Muscle Shoals

April 21, 2014

by

Greg "Freddy" Camalier

Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music, rock and soul.

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About the Documentary

Located on the banks of the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of the most creative and defiant music in American history.

Under the spiritual influence of the “Singing River” as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals is some of the most important and resonant of all time. “I’ll Take You There,” “Brown Sugar,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “I Never Loved a Man the Way That I Loved You,” “Mustang Sally,” “Tell Mama,” “Kodachrome,” and “Freebird” are just a few of the tens of thousands of tracks created there.

At its heart is Rick Hall, who founded FAME Studios. A musician himself, who overcame crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Hall brought black and white musicians together — including during times when the state’s governor wanted “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” — to create music that would last for generations while also giving birth to the unique Muscle Shoals sound, and the unheralded but crucial rhythm section, The Swampers.

While fending off a budding rivalry in the Muscle Shoals heyday with Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which was formed by The Swampers and would find huge success of its own, Hall maintained confidence in his brand and in himself.

Freddy Camalier’s film brings in legendary artists including Aretha Franklin, Duane’s brother Gregg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Cliff, Mick Jagger, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Steve Winwood, and others, as well as archival interviews with the late Wilson Pickett and Etta James, all who bear witness to the magnetism and mystery of Muscle Shoals and why it remains a global influence today.

 

The Filmmakers

Greg

Making his directorial debut with Muscle Shoals, filmmaking is a deep-seated passion Greg “Freddy” Camalier is hoping and planning to pursue for the remainder of his life. A former musician who never attended film school, Camalier’s chance stopover on a road trip and fascination with the titular town’s music history led to him making the film Muscle Shoals. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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How much of this music were you familiar with before? What are some of the other great music studios? Why have so many great musical sounds come out of the American South?

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