The Alabama Music Office

The Alabama Music Office

The Alabama Music Office documents local music history.

February 09, 2012
Several years ago, musicologist Jerry Henry was backstage at a Willie Nelson concert in west Texas where he worked in radio. Nelson asked Henry where he was from and when he replied, “Alabama,” Willie introduced him to his guitarist Jody Payne, also from Alabama. “It got me to thinking about how many Alabama musicians are out there,” says Jerry Henry. “In virtually every genre of music, from sacred harp music to opera, you’ll find Alabama musicians, and they’re near the top of whatever genre that you want to choose.”

Inspired to document and contribute to Alabama’s musical community, Henry—a 65-year old Tuscaloosa native—launched the Alabama Music Office (AMO) in July 2011. The AMO is an online music resource site listing musicians, bands, clubs (and schedules), music festivals, and in-state publications that include music-related stories and performance listings. “It’s a clearinghouse—it’s a database for the things that we feel musicians need to further their music . . . It has all the publications as well as radio stations—anything that might have anything to do with music, we’re trying to cover it.”

Soul singer and guitarist Eddie Hinton (right) chats with Wayne Perkins in Muscle Shoals. Perkins, who went on to play with the Rolling Stones and Leon Russell, among others, replaced Hinton as lead guitarist for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section around 1970. (click for larger version)

The site also features blogs, including Henry’s memorable ode to a Channel Master pocket transistor radio that he took everywhere as a kid. The radio introduced him to Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Reed, among many others. “We’re trying real hard. There ain’t no money at it yet but hopefully there will be some day,” he says, laughing. Those who wish to be listed in the database may consult the site’s FAQ

section for instructions. “We want musicians to give us as much information as they can because we’re a platform where they can sell their music,” Henry explains.

On the AMO site, Jonalan Wright blogs about music in Central Alabama while Sylvia Parker writes a historical blog. “My area of interest and expertise really is history, probably from the mid-’70s on back,” says Parker. “That’s really my focus in terms of what I do on my blog. I discovered tons of great music and musicians that I didn’t know about. That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to be involved in this—was to learn more about that kind of stuff.”

Indeed, Parker knows her “stuff” well. She turned me on to Birmingham’s Dinky Harris—a dynamo performer born in Cordova, Alabama, in 1938, whose earth-shaking rock and roll was shockingly primitive in 1959. His fabulous “She Left Me Crying” that he recorded with his band the Spades can be heard on the AMO site. Parker writes that the song was written by one of the Spades who raced a car at Birmingham International Raceway in the late ’50s. The car was numbered TV6 because Woodward played for Country Boy Eddy on his WBRC 6 TV broadcasts in those days. Dinky later had a band called the Draft Dodgers, as well as recording under the name “Dinky Doo.”

We want musicians to give us as much information as they can because we’re a platform where they can sell their music. –Jerry Henry, Alabama Music Office founder

The Alabama Music Office site includes its own Youtube channel featuring music, videos, and interviews. The Reverend Fred Lane can be heard, as well as “Greyhound Blues” and “Lonesome Old Jail” by D. A. Hunt—bare-bone, raw blues recorded by Sam Phillips on Sun Records in 1953. Parker also interviews Larry Parker of local greats Larry and the Loafers, who had the regional hit “Panama City Blues” in 1960.

“Basically, right now part of what we’re doing is trying to create affiliate relationships through the website so we can fund the work that we’re doing,” explains Sylvia Parker. “So then with each listing we’ll have an affiliate link where you can purchase the artist’s music, which of course helps the artist and helps us maintain the site.” Parker sums up Alabama’s rich musical legacy and how the AMO can contribute to its preservation: “Past and present there’s so much great music in Alabama, and Alabama had such an important role in so many different kinds of music that’s appreciated as American music, and appreciated all over the world. But there’s no place where you can really go to really find out about that in detail.”

The Alabama Music Office website is &

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