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Mac McAnally: The Man Behind the Music | Destination: The Shoals | Land of the Noonday Sun | Great Waves of The New Deal

Life Water on the

noalastudios.com Summer 2015 $4.95

SOUTHERN WAYS. SUNSHINE DAYS.


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» summer 2015

features

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Mac McAnally: the Man Behind the Music Spend a nostalgic afternoon at the riverside home of seventime Country Music Association musician of the year. BY Laura Anders Lee

and Roy Hall

PHOTOS BY patrick hood

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Land of the Noonday Sun Destination: The Shoals

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An in-depth look at four towns on the Tennessee River that have grown together to become the perfect water destination for a summer retreat. BY ALLEN TOMLINSON

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The Great Indoors

If you love to raft, kayak, or canoe, the Nantahala River in North Carolina is a great place to take the plunge! BY ALLEN TOMLINSON

on the cover:

An Alabama family’s weekend retreat reflects the serene grandeur of its waterfront location.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center guides a group of thrill-seekers through the rapids of the Cheoah River.

BY Roy Hall PHOTOS BY patrick hood

Photo courtesy of Bill Russ–VisitNC.com


reflections » on the water

It’s summer. Get to the water! I’m not a betting man, but I will wager this: summer is your favorite time of year. Sure, winters in the southeast are not nearly as bad as other places in this beautiful country, but in the summer there’s just no excuse that can keep us away from the water. If you boat, fish, or just sit on the riverbank and contemplate the currents, it’s all better when it’s hot outside. Thank goodness for summer—and may it last for a long time! We do a lot of research to get our publications ready for you to enjoy, and we have noticed something kind of strange. Not a lot has been written about a special area on the banks of the Tennessee River, where music and art and fishing and great food all come together to create a unique style of life that’s unlike any other place. Our destination profile this issue is on the Muscle Shoals area, tucked in the northwest corner of Alabama, close to Mississippi and Tennessee—and close to heaven, if you believe the people who live here. If you like fishing, it’s the smallmouth bass capital of the world; if you like water sports, you can sail or ski or raft or canoe here. If you like music, you’ll be amazed at the hit recordings that have come from this place; if you like food, you won’t believe the options available here, where “farm-to-table” has been practiced for generations as families grow their own produce and put it on the plate. It’s convenient to a lot of larger metropolitan areas, so put it on your list of places to see—you’re probably in for some great surprises. There’s a lot more in this issue, too. The Nantahala River in North Carolina is a kayaker’s dream, and the twisty highway that winds through the mountains alongside the river is certainly worth exploring. Chef Alan Phillips has put together a series of impressive recipes that can be easily prepared from the galley of a boat or camper, guaranteed to impress your family and guests, and we look inside a spectacular home on Lake Guntersville, Alabama, that you’re going to love. May I ask a favor? As you explore this summer, will you let us know about your favorite spots? If you have a place in particular that’s worth sharing, please share it with us, and we’ll pass it along. Southern Ways—Sunshine Days. We hope this summer is the best ever, and that you are able to spend most of it on the water!

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Life Water

» contents

on the

SOUTHERN WAYS. SUNSHINE DAYS. SOUTHERN WAYS. SUNSHINE DAYS.

Water is the canvas on which we Southerners paint our lives. Life on the Water explores and introduces with a blend of people, lakes, rivers, towns, food, history, and culture. It’s life in the South…on the water. PUBLISHER C. Allen Tomlinson

everything else

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Gourmet To-Go

Events on the Water

Chef Alan Phillips gives you ideas that will redefine the picnic—all from a galley kitchen!

LOTW Staff Picks

BY ALLEN TOMLINSON

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Shopping Guide

Great gifts for dad.

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Parting Shot

26 and Alan Phillips PHOTOS BY Patrick Hood

Chief Operating Officer | Editor Matthew Liles CREATIVE DIRECTOR LESLIE FRANKLIN Advertising Director Heidi King Editorial Assistant LuEllen Redding Research & Administration Melissa Blank, Roy Hall Proofreader Carole Maynard Intern Isaac Ray Norris Consultants Christy Martin, Fred Myers Contributing Writers Roy Hall, Laura Anders Lee, Guy McClure, Alan Phillips, Allen Tomlinson Contributing photographers Ryan Blank, Shawn Green, Patrick Hood, Danny Mitchell, Abraham Rowe, Bob Russ, Shannon Wells

DISTRIBUTION Now available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million stores, Hastings, and other selected independent bookstores in the South. Visit lifeonthewater.com/distribution for a retailer near you. To become a distributor, call 256-766-4222 or contact roy@noalastudios.com.

BY Patrick Hood

Great Waves of the New Deal With the TVA, entire towns disappeared under the waters of the Tennessee. What happened? Find out. BY Guy McClure

SUBSCRIPTIONS

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noalastudios.com | 256-766-4222 roy@noalastudios.com

contact information No’Ala Studios PO Box 2530 250 S Poplar Street Florence, AL 35630 256-766-4222 800-779-4222 – toll free info@noalastudios.com


Coming Fall 2015:

Life on the Water shines a light on the beautiful autumn colors of Land Between The Lakes.

Lighthouse Landing Resort & Marina on Kentucky Lake noalastudios.com

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events » on the water

Not To Be Missed... LOTW staff picks LAKE GUNTERSVILLE, ALABAMA

The best sounds in the South are on the water this summer! Check out these fun festivals…

Why Alred Marina? • BRAND NEW 40’, 50’ and 60’ in-water slips with state-of-the-art electrical & water • EXPANDED Cable TV and FREE Wi-Fi • DRY STORAGE LOT for slip renters’ runabouts, personal watercraft, trailers, etc. • Private BOAT RAMP for launching • SECURED GATES on docks

Helen Keller Festival

• Picnic Area & Scenic Walking Trail • Spacious Laundry Room

June 23-28 Tuscumbia, Alabama

• CLEAN and PRIVATE Bath House • FREE self-service marine sanitation pump-out

This popular festival pays tribute to America’s “First Lady of Courage” with four days of activities: parade, fine art & crafts show, art exhibits, Keller Kids, staged musical entertainment, history programs and tours, and two performances of the stage production The Miracle Worker.

• Courtesy car for transient boaters • 90 Octane ethanol-free gasoline and marine-grade diesel • Preferred VALVTECT© performance-enhancing fuel dealer, proven to increase fuel efficiency and engine performance

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• 24 HOUR fueling available • Lake Guntersville’s ONLY complete marine parts & Ship’s Store on the water

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Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Sizzlin’ 4th of July

EXCLUSIVE TO MARINA SLIPHOLDERS

July 3-5 Bryson City, North Carolina

Russ Cranford, CMM 351 Marina Road • Guntersville, AL 35976 Tennessee River mm 357.4 across from Guntersville Municipal Airport

This 4th of July weekend, celebrate with familyfriendly outdoor events in Bryson City, North Carolina. With free live music, sizzlin’ sales at NOC’s Outfitter’s Store, and all-ages activities on and off the water, you'll hit it out of the park at NOC this holiday.

256-582-4400 info@alredmarina.com Alredmarina.com

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For more information:

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W.C. Handy Music Festival July 17-26 The Shoals, Alabama The W.C. Handy Music Festival is a weeklong celebration of the musical heritage of northwest Alabama, honoring Florence native W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues.” Over 200 events take place during the week, ranging from mini-concerts to headliner concerts, plays to art exhibits, and picnics to restaurants and clubs. Located almost equidistant from Nashville, Memphis, and Birmingham, the area known as “The Shoals,” where the majority of the events take place, includes the cities of Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals.

For more information:

wchandymusicfestival.org

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Photo courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration

President Woodrow Wilson authorized the construction of Wilson Dam near Muscle Shoals, Alabama, during World War I to help power nitrate plants for munitions. The Army Corps of Engineers finished construction of the dam in 1924 and TVA acquired the dam in 1933.


Great Waves of the New Deal The Lore of What’s Beneath the Tennessee River TEXT BY Guy McClure

Some of my best memories are of doing nothing while sitting on piers pondering the Tennessee River. For a large portion of my life this river has been within a few miles of wherever I called my harbor, and even when I have lived far away, its banks have served as my port in a storm. I love the Tennessee River but it frightens me. Not from the fear of drowning—I can swim well enough to save myself from most situations—but from the fear of what lies beneath the water’s surface. Even on its best days the river is dark and deep and its currents are wild and unstable. I could never learn to waterski because I would anxiously pull up too soon to get

out of its murkiness and topple right back, headfirst into my own preconceived fear. This fear stems from years of absorbing local lore. Good old campfire stories about catfish the size of Buicks and the water intake mechanisms of the dams that dot the river’s lengths that could serve as human Cuisinarts. And then there are the sagas of

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the submerged towns. The freshwater Atlantis cities of the southern United States that were erased from maps by the harnessing of a powerful river.

The Map diagrams the river transport development plan for the New Deal public works project authorized when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act on May 18, 1933.

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The 1930s New Deal domestic programs developed by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt created TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA acted as an economic development program designed to appease the devastating seasonal flooding, generate electrical power, and provide jobs for out-of-work depression era citizens. A series of nine hydroelectric dams with navigational locks were constructed along the 652-mile length of the Tennessee River—just one of the many watercourses put to use to cre-

ate electricity. These dams produced lakes and reservoirs in areas where flood-prone hamlets and towns once existed. Dozens of communities are no longer on maps (if they ever were) and, as the years increase since the project’s inception, most are quickly fading from the collective memories of their ancestries. The sensitive topic of eminent domain left many hard feelings with strongwilled Southerners who didn’t want to see their properties permanently vanish under man-made rising waters. Some families gained their land through inheritance from previous generations of homesteaders and objected to the governmental acquisition of their perceived birthright.

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Photo courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration

Photo courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration


The 1960 movie Wild River does a very good job chronicling the process of how TVA battled with some landowners in the 1930s to provide relocation before the inevitable submersion of their homeplaces. The 2000 movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? also pays homage to TVA’s controlled flooding by making it a destructive character. A wall of water floods the Arkabutla (Mississippi) Valley, completely submerging the treasure that is the driving force in the film that is loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey.

In reality, once all the land was acquired, the water rose with a steady pace. The abandoned structures were eventually drowned and new banks were formed. Suddenly mounds and hills that rose above some of these deserted towns were now waterfront properties. Water levels were now a hundred feet above the rooflines and steeples of vanished communities; underwater ghost towns that almost instantly became local folklore.

The three major rivers in Alabama that were dammed to create lakes included the Alabama, Tennessee, and Warrior. TVA’s river damming also took place in the nearby states of Tennessee and Georgia, and also included Mississippi and North Carolina. Between these southern states and their numerous rivers it is estimated that dozens of towns were drowned and thousands of residents were dispersed. In Alabama, the communities of Gunter’s Landing, Riverton, Bainbridge, and the islands of Henry and McKee now lie deep below the Tennessee River. Portions of towns such as Waterloo and Guntersville met the same demise. After almost 80 years in existence, all that would likely remain of what was someone’s hometown would be road beds and the foundations of decayed homes and buildings. In a wave of progress, these communities lost their township status and now are identified as bodies of water: Wilson Lake, Wheeler Lake, Lake Guntersville. Like Atlantis, these communities now live in the folklore that our area thrives upon. More than likely there is nothing left to snag an anchor or break free from a muddy hold and rise to the surface. But don’t tell the storytellers this; let them continue to add to the campfire tales of what is beneath the water’s surface for the next round of river lovers.

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Photo courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration

Many river towns like the one shown here were intentionally flooded during the development of the TVA.

ATLANTIS, or what’s really under those waters?

There’s something romantic about imagining underwater cities, flooded by the creation of dams throughout the southeast. And there have been many of them: Riverton and portions of Waterloo, Alabama; Irma, Alabama, now under Lake Martin; Butler, Florida; Petersburg and Lisbon, Georgia, now under Strom Thurmond Lake; Judson and Fontana, North Carolina, now under Fontana Lake; Andersonville and Price, South Carolina, now under Hartwell Lake; Butler and Willow Grove, Tennessee; and many, many more. The allure is the same feeling we get when we think about ghost towns in the American West. The idea of abandoned houses—dishes still on the table, food in the cupboards, toys in the playroom—abandoned suddenly to become a time capsule of the moment, is fascinating. Maybe it harkens back to the very earliest stories we tell about American history, such as the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, a thriving community one moment, abandoned the next. Maybe it goes back farther than that, to the stories we tell of the lost city of Atlantis. What was life like there? What must it feel like to leave your home and relocate because of man-made progress? What could we learn if we could just go underwater and take a look? The truth is a lot more complicated and a lot less romantic, unfortunately. When dams are built, the people in affected communities have a lot of time to make plans and move; in the case of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the government even offered to relocate cemeteries so that the remains of loved ones could also be moved to higher ground. A dam didn’t just spring up overnight, a switch flipped, the resulting rising waters overtaking entire towns; it took years. That’s good, and it’s bad. Some towns that have been lost were thriving communities. Butler, Tennessee, for example, was the largest (and only incorporated) town removed by the TVA. Located in the Watauga Valley of eastern Tennessee, the area was a bustling little town, but it was prone to severe flooding, which made the decision to create a dam a little easier to accept. The population of Butler was about 600, and the place included two barbershops, two beauty parlors, a hardware store, a drug store, a few service stations, a few hotels, three churches, a railroad


depot, a Masonic Lodge, a brick City Hall, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, and The Blue Bird Café. When the TVA’s economic development program and the Watauga Dam and Reservoir was announced, people in Butler began moving to higher ground. Butler was in the middle of forested Appalachia, so most industries in the area were wood related. There was a lumber company, a furniture company, a crating company, and even a casket company. All in all, about 175 buildings and 735 families were moved to higher ground to a place folks began to call “New Butler.” Most of the buildings in old Butler were demolished, although not all of them; even the cemeteries were moved, with about 1,200 bodies moved from the graveyard. (Interestingly, some families opted to leave their dead relatives where they were, and those bodies are now deep below the water in the Watauga Reservoir.) And then, the floodgates were closed. It didn’t take too long for the reservoir to fill and a new lake to form. And that was the end of Butler, it would seem, except that forty years later, in the 1980s, the water in the reservoir was lowered so TVA could perform maintenance on the dam. Surprisingly, Don Stout’s Shoe Store, which was made of stone, and the jail, which was made of concrete, were still there; most everything else was just building foundations and muddy streets. One wonders what would have happened if the dams had not been built. Would Waterloo and Riverton, Alabama, on opposite sides of the Tennessee River, grow and prosper? After all, Riverton was one of the most important shipping points along the Tennessee and the site of several skirmishes during the Civil War, and Waterloo was a bustling river town. Florence and Sheffield, slightly upstream, are now the large cities along the river, and Waterloo, although still home to about 200 people, is a sleepy bedroom community. Riverton is home to a cemetery and a few homes, but is well off the beaten path; there is little sign that this place was once a commercial center.

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TEXT BY allen tomlinson

Mornings bring the “smoke� that distinguishes the Smokey Mountains, and even on a rainy day the light shines through the leaves to make this a magical place.

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The trees here are so thick you hardly see the sun, except when it’s high noon and the sun is straight up in the sky.

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eep in the Smokey Mountains, in the extreme western section of North Carolina, there’s a twisty two-lane road that runs between the town of Murphy and the town of Cherokee, along some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine. Much of Highway 19/ 74 runs beside water, and the trees here are so thick you hardly see the sun, except when it’s high noon and the sun is straight up in the sky. That’s why the native Cherokee Indians named this place “Nantahala,” which means “Land of the Noonday Sun.” When you visit, you’ll understand. Much of this scenic highway runs beside the Nantahala River, a small but fast body of water that cuts its way through rocks, tumbling on its way toward the Little Tennessee River at Fontana Lake, to the north. Known for its trout fishing, the Nantahala River is also a water sportsperson’s dream; the kayaking, canoeing, and rafting on this river is thrilling. At the spot on the river where the Appalachian Trail meets the river, the Nantahala Outdoor Center, founded in 1972, sits right on the highway. For travelers through the gorge, the Outdoor Center is a place to stop for a bite to eat, fill up the tank, and talk to the bikers, hikers, kayakers, and rafters who are there for fun. The depth—and speed—of the river depends upon the time of day. The Nantahala River is harnessed by Duke Energy for hydroelectric power production, but from late spring to early fall, Duke Energy releases water at a regularly scheduled time every morning in order to support commercial rafting. The water is released from a five-mile-long penstock which is mostly underground. For that reason, the water is usually around 55° F… chilly, but refreshing.

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For the beginner, or for the family, rafting is definitely the way to see this river for the first time. There are a variety of rafting options, but the Outdoor Center is a good place to start. Their eight-mile fully guided rafting trip takes about three hours, and everyone who participates must be seven years old or older and 60 pounds or heavier. Costs vary­—it works out to about $55 per person—and, no bones about it, you’re going to get wet. But the nature of this beautiful river is such that you alternate between lazy stretches of calm water and stretches of fast-moving rapids, just enough to give you a thrill. At the very end of the course, your guide will stop and take you on a trail to see the last rapid on the course, so you have an idea of what to expect; it’s the fastest one, and the most complicated, and once you’ve gone through it, your heart will be racing. For those who are rafting, it will become obvious that the kayakers are the ones having the most fun. Because a kayak is so flexible and easily maneuvered, experienced kayakers can actually play in the eddies and “shoot” the rapids. If kayaking is new to you, ask the Outdoor Center about lessons; they have a variety of offerings and can teach all ages, including kids. The International Scale of River Difficulty ranks rapids from Class I through Class VI, the first being fast moving water with small waves and few obstructions, and the latter being so unpredictable and dangerous that navigation is not advised. On the eight-mile raftable stretch of the Nantahala, called the Lower Run, rapids range from Class II to Class III. (Class II means straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels­— ranked for the novice; Class III means large and powerful currents, with moderate, irregular waves and is ranked “Intermediate.” For both Class II and Class III, self-rescue is usually easy.)

There are rafting, canoeing, and kayaking events scheduled throughout the summer, and the serious

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PHOTO BY RYAN Blank

Another section of the river, called the Upper Run, is extremely steep and challenging, and flattens out to become a Class III-IV run, and includes several Class III to Class V rapids, including “The Horns of God,” “Big Kahuna,” and “Chinese Feet.” This section is best left to the experts!


For the beginner, or for the family, rafting is definitely the way to see this river for the first time.

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sportsperson can make a trip out of those, hiking the Appalachain Trail, and zip lining in the Nantahala Gorge. If fishing is your thing, the River Bassin’ Trail on June 13th is designed for river bass fishing anglers of every experience level. The Nantahala River was named one of North Carolina’s ten best trout streams, and Trout Unlimited listed it as one of the nation’s top 100. The Upper Nantahala (from the Dam to White Oak Creek) is classified as hatchery-supported trout waters, with no size limit or bait restriction and a creel limit of seven trout per day. From White Oak Creek to the Duke Energy Power Plant, the river is classified as Delayed Harvest trout waters, which may be fished only with artificial lures with one single hook and no natural bait. Ask about seasonal restrictions between October and June. The Lower Nantahala, which is where most of the rafting and kayaking take place, is also classified as hatchery-supported, and night fishing is allowed in this section. If you’re bringing your own boat, there are two public boat launches: Rocky Branch ramp is on the eastern shore, and Choga public access area is on the western shore. A number of marinas in the area rent pontoons, fishing boats, kayaks, and ski boats. And camping spots are plentiful—this spot is located between Bryson City and Cherokee, North Carolina, and RV parks, cabins, and camps are scattered throughout the area. Perhaps the Nantahala’s greatest appeal, though, is the scenery. The winding highway and its multitude of twists and turns encourage you to travel slowly and take it all in. The river playfully tosses itself over rocks and runs beside the road, and the shade here keeps the temperature cool, even in the middle of the summer. Mornings bring the “smoke” that distinguishes the Smokey Mountains, and even on a rainy day the light shines through the leaves to make this a magical place.

This spot is off the beaten path, and you may have to hunt to find this treasure, but once you’ve found it, you’ll never forget it.

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The winding highway and its multitude of twists and turns encourage you to travel slowly and take it all in.


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fuel dock 256-883-9420 • office 256-882-1057

dittolanding.com Photo courtesy of the Burns family of Huntsville, Alabama


food Âť on the water


G URMET to»go TEXT BY ALLEN TOMLINSON and Alan Phillips » PHOTOS BY Patrick Hood

Life on the water—or on the road—can sometimes mean cooking challenges. Preparing beautiful meals from a galley kitchen requires a little preplanning because space is almost always limited. But Chef Alan Phillips has put together some recipes that redefine the summer picnic. These are fresh, delicious, and easy to prepare. If you want a reputation as “that person”—the one who can whip up a gourmet meal using a few fresh ingredients and a minimum of tools —get ready to impress your family and friends. Life on the water doesn't have to mean you compromise what you eat!

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Road Trip Tri-tip open faced Sandwich 2-3 pound tri-tip roast 2 tablespoons kosher salt 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper 1 teaspoon white pepper 1 tablespoon ground fennel seed 1 teaspoon ground coriander Oil for grill ( I prefer grape seed oil ) Good bread Olive oil for bread Spiced Aioli (recipe follows) 1. If there is excess fat on the roast, trim to ¼” thickness. 2. Combine all the spices and thoroughly rub into roast; let sit for 30 minutes, but no more than an hour. 3. Bring the grill to high heat and clean thoroughly. 4. Brush the grill with tongs holding a folded paper towel dipped in oil.

Although he grew up on the water in

5. Place the tri-tip fat cap down on the grill, sear for 5-7 minutes until grill marks appear on the meat. Try not to move the meat around too much and it will be less likely to stick.

northwest Alabama, he left and made

6. Turn roast over and sear the other side for 3-5 minutes.

his way to California, to learn his craft and

7. Turn the grill to low or turn off all but one burner. Move the roast to the coolest area on the grill, close the lid, and cook 20-30 minutes.

About Chef Phillips:

become a chef. He returned to Alabama to care for aging parents, but rediscovered the joys of life on the Tennessee River.

8. Check the temperature and keep cooking until desired internal temperature is met. Check every 3 minutes or so.

Today, his ready-to-eat offerings through Red Clay Epicurean are in high demand at

9. Rare is 120-125 °F/49-51°C, Medium Rare is 125-130°F/55-57°C.

Jack O'Lantern Farms, a local provider of fresh produce, meats, and dairy products

10. Pull the meat off, cover loosely with foil, and let sit at least 10 minutes; cover and refrigerate.

to local restaurants. He has also brought fresh, farm-to-table dining to a local

11. When carving, cut at 45° angle across the grain in thin slices and store in an airtight container.

private school, cooking healthy meals that kids really enjoy eating. In his spare time,

12. Brush bread with olive oil and grill 3-5 minutes on each side.

which is rare, Chef Phillips loves spending time on the deck at his house on the banks

13. Spread with spiced aioli and place sliced tri-tip on top.

of the Tennessee River, soaking up the

14. Serve with salsa.

atmosphere and the inspiration. We hope you enjoy his Gourmet To-Go offerings—

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GOURMET to » go


Salmon Ceviche with lime & coconut 1 pound of the freshest salmon, preferably not farm raised 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh red chilies 1 tablespoon minced ginger 3 tablespoons chopped spring onions ½ English cucumber, seeded and diced 6-7 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon avocado oil (optional) Finely chopped zest of one lime 3-4 tablespoons coconut milk Ÿ cup chopped fresh cilantro Salt and white pepper to taste Avocado Blue corn tortilla chips 1. Cut salmon into small cubes. 2. In a bowl combine next 10 ingredients except fish; season with salt and white pepper, to taste. 3. Add fish and make sure all pieces are covered with the liquid. 4. Chill at least 10 minutes. 5. Garnish with avocado and serve with chips.


GOURMET to » go Spicy Aioli 5 egg yolks

*Note: this is a raw ingredient. I use fresh eggs from a local farmer that I trust. If you have any concerns, use pasteurized eggs. They are in most supermarkets now, or you can use a good jar mayonnaise and skip down to the spices.

1 teaspoon French mustard 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste Fresh black pepper 2 cups of neutral oil: grapeseed, light olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.

(extra virgin olive oil tends to turn bitter)

1 tablespoon garlic, minced ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 ½ teaspoon smoked paprika 1. Make sure all ingredients are room temperature. 2. Add mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper to the egg yolks and beat with a hand mixer until ribbons form. 3. With hand mixer running slowly, drizzle the oil in and incorporate it into the yolks. Do this slowly—if it looks like the oil is separating, add a few drops of room temperature water to the yolks. Once you are done it should be a nice thick consistency. 4. Reserve one cup of the mayonnaise for the potato salad recipe. 5. To the other cup add the garlic, cayenne, and smoked paprika. Check for seasoning with salt and pepper. 6. Place in a sealed container and keep chilled until use.

Lobster & fennel potato salad 2-3 pounds fingerling potatoes Kosher salt for water ½ cup white wine or champagne vinegar ½ teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons sugar ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 bulb fennel 1 fresh lobster tail Olive oil 4 shallots, finely chopped 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped 1 cup mayonnaise

(I prefer to make it from scratch. See Spicy Aioli recipe.)

½ cup chopped tarragon ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley Salt and pepper to taste 1. Place potatoes in cold water enough to cover 1-2 inches. 2. Add salt so the water tastes like sea water, or better yet use sea water. About 1 tablespoon kosher salt per quart of water. 3. Bring to a low boil and cook until just fork tender. 4. Drain and let cool 10 minutes. Do not peel. 5. Cut into ½ pieces and toss while warm with the vinegar, salt, sugar and cayenne. Let cool in refrigerator for 1-3 hours. 6. Trim fennel and cut bulb in half lengthwise; cut out the hard core. 7. Brush the fennel and lobster tail with olive oil and grill on high 3-5 minutes on each side; remove and let cool. 8. Finely chop the fennel and thinly slice the lobster tail. 9. Combine with the potatoes and remaining ingredients. 10. Season with salt and pepper and chill one hour or overnight.

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GOURMET to » go Grilled green tomato salsa 2 medium green tomatoes 1 small green jalapeno, split in half with seeds removed Olive oil 2 red tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped 1/3 cup chopped cilantro ½ cup white onion, chopped 1 tablespoon lime juice (or more to taste) 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon honey Salt and white pepper to taste 1. Slice green tomatoes about ½” in thickness. 2. Brush slices and jalapeno halves with olive oil. 3. Grill 2-3 minutes on each side on a hot grill. 4. Chop the green tomatoes and finely dice the jalapeno. 5. Combine with other ingredients in a bowl; cover and chill for at least an hour.

Couscous Salad with spring vegetables 8 ounces whole wheat pearl (or Israeli) couscous 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed 1 cup pine nuts 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced 1 medium sized jicama, thinly sliced into matchsticks 1 large lemon, juiced 1-2 tablespoons very good extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste Whole kale leaves for garnish 1. Cook couscous according to instructions, generally in salted boiling water for 5-7 minutes. Drain, save water, and let cool. 2. Bring water back to full boil and cook asparagus until bright green but still crisp; remove and cool quickly in ice water. Drain and cut into 1“ pieces. 3. Lay pine nuts on a lined baking sheet, coat with oil, and bake at 300° F for 7-9 minutes. Remove and cool. 4. Combine all ingredients, except pine nuts, and let chill for one hour. 5. Serve on kale leaves and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

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Trifle in a Jar 1 pound fresh berries: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. 1-2 teaspoons honey or sugar to taste ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 8 ounces ricotta cheese ½ cup powdered sugar 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

(If you're using a vanilla bean, carefully split the bean in half and scrape out the seeds for use. The pod can be stored in sugar for use later as homemade vanilla sugar.)

Heavy whipping cream ½ teaspoon kosher salt Optional: 1-2 tablespoons liquor of your choice (brandy, Grand Marnier, amaretto, sherry, etc.)

Simple syrup (recipe follows) Lady fingers Mason jars Fresh berries and mint for garnish

Simple Syrup Combine 1 cup sugar + 1 cup water in small sauce pan and bring to rolling boil; simmer 5 minutes and set aside to cool. 1. Combine berries, honey, cardamom, and black pepper in a bowl; refrigerate. 2. Whip ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla, ½ cup of heavy cream, and salt with a hand mixer until smooth. 3. Add liquor (if using) to simple syrup and pour into a shallow dish. 4. Layer into mason jars, dipping the lady fingers into the simple syrup just before you use them. 5. Layer in the following order: dipped lady fingers, berries, ricotta; until the jar is almost filled. Top with a little whipped cream, seal, and keep cool. 6. Open, decorate with fresh berries and mint, and


homes Âť on the water


The Great Indoors TEXT BY Roy Hall » PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD

It really is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Unfortunately for the Chandler family of Guntersville, Alabama, the property that would become their vacation retreat inconveniently had a not-so-perfect house already on it. But the location was so ideal, the Chandlers enlisted Huntsville, Alabama, architect Frank Nola and interior designer Beverly Farrington to replace the dated ‘60s rancher with something that reflected the spectacular setting. Designer Farrington describes the post-and-beam stunner that now occupies this idyllic plot of land on the shore of Guntersville’s South Sauty River as “rustic contemporary.” The home’s generous views and expansive interiors create a sense of cozy opulence, fulfilling the family’s wish for a home to make friends and family feel as comfortable as they are welcome.

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“When we design houses, each space is entirely personal. They all have different feelings inspired by the spirit of our client,” Farrington says of the principle that guides her firm, Accents of the South. For this project, Farrington’s clients requested a family-oriented home that would allow their then-young boys to enjoy summers outdoors, as well as offer friends a retreat from the demands of the work week.

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Encouraging good times with friends, chairs surround a fire pit, offering a warm place to gather on cool evenings. A four-foot walkable sea wall—a rarity for lake living—encourages visitors to stroll the expansive property. Towering over it all, the widow’s walk offers a quiet spot to read or enjoy a cup of coffee amid impressive views of the property and beyond.

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“I like to juxtapose,” Farrington says. “If there’s a rustic element, I like to bring in some cleaner lines. The house is grand, so we wanted to make the furniture a little lighter, so one plays off the other.” 38

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With its soaring ceilings, sundrenched interior and antique heart of pine floors, the living area offers a casual, serene spot for the family to gather. The green of the wing-backed sofa, along with the stone fireplace and limestone mantle, recall nature and help bring the outside in.

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The kitchen’s granite sinks and countertops are integrated, achieving a continuous line as each flow seamlessly into the other. Sconces designed for the residence by Farrington and forged by Fayetteville, Tennessee, wrought ironsmith Don Bukar accent soaring windows, flooding the kitchen and adjoining rooms with light. The wood windows’ industrial, steel finishes add texture to the kitchen’s warmth, and the absence of a traditional backsplash allows the sightline to continue uninterrupted, directing the eye outside toward the lush lawn.

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A guest bathroom boasts one of the home’s more striking features: a translucent alabaster sink, underlit to dramatic effect.

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Above: Eight antique knotty oak bunk beds, accented with decorative shelving and art, comfortably accommodate eight young ones in the kids’ room. Left: The master bath’s grey travertine floors echo mosaic travertine and marble walls, creating a soothing and luxurious linear line throughout. An alder wood vanity reads more furniture than fixture with its grey weather wash and tall tapered legs. Top: The warm, inviting master bedroom soothes with its soft palate and accent colors that complement the antique heart of pine floors.

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products Âť on the water

Great Gifts for Dad 5

4

3 2

1


1

Patagonia Trout Fitz Roy Polo

A super comfortable 100% organic cotton jersey polo for the field or office. The clean and relaxed fit of the comfortable organic cotton make dressing up a breeze. $59.00 2

Mountain Khaki Poplin Short

The cotton/poly blend of the Poplin Short has a super-crisp feel that washes without so much as a wrinkle, handy for any lowmaintenance lifestyle. The shorts feature flat front and welted button-through back pockets and triple-stitched seams. $65.00 3

Filson Travel Kit

Filson’s water-repellent, fully lined travel kit is the perfect case for short or long trips. Stuff the kit with toiletries, or roll and pack it away for extra storage. With features like leather accents, a rustproof brass zipper, and multiple stow pockets, this kit is sure to become a staple travel piece. $95.00

6

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Yeti Rambler

The Rambler cup series keeps beverages ice-cold or piping-hot ‘til the last drop. The double-wall vacuum insulation makes sure the contents remain frosty-cold while keeping your hands dry. Available in both 20oz and 30oz sizes for $29.99 and $39.99 5

Yeti Hopper

YETI’s showing their softer side without sacrificing the indestructible quality you have come to know and love. The Hopper has everything you want in a cooler: insulation, portability, and reliability. The brand new YETI Hopper was designed with your comfort in mind. Grab on to the easy to carry straps, and your good to go for a weekend in the mountains, a round of golf, or a day at the lake. Available in 20L and 30L sizes for $299.99 and $349.99 6

Yeti Roadie

The Yeti Roadie personal cooler is made from ice-retaining insulation, equipped with a heavy-duty stainless steel handle for portability, and can hold 14 cans of beer or 20lbs of ice. The virtually indestructible YETI cooler is available in various sizes and colors, and holds superior can capacity, as well as room for food, beverages, and much, much more. Starting at $249.99 7

Olukai Mea Ola Sandal

The OluKai Mea Ola sandals are the definition of “Premium Sandal,” with their full-grain leather upper straps with canoe lash whipstitch. The sandals are backed with soft microfiber and neoprene for serious comfort. $120.00 8

7 8

Hydro Flask Growler

The Hydro Flask Growler was designed with beer in mind, but doubles perfectly as a coffee carafe, water jug, or whatever else you think of. Double wall vacuum insulation keeps contents icy cold for up to 24 hours, and steaming hot for up to 12 hours. The same insulated quality is available in 12oz to 64oz. From $21.99 to $54.99

All products are available at Alabama Outdoors locations or alabamaoutdoors.com

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products » on the water

PowerPot 5 by Power Practical » $99

Available at powerpractical.com

The PowerPot combines the benefits of a lightweight cooking pot and a portable USB charger. Power any of your mobile devices all while heating up a meal on your trusty backpacking stove or campfire. It even comes in handy as a backup charger for a power outage or another emergency.

» Works over any stove or heat sources (including open flames) » 1.2 Liter hard-anodized aluminum pot for cooking

Note: Silicone Skin Jelly Case is not included with this Stando™.

Crusta™ by AMZER » $65

Available at Alabama Outdoors locations and alabamaoutdoors.com

» Real-time power meter for optimal charging

Available at amzer.com

Crusta™ is a first of its kind multilayered tablet case, consisting of three functional layers made of high quality material. Each layer has a unique protective function. This three layer protection is a result of months of research and development with actual users. Crusta™ is not only great for protecting your tablet, it is also great for adding the overtone of style, color, and oomph to your tablet. With Crusta™ you are spoilt for choice—you can suit your style and pick your favorite color. With Crusta™ you get our bestselling Tempered Glass Screen Protector. Crusta™ is your tablet’s protective companion for daily rumble and tumble as well as for some off beat adventure. Crusta™ provides unmatched tri-functional protection without compromising on style or functionality unlike any other tablet case in the market. Note: Compatible with iPad mini/ iPad mini with Retina Display/ iPad mini 3 with Touch ID.

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Available at amzer.com

Designed with you in mind, Stando™ delivers the freedom to interact with your tablet while in the home, office or classroom. This case-compatible universal stand features a 360º rotating tablet cradle for a landscape or portrait view. Easy to install and remove, simply slide the rubber safety holders until your tablet is secured. Charging port and all other ports and controls are still easily accessible while in the stand. Non-skid rubber base keeps your tablet firmly in place so it's ideal for any environment!

» 1A on-demand USB power for mobile devices

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Stando™ by AMZER » $39.95

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Swimmer by BOOM » $69.99

This waterproof bluetooth speaker is dust and shock proof, has a flexible tail that attaches to nearly anything, and includes a suction cup mount. Powered by rechargeable lithium ion battery. » IPX7 Rated—can be immersed in a meter of water for 30 minutes when either attachment is secured on. Feel free to take it with you in the pool, the ocean, or even the shower. » On the back of the SWIMMER is a R4A tail that can be looped, twisted, or snaked for endless mounting possibilities. Simply unscrew the SWIMMER’s tail and attach the suction cup to any flat surface for upgraded bass. » 2 hour charge time gives you up to 8 hours of playback at full volume.


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Š Wayne James


TEXT BY allen tomlinson PHOTOS BY Shawn Green, PATRICK HOOD, Danny Mitchell,

Abraham Rowe, and Shannon Wells

In the extreme northwest corner of the state of Alabama, just 17 miles or so from Tennessee and 30 or so from Mississippi, the Tennessee River winds its ways through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s hydroelectric dams along this river have created a series of beautiful lakes, and at the junction of Lakes Wilson and Pickwick, four small towns have grown together to create a delightful small city that is full of surprises. You won’t find the name “The Shoals” on any map, but this is it, nonetheless; Florence, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, have one of the most scenic spots on this waterway. »»»


Forget all of your preconceived ideas about small Alabama towns: this place defies all of the stereotypes. This is a college town, an artsy town, and a town that loves its spot on the water. There’s history here, and tradition, right beside cutting edge fashion design and a thriving music industry. Helen Keller was born here, and so was W.C. Handy, the Father of the Blues; the university has not one but two live lion mascots; there’s a Frank Lloyd Wright designed residence that’s now a museum; and the water here has some of the largest smallmouth bass on record. Come for a day or two, but be flexible—there’s a lot to see and do and you may want to stay longer. It starts with the river. The wide Tennessee ties this whole place together, and is where the story of the Shoals begins.

SINGING RIVER The Native Americans who lived along the banks of this water called it “Singing River.” History buffs will be interested in the Indian Mound, located on the north shore in Florence. It was a domicillary mound and not a burial mound, which means the people who built it lived on top of it, possibly to protect themselves from seasonal floods which were worse before the creation of Wilson Dam. A new museum, which details the history of those who lived here before history was recorded, is scheduled to open sometime in 2016. Before the completion of Wilson Dam, the Tennessee River here was tough to navigate. In some spots the water was very shallow, and the “Shoals” were sandbars that lay right beneath the water and gave boat traffic a difficult time. The name “Muscle Shoals” is said to come from the brute strength required to navigate this stretch, although you might also hear that it’s named for the shellfish found in the water here— mussels—or even because the river makes a turn that reminds one of a flexed arm.

Today, because of the TVA dams, the river is a major transportation artery, and it’s not uncommon to see barge traffic alongside pleasure craft. The river is so wide, there’s a lot of recreational use. From the Florence Harbor at McFarland Park, boaters can lock through Wilson Dam to Wilson Lake, whose shores are lined with beautiful homes and golf courses. Sailing is big here, but fishing is legendary; this is a favorite spot for fishing tournaments, and holds the record for the largest smallmouth bass, but is also fun for the amateur fisherman who just wants a relaxing day on the water. If you’re bringing your boat, you can launch from Florence Harbor at McFarland Park, or from Joe Wheeler State Park in nearby Rogersville, Alabama; there is also a marina at Steenson Hollow in Muscle Shoals and several other smaller launch sites throughout the Shoals. If you choose to launch from Florence Harbor or Joe Wheeler, check out their camping facilities. Reservations and information about McFarland Park are available at (256) 760-6416 and for Joe Wheeler by calling 1-800-ala-park or (256) 247-1184.

FROM SINGING RIVER TO… SINGING! The Native Americans called it Singing River. There was singing in the cotton fields, which are plentiful and abundant here, and singing in the churches. W.C. Handy, considered the “Father of the Blues,” was born here, and returned frequently after he wrote St. Louis Blues and many other classics. (His birthplace is a museum, located at 620 West College Street.) Rick Hall, a group of backup musicians nicknamed “The Swampers,” and a host of other talented people began a recording industry here that launched many careers. Sam Phillips, the Memphis studio owner who discovered Elvis Presley, grew up in Florence. Area natives think there might be something in the water here, something that inspires musical genius, and they might be right. Aretha Franklin. The Jackson Five. The Rolling Stones. Percy Sledge. Paul McCartney. Cher. The Oak Ridge Boys. Etta James. Bob Segar. If you know these names, you may know them, in part, because of their recordings from Shoals-based studios. The Shoals has earned a name for itself through studios such FAME, Muscle Shoals Sound, Single Lock Records, Noiseblock, The Nutthouse, and more. Many of these studios are open for tours, and it’s a step back through musical history—you are certain to hear a lot of music you already know and love. For information about hours and admission charges (if any), contact the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia (617 U.S. 72 W, Tuscumbia, AL 35674, (256) 381-4417), which is worth a day all by itself. You’ll be amazed at how much influence Alabamians have had on music, and you’ll see some pretty

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photo/Shawn Green

Florence Harbor at McFarland Park photo/Patrick Hood

Downtown Sheffield photo/Danny Mitchell

W.C. Handy Home and museum photo/Patrick Hood

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tom's wall photo/Shannon Wells, courtesy of Florence-Lauderdale Tourism

Frank Lloyd Wright – Rosenbaum House photo/Patrick Hood

Coldwater Books – Downtown Tuscumbia photo/Danny Mitchell

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wonderful artifacts that document Muscle Shoals’s place in that world. The nice thing about a musical history is that it continues to impact present day. It’s not unusual to hear some pretty wonderful music at local restaurants or at Swampers Bar & Grille, located at the Marriott Hotel and Spa at 10 Hightower Place, Florence, AL 35630, (256)246-3663. You never know who might drop in for a session, either—John Paul White, formerly of the Civil Wars, lives in the Shoals, as does David Hood, of Swampers Fame (father of Patterson Hood, of the Drive-By Truckers); Mac McAnally, seven-time winner of the Country Music Association Awards Songwriter of the Year, is also a Shoals resident (see p. 60). The coolest thing? You are likely to run into music legends like these in an area restaurant or grocery store, and they are normal, friendly people. They just also happen to be extraordinarily talented!

GOOD FOLKS LIVE HERE It’s not just the musicians who are so friendly—that appears to be a trait that most Shoals residents share. If you get lost wandering around here, stop and ask. You’re likely to engage in a conversation that lasts awhile, though! W.C. Handy and the musicians who made a name for Muscle Shoals aren’t the only significant people to come from this spot, either. Helen Keller, America’s First Lady of Courage, was born in Tuscumbia in a beautifully restored homeplace called Ivy Green. Located at 300 North Commons Street West, the home is open for tours, Monday through Saturday. If you’re visiting during the summer, don’t miss performances of The Miracle Worker, held in the home’s backyard. There’s something thrill-

ing about seeing young Helen learn to speak when water from the original well pump pours over her hands. For more information, call (256) 383-4066. The list of Shoals-area residents who have made an impact is long. T.S. Stribling lived here at one time; so did Dredd Scott. Donna Jean Godchaux, who sang with the Grateful Dead, and Gary Baker, the songwriter who wrote “I Swear”, live here now. But one site here, not to be missed, commemorates a woman who isn’t so well known. Tom Hendrix’s great-great-grandmother was a Yuchi Indian. During a particularly dark period in American history, native people were removed and sent to reservations, and Te-lahnay, Tom’s relative, was sent to Oklahoma. The creeks and rivers there didn’t sing to her, like the Singing River here in Alabama, so she began a trek back to the hills of Alabama, by foot. Thirty years ago, Tom decided to begin building a stone wall to commemorate that journey—one stone for every step Te-lah-nay took on her travels home. Today, Tom’s wall is a magnificent structure and, many say, a spiritual place. For information, visit ifthelegendsfade.com. Another interesting spot commemorates loved ones, but in a totally different way. The Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard is a cemetery located in rural Colbert County reserved specifically for the burial of coon dogs. Key Underwood established the cemetery on September 4, 1937, by burying his coon dog, Troop. More than 300 coon dogs are buried here today, and the cemetery contains a variety of monuments to these beloved family members. It’s a little out of the way, but worth the trip. For details, visit coondogcemetery.com.

Circa 1875 Gastro Pub

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT IN FLORENCE Probably the last thing you’d expect to see in a small Alabama town like this is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home—but there’s one here! When Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum married, in the early 1930s, Stanley’s parents gave them money and a plot of land upon which to build a house. The Rosenbaums loved Wright’s work, and hired him to design the home. Several years later, after the couple had four young boys, they went back to Wright to design an addition. A beautifully restored example of Wright’s Usonian style, the house is now a museum and is open for tours every day of the week except Monday. For information, hours, and admission fees, visit wrightinalabama.com.

FOOD, FUN, AND FASHION Many people know the Muscle Shoals area for its fishing; many for its musical heritage. Did you know that the Shoals is also a fashion center? Fashion designer Billy Reid, winner of the 2012 Council of Fashion Designers “Menswear Designer of the Year” award, 2010’s Gentlemen’s Quarterly “Best new menswear designer in America” award, and many more, located his corporate headquarters in downtown Florence, converting an old bookstore into a fashion center. Natalie Chanin, of Alabama Chanin, and winner of the 2014 CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge, converted an old T-shirt manufacturing plant into a design center, complete with its own restaurant that serves fresh, organic and delicious lunches and Saturday brunches. Natalie’s Factory is located at 462 Lane Drive in Florence; Billy Reid’s flagship store is at 114 N. Court Street in downtown Florence.

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Funny thing about this part of Alabama: the residents here have been practicing farm-to-table eating since long before it became a fad. The food in the Shoals is, simply, fabulous, and there’s something for everyone. From Billy Reid’s showroom on Court Street, you could pick from a dozen different cuisines, all moderately priced, and all with reputations for fresh and delicious offerings.

yumm – florence photo/Abraham Rowe

Odette, at 120 N Court Street (256349-5219), has the state’s only certified mixologist, and the cocktails here are as interesting and delicious as chef Josh Quick’s menu offerings. Directly across the street, Ricatoni’s offers delicious Italian fare, including pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven; City Hardware, next door, has a slightly more upscale menu, and the cooks there share the oven (cityhardwareflorence.com). Yumm, located in the landmark Rogers Department

Store building, has fresh Thai food, including artfully designed sushi (yummthaisushiandbeyond.com). A favorite luncheon spot on Mobile Street is Dish Café, but get there early; its fresh offerings and daily luncheon specials draw a crowd. Within a couple of blocks, all easily walkable, you’ll find Rosie’s Mexican Cantina, barbeque at FloBama, pizza at the Pie Factory, and wine and beer at The Carriage on Mobile. Take a minute to stop by Jack o’Lantern Farms on Mobile Street; you’ll find a delightful assortment of fresh vegetables, baked goods, and local honey. Slightly out of downtown, visit English Village for great shopping. The area’s Rodeo Drive, English Village has dress shops, home décor stores, jewelers, a florist, and The Sweet Basil Café, another lunchtime favorite. English Village is at the corner of Darby Drive and Florence Boulevard. At night, Sperry’s, a steak house near McFarland Park, is the perfect spot for relaxing after a long day, or for entertaining. In Sheffield, George’s Steak Pit is also a Shoals area favorite, but check out Ichiban if you like fresh Asian food or Louisiana Bayou Foods in Tuscumbia for Creole fare. And if you like barbeque, better plan to spend a week or two. Bunyan’s, Rick’s, Dick Howell’s, and Smokin’ on the Boulevard all compete for the best barbeque in the Shoals, and it’s only fair to try each and every one. You won’t regret it.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS

Louisiana Bayou Foods – Downtown Tuscumbia photo/Danny Mitchell

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Florence is a college town, and the University of North Alabama, at the north end of Court Street, is one of the most beautiful pedestrianfriendly campuses you will ever see. Be sure to visit Leo and Una, brother and sister lion mascots who reside in

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Odette – Florence photo/Patrick Hood


photo/Danny Mitchell

photo/Patrick Hood

Harrison Plaza – University of North Alabama

The Ritz Theatre – Sheffield

a habitat near the center of campus, and spend some time at Harrison Plaza around the fountain there. There’s a frozen yogurt stand in the student union, called Frostbite, if you get hungry! Near Wilson Park, downtown, you’ll find the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts, a gallery, educational facility, museum, and a center for the coordination and promotion for cultural activity in the area. The center features annual exhibits and rotating exhibits by artists from the Southeast, workshops and classes for all ages, concerts, and interesting lectures and programs. Tuscumbia has Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s birthplace; it also has the Tennessee Valley Art Museum, a few steps away. Part of the museum’s permanent collection includes the Martin Petroglyph, a 3,000 pound boulder which depicts human footprints and snakes carved by the prehistoric people of northwest Alabama.

The fun part about life in the Shoals is the fact that there’s always something going on. From March through December, thousands gather in downtown Florence on the first Friday of the month for First Fridays, where artists, musicians, and entertainers show their wares and people enjoy the fellowship of a nice evening downtown. In May, the third weekend brings Arts Alive in Wilson Park, an art festival now going into its 30th year; June brings the Helen Keller Festival, and July brings the week-long W.C. Handy Festival, where music can be heard in almost every restaurant and venue in town. In October, Florence, Alabama’s Renaissance City, hosts the Alabama state Renaissance Faire. In between the big events, be sure to check out the smaller ones: The Shoals Theatre and the Ritz Theatre have full

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Spring Park – Tuscumbia photo/Danny Mitchell


Want to plan your trip in detail? The Florence/Lauderdale Tourism Bureau can help, in person, at their new location at 200 Jim Spain Drive in Florence (1-888-356-8687 or (256) 740-4141) or online at visitflorenceal.com. The Colbert County Tourism Bureau, located at 719 U.S. Hwy 72 West in Tuscumbia (colbertcountytourism.org) is another helpful resource. Both bureaus are good places to start your visit because the people there can help tailor an experience for you based on your interests. They have plenty of brochures and other resources that will help you plan so that you don’t miss a thing.

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schedules, including plays by the Zodiac Players and Center Stage. And visit una.edu to see what’s happening at the college. There’s no excuse not to get out, see things, and do!

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY One of the nicest things about this spot is the climate. The seasons here are distinct, but not extreme. Sure, it gets hot and humid in August, but it doesn’t last that long; most of the year, the weather allows outdoor activity. Water sports aren’t the only outdoor activities, either—if you like golf, you’re in luck. Muscle Shoals is on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (rtjgolf.com/theshoals) and the two courses on the banks of the Tennessee River are spectacular—and challenging. Blackberry Trail, the Florence municipal course, is an outstanding course, and Joe Wheeler State Park offers eighteen holes with beautiful scenery and lots of fun (alapark.com/Joe-Wheeler-State-Park-Golf).

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION There’s one more thing about the Shoals area that’s unique: its location. An hour to the east is Huntsville, one of the fastest growing cities in Alabama and the place that helped put man on the moon. Two hours south is Birmingham; Nashville is two and a half hours northeast, and Memphis is three hours to the west. The Natchez Trace Parkway is nearby; so is the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, the water route to the Gulf of Mexico. If you travel by boat, it’s a beautiful spot on the water; if you travel by RV, it’s camperfriendly.

And that might be the best part about this place, overall: the people here are happy to see you and want to make sure your visit here is a good one. That’s why some people come to visit and just never leave!


Florence, Alabama

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail on the banks of the Tennessee River photo/Patrick Hood

I’m Anne Bernauer and I want to be your Realtor® — for life.

Call 256-740-0706 or 256-710-5058 Email anne@annesellstheshoals.com Visit www.annesellstheshoals.com

Let our passion for boats work for you!

– Terry Miller

Over 1,600 U.S. Lakes

606-340-8652

water levels boat ramps marinas maps classifieds weather points of interest lake news

www.LakesOnline.com noalastudios.com

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Mac ’s songs have been called American anthems. His lyrics are rich with the values important to him: God, family, nature, Southern roots, a simple life.


Mac M Anally c

the Man Behind the Music TEXT BY Laura Anders Lee and Roy Hall » PHOTOS BY patrick hood

I

pull into the driveway of Mac McAnally’s house, a man whose lyrics are often stuck in my head, and double check the address. This can’t be it, I think. It’s too…well… normal. I walk past the open garage and see the screened-door open in back, and I let myself in. Mac casually greets me inside and tells me to go on through, he’ll be right there, just like I’m a neighbor coming over for a visit, not interviewing a music legend for a magazine. So there I sit in a rocking chair on the front porch of his 100-year-old Sheffield, Alabama, home, admiring the view of the river and waiting on Mac to tell me about his life. Mac arrives 15 minutes later, having showered after a morning golf game. He strums a few notes on his 1859 Martin guitar while he sits on the porch swing and talks.

Born in Red Bay, Alabama, and raised in Belmont, Mississippi, Mac was around music from an early age. His mother and grandmother both played piano for their Baptist church, and they often invited neighbors over at night to play music.

“That’s how we entertained ourselves,” said Mac. “We didn’t have a TV or telephone or radio. We were kind of late in the game for in-house entertainment. Our neighbors would bring over mandolins, saxophones, whatever someone had that made a noise.” Mac was a talented piano player and guitar player from a young age, so much so that his family felt it was God’s will that he be a musician. That’s why when at only 13 years old when Mac was asked to play in a band, at a state-line honky tonk in a wet county no less, his strict Baptist parents let him go. “They had never been in one and would never go, but they knew I wanted to play with other musicians,” he said. “Dean Linley, who worked at the Ford body shop and moonlighted as a country singer, made the pitch to my parents and assured them he’d pick me up and take me home each night. They paid me $250 a week. That was a lot of money in 1970. I was making as much as my parents.” So Mac played at the Circle E Club in Iron City, Tennessee, four nights a week, getting home at 3 a.m. and waking at 7 a.m. for school. He was bringing in as much money as his father was making as a school teacher and his mother was making as a worker in the Wrangler plant.

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“Dean was a good man, and he introduced me to country music,” said Mac. “My only other exposure to that point was gospel.” At age 13 and in a rough bar, Mac was too intimated to get off the stage during breaks, so he stayed and practiced his acoustic guitar. One night, some other musicians heard him playing and invited him to come to the studio with them. After that, Mac was hooked. At age 15, he left school to pursue music full time. “My dad was the assistant principal so it was a tough sell,” said Mac. “My parents would have envisioned me being a music minister at a Baptist church.” One day at Wishbone Studios, an artist never showed up, but the studio asked to hear some music from Mac and his friends. With some coaxing, Mac played them one of his original songs. “I had some songs, but honestly didn’t call them songs—I would just play the guitar,” said Mac. “My parents had never even heard them. I was shy.” The engineer decided to cut a record on the spot. That record contained the hit “It’s a Crazy World,” which made it to the Billboard Hot 100. Mac was 19.

“I write on this front porch. I’m more comfortable here than anywhere in the world. I’m sitting here on this river, and this house is paid for, and I’m a lucky son of a gun” – mac mcAnally “I was surprised at all of it,” said Mac. “I wore my grandfather’s overalls everywhere. Show business didn’t come naturally to me. Farm people are not raised to draw attention to yourself. Everyone in Belmont means what they say. Nobody in Belmont told me I was awesome, so I was surprised when others said I was good.” Mac’s first ASCAP check, which was more money than he had ever seen, was just $3,000 shy of allowing him to buy his father’s old homestead, which was for sale. It’s a good thing the check came up short because it would have given Mac the excuse to get out of the limelight and move back home for good. But he stayed put, and the rest is history. Mac is a songwriter, vocalist, producer, piano player, and master guitarist. In his career, he’s worked with such names as Hank Williams, Jr., Alabama, Ricky Skaggs, Linda Ronstadt, Amy Grant, Travis Tritt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sawyer Brown, Roy Orbison, and Dolly Parton. Several of his songs performed by Kenny Chesney have been major hits, including “Down the Road” and “Back Where I Come From.” He recently cut a song with Zac Brown, and LeAnn Womack invited him to sing on her 2014 release, The Way I’m Livin’. Mac has also produced nearly a dozen of his own records. And if that weren’t enough, he travels with Jimmy Buffett as a member of the Coral Reefer Band. “Jimmy heard that first record that I made, and he wrote me a note,” said Mac. “He said we were both Mississippi kids and both storytellers and that we’d be working together.” In May 2012, Mac was honored in his hometown of Belmont as part of the Mississippi Country Music Trail. And for the past seven years in a row, he’s been named the Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year, an honor that hits close to home.

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“Chet Atkins was my dad’s hero, and he won nine times,” said Mac. “Nobody has ever won more than three. The fact that I’m second to him I know would have meant a lot to my dad. I don’t think I’m deserving, but I’m grateful someone thinks I am.” Mac’s father passed away in 1982, and his mother passed away in 2006. But his family still remains close to his heart. In fact, his grandmother’s 1906 pump organ and his mother’s accordion are in his living room. And one of the reasons Mac calls Sheffield home is because it’s close to his roots. “All of this is close to my heart—my family center, my church center, my creative center,” Mac said, pointing out toward the river. “This is a special place. The Indians said it was the singing river. I don’t have a better explanation than that. People have come through here and made wonderful music for a long time. W.C. Handy, Roger Hawkins, it pours out of people. I write on this front porch. I’m more comfortable here than anywhere in the world. I’m sitting here on this river, and this house is paid for, and I’m a lucky son of a gun. Nobody appreciates it more than me.” Besides inspiration from the Tennessee River, Mac credits God for his natural gift. “I’m reverent towards the source of creativity,” said Mac. “I was raised in church and think it has something to do with God.” Mac definitely does have a gift from God. He’s been known to sit down with his guitar and words of an entire song literally just pop in his head and come out of his mouth. His songs have been called American anthems. His lyrics are rich with the values important to him: God, family, nature, Southern roots, a simple life. Mac has a family of his own—three grown girls who live in Nashville and help influence his musical repertoire. “My girls are always introducing me to new music,” said Mac. “I love the new stuff, but I’ve also been catching up. My early listening had a lot of gaps in it. When I heard the Beatles they had already broken up. I’ve gone backwards through their catalog and the Rolling Stones.” His youngest daughter says that modern country music is neither modern nor country, and Mac agrees. “There have been a few trends in music that made me wonder if we were done with melodies, if it were all computerizations,” said Mac. “It costs so much to market a modern record. There is so much research involved, like how to reach girls 18 to 24. Not all those overlays are good for music. We just need to make something that means something to us, and we’ll figure out who to market it to. Music by itself is one of the most fun and wonderful things in the world. It’s easy to forget that when you’re thinking about making up a song that pays the electric bill.”

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Mac says today he hasn’t had the time to sit down and write music as much as he’d like. His summer is jam-packed with tour dates with Jimmy Buffett and his own solo gigs. But when he does get home, he looks forward to playing golf and eating at some old favorites, such as George’s and Sperry’s, among others. “Jimmy will land his plane in the Shoals to get a Bunyan’s hotdog,” laughed Mac. “And my daughters will drive down for Jack’s breakfast and Trowbridge’s. I’ve got my spots.” To Mac, there’s no place like home. “I can do anything here,” he said. “Produce, write. I’m close to Nashville. It’s a wonderful balance living here. I’ve lived in the Shoals since 1976, and I won’t ever not have a place here.” As for the future, Mac says there’s not much left on his bucket list. “I got it all nailed 20 years ago, and I’ve been swimming in gravy since,” he laughed. “I don’t feel finished yet though. I know I have more music left to play and left to write. And that makes me happy. It’s all good.”

After the interview, I follow Mac inside to his piano.

There I stand in his living room as he sings “On Account of You” from his Down by the River album. I can’t help thinking that music is a whole lot better on account of Mac.


OUTDOOR RECREATION CAPITAL OF THE MID-SOUTH

You’re always close to something fun to do! Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians – half-way between Huntsville, AL and Memphis, TN – with over 50,000 acres of water, preserved recreational areas, bargain shopping, antique stores, museums, festivals and more! AUG 13-15 SEPT 4-5 SEPT 12 SEPT 26 OCT 2-3

Dulcimer Festival Iuka Heritage Day Festival & Car Show Belmont Bear Creek Festival & Car Show Burnsville Waterway Festival & Car Show Trash & Treasures along the Tenn-Tom Waterway - 50+ miles of County-Wide Yard Sales

This project is partially funded by Visit Mississippi

www.tishomingofunhere.org 1-800-FUN-HERE (386-4373) noalastudios.com

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66 » parting shot » Patrick Hood patrickhoodphotographer.com

the rockets’ red glare


70'

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Life on the Water, Summer 2015  

Destination: The Shoals, Mac McAnally: The Man Behind the Music, Land of the Noonday Sun, Great Waves of The New Deal, The Great Indoors, Go...

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