An Article by Johnny Cole | Photos by Stephen Anderson
On the evening of Monday, March 2, 2020, The Southland Music Line’s Johnny Cole, Stephen Anderson and Robby Amonett had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful evening of live music and discussion at the University of South Alabama’s Laidlaw Performing Arts Center in Mobile, Alabama. This year’s Annual Songwriter Keynote featured Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, acclaimed writer and music historian, Peter Cooper, and celebrated Austin musician, Will Johnson.
The evening was introduced by author, Frye Gaillard and was divided into two parts. Part one began with a speaking presentation by Peter Cooper, currently a writer and editor at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Cooper’s impressive resume includes being a long-time music journalist at The Tennessean, a Grammy-nominated producer, a highly-praised songwriter and a senior lecturer in Music History and Literature at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. Considered as one of Nashville’s most honored music minds and spokesmen, Cooper wrote the well received “Johnny’s Cash and Charley’s Pride: Lasting Legends and Untold Adventures in Country Music”. Listening to Cooper speak about roots music, Tom T. Hall, and an array of priceless stories was a gift to everyone in attendance.
Top photo: (from left) Roundtable discussion ft. Peter Cooper, Will Johnson & Patterson Hood, moderated by Pat Cesarini; Above photo: Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood
Part one continued with a roundtable discussion moderated by Pat Cesarini, an associate professor at the university. Cooper was joined by Patterson Hood and Centra-Matic’s Will Johnson to discuss songwriting and music from the heart. I believe everyone enjoyed both the opening presentation and roundtable discussion – I most certainly did.
After a brief intermission, Patterson Hood entered the stage to perform several much anticipated songs. The frontman of the very popular Drive-By-Truckers is the son of David Hood, who was a co-founder of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and one of “The Swampers” (Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section). The Drive-By-Truckers released their 12th studio album in January of this year. Patterson has been called by American Songwriter “the truest voice of the modern South currently making records.” Aside from his work with Drive-By-Truckers, he has released the solo albums Killers and Stars (2004), Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) (2009) and Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance (2012). During this performance, he was joined by Will Johnson, long-time lead singer of Patterson’s favorite band, Centro-Matic, who has, also released numerous solo albums, including 2019’s “Wire Mountain”. Former Drive-By Trucker, Jason Isbell calls Johnson “one of his favorite songwriters on earth.”
Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood and Centro-matic’s Will Johnson
The evening was captured live by music painter, Robby Amonett and the art work of Abe Partridge was featured on the program guides. Each person in attendance received a vinyl copy of the compilation album “IMC Volume One, which contained a collection of roots music gems by such artists as Charlie Parr, Gurf Morlix, Justin Peter Kinkel, Malcolm Holcombe, Ramsay Midwood, Ray Bonneville, Richard Buckner, Ryan Culwell, Tim Easton, The Tumbleweeds, Will Johnson and others.
We thank the University of South Alabama and the event sponsors – The Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Dept. of English, the Dept. of Theatre and Dance, the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, The College of Arts and Sciences, The Independent Music Collective and, especially, Justin St. Clair, associate professor at The University of South Alabama, for his work to promote music appreciation. Thank you, also, to Satori Coffee House in West Mobile.
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