Bobby's Bama: American Music Triangle - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Bobby's Bama: American Music Triangle

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The "Muscle Shoals Sound" has been found in music from a myriad of artists, from the Swampers to W. C. Handy. That "sound" is part of a collective called the "American Music Triangle." 

Debbie Wilson is the tourism director for Florence and Lauderdale County. She said they expect a boom in tourism with this initiative. "The Shoals is right in that triangle," said Wilson.

The triangle is considered a way to harness some 35 million tourists who come to the region to find the heart of music but only find it in bits and pieces. "If you create a large enough region, and you're the best and you have the true history that we have within that triangle, the delta, then people will want to come there. Especially an international audience," added Wilson.

One place to visit is W. C. Handy's birthplace. "W. C. Handy, of course, was the first major influence on music in our area. And he was born in a log cabin here on the banks of the Tennessee River. And we think a lot of his creativity came from the water and the interactions he had," described Wilson.

That experience translates to tourism dollars in Alabama.

"We have a lot of people coming for the music and staying in Nashville, Memphis, and the Shoals. And they stay about 14 days or longer, so they stay longer and they spend more money," Wilson said.

That money is spent on places like the museum, where they can get a glimpse of Handy's life, loves and music. Handy had an influence on later artists such as Wilson Picket, Percy Sledge, Arthur Alexander. The Rolling Stones recorded here, as did David Hood and the Swampers.

Wilson said the water here and in the delta combined with poverty to bring that sound. "And all of those people talk about getting the funky vibe from the Tennessee River."

She said the word is spreading. "We had an article in USA Today. There's been things in a lot of regional newspapers and folks have read about them, and they come."

Coming for the musical history in Bobby's Bama.

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