Tourism Tuesdays August 11, 2015

  • Alabama Restaurant Week kicks off Aug. 14
  • Here’s how to get free barbecue every weekday this week in Huntsville
  • Alabama Barbecue Battle: Vote for your favorite dives, chains, mom and pops, rookies and legends
  • Beats to renovate iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
  • Jamey Johnson: Country star talks about Alabama roots, more in rare interview
  • The fall and rise of Jason Isbell
  • Orange Beach, two other Baldwin towns, in ‘charming’ top 10
  • USS Alabama Director Bill Tunnell to retire
  • USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is looking for an Executive Director
  • Alabama artists and craftspeople
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama Restaurant Week kicks off August 14

More than 150 restaurants will offer lunch and dinner discounts to encourage customers to try new dishes during the fourth annual Alabama Restaurants Week Aug. 14-23, state tourism officials announced recently.

The two-course lunch specials will range from $5 to $15 while three-course dinners will cost from $10 to $30, not including tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the option of offering specials at both lunch and dinner or choosing to offer just lunch or just dinner specials.

“This is a great opportunity for people to try restaurants in their hometown and other places in the state while saving money,” said Alabama Tourism Department Marketing Director Grey Brennan.  “There are no coupons or discount books to buy or bring.  Diners at the participating restaurants simply ask for the Alabama Restaurant Week special.”

Restaurants that have signed-up to offer the specials include favorites like Cotton Row in Huntsville, Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Central in Montgomery, The Trellis Room in Mobile and LuLu’s in Gulf Shores.  Multiple locations of Baumhower’s, LawLers Barbecue and Wintzell’s Oyster House are also participating.

Restaurants in more than 30 cities across the state have been included in Alabama Restaurant Week. Cities with participating restaurants include: Albertville, Arab, Athens, Auburn, Birmingham, Cedar Bluff, Centre, Daphne, Fairhope, Foley, Greenville, Gulf Shores, Guntersville, Huntsville, Jacksonville, Leesburg, Madison, Meridianville, Mobile, Montgomery, New Market, Northport, Orange Beach, Saraland, Somerville, Spanish Fort, Tallassee, Theodore, Troy, Tuscaloosa, and Tuscumbia.

A full list of participating restaurants and the specials they are offering can be found at  The Alabama Tourism Department will be using the hash tag #DineAlabama on all of their social media channels to promote Alabama Restaurant Week.

These social media channels include:

Here’s how to get free barbecue every weekday this week in Huntsville
By Matt Wake,, Aug. 10

The key word here is “while supplies last.” As in there are 150 samples total each day.

As part of Huntsville Restaurant Week 2015, which officially runs Aug. 13-23, The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau if offering free barbecue samples Monday through Friday. The CVB is located at 500 Church Street Ste. 1. The brick building is located across from Church Street Wine Shoppe and The Eaves Restaurant.

In addition to Huntsville Restaurant, the free barbecue samples are also intended as a celebration of the Alabama Tourism Department’s Year of Alabama Barbecue.

“The Alabama Tourism Department has a different theme each year and for several years now they’ve used ‘The Year of’ campaign,” says Pam Williams, CVB Tourism Sales Manager & Restaurant Week Coordinator.  “So there’s been The Year of (Alabama) Sports, The Year of (Alabama) History, art, music and food. They’ve done the Year of Alabama Food twice. And that’s what started restaurant week; it was The Year of Alabama Food in 2012. This year is Year of Alabama Barbecue, so it’s a perfect tie-in to have the samples.”

Barbecue samples will be served on a first come, first served basis from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. The schedule: Aug. 10 Badd Newz BBQ; Aug. 11 LawLer’s Barbecue; Aug. 12 Granville’s Gourmet Ribs and BBQ; Aug. 13 The Boot Pizzeria (serving barbecue pizzas); and Aug. 14 New Market BBQ.

The CVB left what type of barbecue each participating restaurant is bringing (and wanted to highlight) up to those individual restaurants. They only requirement was to bring at least enough to serve 150 sample-sized servings. While these plans may change, Williams said, Badd Newzz planned on bringing smoked turkey, Granville’s ribs and New Market bringing pulled pork.

To read this article online, go to:

Alabama Barbecue Battle: Vote for your favorite dives, chains, mom and pops, rookies and legends
By Bob Carlton,, Aug. 6

When it comes to celebrating The Year of Alabama Barbecue, the Alabama Tourism Department has gone whole hog.

The year-long celebration of the wonders of smoke meat has included the Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips book, the Masters of Alabama Barbecue photo exhibit, the inaugural Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame and the documentary film Q: Alabama’s Barbecue Legends.

Now comes the Alabama Barbecue Battle, an online BBQ smackdown similar to, but slightly different from, the tourism department March Madness-inspired Alabama BBQ Brackets of past years.

In this year’s Alabama Barbecue Battle, 50 nominees will compete in five new categories that recognize the huge range of barbecue restaurants across the state – from little mom-and-pop joints to big, high-volume chains.

Voting in each category begins today, Aug. 6, at noon, and concludes on Aug. 31. The winners will be announced Sept. 1. To find out how to vote, go to

Several barbecue restaurants are nominated in multiple categories.

Here are the Alabama Barbecue Battle categories and the descriptions provided by the tourism department, along with the nominees in each category:

Legends: Even the house of Alabama barbecue needs a foundation, and these legends laid the bricks. They’re leaving their legacies, one plate at a time.
—> Nominees: Archibald’s Bar B.Q., Northport; Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Tuscaloosa; J. Rodgers BBQ, Saraland, Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Q, Warrior; Leo and Susie’s Famous Green Top Bar-B-Q, Dora; Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, Bessemer, The Brick Pit, Mobile, Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale.

MultiLocations: More than one location means your favorite barbecue is never out of reach. Good for us, bad for the pigs.
—> Nominees: Full Moon Bar-B-Q, Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Que, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Saw’s, Golden Rule Bar B-Q, Whitt’s Barbecue, Moe’s Original Bar B Que, Mike & Ed’s BBQ, LawLers Barbecue.

The Mom and Pops: Nothing beats the old-school, single-location, family-run ‘cue joint with a story just as good as the food. Soak in the familiar smiles as you soak your napkins in sauce.
—> Nominees: Leo and Susie’s Famous Green Top Bar-B-Q, Dora; Archibald’s Bar B.Q., Northport, Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, Bessemer; Johnny’s Bar-B-Q, Cullman, Sam’s Bar-B-Que, Montgomery; Big Daddy’s Real Pit Bar-B-Que, Enterprise, The Brick Pit, Mobile; Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds, Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Cahaba Heights; L.A. Barbeque, Summerdale.

The Rookies: In Alabama, it takes decades to become a barbecue legend, but these rookies are on their way to the hickory-smoked hall of fame.
—> Nominees: Little Bit of R&R BBQ, Leeds; Hickory Barn BBQ, Athens; Smokin’ on the Boulevard, Florence; Saw’s BBQ, Homewood; Hog Wild BBQ, Gulf Shores; Cotton State BBQ, Mobile; 306 BBQ, Athens; Smokey C’s Bar-B-Que & Wings, Decatur; Landmark BBQ, Odenville; Hoo’s Q, Tuscaloosa.

The Dives: You know the place. There’s always a line of hungry locals, your meal is served on something not normally considered a plate, and you leave smelling like hickory smoke.
—> Nominees: Charlie’s BBQ, Odenville; Hickory Barn BBQ, Athens; Dale’s BBQ, Boaz; Jim’s Highway 82 Barbecue, Billingsley; Top Hat Barbecue, Blount Springs; The Brick Pit, Mobile; Smokin’ on the Boulevard, Florence; Miss Myra’s Pit Bar B-Q, Cahaba Heights; Archibald & Woodrow’s B-B-Q, Tuscaloosa; Ken’s BBQ, Pinson.

The 10 restaurants in each category were selected based on more than 1,600 nominations that came in through social media over the past several months, according to the tourism department.

“We look forward to seeing who is left when the hickory smoke clears,” Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell said in a media release. “The barbecue bracket has been one of our most popular social media promotions in the past few years, and this year will prove to be the biggest battle of them all.”

You also may keep up with, and participate in, the Alabama Barbecue Battle on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Here are those links:

To read this article online, go to:

Beats to renovate iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
By Robert Palmer,, Aug. 6

The historic Muscle Shoals Sound Studios will undergo a complete renovation and restoration beginning in September with a grant from Beats.

The Muscle Shoals Music Foundation, which owns the iconic building on Jackson Highway in Sheffield, is expected to make the formal announcement Friday morning.

“We are grateful to Beats for supporting our community’s efforts,” said Judy Hood, chairwoman of the music foundation.

Beats was founded in 2006 by artist and producer Dr. Dre, and by producer and record company president Jimmy Iovine. It makes high-end headphones, ear buds and speakers. The company was acquired by Apple in 2014.

The studio will close soon to allow renovation to begin in September. It is expected to reopen early in 2016. Hood said the foundation agreed not to reveal the amount of the grant.

Beats announced in November it was setting aside money for the project, which could include work at FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, as well.

Iovine, a noted record producer, said earlier the Muscle Shoals sound is “magic.”

Hood, who operates Swampette Tours, said the music foundation has also purchased property and buildings behind Muscle Shoals Sound to be used as a museum or as a performance space.

“Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre and Beats understand that the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is magic, and we are now protecting and preserving that distinct and authentic sound.”

The studio will reopen for tours next year, and will again become a working studio. In a November press release on the Beats website, Beats president Luke Wood said a program will be created to provide the next generation of producers, engineers and artist access to the studio and professional expertise at no charge. It will be a training program for those selected to learn the craft of recording, he said.

Rodney Hall, president of FAME Recording Studios, credited the international success of the documentary movie “Muscle Shoals” for the Beats grant. Hall, a member of the music foundation board, spearheaded the purchase of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios from a private owner. His father, FAME founder Rick Hall, was featured in the movie.

“We are thrilled that this important piece of music history can be permanently restored and made available to the public,” Rodney Hall said in a press release. “The foundation was able to purchase the building through the generosity of private investors like Gene Hamby, who understand the importance of preserving the legacy of Muscle Shoals music.”

State tourism director Lee Sentell said the movie was critical to the studio’s preservation.

“Everyone who love Muscle Shoals music owes an enormous debt to filmmakers Stephen Badger and Freddie Camalier for their documentary ‘Muscle Shoals,'” Sentell said. “The financial support from Beats is a direct result of their film.”

Badger is a member of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation board.

Muscle Shoals Sound Studios was founded in 1969 by four members of Rick Hall’s rhythm section, Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins, David Hood and Barry Beckett. Known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, they were name-checked by their nickname, the Swampers, in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s international hit “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Among the artists who recorded there are Boz Scaggs, Cher, the Staple Singers, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Traffic, Art Garfunkel, and Paul Simon.

The 3614 Jackson Highway studio closed in 1978 when the rhythm section relocated to a much larger building on the banks of the Tennessee River. In the 1980s, they sold it to Malaco Records, of Jackson, Mississippi. The riverside facility is now owned by Cypress Moon Studios.

The renovation work will be done by Les Tillery of Fuqua and Partners Architects, B.H. Craig Construction Co., of Florence, and Michael Cronin Acoustic Construction.

To read this article online, go to:

Jamey Johnson: Country star talks about Alabama roots, more in rare interview
By Mary Colurso,, Aug. 9

“I am Jamey Johnson and I am from Montgomery, Alabama. I’m a country music singer, songwriter, and I tour with my band. And I always look forward to my next time fishin’.”

That’s how the country star described himself — simply, succinctly, eloquently — in an interview for‘s “For Real” series. Through videos and feature stories, the series focuses on Alabama people who’ve made their marks in entertainment, sports, literature, food, philanthrophy and more.

Johnson, an award-winning artist with six records to this credit, doesn’t like to brag about his accomplishments in the music world. He certainly doesn’t spend a lot of time talking to the press.

Nevertheless, he agreed to sit down with us for an extensive chat — about his Alabama roots, his outlaw heritage, his fatherly concerns, his songwriting partners and much more — during a recent visit to Birmingham.

No topic was off-limits during the 40-minute conversation, which took place before a concert at Avondale Brewing Co. And, as you’ll see in the video above, this man of few words chooses his with care.

To read this entire article, go to:

The fall and rise of Jason Isbell
CBS Sunday Morning, Aug. 9

Jason Isbell’s road to his chart-topping new album came with many pitfalls. “Something More Than Free” features songs about the under-privileged people of the rural South, but the roots-rocker also sings about his battle with addiction. Anthony Mason talks to Isbell and his wife, musician Amanda Shires, about his alcohol abuse and newfound sobriety, and their musical collaboration.

To read this article online and watch the video, go to:

Orange Beach, two other Baldwin towns, in ‘charming’ top 10, Aug. 9

Three towns in Baldwin, including Orange Beach, were named in the top 10 “Most Beautiful, Charming Small Towns In Alabama” by the website

Orange Beach was the number 10 selection on the list Fairhope was listed as number four and Magnolia Springs was the eight selection.

About Orange Beach, the website wrote:?Orange Beach, the easternmost community on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, offers a wide selection of family beach vacation opportunities. Its main attraction is (of course) the beach, but Orange Beach is also home to The Wharf–a family entertainment district with many amenities. At The Wharf, you’ll have the opportunity to ride the tallest Ferris wheel in the Southeast, which has a height of 112 feet. Whether you’re interested in relaxing on the beach or exploring the Gulf, you can do it all in Orange Beach. Orange Beach has a population of about 6,000.

About Fairhope the website wrote:?Fairhope, located in Baldwin County, is situated on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. This charming town has spacious parks, tree-lined neighborhoods, and a thriving downtown area that attracts many visitors. Fairhope has a population of around 15,000 and is the perfect place for a quick getaway.

About Magnolia Springs wrote:?The charming town of Magnolia Springs, located in Baldwin County, is situated at the headwaters of the Magnolia River. Today, the Magnolia River is the only river mail route in the continental U.S. Magnolia Springs has less than 1,000 residents.

The other seven listed as the most charming towns in Alabama are: Tuscumbia, Greenville, Mooresville, Eufaula, Mentone, Monroeville and Fort Payne.

To read this entire article online, go to:

USS Alabama Director Bill Tunnell to retire

Bill Tunnell has announced that he will retire from the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park after the first of the year.  Tunnell has held the position of executive director for almost 19 years.

“Battleship Memorial Park is celebrating its first 50 years in 2015 and no better way to start the next 50 than with new leadership to replace the old guy who’s been there almost forever,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

Noting he met his wife, Cynthia, on an Alabama Tourism Bus Blitz back in 1992, the Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame inductee insists retirement doesn’t mean quitting. “I’ll still be around, there’s a lot more I need to do.”

“Alabama tourism and my experiences with our extended hospitality family have been fantastic. It has changed my life and, for that, I am very grateful.”

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is looking for an Executive Director

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, is accepting applications for the position of executive director. The Park is operated by the USS Alabama Battleship Commission, a self-supporting agency of the State of Alabama, to honor and remember all Alabamians who serve or have served in all branches of the US Armed Forces.

The executive director, analogous to General Manager or CEO, reports to the Commission and is responsible for long-term planning and day-to-day management of the Park and its assets, which include two National Historic Landmarks. These responsibilities include developing and managing tourism programs; artifact collection, restoration, and preservation; fund-raising and revenue generation; marketing and PR efforts: strategic planning, and all other aspects of Park Management.

For details about this position and how to apply, contact Bill Tunnell at or at 251-433-2703.

All resumes must be received by Aug. 31.

Alabama artists and craftspeople

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative artists and craftspeople who produce a wide variety of items including, but not limited to, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, fabrics and a lot of food.

The Alabama Tourism Department is looking for information about these artists and crafters and their products.  We are interested in the home-grown cottage industries rather than the industrial giants.

Please send information about people and their products, including contact information, to Peggy Collins, or call 334-242-4545.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Aug 14 – 23                Alabama Restaurant Week
Aug 27 – 29                Connect Marketplace – Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 28 – Sept 1          SYTA Annual Conference – Branson, MO


Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

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Alabama Tourism Department