Thumbs up to the Sundance Film Festival for giving the Shoals music scene a major presence at this year's event. Muscle Shoals musicians were featured Wednesday night in a much-anticipated prelude to the festival. The musicians included Percy Sledge, who got his start in the Shoals in the 1960s, songwriting duo Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, and John Paul White of the Civil Wars. On Saturday, the documentary "Muscle Shoals" was shown at the festival. The documentary features such artists as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Aretha Franklin and U2's Bono.
Thumbs up to all the caring people who donate blood in the Shoals. LifeSouth Community has issued an emergency appeal for donations, saying the supply has reached a critical low. The widespread flu outbreak, winter weather and unusually high demand by local hospitals has led to the problem, according to LifeSouth. The organization operates donor centers inside Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence and at 1208 S. Jackson Highway, Sheffield, behind Helen Keller Hospital. Please give.
Thumbs down to Alabama for flunking every category in the American Lung Association's report card on tobacco use. The organization awarded an F for tobacco prevention and control funding, smoke-free air ordinances, cigarette taxes, and cessation coverage. The Alabama Legislature should take action to reduce smoking and smoking-related illnesses with a statewide ban on smoking in public places. Florence is the only city in the Shoals where officials have shown the courage to protect residents against second-hand smoke.
Thumbs up to local videographer Wes Wages for his ongoing video series entitled "Made in the Shoals." Wages and other videographers have the goal of producing one short film per month, telling the stories of the Shoals. The films feature entrepreneurs and other creative people. The first film documents the work life of John Cartwright, who operates Rivertown Coffee Co. in downtown Florence. Music is provided by local musicians. The first film can by viewed at madeintheshoals.com.