Documentary at film festival right at home in Macon

Muscle Shoals’ focuses on famed recording studio, also highlights contributions to Southern rock

pramati@macon.comFebruary 26, 2014 

  • The ninth annual Macon Film Festival begins Thursday morning and ends Sunday. Movies will be playing all day at three venues downtown: The Cox Capitol Theatre, 382 Cherry St.; the Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Blvd.; and the 567 Center for Renewal, 533 Cherry St. For ticket prices, a interactive schedule and other information, visit or the festival’s headquarters at 567 Cherry St.

As the ninth annual Macon Film Festival kicks off Thursday, the night’s special screening will have a hometown feel -- even though it’s named for a city in Alabama.

While “Muscle Shoals” focuses on the musical talent that came out of the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in the Yellowhammer State, part of the documentary deals with one of the most distinctive genres the studio contributed to: Southern rock.

When promoter Phil Walden was helping create Capricorn Records in Macon in 1969, he recruited guitarist Duane Allman, who in turn recruited his brother Gregg and other musicians in Muscle Shoals who would eventually form The Allman Brothers Band.

“I knew a little about Phil Walden and Capricorn (when starting to make the film), but not that much,” said Greg “Freddy” Camalier, the film’s director. “It’s definitely going to be a great audience. I’m looking forward to it.

“There’s a lot of history (in Macon), a lot of music lovers in that house. It should be awesome.”

Macon Film Festival President Terrell Sandefur said he saw “Muscle Shoals” at the Sundance Film Festival.

“It’s an amazing film,” Sandefur said. “It was destined to be (in the Macon Film Festival). There are a lot of references to Macon, to Capricorn, to Phil Walden.”

Camalier said he knew little about the music history of Muscle Shoals until he and a friend were driving cross-country.

“It was a profound experience,” Camalier said. “We ended up staying for the whole day. I was really moved by the history. I had no idea the totality of its contribution to American music. (I thought) ‘I can’t believe this story hasn’t been told. We should make a film about this.’”

Camalier interviewed the likes of Gregg Allman, Jaimoe, Bono, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Alicia Keys and other famous musicians for the documentary. The film celebrates Rick Hall, who founded FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.

The documentary will be screened at the Cox Capitol Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Camalier will be a special guest to discuss the documentary before he leaves town Friday to attend the Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction.

The film festival will have other notable guests, including actor Matthew Modine, who will take part in a forum Saturday afternoon before screening his movie, “Birdy,” on Saturday night.

The festival will show movies throughout the day from Thursday through Sunday night at the Capitol, the Douglass Theatre and the 567 Center for Renewal. The festival will close Sunday night with the Academy Award-nominated “Nebraska,” followed by a live broadcast of the Oscars at the Capitol.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.