Having come from Canada some years ago, I was able to take a look at the music in North Alabama with fresh eyes and, most notably, fresh ears. The rich history of blues and early rock and the enormous amount of soul that came, seemingly, from the depths of the waters in Muscle Shoals in the last few decades seemed overwhelming at first. And from time to time, it seems that those who are from here don’t know anything different.
I can tell you that from an outsider’s point of view, and one who has been in the music profession for over 20 years, the richness and diverse musical history of the area is truly inspiring. And I believe that its effects are still felt to this day. There are so many talented musicians in this area and venues that still value live music and the heartbeat it provides to a culture.
I am proud to call Huntsville, Alabama my home because of this value that is placed on live music. The arts are amazingly powerful to the world that surrounds it. It has been the pulse and lifeblood of cultures throughout history and the music culture here in Huntsville is alive and kicking. I think the Scottish writer and politician Andrew Fletcher said it well when he said, “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”
The health of the music scene locally, I believe, has a lot to do with its roots: the very musicians themselves. There is a healthy support of musicians among peers in the area. Where I am from, the competition could get so fierce that it felt like everyone was out to get everyone else. Here, I have had the pleasure to work with, and alongside, some extraordinary people. People who build each other up rather than tear each other down. And that is fast becoming a rarity in other places.
One of the first venues I played here in Huntsville was at Rocket Republic during a Battle of the Bands cancer benefit some years back. It was an amazing event (made moreso when my band won!) and I was lucky enough to share the stage with some amazing talent and all-around good people. People like Benjamin Luthy (then of the band Falcon Punch) and Dave Anderson. It was my first exposure to the Huntsville music scene and I was so pleasantly surprised. The camaraderie and support among musicians was a breath of fresh air. We cheered for Falcon Punch, and they cheered even louder for us.
The art and skill locally in Huntsville is surprisingly plentiful but I feel an even bigger asset is the peer respect and support felt among musicians and music-lovers. Maybe it’s just the southern way. Maybe it is that famous “southern charm” that keeps people humble and kind. Whatever Huntsville is doing, for the love of music, let’s keep it going and keep it growing.