ShoalsFest will not return in 2023

Trenedy Parks, Staff Writer

The local music festival, ShoalsFest, has announced that –after three consecutive years– they are taking a break for this year. Posting on the official ShoalsFest Instagram, the company confirmed that ShoalsFest 2023 will not happen. 

ShoalsFest is a two-day festival of Folk and Americana music created by Jason Isbell and Traci Thomas in 2019. Starting as a one day festival to celebrate the rich musical traditions of Muscle Shoals, Thomas and Isbell expanded into two-days back in 2021 after the COVID-19 hiatus in 2020. It takes place around the beginning of October at McFarland Park.

The 2022 festival lineup was Steve Trash, Wanda Band, Billy Allen + The Pollies, Gary Nichols, Chris Tompkins, John Paul White, John Moreland, Brittney Spencer, Amanda Shires, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Drivin N Cryin, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night  Sweats, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. 

The Instagram post entailed a one-minute video montage from the 2022 festival, credited in the caption to @enclave_post. The song “Dreamsicle” by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit plays over the montage. The caption described how the 2022 festival was “a hoot” and how they are still reminiscing on the days in McFarland Parks. The caption also relayed the hiatus. 

“That said – we are taking a break from ShoalsFest in 2023. You’ll find out sooner than later that we have a lot of exciting things on the skillet this year. More to come.” said the post. Ending it with “And don’t worry. We’ll be back better than ever.”

Traci Thomas- manager of Jason Isbell and a partner in ShoalsFest- said the decision was a collaborative effort, mentioning how they wanted to put their all into it. 

“[Isbell] and I are the owners, and if we don’t have the time to do it, then we aren’t going to do it.” said Thomas. “We have a very small staff and we have a very busy schedule.” 

“It has to be done right.” said Thomas.

She said this year will be a busy one for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Then mentioning that announcements will come out soon.

“Things will start being announced sooner rather than later and people will understand that we just have a lot on our plate this year and just didn’t have the time.” 

Thomas said the 2024 festival will remain similar to those of years passed, and there are no plans of any drastic changes to the festival soon.