Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Go Alabama Slim!

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I just realized that I never posted any information in here about Alabama Slim. He's a New Orleans blues musician that received the Music Rising guitar purchased by a group of supporters this past February. I was honored to present it to him in June, and have stayed in touch with him ever since. He's a talented artist that has been playing for years, and following his displacement after Katrina, his work has been supported by the Music Makers Relief Organization.

I spoke with him today to find out the good news that he's been back in the studio recording. The guitar was with him too, and he said that it sounded so, so good. :)s

I'd like to share my experience about meeting him here, and invite you to visit For Music Rising to learn more about the work with fellow supporters in buying the guitar. Please be sure to check out more about Alabama Slim at Music Makers too. Scroll to the lower right corner to hear a sampler of his music. Thank you.

June 9, 2007
Nao, Grace and I arrived in the hot, melting afternoon sun. Alabama Slim greeted us outside his home, and after our introductions I took the guitar out of the car. "Oh yeah!" he said without hesitation, and Grace and I gave it to him right away.

Before we knew it we were inside, the guitar was out of its bag and hooked up to an amp. As we got comfortable on the couch, Alabama grabbed a guitar strap, a guitar tuner, and kicked right in. My heart raced because I was so excited to hear him play. Everything was becoming a reality.

Wow, it sounded amazing from the first chords, and as he played more he enjoyed more. It appeared as if he was getting reacquainted with an old friend. He had lost his 335 Epiphone in Katrina, and it became obvious very quickly that this guitar was in the right hands. He truly appreciated it without saying one word.

Here's a ninety second snippet from early in the set. Grace was running the show with the camera, so you'll hear a tiny bit of her too.

In between songs we talked a bit about his losses from Katrina, his move to Dallas, and his recent return to New Orleans this past November. He had lost everything in the flood except his life, his wife, and his good friend and cousin Little Freddie King. Music was part of his recovery process, and he was fortunate enough to hook up with Music Maker along the way.

His wife returned home as he played and we talked, and it was a true pleasure to meet her. She sat with us and enjoyed in Alabama's excitement too.

We got to hear the story of how he was contacted about the guitar we had for him, and he shared the telephone conversations with a smile. I shared the story too about quickly raising the funds, but not finding him until months later. It was then that I gave him the collection of special messages that the donors sent with me, and both he and his wife seemed very appreciative. Around this time he signed and gave us a copy of his CD, The Mighty Flood. Wow.

My favorite part of the visit came when I asked him what was special about his 335 Epiphone. I opened up a love story of sorts as he discussed its design, the woods used, and the unique sounds it creates. With some turns of the knobs and flips of the switch, he began to demonstrate to us his favorite sounds. "Do you hear that? ...deep tones? not too strong?" The word that kept coming from my mouth was 'sweet'. He smiled and understood. These moments made my eyes swell.

Nao asked him if he gets to perform anywhere, and we found out that he in fact does have a few upcoming local gigs with the guys he played with on his CD, Slew Foot and Cary B. He says that when they are around they put him on the bill too. :) We jotted down the dates, and hope to be able to check him out one day. We also discussed the possibility of him performing in Baton Rouge in the future, and I came up with the brainstorm that maybe he'd like to visit the children in the FEMA trailer park for evacuees where I volunteer. He said, "Sure, let's do it!" I was more than psyched to hear his reaction to that.

He told us about some other great opportunities through Music Maker. They sponsored his trip to a recent music festival in Salt Lake City, and even more grand they sent him to France in January billing him as the New Orleans blues man. This was HUGE for him, and he even shared his personal photos from the France tour, as well as a couple articles and flyers. We were floored when he brought out a few promo posters from France for us to keep too. Nao was smart enough to ask him to sign them, but we ended up using a regular pen since our Sharpie wasn't on board. (You'd figure that I'd have one attached to my body considering my NOLA encounters. LOL) The poster is cool, will look great framed, and be a nice reminder of Alabama's performance thrills.

We literally had to kick ourself out of there as we were so comfortable spending time with them. As we said our farewells, Alabama held his arms open and said, "I just don't know how to really thank you for this." I told him that his joy was already a thank you, and playing for us was part of that. "Just keep enjoying Alabama." He assured me that he would, and that he'd be up all day and night playing the guitar. His wife stood along his side nodding and smiling in agreement. I also told him that the donors would love to see him continue sharing his gift and talent for the blues with many people. He said for sure that was happening. Our time with him leaves no doubt with us that he is right. :)

Sweeeeet Alabama, thank you for your kindness, hope, enthusiasm, and music. :D


Blogger ScriptSimon said...

Hi there.
Was just reading your piece on Alabama Slim. I met Slim in 2007 during Jazz Fest. I and a friend were out there shooting a documentary. We filmed Slim performing in the trailer he was living in at the time. Well, we're now gearing up to shoot some more and complete the film, and have had trouble getting in touch with him. If you have any means of putting me in touch with him, I would be eternally grateful!

Many thanks, ScriptSimon

11:33 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

ScriptSimon, I just spoke with Alabama and he said that I can send his contact information your way. What is the best way of contacting you?

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi's been a while...ScriptSimon here again...I lost your email...thanks so much for getting in touch before...

After a long, uphill and ultimately fruitless battle trying to get funding to complete our documentary, I have now relocated to the US (Los Angeles) and am trying afresh...I would love to regain contact with both yourself and Alabama...

here is the Facebook page we have put together for the film, it contains the trailer, which of course, features Alabama. I would also love to put up 1 or 2 recordings I made of Alabama's music when we met him...but would really like to get his permission first...if you and he (and anyone else who's interested) could take a look at our page and make contact, you'd make us very happy!!/pages/Voices-Of-The-Wetlands/121640131183951

many thanks, Simon

3:36 AM  

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