One of country music's most successful acts of all time will soon be back out on the road, as Alabama has announced their most extensive lineup of tour dates in close to a decade. The "Back To The Bowery" tour will launch on April 5 at the Alabama Theater in Myrtle Beach, SC, and will include several dates throughout the spring and summer months.
The tour marks four decades of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, and Jeff Cook -- all cousins -- playing music together. And, it all started at the Bowery, a club in Myrtle Beach back in March 1973.
"That was a time that was really special to me," Owen recalled to Billboard. "It was the first time I had left Jacksonville State University, and went to Myrtle Beach – me and a drummer friend of mine who knew a little bit about the beach. We went over there, and got the gig, but we had to start in March."
The first run at the Bowery only lasted a week, as Owen remembers. "I had to go back to school after that week because I wanted my degree. That was real important to me. It was really important in my line of thinking that we didn't forget about the first time we played at Myrtle Beach. It's just amazing that it has been forty years. I can't imagine. It's flown by. If the next forty years all go by that fast, I'll be lucky."
The band has done a few shows since their "American Farewell Tour" ended in 2004, but Owen stresses the band has no plans to return to the pace they toured in the 80s and 90s. "I've never wanted to do 180 dates or anything like that. It takes too much out of you when you sing, sing, sing, and it feels like your lungs are going to explode. I don't think we sing any easy songs. It's been a while, but I enjoy singing and playing. It just feels right to do some stuff this year. For me, it's just a happy time."
Though the dates commemorate the group coming together at the Bowery in 1973, the history of the cousins playing together goes back even further. "We actually got together and did music for the first time back in 1969 – me, Jeff, and Teddy. Teddy was the drummer. Another cousin we had played the bass, and I played the 12-string, Jeff played guitar and piano. We would get together and rehearse. One of my classmates from college was at the first show we did together, and said he felt we had a chance to do something."
Because of their talent, the young group was recognized by a local talent contest, and were awarded quite the prize. "We won a trip to Nashville to the Opry. They were just starting to do the Opry on Friday night. Jeff met Flatt and Scruggs, and I remember going to the Ryman – something my daddy had always talked about. I remember stepping out in front of the Ryman and seeing the L&C Building," he says, referring to one of the city's first major skyscrapers. "Now, Nashville doesn't look like the same city anymore, but it was a great experience."
Also on the agenda for the 2005 Country Music Hall of Fame members is their first cruise, the Alabama and Friends Festival at Sea - a four-night cruise from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas and Great Stirrup Cay - will set sail on October 24, 2013. It's a career first, says Owen. "I've never been on a cruise, so it will be interesting. I don't do boats much except the ones around home when I go fishing. I've never been on a big boat, so it will be very unique. But, we'll have fun."
And, could this reunion on the road lead to some new music this year? Owen hinted "I think there's a possibility of some new things coming out, maybe some new recordings."
- Country