Sweet Home Alabama Music Trail
The hit song “Sweet Home Alabama” is one of the best examples of Southern rock and a tribute to the state. Hank Williams, a country music pioneer, W.C.Handy, the “Father of the Blues” and Dinah Washington, the “Queen of the Blues” were all born in Alabama. Singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett grew up in Alabama. Music studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama offer tours where international superstars like Aretha Franklin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones came to record. Native Alabamian Sam Phillips discovered Elvis and is credited by many with recording the first rock n roll song. Music festivals are held around the state and authentic local live music played nightly.
Your journey begins in the northwest Alabama towns of Florence, Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscles Shoals, located just two hours southeast of Elvis’s Graceland home in Memphis. The “Father of the Blues,” W.C. Handy, was born in Florence where the annual Handy Music Festival is held each summer. Sam Phillips, Another native son, discovered Elvis. The Elvis contract between Sam Phillips and RCA is located in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in nearby Tuscumbia. FAME Studios is just one of the recording studios located in these small Alabama cities where international superstars like Aretha Franklin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones came to record in the 60s. Music Venues in Muscle Shoals Area.
McGraws Coffee House – Downtown coffee house and deli with live music during lunch Tuesday and Friday. 256-765-7779
Muscle Shoals to Music Row Live – Hit songwriters and artists from across America and local Muscle Shoals musicians perform live at the Marriot Shoals Conference Center once a month on a Thursday night. 256-246-3663
On the Rocks – Sample local musical talent at this trendy and eclectic nightspot in the heart of downtown Florence. Live music Thursday-Saturday. 256-760-2212
The Smokehouse – Historic Florence eatery and pool room where bands play live music each weekend from a balcony overlooking the restaurant and lounge. 256-764-0101
Swampers Lounge – Unwind as musicians pay tribute to the Shoals music heritage inside the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa. Live music nightly, cozy fireplace and Muscle Shoals music memorabilia. 256-246-3663
PJ’s – Live dance music Friday and Saturday nights. All forms of music represented. 256-383-1438
Sidelines Sports Deli – Live music, featuring the Decoys on Wednesday, members of famous Swampers, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and a changing schedule of live bands on Saturday. 256-389-9240
Sundance Saloon – American Western-style saloon, with musical lineup Wednesday through Saturday evenings, featuring country, classic and Southern rock; dance floor, mechanical bull rides. 256-386-1988
Trojan House Sandwich & Coffee Shop – Located just blocks from the famous Fame Studios, this alcohol-free venue features young artists strumming their guitars in front of a tip jar each Friday and Saturday evening. 256-386-7762
Fizz Lounge at the Emerald River Hotel – An established venue for local musicians, featuring country, rhythm and blues, and classic rock. Live music most Friday and Saturday evenings. 256-381-4710
J.D.’s Lounge – On the second and last Sunday evenings of each month, some of the best musicians in the Muscle Shoals area get together with hosts Maxwell Russell and the Shakedown Kings to jam in this neighborhood bar located downtown. 256-383-2600
Sandbar Bar & Grill – Features several areas for dining and dancing to the live music of local and regional bands playing rock n roll, blues and country each Friday and Saturday nights. 256-248-0530
Frank’s Italian Restaurant – The stylishly decorated restaurant offers live music every Saturday night April through fall and Friday evenings in September and October. 256-314-4407
Rattlesnake Saloon at Seven Springs Lodge – Built under an ancient Indian bluff shelter, outdoor stage features live country music Thursday through Saturdays. 256-370-7220
Spring Park Market – Live music Thursday afternoons from June through August at the farmer’s market located at Tuscumbia’s Spring Park. 256-764-0044
Stop in Huntsville to experience its exciting night life full of live music! Huntsville is home to one of the state’s largest music events, Big Spring Jam, which is held in September. The city’s downtown area hosts Washington Square, a mini entertainment district with live music. Just 8 minutes away you can take a gondola ride at Bridge Street Town Centre where a new Westin is now open. Along with Big Spring Jam, smaller music events in Huntsville include Huntsville Sacred Harp Singing – Saturday before the First Sunday in May and North Alabama “Down Home” Blues Festival in May and the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention – first Friday and Saturday in October (Athens).
Huntsville Area Music Venues
Crossroads Cafe, Huntsville Thursday-Saturday nightly Varies; Blues, Folk, Jazz, Rock
Humphrey’s, Huntsville Monday-Saturday nightly Varies; Blues, Rock, Bluegrass, Jazz
Jazz Factory, Huntsville Wed-Saturday – Martini Lounge – Varies Friday & Saturday – Dining Area – Jazz
Kaffeeklatsch Bar, Huntsville Nightly Varies but specializes in Acoustic and Blues “Jam Nights”
The Brick Deli & Tavern, Decatur Wednesday – Saturday
In Birmingham, you can still hear jazz echoing from downtown nightclubs in places such as Ona’s Music Room. Other downtown music attractions include The Jazz Hall of Fame and coming soon, a new entertainment district. Alabama American Idols Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard each plan to open clubs in the new district, named The Forge after the city’s past iron and steel industry.
Birmingham Area Music Festivals include City Stages – Father’s Day Weekend Fri-Sun in June. Smaller music events in and near Birmingham include the National Sacred Harp Convention Thursday- Saturday before the third Sunday in June, The Preserve Jazz Festival in June, Freedom Creek Blues Festival – Last weekend in May (Aliceville), Horsepens 40 – Spring and Fall Bluegrass Festivals (Gadsden), Tuscaloosa Crawfish & Blues Festival – May (Tuscaloosa) and Black Belt Folk Roots Festival O’l Timey Blues Show – August (Eutaw) .
Birmingham Area Music Venues
Blue Monkey, Birmingham Nightly Jazz Piano
Zydeco, Birmingham Friday & Saturday and varies other nights Varies
Ona’s Music Room Wednesday – Saturday Jazz
Workplay, Birmingham Most nights Varies
Metro Bistro & Market, Birmingham Most nights Jazz to Alternative
The Nick, Birmingham Nightly Varies
The Garage Cafe, Birmingham Varies Rock, Soul, Blues
Gabriel’s Cafe, Hoover Thursday – Saturday Varies; Rock, Jazz, Country
Little Willie’s, Tuscaloosa Varies Jazz
Continue your trip southward to Alabama’s capital city of Montgomery, the central point in the Hank Williams legend. Hank was country music’s first superstar, selling 10 million records from 1947 to 1953. Hank’s final resting spot is located a mile from the Hank Williams Museum which houses Hank artifacts including his powder-blue Cadillac he was riding in when he died.
Music Festivals include Jubilee CityFest – May. Smaller music events in and near Montgomery include Capitol Rotunda Singing – Saturday before the first Sunday in February, Hank Williams Birthday Celebration – September and Hank Williams Festival – First weekend in June (Georgiana).
Montgomery Area Music Venues
1048 Jazz and Blues, Montgomery Nightly Varies; Jazz on Sunday
Off The Wagon, Montgomery Thursday-Saturday plus over nights Varies
Montgomery Brew Pub, Montgomery Most Thursday-Saturday Varies
Sous La Terre, Montgomery Fridays-Saturdays, begins late night Jazz, Soul
LaSalle Blue, Montgomery Thursday only Jazz
The Olive Room, Montgomery Friday, Saturday night Jazz Piano
The music highway continues south to Mobile, hometown of Jimmy Buffett and where the historic port city of Mobile features delicious seafood and an array of bars, restaurants and live music venues.
Music Festivals include Mobile Bayfest in October. Another music events in and around Mobile includeMardi Gras – Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Mobile Music Venues
Veet’s, Mobile Wednesday-Sunday Varies; County, Rock, Blues
Soul Kitchen, Mobile
A few miles from Mobile, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are resort towns with 32 miles of white sandy beaches off the Gulf of Mexico. Live bands perform at entertainment establishments including the Florabama, the famous roadhouse beach bar right on the Alabama/Florida State line.
Alabama Gulf Coast Music Festivals include Frank Brown Songwriters Festival – 10 day even in November (Gulf Shores, Orange Beach), Crawfish Festival – April (Faunsdale). Festivals on the beach that include music are The Annual National Shrimp Festival – each year during the second full weekend in October (Gulf Shores) and the Mullet Toss – the last full weekend in April at the Flora-Bama. (Orange Beach). Weekend Concerts regularly held at “The Wharf.”
Alabama Gulf Coast Area Music Venues
LuLu’s at Homeport Marina, Gulf Shores Nightly Jimmy Buffett’s Sister’s Place, Local Bands
Florabama, Orange Beach Nightly #1 Roadside Beach Bar, Bands varies
Pink Pony Pub, Gulf Shores Most nights Located on the beach, Bands varies
The Wharf Amphitheater, Orange Beach Wednesday-Sunday Varies; County, Rock, Blues
The Hangout, Gulf Shores Nightly Located on the beach, local