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'Muscle Shoals' Documentary Spurs Enterprise, Travel

Recording studio exhibit at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Muscle Shoals.

Recording studio exhibit at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Muscle Shoals.

Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha, courtesy of the Alabama Tourism Department

The 2013 documentary “Muscle Shoals” that celebrated FAME Studios founder Rick Hall, developer of a signature sound heard in “I’ll Take You There” and other hits, has generated a fresh wave of tourism and investment in The Shoals.

“There is an uptick in the number of music-interested travelers, both international and domestic, and lodging revenue in the area is up over last year,” according to Debbie Wilson, director of Florence/Lauderdale Tourism.

Among the developments:

  • Judy Hood, wife of Swamper David Hood featured in the movie, along with Florence/Lauderdale Tourism launched “Swampette Tours.” The tours include visits to FAME recording studio, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, 3614 Jackson Highway (the original Muscle Shoals Sound Studio) and Swampers Bar and Grille.
  • Partnership with Beats Electronics: After seeing the critically-acclaimed movie, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, owners of Beats Electronics LLC, decided to embark on a multi-million dollar project to preserve and revive the studios that produced the music. This project, in partnership with the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation, will include restoring the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio to a fully functioning recording studio, as well as updating the legendary FAME Recording Studio.
  • Alabama Road Trip:  Alabama State Tourism Director Lee Sentell created a road trip as a result of the movie. The road trip has been covered by media outlets all over the country.
  • Media Coverage: The local, regional, national and international movie coverage has been off the charts. It’s the kind of positive publicity that can’t be bought, Wilson said.
  • New Blood: There is an uptick in the number of younger people wanting to move to, record and perform in Muscle Shoals, Wilson says. For example, David Hood’s son, Patterson Hood, is a member of the Drive By Truckers – seen nationally over the last year on several late night TV shows and now touring all over the country. John Paul White of the Civil Wars continues to crank out hit records. Brittany Howard and the Alabama Shakes also have ties to the Shoals. 

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