“Muscle Shoals” to Screen at SXSW, a Small Town Story With American Music Iconic History


First time filmaker Freddy Camalier’s music documentary, “Muscle Shoals” will screen twice at SXSW Film Festival in Austin at the Paramount Theatre after having a hugely successful world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals became the unlikely breeding ground for some of America’s most creative and defiant music inspiring and luring artists as diverse as Keith Richards and Alicia Keys.

Here’s an overview:

In a tiny Alabama town with the curious name of Muscle Shoals, something miraculous sprang from the mud of the Tennessee River. A group of unassuming yet incredibly talented locals came together and spawned some of the greatest music of all time: “Mustang Sally,” “I Never Loved a Man,” “Wild Horses,” and many, many more. During the most incendiary periods of racial hostility, white and black came together to create music that would last for generations and gave birth to the incomparable “Muscle Shoals Sound.”

At the heart of the story is Rick Hall; overcoming crushing hardship, he managed to entice talent like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to come to Muscle Shoals and record what became their hit albums, backed up by the funkiest white men ever – the homegrown house band, The Swampers. As the word spread about the electrifying musical chemistry in this unexpected place, the likes of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Staple Singers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Simon and Garfunkel magnetically followed suit. Interviewing an incredible roster of musicians, director Greg Camalier unearths a rich history of this unheralded gold mine of American music.

 More About The Film:

Directed by Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier, the well-received, inspirational documentary takes a look at the iconic popular music, past and present, created in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  With undertones addressing racism and Native American history, the documentary reaches far beyond the town’s rich musical history.

“SXSW is the perfect home for our documentary Muscle Shoals.” said filmmaker Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier.  “Their melding of film and music aligns perfectly with our film which is also a true meeting of the arts.  I know this audience will be able to appreciate the great untold story of the spirituality, the magic and the range of music that was created in this small town in Alabama.”

Directed by Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier, Muscle Shoals is a feature length documentary about a place filled with magic and music, legend and folklore where the river is inhabited by a Native American muse who’s lured some of the greatest Rock and Roll and Soul legends of all time and drawn from them some of the most uplifting and important music ever created.  Music runs through the hills, the river, and the spirit of the people.  It’s a place where, even before the civil rights movement really took shape, the color of your skin didn’t matter inside the studio.

Under the spiritual influence of what the Native Americans recognized as the ‘Singing River’, the music created in Muscle Shoals is some of the most creative and defiant music in American history and changed the world while selling millions upon millions of copies worldwide. Legendary artists including Gregg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Cliff, Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Donna Jean Godchaux and many others bear witness to the magnetism and mystery of the place and why it remains a global influence and mystery today.

At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios.  Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, he brought black and white musicians together to create music that would last for generations while also giving to birth to the unique “Muscle Shoals sound” and the rhythm section The Swampers. FAME’s house band, The Swampers, left to daringly start their own studio and ultimately were immortalized in the American anthem, “Sweet Home Alabama,” where Ronnie Van Zant sings “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers….”

“I’ll Take You There,” “Brown Sugar,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,”  “I Never Loved A Man the Way That I Loved You,” “Mustang Sally,” “Tell Mama,” “Kodachrome,” “Sitting in Limbo,” “Freebird” and “Mainstreet” are just a few of the tens of thousands of pieces of music created there which are the rich and soulful soundtrack woven throughout the film.

Raw and candid interviews, inspiring music, live performances that include a never before seen or heard recording by Alicia Keys at FAME Studios of a Bob Dylan track originally recorded in Muscle Shoals, along with the magic of the milieu itself capture and convey this tale.

Photo: muscleshoalsmovie.com