AES Section Meeting Reports

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences - March 6, 2014

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Tonight we watched a documentary called Muscle Shoals. It was about a lowly town in southern Alabama, where an unassuming amount of America's most creative and defiant music was born. We hear from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Franklin, Pickett, Bono and many others throughout the duration of the documentary. They spoke about adversity and overcoming race at these studios, because inside them it didn't matter what color your skin was.
A dirt-poor local named Rick Hall opened FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios in the 1950s, hired a house band (which would come to be known as the Swampers and be name-checked in Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama") and was soon cutting records. This is where the magic started and Hall and the Swampers are White, yet they are responsible for some of the deepest grooves in music.
Race plays a role in the story, of course. Although Hall and the artists say there was never any problem in the studio, that wasn't always true outside its walls. One musician talks about how if you hung around with Black musicians, you got stares. If you hung around with Duane Allman, with his hippie looks, you got worse.
Eventually the Swampers set out on their own, establishing Muscle Shoals Sound, a rival studio. Hall felt betrayed and abandoned, continuing issues in his life, which he discusses. But the magic and the music kept coming from both places.
This meeting left people inspired about the recording world and the history that helped shape it. Gave people new ideas and new dreams to chase in the world of blues and jazz. It was definitely a success.

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