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Grammy-winning singer Jason Isbell brings new fest home

March 22, 2019

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama native Jason Isbell is bringing a new musical festival to the Shoals area.

The first-ever ShoalsFest is set for Oct. 5 and will feature performances by Isbell and the 400 Unit, his wife Amanda Shires, Sheryl Crow, and Mavis Staples on the main stage. A second stage lineup will be announced soon.

Al.com reports ShoalsFest will take place at McFarland Park in Florence. Only 5,000 tickets are available. A special pre-sale for Alabama residents opens Saturday at Birmingham’s Seasick Records and at Muscle Shoals’ Counts Brothers Music. Tickets starting at $60 go on sale fully at 10 a.m. Monday, March 25.

“I’ve always wanted to bring a music festival to the Shoals, and McFarland Park is the perfect place to enjoy world-class artists and the beauty of the Singing River,” the singer-songwriter said in a news release. “These acts are all personal favorites of ours, and we’re proud to bring them to our hometown and show them a good time. I hope y’all are as excited as we are about ShoalsFest 2019.”

Isbell, a native of Green Hill, teamed with his manager Traci Thomas and Outback Presents for ShoalsFest.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Muscle Shoals, and surrounding municipalities Sheffield, Tuscumbia and Florence, collectively referred to as The Shoals, had an immeasurable impact on popular music with what was dubbed the “Muscle Shoals Sound.”

Soul-music pioneers The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin recorded there. So did The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan, tracking some of music’s most enduring songs at FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound. Local session musicians, such as The Swampers, The FAME Gang and others contributed, providing a country-funk feel. The sound resonated with millions of listeners, helping turn songs like The Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” (among many others) into smashes.

Back when he was a teenager, Isbell developed his guitar playing and reverence for music history working at FAME Studios and playing with local musicians, including members of The Swampers.

Isbell is known for vivid songwriting and evocative fretwork, on such solo tunes as “24 Frames” and the Drive-By Truckers’ “Never Gonna Change.” With Shires, he won last year’s Grammy Award for Best Americana Album with “The Nashville Sound.”

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Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews

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