, and purples. The best colors result when there are sunny fall days, cool nights, and enough rainfall to keep the leaves from falling too soon.

Alabama Tourism Department hosts Tourism Workshop in October
The Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) will host a Tourism Workshop on Wed., Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Johnson Center for the Arts, located at 300 E. Walnut St. in Troy. This workshop event is for tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area. Come learn about the many programs and services the ATD offers.
Lunch, sponsored by the Alabama Tourism Department, will be provided.

To register or if you have questions or need additional information please contact Rosemary Judkins at Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov or 334-242-4493

Lynch appointed CEO of Aldridge Gardens
Tynette Lynch, President/Owner of Hospitality Business Solutions has been appointed CEO of Aldridge Gardens in Hoover. Tynette is the Alabama Travel Council President, Alabama Tourism Partnership President and serves on the Alabama Tourism Department’s Advisory Board. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tuscaloosa and the U of A nominated in 10Best Readers Choice travel award contest
Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama have been nominated in the latest 10Best Readers Choice travel award contest as a contender for the “Best College Game Day Ambiance” category. The contest is being promoted by USA TODAY, and will run for four weeks. Voters can vote for the candidate of their choice at Voters can vote once a day for the duration of the contest!
Voting ends on October 21st and the winners will be announced on 10Best on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, then later on USA TODAY.

Registration for Travel South Domestic Showcase is open
Travel South Domestic Showcase is scheduled for Feb. 23-26, 2014 in Charleston, WV. Travel South Showcase is the only regional Marketplace focused solely on the cultural, musical, artistic and culinary heritage of the south.
For registration information:

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
Oct. 16 ATD Tourism Workshop
Dec. 3-6 International Showcase, Nashville
Feb. 23-26, 2014 Travel South Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV
The Alabama Tourism Department News is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry. The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to: