Shoals music series returns with more “flavor”

The Salt and Pepper Music Series made a rocking introduction in the Shoals with two shows at the Mane Room last spring.

This year, the series is bringing a larger dose of local roots music to Florence, with more artists, shows and genres.

Kicking off July 26, the series has already featured several talented musicians, including guitarist Travis Wammack. The event will begin at 7 p.m. during the W.C. Handy Music Festival. Titled the “Blues Harp Blowout,” the show will focus on harmonica artists and feature Jock Webb, Sr., Clarence “Bluesman” Davis, Mike Lawlay, John Bull and Sam Frasier.

The final show will be October 25 at 7 p.m. and serve as a tribute to the gospel side of blues music. Featured artists include Will McFarlane and Reverend Jerry Reeves and the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church Choir.

Tickets are on sale (advanced adult: $10, season: $20, student/seniors over 60: $5, door adult: $15) at Count’s Brothers Music, Nuway Vinyl Records, Underground Arts and Sound and

The series gets its name from America’s black and white heritage and features at least one black and white artist at every show.

Junior Chance Stanley, a student worker at the series, said people should attend the event not only to hear great music, but also to support the thought behind the series.

“This event (has) intertwined the historical background of the Shoals having great music with the aspect of unity among two different racial backgrounds,” he said.

Series organizer Russell Gulley said there are plans to edit the recorded performances into a series of radio programs, as well as submit the tapes to the Alabama State Archives.

“It (will) help preserve and document the musical traditions that are part of our wonderful heritage in Muscle Shoals,” he said.

Gulley said another addition this year is the partnership with local schools for arts education programs to teach students about the local heritage of music.

“I think we’re all missing out on the roots of our heritage,” he said. “By giving students a window or an opportunity to learn about their heritage musically, then that will influence, eventually, their own creations as they move forward, and each generation creates its own contribution to the musical heritage of our area.”

The collaboration of the Department of Entertainment Industry, the Alabama Folklife Association and the Muscle Shoals Music Association makes the series possible.

Gulley said he would like to see the series become an ongoing event at The Mane Room

“The Salt and Pepper Series is important because it showcases the roots and background of the blues and roots music, while also reaching to extend the bounds of cultural, racial and social norms through music,” said junior Trey Gilliland.

Gilliland, who has been involved with the series since its beginning, said the shows help bring the local community together through blues music.

“With so much of Florence’s music scene being indie or singer-songwriter, it is very nice to see a different genre of music come to town,” he said. “Florence needs a series like the Salt and Pepper because it provides Florence the opportunity to unite its diverse population together through music and to bring rebirth to ‘The Father of the Blues’ hometown.”