Thursday, December 29, 2011

‘Cruisin’ the ‘60’s by Jerry W. Henry

I graduated from Tuscaloosa County High School in the class of 1964. Those high school years were filled with weekends of ‘cruisin’ or going from one drive-in restaurant to another. My generation was captured in the movie, American Graffiti, which spawned the TV series, Happy Days.
My friend, James Moore, who we called John Henry, had the baddest car in Tuscaloosa. It was a black 1936 Ford 3 window coupe. The ‘60’s was the peak years for customized cars and hot rods. We would go cruisin’ and that always included music. We knew every word to every song that came out of that radio.
Those were the days of DJ’s and one hit wonders. It was music you could sing along with. Music you could dance to. Music where love songs were really love songs. The Beatles came along about the time we graduated. Yes, those were great music years.
After graduation, the real world came into play. It was the Viet Nam era and most of us knew that military time had arrived. I was in the Air Force from 1964 until 1968. Those are what I call my “lost years” as far as music is concerned. We got some current radio when we were overseas. Needless to say we heard the protest songs off base and certainly not on armed forces radio.
After my time in military service, I became a protester too. I had developed some bad habits while in the service and I embraced the hippie movement. Then came my years of Mexican pot and Boones Farm. I do remember some things about some of those last years of the ’60.’ Music was changing and so were we.
Stay tuned for out trip through the ‘70’s.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alabama Songwriters by Jerry W. Henry

Fact: 97.7% of songwriters will never write a commercially successful song!

I would be willing to bet there are great songs in the dresser drawers of many Alabama songwriters. Some awesome with rip-my-heart-out lyrics, and melodies that fit perfectly and chord structures arranged better than anything that you will hear on radio.

There are others who have wonderful songs half completed. If you can’t complete them, why not find a writing partner?

Alabama has great songwriters. I have traveled over much of God’s green planet and folks everywhere know of our songwriters. The problem seems to be that Alabama songwriters don’t know how good they are. Those songs in that dresser drawer are to be heard. That half-written song will never be enjoyed if it is not finished.

Think about this, as long as that song stays in that dresser drawer you won’t earn a penny from it.

I have said it before and I will say it again now, Success=Great Song.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My transistor pocket radio. by Jerry W. Henry

I received this Channel Master six-transistor pocket radio for Christmas when I was in the sixth grade. It became my most prized possession. This radio led to my discovery of music artists like Jimmy Reed, Skip James, Howlin’ Wolf, Dorothy Love Coats and many more. I discovered the new sound of the blues and the sound of my generation, in sharp contrast to that of my parents.
Back then this small radio was a technological and engineering masterpiece. Their pocket size sparked a change in popular music listening habits, for the first time allowing people to listen to music anywhere they went. This radio went everywhere with me. Transistor radios were extremely successful because of three social forces — a large number of young people due to a post-World War II baby boom, a public with a disposable income during a period of prosperity, and the growing popularity of rock 'n' roll music. My transistor radio only received AM signals. AM radio uses a very simple amplitude frequency that produces long-range, but low-quality, broadcasts.
It only took a short while for this radio to get me into trouble. At night I would get underneath the bed covers and listen to what ever I could find. At times the AM signal would fade causing me to turn up the volume, usually just before the signal returned. This undercover method of listening was not to my father’s liking. He would come in and threaten to take away my radio if I didn’t turn it off and go to sleep. This problem was eliminated when I discovered there were earpieces that could make for true personal listening. That must have been when my habit of staying up late began to form.
Transportation back then was via bicycle. I lived in Northport on the Watermelon Road. I thought nothing of peddling to visit Johnny Montgomery at his family’s store down the Montgomery highway. That is all the way across Tuscaloosa and about a ten-mile trip one way. My ever-present transistor radio would be tuned to WVOK during these daytime outings.
Nighttime was the right time for radio listening. Because of the nature of AM radio you would receive ‘skips’ from stations far away. Back then there were always the powerhouse radio stations like WWL in New Orleans, WSM in Nashville and WLS in Chicago. Later came WDIA in Memphis where I first heard B.B. King and Rufus Thomas. Wolfman Jack and his super powered XERF “Border Radio” in Mexico could be heard if the weather was just right. Locally Tiger Jack Garrett was T-Town’s top jock as I entered driving age. Tiger Jack played many local or regional bands because the area was ripe with garage bands and their great original music.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For The Love Of Music by Jerry W. Henry

“There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.”  ~William P. Merrill

Whether you are the performer or listener to music for enjoyment, the result is the same; both are their own rewards. I grew up watching “I Love Lucy.” My grandkids are growing up playing interactive video games. As a society, we are losing our attention span and our ability to actively listen. Music bucks that trend.  Music teaches us to focus, to listen and to critically process what we hear. Music’s emotional effect is powerful physiologically.
Music is more than art. Through out history all cultures have created music. Music physiologically affects us as human beings. Music causes a noticeable physical reaction. This physical reaction is intensified with live performances.
Beyond music’s physical and emotional is it’s spiritual dimension. I believe people experience music at different levels. I also believe people live within different levels of spirituality. Spirit is the source of all supply. Spirit is from the Divine. Truth emanates from the Divine. We recognize truth when we hear it, because truth lies within each of us. We were created from truth. Music is truth. Music is from God. Thus we love music.
In a perfect world we would live in music. Our thoughts would be aligned with truth. We would put ourselves into a state of constant prayer. I believe prayer goes on inside of us all the time. Whether we know it or not, we are always in communication with Spirit, and the Universe is always returning to us the equivalent of our prayer. Our prayer is then projected out to whomever is in harmony with our needs, and that person will be brought to us to satisfy whatever need or desire we have. Abundance flows from Spirit.
Music is social, both listening and creating. It is about communicating with something more primal and stronger than spoken language. If you ask why one loves music, most will say it is because of the way it makes them feel. Some will say music is fun. Musicians say it is a way to be creative. They also say music is challenging. Regardless, performer and listener alike say it is a way to share intimately without talk or revealing him or herself in traditional ways.
We know that music has power. We don’t understand the way it works on the mind or heart. But we know it works and we love music because it works in all parts of our being. We are music.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Y’all Come Back by Jerry W. Henry

Y’all Come Back
We want to make Alabama Music (AMO) into a website that you visit everyday. We want to be interactive with you. First we need to know what you need from AMO? What help do you need to get to the next level?

Tell Mama ‘N’ ‘EM
We also need for you to tell all the music loving folks you know about AMO. This is the only way we will grow. As we grow we can offer more and more help to you. After all isn’t that the reason you found us, you were seeking resources to help you get to the next level?

Show us the $$$!
Artists and bands that have music for sale are listed on AMO. We only deal with companies that pay their royalties when applicable, thus Alabama musicians get paid. We also offer other products. Please click on the banners and check them out. There is also a donation connection where you can donate any amount your heart dictates.
For those that want to advertise with us, please send me an email at  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Origins of Alabama Music

I was born and raised in Alabama.  Growing up with Alabama music, especially during the ‘60’s garage band era, the explosion of original music greatly influenced much of my life. It’s kind of like the old saying; you can’t see the forest for the trees. I really didn’t know how wonderful Alabama music was until I left Alabama.
While in the Air Force I had the opportunity to hear music in a lot of foreign places. After my military service years, I lived in Panama City Beach for 12 ½ years where I got to hear Alabama bands playing the beach clubs.  I then spent 11 ½ years of my life in West Texas. There I was in the radio business. During those years I was involved in many radio-sponsored concerts.
Several concerts included Willie Nelson. One night while waiting to go on stage, Willie made small talk with me. He asked where I was from. I told him Alabama. He responded by saying that his lead guitar player was from Alabama. He then called Jody Payne over and introduced us. I asked what part of Alabama he was from. He replied, “A small town called Stapleton, near Mobile.” He asked where I was from, I told him Tuscaloosa and that was about the stint of our conversation, as he had to take the stage. (Before I start getting emails, I know Jody Payne was born in Kentucky.)
That moment in time “got me to thinking” about Alabama music and musicians having influence outside our great state. I began to research and the more I researched Alabama music and musicians the more I found them to be in virtually all genres, and could be found worldwide. The impact that Alabama has had on music is truly remarkable. The Artists A-Z section of Alabama Music (AMO) will bear this out.
That short conversation with Jody Payne inspired about 15 years of research. Then it took my partner, Sylvia Parker, and I another 1 ½ years to put this website together. It has been a labor of love that continues and will continue as more is added daily.
If you are reading this, I want you to be part of our movement to promote Alabama music and musicians. Just as the state of Texas got behind their music industry. We want you to support the vast and varied resource that is Alabama music.