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MES film club brings Muscle Shoals sound to Chattanooga
Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Ala. is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the "Singing River," as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time.
Bob Dylan, Wilson Pickett, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Percy Sledge, Duane Allman and countless other stars have all been lured to this remote and mystical place in the backwoods of Alabama to work with the musicians and producers there.
One particular native of Muscle Shoals, Rick Hall, is at the heart of this tale. His Faulknerian life of misery and hard-won victories includes the founding of FAME studios where he created a haven for black and white musicians to come together in service of music. Doing so at the peak of racial hostilities, he shepherded the creation of songs and even genres that have become seminal while also giving birth to the unique "Muscle Shoals sound" and the rhythm section The Swampers.
The Swampers are the house band who made the very risky decision at the time to break away from Hall and FAME, to start their own studio known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Despite their relentless drive for success and perfection, this band’s sense of humility and passion was never corrupted. Having played a part in innumerable hits, they were immortalized in the American anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama,” where Ronnie Van Zant sings “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers ...”
The music of Muscle Shoals has sold millions of copies and changed the world: "I’ll Take You There," "Brown Sugar," "When a Man Loves a Woman," "I Never Loved A Man the Way That I Loved You," "Mustang Sally," "Tell Mama," "Kodachrome,"
Greg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge and others are interviewed in the film and talk eloquently and fondly about Muscle Shoals' magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today.
For more information about the film the Village Voice calls “a winning tribute,” go to mesfilmclub.com.
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