Rebirth Of Cool: Inside The Billy Reid Shindig
“This place used to be cool,” said Austin, the shaggy-haired high schooler who’d shouldered his way through the crowd to stand beside me at the Alabama Shakes show on Friday night.
I looked around us. The Shoals Theatre, a mid-century auditorium filled with old-school carpeting and rickety seating, looked cool enough. I asked Austin to clarify.
“I mean this city,” he explained. “Florence. The Shoals. Baby boomers used to listen to good music here, and bands like the Rolling Stones used to come to town, but now the baby boomers have grown up and no one cares about cool music anymore. We’ve become a retirement community.”
On this particular evening, though, Florence seemed like the coolest town in the South. Billy Reid, hometown hero and international clothing designer, had chosen Alabama Shakes to headline his fourth annual “Shindig,” a weekend-long party revolving around music, fashion and comfort food. Musicians like the Civil Wars’ John Paul White were milling around the Shoals Theatre lobby, and well-dressed fashionistas in white pants were crowding the concession area, hoping to grab a drink between Jonny “Corndawg” Fritz’s opening set and the Shakes’ first song. No Rolling Stones in sight, perhaps… but no baby boomers, either.
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