Alabama could be considered one of the most iconic bands in country music history. Hailing from Fort Payne, Alabama (aka the Sock Capital of the World), founding members Randy Owen (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Jeff Cook (lead guitar) and Teddy Gentry (bass) crafted a trademark sound that mingled country with Southern rock sensibilities.
Their collaboration has allowed the trio to enjoy a career that has produced a dozen Top 10 albums and 41 No. 1 singles including classics such as “High Cotton,” “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” and “Dixieland Delight.”
Additionally, members of their highly dedicated fan base make pilgrimages from far and wide to visit The Alabama Fan Club and Museum in their hometown. When asked about the band’s iconic status, Gentry answers with the humbleness of a true Southern gentleman.
“Well, it’s quite an honor to have the success that we’ve had over the years and still be out here doing it,” Gentry said.
While the band’s history is filled with success, Alabama initially decided to end it with their American Farewell Tour in 2002. After three decades of touring, performing and recording, Gentry explained that he, Owen and Cook were ready to “go home and sit on the porch awhile,” with no inclination to return to the stage.
However, fate had a different plan for the group, and today the public has the band’s charitable nature and love for their home to thank for Alabama’s reunion. In 2011, the state was ravaged by a tornado outbreak that left death, destruction and thousands of homeless people in its path.
“When the tornadoes caused so much havoc in Alabama and killed so many people, we felt like it was time for us to come back out and try to help them,” Gentry said.
According to him, the reunited band has lost none of the magic it had in its earlier years. However, they are keeping their schedule at a manageable level with only 25 to 30 performances each year.
Alabama has also been busy in the studio. In 2013, they released “Alabama & Friends,” an album primarily featuring a lineup of modern country notables covering the band’s hits. When it came to deciding who would appear on the album, Alabama spread the word of the nature of the project. Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Jamey Johnson and many others contacted the band and laid down tracks. But Owen, Cook and Gentry entered the studio and contributed two new songs of their own.
The trio’s studio experience must have been a positive one. In early September, Alabama released “Angels Among Us: Hymns and Gospel Favorites.” This release is sold exclusively through Cracker Barrel and features old time church favorites such as “The Old Rugged Cross” and “I Saw the Light.”
Gentry also revealed that the band is in the process of planning their next release of country music. Gentry said fans can expect it as early as January or February, even though it has yet to be recorded.
“We’re still in the selection process and picking out songs,” he said. “We’ll record our first session at the end of October.”
BayFest attendees should expect a packed crowd at the AT&T/Southern Ford Dealers Stage for Alabama’s performance. As far as set list, Gentry said they will have a 90-minute set that will “mix some of the new with the old.”
Date: Friday, Oct. 3, 11 p.m.
Stage: AT&T/Southern Ford Dealers Stage