"The Shoals" is a musical mecca in one of America's most isolated, beautiful places, Northwestern Alabama. Jazz great and Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy hails from this tiny area of majestic waterways and down home living. (It's where Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Otis Redding and many others recorded music in the 1960s at FAME Studios. Later rock groups like Leonard Skynard and country musicians Vince Gill and Alabama have recorded there as well.)
To get a true taste of this tiny place where rhythm, blues, jazz, rockabilly and country have forever merged, the W.C. Handy Festval 2008 is a living (and fun) music history lesson. It's July 20-26.
The annual festival in and near Florence, Ala., features over 200 music events, including an impressive roster of Jazz musicians. Past headliners included Ellis Marsalis, Mundell Lowe and The Great Guitars.
One event to check out this year: On Friday night of the festival (July 25), at Joe Wheeler State Park in nearby Rogersville, Ala., there's a rollicking evening of music which gets started at 6:30 p.m. You can call 256-247-5466 for more information or to set a reservation there for the night.