Take 6 headlining W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence
By Patrice Stewart
The best cure for the summertime blues is to catch both high and low notes next week in the Shoals.
Take 6 will headline the annual W.C. Handy Music Festival in Florence on July 28, but the music cranks up Friday with a long list of events planned. “Sax in the City” will feature The Midnighters at Wilson Park from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday.
Known as the “Father of the Blues,” Handy was born in a log cabin in Florence on Nov. 16, 1873, and lived there until he was 19. He composed the famous tunes “St. Louis Blues,” “Memphis Blues,” “Yellow Dog Blues” and “Beale Street Blues.”
Everything from Idol-type talent searches, a run, walk and art show, live entertainment at restaurants, and special music at churches will take place during this week of events honoring Handy.
After the run and walk, Saturday events will include a dance with The Little Big Band at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum at 7 p.m.
Opening ceremonies for the week will be 6 p.m. Sunday at the Handy Home and Museum, with a variety of musicians.
Celebrating W.C. Handy
“Determined: Celebrating the Life of W.C. Handy,” a drama by Dolores Swoopes Nash, will be performed Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m. at the Shoals Theatre ($8 at the door), with jazz before each performance.
During the week, jazz, blues and more will be played in malls, parks and other venues all around town, such as Monday’s “Sunset Serenade” by The Decoys at Riverfront Park in Sheffield.
The Velcro Pygmies will play for a July 26 street party, while July 27 will include Rockin’ on the River with Iguana Party at Doublehead Resort and Rolling on the Tennessee with Jeff Whitlow, Chelsea Hale and Dorothy Cole as Tina Turner.
July 28 will bring a bike ride, car and truck show, street strut and parade, hip-hop concert and the Take 6 concert. The closing ceremony will be July 29, with music at the Shoals Theatre.
Take 6 will perform at 8 p.m. July 28 at Norton Auditorium (tickets $25, or $15 for students). Bay City Brass Band will warm up the crowd in the courtyard beginning at 6:30.
With 18 Grammy Award nominations, Take 6 is the most nominated gospel, jazz, pop or R&B group in Grammy history. They have 10 Grammy wins, 10 Dove Awards and one Soul Train Award, along with “Favorite Jazz Vocal Group” for nine consecutive years.
Take 6 has performed with music legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, David Foster, Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Denyce Graves, The Yellowjackets and Wynton Marsalis. Their musical style and tight harmonies have influenced pop groups from Boyz II Men and Backstreet Boys to *NSYNC.
‘Must See’ event
The W.C. Handy Music Festival, which is sponsored by the Music Preservation Society, was selected as a “Must See” event on the Year of Alabama Arts destination roster for 2007.
In conjunction with the Handy Festival, the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in Florence is featuring “Mostly Blues,” an exhibit by area artists, through Aug. 7.
The art center at 217 E. Tuscaloosa St. is free to the public and open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with special hours from 10 to 12:30 p.m. July 28.
Information and tickets are available at the Handy Festival office in the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, 760-6379.
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