SOURCE: ASCAP

July 25, 2005 16:33 ET

W.C. Handy Music Festival/Songfest 2005 Means Great R&B, Jazz, Rock, Gospel, Country, Golf and Fishing in North Alabama

ASCAP Joins With The Music Preservation Society, The Muscle Shoals Music Association and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to Present July Music Festival

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 25, 2005 -- ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) has joined with three of Alabama's leading music organizations -- The Music Preservation Society, The Muscle Shoals Music Association and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame -- to present the W.C. Handy Music Festival/Songfest 2005, a unique weeklong music festival (July 22 - July 30), which celebrates the very fertile musical ground of northern Alabama. Florence, Alabama, was the birthplace of ASCAP member W.C. Handy (1873 - 1958), revered worldwide as "the Father of the Blues," and composer of the enduring classic, "St. Louis Blues," recorded by everyone from Bessie Smith to Chet Atkins to Leonard Bernstein. Just across the river is Muscle Shoals, the legendary Alabama music center where countless memorable sides were committed to tape by the likes of artists ranging from Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Arthur Alexander, Tommy Roe, Otis Redding, Etta James and Bobby Blue Bland to Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, George Michael, Mac Davis, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, Paul Simon, Joe Cocker and Willie Nelson, among many others.

The featured artists for this year's W.C. Handy Music Festival/Songfest include the Grammy Award-winning Commodores ("Brick House," "Three Times a Lady") and Eddie Floyd ("Knock on Wood"), pianist-composer Ellis Marsalis (New Orleans jazz legend and patriarch of the Marsalis family), and one-man-band and blues musician Richard Johnston. In addition, there will be six evenings of Songwriters in the Round, highlighting contemporary songwriters performing their own songs at Swampers, the restaurant at The Marriot Shoals Hotel and Spa. A wide range of performers and musicians are slated for more than 150 events throughout the week.

The week will also be highlighted by a golf tournament, a Tri-State Century Bike Ride, a catfish fishing tournament and a "walk-and-run" foot race. For details on these and all events, please visit http://www.wchandymusicfestival.org/.

Musical highlights include:

Richard Johnston creates a blues trio, by himself, playing a snare drum, tom-tom, a bass drum and a high hat all with pedals controlled by his feet, as well as his custom-made guitar, the "hill harp," constructed from a cigar box, two broom handles and guitar strings, as much fun to see as hear. Johnston joins a half-dozen other musical groups at the free Riverside Jazz event on Friday, July 29, 2005 from 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Bring a lawn chair; sit back for an evening of music by the beautiful Tennessee River.

Ellis Marsalis is one of New Orleans' premier jazz pianists and composers, as well as a renowned music educator. Among his students are Harry Connick, Jr., Terence Blanchard and Marsalis' musician sons: Wynton, Bradford, Delfeayo and Jason. Ellis has appeared on numerous television programs, including: "Today," "The Tonight Show," "Arsenio Hall" and "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." Ellis Marsalis will be headlining the 2005 festival at Norton Auditorium on July 30, 2005 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets for this event will be $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Scheduled for the Songwriters-in-the-Round shows at Swampers at the Marriott Shoals are:

Monday, July 25th
Walt Aldridge
Greg Barnhill
Donnie Lowery

Tuesday, July 26th
Marty Raybon
Randy McCormick
Mickey Buckins

Wednesday, July 27th
Gary Nicholson
Donnie Fritts
Brad Crisler
Chris Tompkins

Thursday, July 28th
Russell Smith
Dave Gibson
Gary Nichols
Wes Loper

Friday, July 29th
Monty Powell
Anna Wilson
Gordon Kennedy
Jason Matthews

Saturday, July 30th
Post Handy Jam featuring The Decoys
All Swampers shows begin at approximately 8 p.m. except July 30, which begins at 10 p.m.

The W.C. Handy Music Festival, July 22-30, is an event for the entire family. Tickets are available at the Festival Office located at 217 Tuscaloosa St., Florence, AL. The Festival phone number is 256-766-7642. Information is also available on the W.C. Handy Festival website at http://www.wchandymusicfestival.org.

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading Performing Rights Organization in the U.S., representing the world's largest repertory which totals over 8 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 210,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members. Additionally, ASCAP represents the works in the repertories of 70 affiliated foreign performing rights organizations created by many thousand affiliated international members. ASCAP is committed to protecting the rights of its members by licensing and collecting royalties for the public performance of their copyrighted works, and then distributing these fees to the Society's members based on performances. Unlike the other American Performing Rights Organizations, ASCAP's Board of Directors is made up solely of writers and publishers, elected by the membership every two years. www.ascap.com

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