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Alabama goes “Back to the Bowery”

By Dave B. Roberts - Staff Writer/Photographer

During my career as a music journalist, I have had the pleasure of covering some of the music industry’s biggest talent. When I was invited to attend Alabama’s exclusive “Back to the Bowery” Fan Appreciation show at the very place where it all started for the band, The Bowery in Myrtle Beach, SC, I was both thrilled and honored… not only as a member of Media, but equally as a fan. It just doesn’t get any bigger than this. Just to recap a little Alabama history: Alabama first formed in 1969, originally as Wildcountry, by Cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry hailing from Fort Payne, Alabama. The band worked for tips as the house band at The Bowery from 1973 to 1980 when they changed the band name to Alabama and eventually signing to industry giant RCA in 1980. During the ensuing years, the band picked up countless honors and awards. Alabama’s string of credits include 21 Gold®, Platinum®, and Multi-Platinum® albums, 43 #1 singles, over 73 million records sold and over 150 industry awards including eight country music "Entertainer of the Year" honors, two Grammys, two People's Choice Awards, their very own star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame." They were also named the Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music in 1989 and Country Group of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999 and most recently’s (April 2013) fan voted Best Country Band of All Time.

I had the pleasure of first seeing and meeting the band back in the mid-1980s and also interviewed Jeff Cook in 2011 for Extreme Guitars (Interview posted below), so as a true fan for more than 30 of their 40 plus year career span, it was a dream come true. Often times during my trips to Myrtle Beach and to The Bowery, I had often wondered what it was like to see this supergroup during their Bowery days. I never thought the possibility of ever seeing Alabama in this type of setting would ever come around again, yet here it was. As I made my way into the Bowery before the show, Randy, Teddy and Jeff could be seen casually roaming about the bar area reminiscing about the old Bowery days, watching the house monitors as they played old Alabama Bowery performance videos. There were absolutely no super egos here. Even as the band took the stage in front of this packed house, it felt more like reuniting with old friends or family rather than a superstar vibe. They were once again a bar band in the purest, most raw of settings; stripped down gear with house stage lighting. Even their set list was reminiscent of the old Bowery days as they played a string of old bar tunes just as they would performed them back in the Bowery days. Their set list included “King of the Road”, “Rocky Top”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “You are my Sunshine”, “Goodnight Irene”, “Sing Me Back Home”, “Are You Lonesome”, “Workin’ Man Blues”, “Goin’ Down The Road” as well as a handful of their early super hits, including: “Feels So Right”, “Dancin', Shaggin' On The Boulevard”, “My Home’s In Alabama”, & “Old Flame.”

As expected, the band’s talent, heart and love for their fans is just as big as it ever was. There is really no other way to describe this historical “Back to the Bowery” tour kickoff show at The Bowery as nothing less than pure magic, and I feel truly thankful to have had the opportunity and privilege to witness it. Alabama’s longstanding devotion to family, faith and their love of music, and equally their fans, is just as evident whether they are playing as a bar house band in front of 250 people, or in front of thousands of people in an arena. This Fan Appreciation show was just a hint of what the Alabama boys will have in store for the fans throughout the remainder of the “Back to the Bowery” tour, as well as many years to come.


Ax facts & Stats with legendary Alabama Guitarist Jeff Cook

By Dave B. Roberts

  • My name is: Jeff Cook.

  • My current job is: Lead guitar, fiddle for country super-group Alabama.

  • My hometown is: Fort Payne, Alabama though I now live in Guntersville, Alabama.

  • My current album project is: "Shaken, Not Stirred."

  • My guitar influences growing up were: James Burton, (guitar player for Elvis) and The Ventures.

  • The guitars I use are: in the past few years it is a Parker Fly. In the early years I used Stratocasters and Telecasters.

  • The strings and tunings I use are: Dean Markley.

  • My current rig consists of: rack mount line 6 preamp, 260 watt channel power amp & 12 inch speaker wedges, front & back.

  • The greatest invention for guitars is: Tremolo mechanism & computer guitar modeling of line 6 Variax.

  • My normal songwriting process is: No template. Sometimes the words come, sometimes the music.

  • My favorite guitar solo from our band: Not necessarily my favorite, but the most recognizable is the beginning of "My Home's In Alabama."

  • My favorite all-time guitar solo (another artist): No single one player. Guitarists are always reinventing themselves.

  • My favorite all-time song: I can't name just one. I like so many kinds of music.

  • Favorite song by our band: "Once Upon A Lifetime."

  • Favorite song to perform in front of an audience: "Mountain Music," (the crowd reaction is what makes this so great).

  • My Career Highlight thus far: Being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

  • My most embarrassing moment on stage: Dropped my double neck to a full house in Phoenix, Az.

  • Other than my guitar and amps, the one thing I cannot live without is: My guitar tuner.

  • The first song I ever mastered on guitar: "Hello Mary Lou."

  • My first guitar was: A $54.00 Silvertone from Sears & Roebuck.

  • The first time I ever heard our band on the radio: Middle of the night, on our way home from Greenville, S.C.

  • If I am only sure of one thing in life, it's: Life would be very dull without music. It is the soundtrack of life.

  • The one ritual I perform prior to going on stage: One last trip to the bathroom.

  • The exact moment I knew I would pursue a career in music was: When I finally got paid for doing what I loved to do.

  • The one thing most fans don't know about me: I am a good cook.

  • The best advice I can give beginning guitarists: Don't give up the first time your fingers split or get really sore. it is worth the pain.

  • CDs I am listening to right now: Into comedy cd's at the moment.

  • My 3 all-time favorite albums: 1. Dreamweaver-Gary Wright, 2. Beatles 65, 3. Hotel California, Eagles.

  • Favorite Junk Food: Dippin' Dots

  • My biggest pet peeve: People who allow their ego get so big, it ruins their career.

  • The word or catch phrase I use too much: "Imagine that...."

  • The hardest part of my job: Remembering which city we were in.

  • What I like to do in my time off: Fish

  • The first thing I do when I get home from touring: Lay Down.

  • Previous day job: Disc Jockey.

  • I couldn't imagine being on the road without: The drive to still want to play.

  • If I wasn't doing the musician thing, I could see myself working as: a producer, or somewhere in broadcasting.

  • My favorite movie: Star Trek.

  • My mission in life: get through it sanely, give myself as much as possible to my fans, wrap it up with dignity.

  • My guilty pleasure artist: The Eagles.

  • My next goal is: A new cd.

  • The greatest contribution guitars/music have brought to my life: Made a nice living for my family, while doing the thing I love.

  • Check out our website: &

  • The one musician I would love to work with but have not yet had the chance: Paul McCartney.

  • When it's all said and done, I want the world to remember me for: My contribution to music, type of person I always tried to be, and remembered more as a friend by my fans than a star.

    Copyright April 2013 Dave B. Roberts & is the web home of articles and interviews written by Dave Roberts. All Dave Roberts interviews & articles are available for use or FREE reprint ONLY by Permission and proper credits. Permission can be obtained by contacting All materials are Copyright 1999-2013 Dave Roberts and OnTourGuide Ent., All Rights Reserved.

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