Talk about some great entertainment in Fort Payne, this is the tops. I am talking about RadioVizions at the Coal and Iron Building every first and third Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m. Here is the concept; RadioVizions is a revival of a series from 1991-1993 that Russell Gulley (Director Big Wills Arts Council) produced at the Fort Payne Opera House. Back then they were supported by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the Lyndhurst Foundation. They chose to start a bit smaller this time, The Coal and Iron Building for a couple reasons. One is to showcase that building as a venue for cultural activities/programs and two is to keep costs down using the old concept of "packing" a small venue spreads word of mouth and excitement rather than a half empty, large venue. Fort Payne has a reputation of being a walk up town with small crowds. Eventually, cultural tourism will play a role similar to examples like, The Sucarnochee Revue in Livingston, Al. and Meridian Miss., also The "Rendezvous of the Cajuns" in Eunice La., a French Language Radio. The concept is successful in several communities and seems to be starting off well here.
The recordings will be edited into 30 min. programs for syndication to radio for broadcasts. Local stations, WFPA, WZOB, a sister Cullman Station, and a couple of others are slated to broadcast the finished programs. Also, we have through Stephen Foster, of Global Music Promotions and his program, Direct from Muscle Shoals, access to a network of over 500 internet and FM stations nationally and abroad. Alabama Arts Radio Network is also interested in broadcasting selected programs focused on Alabama Artists. The Recordings are also slated to be placed in the Alabama State Archives in Montgomery and The Alabama Music Hall of Fame for preservation and documentation of our musical heritage.
The basic concept is to present live musical performances, recorded before an audience as an enhancement of downtown activity and revitalization, promotion of cultural heritage and artistic contributions from our region, to raise awareness of our musical and traditional heritage, and use radio, possibly TV, as a tool to promote Fort Payne and DeKalb County.
I attended the Liz Wood Project with Joe Karacher, and plan to attend Peirce Pettis which will have transpired by the time you are reading this column. I love the whole setting in the Coal and Iron Building. It is comfortable, the sound is good and there is this certain cozy, warm ambiance in the room that makes you want to relax and enjoy. It just feels good and sounds good. I am so happy Russell and Dennis Gulley have gotten this great format started again. It is good for our community and it provides entertainment that is top quality and permanently recorded for radio and for the historical record. The Liz Wood Project played jazz with vintage standards at its best with the added treat of Joe Karacher, who is 98 years old and still played his clarinet like a young man. I was amazed.
As tourism director in DeKalb and as a board member for Fort Payne Main Street, I look forward to these RadioVizion sessions. They nicely fit into the re-development plans for Fort Payne and like most Main Street communities re-developing they become tourist’s attractions with lots of music, restaurants/bars, boutique shopping, museums and parks. Fort Payne is perfect for this and RadioVizions is a perfect fit for Main Street and for the Coal and Iron Building.