The musical legacy of our community is rather incredible; you don’t have to look hard or far to find a wealth of talent in the Shoals. Dive bars, back porches, and BBQs are all likely places for impromptu jam sessions. If you were living here during the 60’s or 70’s you probably have a story about the Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Cher, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or any number of the musicians that recorded at FAME Studios or Muscle Shoals Sound (shown in the photo above at 3614 Jackson Highway in Muscle Shoals, Alabama).
In the 1940’s, you may have heard Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records, DJ-ing on the Muscle Shoals radio station, WLAY. Phillips has credited the station as inspiration and influence on his later work.
This once legendary music scene has experienced resurgence recently with artists like Bettye LaVette, the Black Keys (see video below), Band of Horses, and Alicia Keys traveling to the Shoals to produce, record, and work. And while we love that our great history, amazing engineers, and studios are attracting big names, it is our local musicians that we adore – the hometown heroes that are pursuing their dreams and doing what they love, all while dealing with the daily grind. We will begin highlighting some of the incredible local bands and musicians that call the Shoals home, starting with the very near and dear Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil.
We’d always been friends with and fans of Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil, but when one of our own eloped with bassist Ben Stedman, they begin to feel a lot more like family. When our Studio Director, Erin, fell for the front man Doc Dailey, we couldn’t help but be a little giddy. We’ve gotten close with the entire band over the years, and we’re incredibly happy to see their hard work paying off.
Now, it’s Doc’s turn to release an album recorded right here in the Shoals. Doc Dailey and his band mates weave together music made with simple down-home instruments. The high lonesome sound of Doc’s voice, blended with Susan Rowe’s beautiful harmonies (Susan is also a talented photographer who has recently helped us a lot), works perfectly on top of a steady rhythm acoustic guitar, bass (Ben Stedman, June’s husband), and drums (Kyle Minckler, who has modeled for us before). The interlacing violin (Kimi Samson), banjo (Jon Berry), and pedal steel (Daniel Stoddard) add depth and complexity to the sound. Doc is a craftsman who shows the range of his ability by offering a collection of songs, pleasantly varying in both lyric and composition. The songs on this album vary from driving and energetic to quiet and heartfelt. Doc Dailey has a way with words and it shows in the way he sings about life in the South.
Check out the band’s second full-length album, Catch the Presidents.
P.S: Black Keys at the old Muscle Shoals Sound Studio: