Patterson Hood responds to Bob Lefsetz regarding an Alabama Shakes email from yesterday.
“From: Patterson Hood
I’m sure you have been inundated with letters (pro and con) about your column about Alabama Shakes.
Taste is rather subjective and I’m not going to waste yours or my own time trying to convince of their charms.
I’m really only responding because I awoke this morning and was forwarded some bullshit with my name all over it telling some story of how I supposedly have created this huge hype machine for said band and how I have overnight become a “Tastemaker”.
(Shit, I wish).
I’ve made it my policy of never answering bad reviews nor giving much thought to anonymous postings, but since your blog goes out to surely dozens of people (I’m a pretty big fan myself, even when I disagree and more often I don’t) and there were allegations that I am somehow profiting from “the hype”, I thought that I would at least clear up a couple of factual errors.
For the record, I have ABSOLUTELY NO FINANCIAL TIES TO ALABAMA SHAKES.
I did stumble onto them fairly early and have been an unabashed cheerleader of their virtues.
Short of offering them shows opening for my band in huge media hot spots like Tuscaloosa Alabama, Savannah Georgia, Winston/Salem North Carolina and most importantly Macon Georgia, I have really NO role in any of this.
I sure wish I did, as I would love to be a real part in some kind of cultural phenomenon. I’m pushing fifty and touring all of the time makes my back hurt and I miss my kids, but I’m not going to get into all of that.
I first saw them at a small record store in Florence Alabama (that hot bed of buzz). All of the record shelves were pushed back and they were playing without monitors. I came to find out when they opened for us in Tuscaloosa that they had never used them until a week or so earlier. (That might explain why Brittany faces the band a lot of the time). I was enthralled and I woke up the next morning with a couple of their songs still stuck in my head. I learned that they had been woodshedding for a few years in their practice space outside of Athens Alabama (another hot bed of buzz, I believe) and taking the money they earned from shitty day jobs (Brittany was a mail sorter at The US Post Office and Steve, the drummer was a night watchman at Brown’s Ferry Nuclear Power Plant) and recording songs at the cheapest studio they could find.
As for what has happened since… Well, I haven’t ever had a front row seat for anything quite like it. I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing a band that I felt such an overwhelming fondness for catch on like that. As it turned out, maybe Tuscaloosa Alabama was a pretty good hot spot since Ann Powers was there and she has written some swell things about them. (She did the same with us back in 1999 when we were as unknown as could be). The folks who manage us have picked them up and that’s a great thing because I love them dearly and they are honest and hard working and I sure wish they had been managing us when we had the big buzz in 2001-2002, if they had I might not be having to tour 150 days a year at nearly 48. That Zales commercial they helped them get has enabled them to quit Brown’s Ferry and USPS and now they are out on the road (with monitors, I presume) and getting that all important seasoning. I know that in the two months between when they first opened for us and the last time, I saw one of the most spectacular improvements I’ve ever seen, as they totally blew us off the stage in Winston/Salem and I don’t cotton to that much at all.
I doubt they will be opening for us much longer and I’m glad for them, but I will miss them because they make us play better shows.
As for Mr. Anonymous Sour Grapes Guy, (wish you’d signed your name, I probably know you) all I can say is there is all kinds of dues paying. I’ve toured over 2000 shows in the last fifteen years and it’s hard work, but I’d much rather be doing that (even in a van) than working at a fucking nuclear power plant. Hang in there buddy, I didn’t get my big break until I was 38 years old (Southern Rock Opera). Fight for your dreams and sometimes you get lucky.
Merry Christmas and all that bullshit.
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