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The Rolling Stones get place in Alabama history

You can’t always get what you want, unless you are Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

To mark the 45th anniversary of the “rock and roll heaven” recording sessions with the Rolling Stones, a historical marker will be unveiled on December 5, 2014.

The ceremony will take place in Florence at the sight of the former Holiday Inn on South Court Street. The hotel served as home for the band while they recorded some of their biggest hits.

“Wild Horses”, “Brown Sugar” and “You Gotta Move” were laid down during the sessions and all three tracks appeared on the album Sticky Fingers in 1971.

Guitarist Jimmy Johnson engineered the sessions and will be present at the unveiling next week.

“The Stones’ visit was a major turning point,” says Johnson, “I am very excited about the marker and appreciate the state support for our efforts to preserve and promote Muscle Shoals Music.”

The historical marker was made by the Alabama Tourism Department.

Everyone is invited to come out and be a part of history.

To read this article online, go to:

First trailer for the movie “Selma” is released

The first movie trailer for the Oprah Winfrey’s film “Selma” is being released to the public. The two-and-a-half minute long teaser video follows Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. on his journey for racial equality and the attempt to march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the city for which the movie is named.

The 1965 attack on the bridge by white Alabama State Troopers upon unarmed blacks and their white supporters as they attempted to march to Montgomery earned it the name “Bloody Sunday”. The event is credited with being a crucial moment that led President Lyndon Johnson to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Historians basically say there’s three pivotal points in American history, the American revolution, the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement,” says Brian Jones at the Alabama Tourism Department. “To actually go and walk in the footsteps and actually be where history happens, you have to come to Montgomery, you have to come to Selma.”

While the movie looks at the civil rights event that happened on the bridge, it also focuses on the relationships among King, President Johnson, and Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Jones is excited about the impact the movie can make on those who are not-so familiar with the events.

The timing of the movie’s release could have a major impact on Montgomery’s plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march. Already, major preparations are underway for a big crowd. This movie hitting theaters just two months before could bring even more people in.

“It’s sort of like a living invitation for people to come back and not only value the history, but to see where Alabama and to see where Montgomery is today.” Jones says.

Filming for the movie took place in both Selma and Montgomery in June with Winfrey and Cuba Gooding, Jr. taking major roles. More than 700 people took part in the filming as the Alabama cities were transformed back to a 1960s setting for the movie.

The movie is expected to be released in January 2015, just prior to the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”.

To read this online and watch the trailer, go to:

Red Mountain Park opens new outdoor adventures November 8

Red Mountain Park is now taking reservations for two new outdoor adventures, The Kaul Adventure Tower and the Kaul Mega Zip. The 80-feet tall Kaul Adventure Tower consists of eight “lanes” that contain rappelling, traditional rock climbing with hand-holds, and leaf climbing to the top of a giant beanstalk—this one-hour adventure can be concluded with an exhilarating Mega Zip once you reach the very top should you choose. Guests can also experience the Mega Zip separately. The Mega Zip is a 1,300-feet long zip thrill that allows guests to fly through the sky head first like Superman or in traditional zip style with feet leaving the platform first. Zippers start from 80 feet in the air with speeds reaching as fast as 30 mph and can enjoy this adventure on their own or race side by side with another brave adventurer—the Mega Zip has side-by-side zip lanes.

The cost is $30 per person for 1 hour of climbing and rappelling on the Kaul Adventure Tower and $20 to Mega Zip; adventurers can experience both for just $50. Both activities are extremely unique-nowhere else in the world contains this exact adventure combination. Guests can begin making their reservations immediately by visiting www.redmountainreservations.or

Barber Motorsports Park adds new track and skidpad

The Vintage Motorsports Museum and the Barber Motorsports Park have a new addition.

The Barber Proving Grounds, located adjacent to the current Barber track, will bring more events to the park that include product debuts, corporate outings and events, safety instruction, driver schools and autocross and kart events. Mercedes-Benz is the first customer for the new addition, using it for its employee “Brand Immersion Experience.”

“This new addition should draw more people to Birmingham and Alabama to visit, spend money, generate economic impact and have a great time,” said George Barber, the park’s founder. “It’s all about helping create a better Birmingham and Alabama.”

The Proving Grounds consists of a new track area and wet/dry skidpad.
Primarily asphalt, the track spans 24 feet in width and can be configured to a variety of lengths up to more than a mile.

The 150-foot-by-350-foot wet/dry skidpad allows drivers, notably test drivers of new factory products, to test traction limits under a variety of conditions.

Equipped with a banked bowl design that evokes the banked track at Daytona, the track’s design allows users to test vehicles’ limits in controlled environments.

The track joins one of the premier road courses in North America for car and motorcycle racing, along with the Barber Motorsports Museum, which contains the largest motorcycle collection in the world with more than 1,400 vintage and modern motorcycles.

To read the article online, go to:

‘Sweet Home Alabama’ voted Greatest Song Ever Written about Alabama

The polls are closed, folks. For the past three weeks Yellowhammer News readers have been voting for the greatest song ever written about Alabama. It was a brutal battle between old songs and new songs, classic favorites and unexpected underdogs. Plenty were worthy, but there could only be one winner.

Today, we finally have a champion.

Let’s take a look back at the final round.
“My Home’s in Alabama” by Alabama vs. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

It seemed obvious that these two songs would be facing off, and the race was the closest we’d seen throughout this series. In fact, after several days of voting, the two songs had each received exactly 50 percent of the vote. It doesn’t really get much closer than that. But “Sweet Home” pulled away over the weekend. The final tally was 51.1% to 48.9%.

“My Home’s in Alabama” is a sweeping ballad about following dreams, wandering, and eventually finding your way back home. It’s generally considered the song that propelled the band Alabama into stardom. In the beginning we hear the singer reminisce about his days as a young boy in Alabama, but we quickly follow him as he begins a journey across the country trying to make a name for himself in the music industry. No matter where he goes, he always remembers his home and dreams of the day when he’ll make it back to Alabama. “My Home’s in Alabama” is slow and thoughtful–the sound of spending one too many nights on the road.

“Sweet Home Alabama,” on the other hand, is a celebration of the South. Without a doubt, this is the most culturally important song ever written about Alabama–or any state, really. The intro guitar lick is immediately recognizable and infectious. It’s the sound of being on the lake with a cooler packed full of beer. Play this anthem at a party and everyone will be singing it at the top of their lungs within seconds.

Of course, the common thread throughout these songs is the idea of Alabama as home. I’ve only lived in the Yellowhammer State for about two months, but what I’ve noticed more than anything is the pride Alabamians have in their home state.

These songs are so intimately woven into Alabama culture not just because they’re catchy and fun to sing, but because they remind people that Alabama is so much more than just a geographic place to live. Alabamians living elsewhere might be drawn to “My Home’s in Alabama” while Alabama residents might find the celebratory tone of “Sweet Home Alabama” more relatable. But at the end of the day, both songs are saying the same thing: Alabama is indeed home — a sweet, sweet home.

To read the article online, go to:

Flora-Bama chef will bring a taste of the Alabama Gulf to Bessemer’s Bright Star

The Bright Star restaurant is hosting its first Seafood Fest later this month, featuring guest chef Chris Sherrill of the Flora-Bama Yacht Club in Perdido Key.

Sherrill will prepare a four-course wine dinner at the Bright Star on Wed., Oct. 29, and he will serve an a la carte menu on Thur., Oct. 30.

Bright Star general manager Andreas Anastassakis met Sherrill on a deep-sea fishing trip to Gulf Shores this summer, and after they got to talking, Sherrill said he was a big fan of the 107-year-old Bessemer restaurant.

“He said, ‘That’s my mother-in-law’s favorite restaurant; when we used to live in Birmingham, we used to eat there every Sunday,'” Anastassakis recalls their conversation. “Then he said, ‘I’d love to come and cook and be a guest chef at the Bright Star one day.'”

After exchanging a few text messages, Anastassakis and Sherrill put the Bright Star Seafood Fest together.

“He has a great knowledge for Alabama’s Gulf seafood,” Anastassakis says. “I think he’ll bring some of that Gulf flair up to the Bright Star. It’s a real exciting menu.”

An Alabama native, Sherrill was born and raised in Eufaula, where his interest in cooking was kindled on camping trips with the Boy Scouts. After winning a national high school contest for his recipe for fruit-stuffed quail with orange-cranberry sauce, he earned a culinary scholarship to Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, S.C.

In 2012, Sherrill was part of a delegation of eight Gulf Coast chefs who cooked for U.S. athletes and their families during the Summer Olympics in London.

Sherrill is the executive chef and co-owner of the Flora-Bama Yacht Club, an open-air waterfront restaurant located across the street from the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar.

The Bright Star is at 304 19th St. North in Bessemer, and the website is
To read the entire article and see the menus, go to:

State tourism website features Fall Color Map

An interactive map on the Alabama Tourism Department’s website allows visitors to see the predicted fall color change for each weekend this fall. The map, a list of recommended viewing sites and a fall colors driving route are all available on the state tourism website at

Large concentrations of hardwoods make Alabama State Parks some of the best places to enjoy the fall color change. Joe Wheeler has an excellent viewing spot next to the dam and near the cabin area on the Lawrence County side. Autumn scenery can be found at DeSoto State Park at Little River Canyon and DeSoto Falls. Monte Sano has views of the Tennessee Valley along the Warpath Ridge Trail and its overlook. Cheaha’s Bald Rock and Pulpit Rock trails both have excellent views. Cheaha is the highest point in the state at 2,407 feet above sea level.
With cooler days and lower humidity, autumn hosts a variety of outdoor festivals. Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, recommends several events designed around being outdoors and enjoying the fall weather.

Outdoor events scheduled for this fall include the Southern Reinvention festival at Belle Chevre goat cheese creamery in Elkmont on Oct. 18. The city of Mentone celebrates its annual Colorfest on Oct. 18-19 with a weekend of arts & crafts, family activities and live entertainment.

The Alabama Renaissance Fair in Florence on Oct. 25-26 transforms the city’s downtown park into a medieval experience. The National Peanut Festival in Dothan on Oct. 31- Nov. 9 is the nation’s largest peanut festival. The Pike Road Arts and Crafts Festival in the city of Pike Road on Nov. 1 features an arts and crafts market on the grounds of the historic 19th century Marks House.

Alabama Frontier Days in Wetumpka on Nov. 5-9 features reenactments from French Colonial times to the Early American period. Nearly 200 songwriters from across the country will be performing in venues all along the Alabama Gulf Coast during the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival on Nov. 6-16. The 7th annual Oyster Cook-Off featuring all-star chefs and live entertainment is Nov. 7-9 in Gulf Shores. A complete list of fall events is available at

Canadian Traveller posts Alabama information

The Canadian Traveller website has added an Alabama article this month called “Alabama: The Yellowhammer State.” Published Oct. 4, the story lists several What’s New items including;

Rock N Roll Heaven, the increase in tourism in Muscle Shoals due to Stephen Badger’s Muscle Shoals documentary
Civil Rights Anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March
Bus Boycott Anniversary, the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Photographs of downtown Montgomery and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center were featured in the article.

Attractions highlighted were: the Mobile Carnival Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Events highlighted were: Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s performance season in Montgomery, Mardi Gras in Mobile, To Kill A Mockingbird play in Monroeville, Helen Keller Festival & Miracle Worker play in Tuscumbia and the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.

Three Alabama cities were included in the Places section and as part of one of the Alabama Tourism Department’s trails.

Birmingham: Explore the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church; McWane Science Center, the Jazz Hall of Fame, and Railroad Park.
Mobile: Visit the Exploreum science museum, the USS Alabama battleship and sample some fresh seafood in the U.S. birthplace of Mardi Gras.
Montgomery: Downtown museums include the Rosa Parks Museum, Dexter King Memorial Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Memorial. You can also visit the Hank Williams Museum and the Mooseum.
Civil Rights Trail: Stops include the Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and 4th Avenue North in Birmingham. The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the Rosa Parks Museum and the Civil Rights Memorial were included in Montgomery.

The article also listed small town destinations in a section called Hidden Gems.

Mentone: Ideal base for exploring De Soto State Park and Little River Canyon National Preserve. North East Alabama.
Fairhope: A small, quaint artist community where the author Winston Groom (Forrest Gump) and the artist Nall reside. Mobile Bay.

The Canadian Traveller website was developed by the magazine of the same name as a place to promote their extensive experiences and world travel information. To see the article, go to:

Birmingham’s Clayton Sherrod tells NPR how he became chef at all-white country club

Birmingham chef Clayton Sherrod was featured on NPR’s “StoryCorps” series recently, recounting his experience working his way up from dishwasher to head chef at an all-white country club in the 1960s.

Sherrod, who is black, told “StoryCorps” he was 13 when he stated working as a dishwasher at the country club, and by the time he was 19, in 1964, he had become the executive chef.

“All of my friends told me I was crazy,” he said. “But I saw something that no one else could see, and that is me walking around with that big, tall hat on.”

The “StoryCorps” piece does not mention the country club by name, but Sherrod told it was Vestavia Country Club.

Sherrod said he has received lots of phone calls, text messages and emails since the “StoryCorps” piece aired.

Sherrod, who was executive chef at Vestavia Country Club for 13 years, now has his own catering business, Chef Clayton’s Food Systems, Inc., and serves on the board of Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College.

To see the article and listen to the “StoryCorps” feature, go to:

Historic marker honors Percy Sledge, Quin Ivy

historic marker commemorating the site where “When A Man Loves A Woman” was recorded will be unveiled Tue., Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. at 104 East Second Street in Sheffield. This address was the site of Quin Ivy’s North Alabama Recording Studio (NORALA). The song, which was recorded on Feb. 17, 1966, launched Sledge to international fame. Sledge and Ivy are scheduled to attend the marker unveiling.

Ivy established the studio in 1965 and used the proceeds from the Sledge session to construct a more modern studio across town named Quinvy. Donna Jean Thatcher was the first artist to record there.

The marker unveiling is open to the public and is being held the same day as a benefit concert to raise money for Sledge, who is battling liver cancer. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at any branch of First Metro Bank or Valley Credit Union.

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