Tag Archives: Blake Ells

The Blue

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The Blue

“There really ain’t no difference

in Michigan and Maine

If you ain’t here to see this I’m missing just the same.” – Jason Isbell, ‘The Blue.’

 I realize the absurdity of the notion, but there really ain’t no difference in Boston and Birmingham.

The former is the sixth-largest media market in America, while our Magic City is the 43rd. The former saw the American Revolution play out in its’ streets, while the latter was one of the largest stages of the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960’s. The former is home to the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics, the Bruins. The latter just moved its’ AA baseball team back downtown three years ago.

Boston counts John Adams, Samuel Adams, Aerosmith, Louisa May Alcott and Ben Affleck among its most famous natives, and that’s just among things that begin with the letter “A.” The most notable people from Birmingham are all athletes, but its’ at least an impressive list that includes Willie Mays, Charles Barkley, Bo Jackson and Vonetta Flowers.

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Stories and a Lesson From the Road

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Stories and a Lesson From the Road

When The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME was released on June 29 of this year, I didn’t go on some sort of full blown book tour or anything like that, but I did make a few stops across the state of Alabama. And that’s an interesting thing; chatting with people that you don’t know about this thing that you have created that they connect with.

When I finished writing the book, I never really looked at it again. It was no longer mine. It belonged to the publisher, it belonged to the people that bought it (many of you) and it belonged to the Shoals community; the latter being my top priority in the effort. When I negotiated that deal, I wanted to find a way to bridge a giant divide from the “Muscle Shoals” story that had been told and the one that we are still living out. There was no blueprint for that, and I felt the best way to create one was to simply speak to the people that lived it, people still living it, people that I call friends.

I think I hit the target. I’ve been told, at least, that the work was partially responsible for new life in the Fiddleworms. And nothing could make me happier.

But I digress.

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Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

“Tomorrow will be kinder

It’s true, I’ve seen it before

A brighter day is coming my way

Yes, tomorrow will be kinder.”

Music attorney John Strohm said something on Twitter Saturday, as we all sought answers, as we all grieved the events unfolding in Paris.

“I don’t mean this lightly…but the terrorists messing with a rock show really crosses a psychological line for me. Way too close to home.”

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Pegasus In-Store with Jay Burgess, Russell Mefford and Hannah Aldridge

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The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME: In-Store performance and signing at Pegasus Records

On Saturday, July 18, I was joined by Jay Burgess of The Pollies, Russell Mefford of Fiddleworms and Hannah Aldridge for a discussion and performance to celebrate the release of “The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME.” Each had a big hand in the book’s story, and each was gracious enough to join me for the chat. Hear the audio from the event below:

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#TBT The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME, IV

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#TBT The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME, IV

“The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME” isn’t the same telling of the FAME story you know. Rather, this story is about the impact Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, the recording studio and publishing company, had on the community that surrounded it and how it changed the next fifty years of music in Muscle Shoals. I couldn’t make all of the photos that I had at my disposal work in the book, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll try to provide a little more context for this story with some of the photos that I couldn’t use.

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Bloodkin [Interview]

Bloodkin are Athens, Georgia legends, in a town known for an overwhelming scene that has given R.E.M., B-52’s, Drive-By Truckers and Widespread Panic to the world. The latter recorded several of Bloodkin’s records, including mammoth hits like “Can’t Get High.” Bloodkin’s highs and lows have been well documented; struggles with loss and addiction have made their survival difficult, but Danny Hutchens and Eric Carter are still together after “The Long Hustle.”

Hutchens spoke to Weld about his relationship with Widespread Panic, overcoming those hurdles life has thrown and Athens.

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#TBT The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME, III

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The Shooters

“The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME” isn’t the same telling of the FAME story you know. Rather, this story is about the impact Florence Alabama Music Enterprises, the recording studio and publishing company, had on the community that surrounded it and how it changed the next fifty years of music in Muscle Shoals. I couldn’t make all of the photos that I had at my disposal work in the book, and over the next couple of weeks, I’ll try to provide a little more context for this story with some of the photos that I couldn’t use.

The Shooters were a country songwriting supergroup, bridging the period most known for sessions through the glory days of Muscle Shoals songwriting to the current live scene which has evolved in the last decade. Walt Aldridge, Gary Baker, Barry Billings, Chalmers Davis and Mike Dillon – the first two wrote a pile of country hits you’re unaware that you know, while Billings mentored kids like Chris Tompkins, Shonna Tucker, Bo Bice and Jason Isbell at La Fonda’s Mexican Restaurant on Highway 72. During a dark period when the Shoals doesn’t receive a lot of credit for the music it was creating, The Shooters gave the community life.

I’ll be signing copies of “The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME” at Alabama Booksmith on June 29. They will have an exclusive hardcover edition of the book for sale, which you can reserve here. You can also preorder on Amazon here. I have also created a Spotify playlist that offers a little more context for the time period the book covers. Subscribe to it here.

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