On The Road at The Scott Boyer Benefit in Muscle Shoals

Swampland Music
By: Michael Buffalo Smith, April 7, 2007
Posted: April 9, 2007

After a fun day with the Lopates (see my previous blog) we found ourselves at the Shoals Theatre in downtown Florence, Alabama for what promised to be a stellar all-star benefit concert. I had been looking forward to this one for quite some time, and The Mighty Field of Vision would not disappoint.

As always, Dick Cooper did a great job promoting and putting the show together, and everything came off like clockwork.

Upon arrival, I ran into Mighty Field of Vision member Melissa Michael, who was scurrying about looking for Cooper. Since I wanted to speak to Dick myself, I just followed her. Cooper was outside on the street getting ready to do a live interview for the local rock and roll radio folks. We spoke and I commented on his GRITZ t-shirt, which brought back a lot of memories of past shows we have done together.

While Jill took a seat down front, I set out on my networking jaunt, first heading backstage where I was greeted by MFOV Internet Radio DJ Mick at Midnight, another terrific guy and a good friend. Then I ran into Donnie Fritts, Dan Penn, and a few others in the tunnel on the way to the outside of the load in area. Once outside, I spoke with the man of the hour, Scott Boyer.

All money raised from the event will help to pay Boyer's medical bills from recent emergency surgery for an arterial disease.

Boyer was a member of Cowboy, an act signed with Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia, in the 1970s. He has most recently been the lead guitarist and vocalist for The Decoys and the Capricorn Rhythm Section.

As I was speaking with Scott, Paul Hornsby walked up with Charlie Daniels Band bassist Charlie Hayward, and we spoke briefly, before I walked over to Tommy Talton and started gabbing. Talton, the other half of the famous Boyer and Talton Cowboy act, is another fine musician and songwriter, and has been one of my favorite guitarists for many a year. Tommy walked out into the audience with me to meet Jill, just before I ran into my buddy Rick Broyles, who works with The Ghost Riders Band and runs R&R Productions, a video company.

Speaking of video, another friend, Dave Peck, along with his Peckster Vision partners were there taping the event, and it was great to see them again.

Pretty soon it was time for the show. Scott Boyer and friends (including Topper Price on harp) opened the show with his best known song, 'Please Be With Me,' and a few others in an acoustic setting.

The music just kept coming, and it was all good, including a red hot set from Microwave Dave and The Nukes, another Alabama export that never fails to please, as well as two songs from Canadian soul man Danny Brooks that ran a chill throughout the audience. Someone commented that he possesses an 'ancient' voice. He is definitely one of the best.

Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham blew the crowd's mind with their piano and guitar duet act, performing many of their huge hits like 'I'm Your Puppet,' 'Dark End of The Street' and the immortal 'Cry Like a Baby.' Sweet soul music never sounded better.

The Decoys, featuring Boyer, Kelvin Holly (guitarist for Little Richard), Muscle Shoals Swamper David Hood, NC Thurman, Mike Dillion and guest artists that included legendary FAME drummer Jerry Carrigan, and a four-piece horn section. 'Shot from the Saddle' rocked, as did their entire set.

At one point, I made my way to the balcony to get a few bottles of water. Mitch and Cheryl had chosen to sit up there, but I remained down front so that I could take photographs. On the way up and back, I ran into all sorts of old friends. It was just plain fun.

It was a real treat to see Billy Swan perform again, and he rocked through two of his biggest hits, 'Lover Please (Please Come Back)' (with Bonnie Bramlett stepping out to sing backup) and the 5-million seller, 'I Can Help.'

The Capricorn Rhythm Section - Boyer, Talton, Johnny Sandlin, Bill Stewart, and Paul Hornsby played an excellent mini-set that included Talton's 'Watch Out Baby' and Eddie Hinton's 'Everybody Needs Love.' Charlie Daniels bassist Charlie Hayward sat in on a couple of songs as well, and was great as always. These guys are the bomb. If you get a chance to see them, do it.

The crowd went wild over a performance by brother and sister Angela and Zak Hacker, recent winners of first and second place respectively in the Nashville Star competition. They performed some of each of their songs before closing with an excellent cover of 'Hard to Handle.'

Next up was 'The Leaning Man of Alabam',' Funky Donny Fritts, who performed a few of his timeless writings, closing with Bonnie Bramlett, and Zak and Angela Hacker singing backup on 'Memphis Women and Fried Chicken.' It was rocking.

The show closed out with Southern Rock Soul Sister Number One herself, Bonnie Bramlett, singing her heart out on several tunes that included her Capricorn hit 'It's Time' and a cover of Eddie Hinton's 'Cover Me.' She, like many of the other acts on this night, received a joyous standing ovation.

Back at the hotel, the rumored after jam never happened, simply because it was too late. I visited in Tommy Talton's room for a while with he and his wife and her friend, Bill Stewart and Charlie Hayward. Later we all made our way to the Presidential Suite for the VIP After Party, where Tommy Talton made me laugh so hard with his impressions I thought I would die. He, Hayward, Stewart and others continued the discussion of movies that we had begun downstairs, and had a good time talking to old friends and new ones. By the time I finally crashed back at the room it was 4 am.

On the way out the next morning at around 11:30, we dropped back by Tommy Talton's room and said goodbye to everyone and thanked them all for a great time. It was a wonderful show. Now all we had to do was hit the road. We would arrive back home, shaken and stirred but safe at around 10 pm.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.