Leaving Franklin, TN, just a few miles outside town I hopped on the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway- a beautiful, mainly one lane road running along a long established Native American trail through woods, swamps, farmland, and fields. I followed the parkway south until it left Tennessee and I’d arrived in Florence, Alabama. There didn’t seem to be a lot going on in terms of music that night so I just went straight to this riverside park just off the Parkway. When I arrived it was extremely dark, foggy, and quiet, and a rainstorm was predicted so I was glad to be in a paved lot not under tree cover. I looked up the flooding table and was all good to go even if it rained a lot where I was and the lot was pretty far uphill from the riverbank, so I settled in to sleep.
I was awakened a few times in the night by lightning flashes (rooftop fan cover is like a skylight in terms of keeping out light), and at one point discovered a small leak dripping down from the rear door/roof seal, so I shoved some paper towels in the gap and placed a bowl to catch the drips and back to bed it was. Finally in the morning I got to see the beautiful surrounding river view, the birds, and the bridge. Pretty spot! On my way out of the park I saw a few downed tree limbs and trees, but wasn’t sure whether they were from the past stormy night or from all the rain they’d had in the area in the past month.
Down the river I spent the morning in Muscle Shoals, a town known for its recording studios and music scene. There were/are two major studios in town, one springing from the other, but only one with tours available when I was around, so tour that one I did. The Muscle Shoals Sound studios were founded by a quartet of studio musicians- known as the Swampers- who backed hundreds of famous artists when recording in town. Listening to just some of the classic tracks recorded in the studio was pretty special. I did a drive by of the other studio, Fame, and by a weird metal statue.
Oddly enough, the remainder of my day in the area was not spent finding music or anything of the like, but instead touring a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Called the Rosenbaum House after the owners, this is one example of Wright’s ‘Usonian’ homes designed for ‘middle-income’ Americans. The idea was to have these homes look like they’re naturally emerging from the landscape, remain close to the ground and open to nature, and designed in a sort of build it yourself kit that can be assembled, added onto, etc. with little additional input from the architect (or so I understand from the tour guide lady). Much of the furnishing is built in, probably because Wright didn’t trust people not to mess up his vibe. It was a beautiful home dominated by local cedar, fancified plywood, local red brick, and big glass windows, with intricate, repeating patterns making the space special. Leaky and not heating functional, but beautiful.
I only spent less than 24 hours in one tiny corner of the state, but I was pleasantly surprised by my time in Alabama and all the kind, enthusiastic people I met. One day I’ll be back to see more!