Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Hosts Campus Events, Showcases Talent Throughout 2013 W.C. Handy Music Festival
Jul. 17, 2013



W.C. Handy (1873-1958)By Terry Pace, Communications and Marketing

FLORENCE, Ala. – For more than three decades, the W.C. Handy Music Festival has proved to be a soothing, soul-stirring late-summer favorite for music fans throughout the Southeast.

The festival – which honors the life and legacy of the world-famous “Father of the Blues,” Florence native W.C. Handy (1873-1958) – fills the “St. Louis Blues” composer’s native region of northwest Alabama with blues, jazz, soul, gospel, rock ’n’ roll and rhythm-and-blues for 11 tune-filled, toe-tapping days.

As always, this year’s Handy festival – which begins with preliminary events Thursday, July 18, and continues through Sunday, July 28 – represents a vibrant, fruitful musical partnership with the University of North Alabama.

Campus-related Handy events range from the W.C. Handy Jazz Camp (an intensive youth-education program and pre-Handy event that took place on campus in June) to the climactic Headliner Concert by Grammy Award-winning blues artist Keb’ Mo’ set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at UNA’s Norton Auditorium.

“UNA has an immense amount of talent to contribute to the Handy festival,” according to Amanda Abernathy, a UNA senior journalism student from Athens who is working as a student intern in the Handy headquarters this summer.

“The festival covers such a wide range of activities,” Abernathy insists. “UNA students, faculty and staff have a chance to explore the many outlets available to showcase their talents with the community, whether it be musical in nature or something else altogether.”

One of the premier Handy events associated with UNA this year is the annual Handy All-Stars Concert by Ray Reach and Friends that takes place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 26, in the all-new Mane Room music-showcase venue located in the UNA Department of Entertainment Industry complex in downtown Florence. The performance – which features tributes to Nat “King” Cole, classic crooners and other jazz legends – will be recorded live. 

‪”Having the Handy All-Stars show and recording session gives us the opportunity to invite the community into our newly renovated facility for a world-class show,” noted Dr. Bob Garfrerick, director of UNA’s Entertainment Industry program.

“The added bonus is that a few students get to have the hands-on experience of producing the show and recording it,” he explained. “Few students get the chance to work with talent on this level at this point in their careers.”

UNA-related Handy events for 2013 include:

  • More Than Just Blues: Health Awareness, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, July 22, Baptist Campus Building, UNA Campus, sponsored by the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Nu Eta Zeta Chapter. (Free)
  • The Ray Brothers, 7 p.m. Monday, July 22, Mane Room, UNA Entertainment Industry Department, downtown Florence. (Free)
  • Two Screening Room film showings at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library in downtown Florence: Jerry Wexler: Immaculate Funk (2000), at 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, and The Last Waltz (1978), at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 25, hosted by film and music historian Terry Pace, who teaches English at UNA, along with special guests from the Muscle Shoals recording industry. (Free)
  • The 300 Show, 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, Mane Room, UNA Entertainment Industry Department, downtown Florence, featuring members of the Entertainment Industry 300 songwriting class performing original works in the round. (Free)
  • Five-Band Show, 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, Mane Room, UNA Entertainment Industry Department, downtown Florence, featuring Ramble Tamble, The Old Souls, Cheap Thrill Deville, The Lonely Gales and SCM Electrix. (Free, but donations will be accepted at the door)
  • Coaches Vs. Cancer: Howlin’ Mad for a Cure, 6 p.m. Thursday, July 25, featuring a “Tour of the South” cuisine multi-course dinner at Pickett Place, downtown Florence, featuring music by Delta Blues Foundation member Bill “Howlin’ MADD” Perry and Band. ($80 per person, $150 per couple, with tickets available at Pickett Place or the American Cancer Society)
  • Music and Food Fest on North Court Median, 6-10 p.m. Thursday, July 25, North Court Median at Coby Hall and Rogers Hall on the UNA campus, co-sponsored by the UNA National Alumni Association. (Free)
  • Listening Room: Songwriters Night, 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, July 25, Zodiac Theatre, downtown Florence, featuring singer, songwriter, producer and UNA Entertainment Industry faculty member Walt Aldridge, plus Donny Lowery, Eric Dylan and James Slater. (Free)
  • Recorded Live: Open to the Public!, 6-9 p.m. Friday, July 26, a live Handy All-Stars Concert and recording session featuring Ray Reach and Friends, Mane Room, UNA Entertainment Industry Department, downtown Florence ($5 at the door)
  • Headliner Concert: An Evening With Keb’ Mo’, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, UNA’s Norton Auditorium, co-sponsored by the UNA Department of Music and Theatre. ($40 general admission)
  • The Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in downtown Florence is also showcasing works by UNA students, faculty and staff in both the “Mostly Blues – Art With a Musical Flair” exhibit as well as a display of entries in the 2013 W.C. Handy Music Festival Design Competition. This year’s winning poster design was created by a team of two UNA students, sophomore Mackenzie Kimbrough of Tuscumbia and freshman Maurice Mull of Tanner.

“The Handy festival offers so many opportunities for students to network and get involved with the community and gain first-hand experience working with community events and learning the work that goes into event planning and scheduling,” Abernathy observed. “UNA-hosted Handy events offer people who normally have no ties to the campus community a chance to see what UNA is all about and the work that happens here.”

For a complete schedule of 2013 W.C. Handy Music Festival events, or for more information, visit www.wchandymusicfestival.org, or call the Handy office at 256-766-7642.

A photo of W.C. Handy is available for media use at: http://www.unalionsden.com/archive/photo.php?id=7497