Singing River Presents: new program, music awareness

The Department of Entertainment Industry is expected to launch its newest program, Singing River Presents April 12 with performances by Doc Daily and The Magnolia Devil with Dylan Leblanc.

The concert will be a launch point for the program as well as an effort to raise awareness and membership for the Muscle Shoals Music Association (MSMA).

Singing River Presents is a student-run program designed to work with the “Artist Management and Touring” class offered in the Department of Entertainment Industry, said Department Chair Dr. Bob Garfrerick. It will also be unique to UNA.

“We’ll be one of few (public institutions) that has a concert promotion company,” Garfrerick said. “The students in the ‘Artist Management and Touring’ class will put on a show just like a concert promoter would do it.”

It’s this real-world application that will benefit students the most, said project manager Mack Cornwell.

“Any practical use of your knowledge, in my opinion, is the best learning experience,” Cornwell said. “Textbooks and lectures really only go so far. It’s about experiencing things you really can’t teach but that just have to be done.”

So far, organizing the concert has been quite the learning experience, Garfrerick said.

“We had dreams of doing something with the Shoals Theatre with a bigger act,” he said.

Instead—because of pricing, scheduling and time constraints—the program decided to book a smaller venue with more locally-known acts.

“It’s going to end up being very, very good,” Garfrerick said. “We took the next best thing to not making money—which is not to lose money.”

However, this decision raised a question with Singing River Presents organizers.

“If we’re going to break even, what are we going to break even for?” Garfrerick asked.

It was decided that the concert would serve as both a launch for Singing River Presents as well as a promotional tool for MSMA, a nonprofit started in 1975 with the intent to cultivate and showcase Muscle Shoals music and musicians.

Jimmy Nutt, president of MSMA and owner of the NuttHouse Recording Studio Inc., is excited about the concert and said it will hopefully help MSMA expand its demographic.

“We really want to tap into the younger musicians and folks around here who are music supporters,” Nutt said. “We don’t want to be just about the past. We want to be about the now and future.”

Garfrerick said he believed the partnership was well-planned.

“We feel like (MSMA) will be a good fit,” Garfrerick said. “Everyone associates Muscle Shoals music with the historic music. The Muscle Shoals music is contingent now on embracing the new music.”

Cornwell was also supportive of Nutt’s motives.

“(MSMA is) trying to be more inclusive to the young people in town,” he said. “We’re a young generation who will truly be taking over, and (Nutt) respects that.”

The launch of Singing River Presents is expected to draw a crowd of old and young, Garfrerick said.

“We’re trying to market it as, ‘This is the place you want to be if you’re in town on Thursday night,’” he said.

Cornwell said he has put his efforts toward the duration of the new program, as well.

“I really wanted to make it as cool and as interesting as we could so we could start a precedent,” he said. “That way, every year this would be an event worth going to.”

The concert is expected to begin at 9 p.m. at the Smokehouse in downtown Florence. Cost of admission is $5, and attendees will have the opportunity to become a member of MSMA for an additional $5.