The coronavirus pandemic is hurting what the Shoals is known for most, its music and musicians. The pandemic has led to canceled gigs and recording sessions.
“I lost dozens of things. I said I was going to play the New Orleans Jazz Fest,” said Shoals musician and guitarist, Will McFarlane.
McFarlane said the next couple of months were going to be big for him. He was doing countless gigs and recording sessions, but the coronavirus pandemic stopped all of that.
“A bunch of sessions at the Nutt House and FAME. A bunch of clients just canceled out, and of course, my weekly gigs are all canceled. It’s a substantial loss,” said McFarlane.
But McFarlane isn’t the only Shoals musician in this pickle. The sound engineers, lighting experts and studios are all in a standstill. About 200 musicians just from the Shoals are out of work.
“They went from rocking to zero income immediately and for the foreseeable future, because even if people go back to work, who knows when they will have shows again,” said President of FAME Recording Studios, Rodney Hall.
This is where Operation Drumstick steps in. Hall, the Muscle Shoals Music Association and First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Rogersville have all teamed up with Premium Mountaire chicken company to feed musicians, waiters, waitresses and others in the music industry who are out of work.
Last weekend, Operation Drumstick handed out 700 pounds of chicken to musicians and others. This week, they are doing a fundraiser, too. You can buy 40 pounds of boneless chicken wings or fillets and $5 of every sale will go to help out-of-work musicians.
“These guys that were helping out are usually the ones that are called on when something goes wrong, when there is a tornado or whatever. People want to raise money, they call on these guys to do shows, and they do them for free in almost every case, and now, it’s time to help them,” said Hall.
Operation Drumstick is setting up a vegetable garden, too, at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame so musicians can have fresh produce.