Even though the area is well into September, many are still taking advantage of summertime temperatures and ocean side indulgences, especially on Dauphin Island. The official beach season may have ended on Labor Day weekend, but the South Mobile County Tourism Authority’s latest installment of the Seagrass Concert Series is proof Dauphin Island has at least one more beachside party left before the cooler weather hits the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Ft. Gaines serves as a unique venue for this concert series, which boasts the finest in roots music. For this installment, the authority is bringing two musical acts that should pack the walls of this historic venue.
Jimmy Hall & Friends will lay the foundation for this party as the concert’s opening act. As the front man for Wet Willie, Hall is one of the iconic figures of the Southern rock glory days of the Georgia-based Capricorn Records. Over the years, Hall has remained one of the busiest musicians in the industry. He serves as Hank Williams, Jr.’s bandleader, a musical hired gun and a revered solo musician in his own right. His life and career experiences have led Georgia bands such as Blackberry Smoke and Zac Brown Band to seek him out for both his musical talent and knowledge.
“I just do what I do, and they ask questions,” Hall said in a recent interview with Lagniappe. “Every once in awhile, I’ll be like, ‘You know, you guys ought to try this’ or ‘This is how we did it’ or ‘This is what worked for me and that’s how I’m still here and having fun playing music.’ That’s all I can do. It’s just fun that they really appreciate what I and Wet Willie have done and our legacy.”
Hall went on to explain that he has been spending quite a bit of time hanging out in his old stomping grounds of Atlanta and Macon. During this time, he has found the legacy of Southern rock is finding new life with younger bands. In fact, the “Friends” in Jimmy Hall & Friends are a young foursome from Georgia called Freddy’s Finest. This group’s bassist Michael “Hurly” Hurwitz has performed with Hall on various gigs and through different line-ups. Eventually, Hurwitz joined with guitarist Ian Newberry, keyboardist Spencer Pop and drummer Will Groth. Hurwitz presented Freddy’s Finest to Hall, who saw great potential with the group. In recent months, Freddy’s Finest has backed Hall at shows throughout Florida and the Carolinas.
“When you come from that area, then you’re definitely aware of the Allman Brothers and you’re aware of Wet Willie,” Hall explained. “You cut your teeth on it, because it’s the heritage in that area. They got great chops and deep cuts as far as their breadth of knowledge of music that we played in that era, as well as modern funk and soul.”
In addition to all of his other work, Hall is busy writing songs in collaboration with Grammy Award winning songwriter Kenny Greenberg (Taylor Swift, Brooks & Dunn). He promises this will have all the grit, soul and passion his fans love. He is also looking forward to performing to his hometown crowd on Dauphin Island at the Seagrass Concert Series.
“It was the closest beach to me,” Hall said. “We would all go to Dauphin Island when I was in high school. We had some fun down there on many occasions. I think there were a couple of musical events that Wet Willie got involved in, but nothing as well-organized and iconic as this venue and how it’s set up.”
Delbert McClinton will be the evening’s headliner. This performer has gathered fans from across the generation with his hybrid of blues, rock and country. McClinton is celebrating the release of the album “Blind, Crippled and Crazy,” which is a collaborative effort with longtime friend Glen Clark. This roots music duo recorded and released their first songs together in 1973. Since then, they both have travelled different career paths in the music industry, but their friendship has remained strong. For McClinton, the release of this album has been a long time coming.
“Glen and I have been talking for years about doing this,” McClinton said. “In the last couple of years, we started talking more about doing it. Earlier this year, we did it, and we had so much fun. We cut all of these tracks in two days.”
From listening to this album, it is not hard to see that this was a musically beneficial experience for these two. “Blind, Crippled and Crazy” is classic McClinton accented by not only Clark’s songwriter’s pen but also his harmonies. This album is filled with ragged out shuffles, such as “Been Around a Long Time” and countrified rock tunes such as “Peace In The Valley.” This album also finds gentle passion with “Just When I Need You.” In addition to Clark, McClinton also recruited producer Gary Nicholson to help out with the songwriting as well as his son Clay McClinton, who contributed “Oughta Know.”
“He just keeps getting better all the time,” said McClinton. “We’re trying to find a place for him, and we’ve had some good interest in it. It’s a really good record, and it’s the best he’s ever done. He and I and Gary Nicholson wrote most of the stuff for it, and we had fun doing that. He reminds me so much of myself years ago. He eats, drinks, and thinks music. I do too, but to a much lesser extent than I used to. He goes at it like there’s hope.”
McClinton’s performance at Ft. Gaines should be quite memorable. Part of the show will feature McClinton’s material. Then, he will be joined onstage by Clark, and the duo will perform their material. McClinton admitted that they are “like kids” when they perform together. In addition, there might be more surprises in store for the Seagrass audience. Hall and McClinton are no strangers, and they have performed together in the past. McClinton hinted there may be a live collaboration between himself and Hall at the concert.
The Seagrass Concert Series will be a “festival style general admission” event that admits all ages. Those who are planning to attend are encouraged to bring their own seating. No outside coolers will be allowed. However, there will be vendors on site to provide refreshment at this hot beachside event.
Seagrass Concert Series feat. Delbert McClinton and Jimmy Hall & Friends
Date: Sat., Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.
Venues: Ft. Gaines, 51 Bienville Blvd.
Tickets: $40 avail. at ACP Real Estate on Dauphin Island and online at http://seagrass.eventbrite.com