Documentary on Alabama town that changed the face of rock and soul music premiers at Sundance Film Festival this week
By Alex Baker
At the absolute height of civil rights turmoil that took place in the United States during the 1960s, Muscle Shoals, Alabama was one of the few places in the American South where blacks and whites worked side by side, in relative peace and harmony.
The little Alabama town on the banks of the Tennessee River was home to the now legendary FAME studios. Founded in the late Fifties, FAME shot to prominence in the early Sixties when the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and Etta James recorded many of their most enduring hits at the facility. Artists who recorded at the studio were typically backed by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a band of local boys who have generally come to be regarded as the funkiest group of white guys ever assembled.
As the Sixties gave way to the Seventies artists like the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, and most famously, the Rolling Stones, made artistic pilgrimages to Muscle Shoals to record at FAME and at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, the rival studio that was founded by members of Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section band.
Director Greg “Freddy” Camalier’s new documentary Muscle Shoals is making its premier this week at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, which features archival footage and interviews with the likes of Mick Jagger, Aretha Franklin, Bono, Keith Richards, Alicia Keys, and Etta James, among others, chronicles the rise of the little Alabama town that for a time became the epicenter of the music industry and gave birth to the “Muscle Shoals sound” that’s still influential even today.
Check out the trailer.