Tucked along the Tennessee River, the town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, barely registers on a map. But thanks to one visionary record producer and a group of unknown session musicians, this tiny backwater has changed the course of modern music, becoming an unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant songs.
At the heart of this fascinating, uplifting filmic history lesson is Rick Hall, founder of FAME Studios (whose mantra is "make every record like it's your last"). Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, he brought black and white together in Alabama's cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations. Together with a predominantly white studio session band dubbed 'The Swampers' Rick developed the deep, soulful "Muscle Shoals sound". It's the sound that reinvented the work of legends from Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to Mick Jagger, Candi Staton and Gregg Allman. More inspiring still, Hall and The Swampers created a space where black and white artists worked seamlessly together, just down the road from Alabama's burning racial crisis. As the line goes from the song Sweet Home Alabama, 'Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers/And they've been known to pick a song or two.' A joyful ride and a real delight.
Screening as part of Bristol’s Americana Weekend, where Colston Hall and St George’s bring together outstanding home-grown and US artists in the spirit of collaboration to celebrate the remarkable roots music that grows from deep in the American soil. So grab your denim jacket, order a bourbon at the bar and kick back.
Don't miss another music documentary The Wrecking Crew Fri 10 - Sun 12 July.
Ticket offer: Get £1.00 off tickets for Muscle Shoals and The Wrecking Crew upon the presentation of any ticket purchased for Bristol Americana Weekend. This offer is not available online.