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ON THE RECORD: Alabama Q&A

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MARY GRESHAM

Mary Gresham has recorded at FAME, Wishbone, Playground, Muscle Shoals Sound, and many other places. She has worked with dozens of recording artists and written songs in her own right. Mary has been a fixture of the Florence/Muscle Shoals scene for quite some time, bringing her powerful vocals whenever their command is required. Mary will be performing at our kickoff ABALABIP! concert in Birmingham, Alabama, on February 5th.

THE OA: What are the best songs, in your opinion, ever written or performed by an Alabama artist?

MG: "Patches" by Clarence Carter

"Stand By Your Man" by Candi Staton

"Angel In Your Arms" written by Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivey and performed by Hot

"When A Man Loves A Woman" by Percy Sledge

THE OA: Who, in your opinion, is the most talented musician/singer to come out of Alabama?

MG: Nat King Cole.

THE OA: What do you think is the best album of all time by an Alabama artist?

MG: GREATEST HITS by Alabama.

THE OA: Who is the best unheard-of Alabama artist?

MG: John Rocato from Florence, Alabama.

THE OA: What is your favorite moment in Alabama musical history?

MG: Getting to meet The Swampers (The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section).

THE OA: What is your favorite personal moment?

MG: Hearing for the first time, my record, "Lets Walk Down The Street Together" on WLAC radio station in 1969.

THE OA: What is your favorite lyric from an Alabama band?

MG: The lyrics for the song "24/7/365" written by Scott Boyer from The Decoys Band and performed by country-music singer Neal McCoy.

 


 

THE DEXATEENS

There have been a few years when The Dexateens, formed in Tuscaloosa in 1998, played less than 30 dates. As they say, that’s barely enough to be able to call yourself a band and not be lying. In the first several years, they were a punk rock band. Their first recording session was supposed to be their last. Now, five albums and some winning critical coverage later, they're still on the block as one of the rawest and hardest-rocking live bands out of Alabama. The Dexateens consist of Elliott McPherson, Matt Patton, Brian Gosdin, Lee E. Bains, III, and Brad Armstrong. These responses were compiled by Matt Patton.

THE OA: What are the five best songs, in your opinion, ever written or performed by an Alabama artist?

TD: "Dark End of the Street" by Dan Penn (Chips Moman), written for James Carr

"I Saw the Light" by Hank Williams

"He Stopped Loving Her Today" by Curly Putman for George Jones

"Snatching It Back" by Clarence Carter

"Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett

THE OA: Who, in your opinion, is the most talented musician or singer to come out of Alabama?

TD: Hank Williams.

THE OA: What do you think is the best album of all time by an Alabama artist?

TD: Elliott likes SOULS FOR SALE by Verbena. Lee and Matt like HEY JUDE by Wilson Pickett.

THE OA: What is the best unheard-of Alabama artist or album?

TD: PAY THE DEUCE by The Quadrajets and The Primitons EP.

THE OA: What is your favorite historical moment or episode in Alabama musical history?

TD: A carousel of chart-topping artists come to Muscle Shoals in the 1960s and '70s: The fact that you can put this town roughly sixty or seventy miles from our front door in the conversation with cities like Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia is astounding.

THE OA: What is your favorite personal moment?

TD: Coming of age in Tuscaloosa, there wasn't much of a music scene in the early days. There were, however, a lot of good people who motivated the band and provided an outlet for expression in those dark times. We probably would not have met one another had it not been for Vinyl Solution record store (George Hadjidakis, owner) or The Chukker nightclub and its namesake, Chukker Nation.

THE OA: What is your favorite performance ever by an Alabama artist?

TD: Most of the guys in The Dexateens went to the Chukker right after we had our first band practice as a four piece. We were essentially starting a garage band. Elliott had written a few tunes that at best sounded like The Ramones or The Mummies. When we got to the Chukker, The Quadradjets were there. Suffice it to say our plans changed a bit after that show.  

THE OA: What is your favorite lyric from an Alabama band?

DT: Lee mentioned "Shoulda Been Rocking" by Vulture Whale:

You were running your mouth all night,
Smoking outside at the Nick, and never stopping.
You should've been rocking.
You've been practicing your autograph.
You've been twiddling around with your balls.
You should've been rocking.
 
Matt loves the line from "Shit's Crucial" by Ham Bagby:
 
On the back of my truck, Calvin's pissing on Ford
On the front, it says, "Praise the Lord!"
Shit's crucial.
 
In the end it doesn't get any better than "But, my home's in Alabama no matter where I lay my head."


CLEVELAND EATON

Photo courtesy of clevelandeaton.com.

Fairfield, Alabama native and jazz bassist wunderkind Cleveland Eaton first toured with the Ike Cole Trio and later with jazz bands led by Larry Novak, Ramsey Louis, and Count Basie. He has been inducted into the Alabama Jazz and Music Halls of Fame and is still energizing Alabama music—and graciously providing us his thoughts on the subject—despite a recent cancer-removal surgery and pneumonia.

THE OA: What are the best songs, in your opinion, ever written or performed by an Alabama artist?

CE: "Nature Boy" by Nat King Cole

"Straighten Up and Fly Right" by Nat King Cole

THE OA: Who, in your opinion, is the most talented musician or singer to come out of Alabama?

CE: Nat King Cole.

THE OA: What is your favorite historical episode in Alabama musical history?

CE: Playing all over the world for fifty-five years.

THE OA: What is your favorite personal moment?

CE: Working with Count Basie.



 

 

 

ROBERT REGISTER

Robert Register was brought up in Dothan, Alabama, left in '68, and has been in the Tuscaloosa area ever since. In his spare time he's an avid Alabama-music blogger, most interested in investigating the formative years of the Gulf Coast, and the '60s in Panama City Beach. His favorite music includes ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Skynyrd, ARS, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joe Royal, Orbison, Alison Heafner, James Brown, Allmans, Otis, The BOPCATS, Jethro Tull, Wet Willie, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, Aretha, and Marvin Gaye. He was an invaluable help to THE OA in locating the remaining members of The K-Pers for our 12th Annual Southern Music CD.

THE OA: What are the five best songs, in your opinion, ever written or performed by an Alabama artist?

RR: "Lovesick Blues" by Hank Williams

"Dancing in the Streets" by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas

"Georgia Pines" by Wilbur Walton, Jr. & the James Gang

"Red Hot Chicken" by Wet Willie

"634-5789" by Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett

THE OA: Who, in your opinion, is the most talented musician/singer to come out of Alabama?

RR: Hank Williams. Runner up: Jimmy Hall.

THE OA: What do you think is the best album of all time by an Alabama artist?

RR: A ROCK AND ROLL ALTERNATIVE by Atlanta Rhythm Section.

THE OA: What is the best unheard-of Alabama artist or album?

RR: Tanton.

THE OA: What is your favorite historical moment or episode in Alabama musical history?

RR: When an Alabama cat named W.C. Handy witnessed another cat playing slide at the depot in Tutwiler.

THE OA: What is your favorite personal moment?

RR: When Buddy Buie came back to Tuscaloosa in '06!

THE OA: What is your favorite performance ever by an Alabama artist?

RR: Wet Willie opening for the Allmans back in the early '70s in Memorial Coliseum in Tuscaloosa.

THE OA: What is your favorite lyric from an Alabama band?

RR: "Moment of Truth" by Tanton:

Who's gonna have the last say
about what you take with you
when it comes down to that moment of truth?

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