For the 11th year in a row, fashion designer Billy Reid opened his home base of Florence, Ala. to fans and friends from around the country for his annual festival, Billy Reid Shindig. The three-day affair featured performances by the Raconteurs and Margo Price, along with an elegant fashion show, unique baseball game and endless live music. Here are five of our favorite moments from 2019 Billy Reid Shindig.
Country and Americana stature Margo Price illuminated the Shoals Theatre with her bright presence and a voice to match on Saturday (Aug. 24). The 2019 Grammy Best New Artist of the Year nominee’s true grit and fearless songwriting is meant to be experienced live, as demonstrated by her electric set that intertwined a big band sound with country and blues. Her whimsical voice shone on the soulful “Tennessee Song” and “Do Right by Me,” along with an astonishing cover of “Son of a Preacher Man.” She also demonstrated that she’s as much a gifted musician as she is a singer, playing rapid-fire guitar and tambourine throughout her set. A true highlight came in the form of a striking new song, “Long Live the King,” which finds Price paying tribute to such icons as Elvis Presley and Martin Luther King, Jr., digging beneath the surface to paint a complete picture. “MLK was a Christian / He loved Ghandi, he loved girls / Grew up in segregation / But he saw another world / He marched and sang and stood for the poor / He swore on the fight but against the war / But they murdered him like Christ / ‘Cause he had a dream,” she sang with her pure vocals, making for one of the night’s best moments. She closed the show by throwing roses into the crowd before returning for an encore that culminated in a spirited cover of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” ultimately proving why she’s one of Nashville’s most revered artists.
The crowd who gathered at Shoals Theatre on Friday (Aug. 23) experienced a rare thrill as acclaimed rock band the Raconteurs delivered one of only a handful of shows in 2019, marking one of their first performances since 2011. From the moment they took the stage, frontman Jack White was as much a hype man for the crowd as he was a rock star, blazing the venue with high energy as the band relentlessly tore through each song, rarely giving themselves a break in between. They showed what dynamic instrumentalists they are as White shredded on guitar, piano and the organ during a set that included “Old Enough,” “Only Child” and new single “Help Me Stranger,” while the crowd was particularly enticed by “Top Yourself,” the band leaving the audience on a high. The Blind Boys of Alabama were equally as entertaining, keeping the crowd riveted and engaged with their soulful blues sound, including a rousing performance of “Amazing Grace” that brought the audience to its feet.
Shindig serves as an ample opportunity for Reid to display the beautiful pieces he’s been creating at his Florence storefront, and attendees were treated to an exclusive look at his Spring 2020 fashion line, one that’s filled with light and breezy pieces ranging from sweaters to dresses. Hosted at Geronimo Gymnastics, Reid transformed the space into an elaborate runaway setting decked out with giant nylon fans that looked like floating umbrellas, the light shades of white, orange, green and white matching the neutral colors of Reid’s new creations. Sophisticated models strutted past guests seated in pews as a live band elevated the experience, showing off sleek and subdued pieces including a light gray sweater, an all-denim women’s ensemble and a soft orange maxi dress that added a pop of color, Reid’s work earning him a standing ovation.
Alabama Slammers vs. Warstick Woodmen
It was not your typical baseball game as Reid’s amateur baseball team, the Alabama Slammers, faced off against White’s team, the Warstick Woodmen, on the field at University of North Alabama. Reid channeled his designer style into the team’s uniforms that featured neutral colors and flowing jerseys, reflecting the nature of the pieces in his fashion show, while White’s team was decked out vintage-looking dark gold silk uniforms. With White serving as first baseman and Reid on the pitcher’s mound, a mariachi band added flair to vibrant renditions of Zac Brown Band’s “Toes,” Johnny Cash’s famous “Folsom Prison Blues” and Willie Nelson’s “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and “Whiskey River,” serving as a unique backdrop for the amiable game that saw the Woodmen come out as champions.
Shindig in the Park
As Price and the Raconteurs rocked the Shoals Theatre, several other talented acts entertained the crowd that gathered in Wilson Park. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought the sounds of New Orleans, while eclectic singer and instrumentalist Cautious Clay proved to be a noteworthy act, his incomparable voice carrying beyond the stage, permeating though the park. Meanwhile, guests dined on such savory dishes as the pimento cheese and heirloom tomato and fried chicken sandwiches prepped by Satterfield’s Restaurant out of Birmingham, along with bites by James Beard Award semifinalist chef Andy Ticer, Red Truck Bakery and more. Attendees also got a preview of the upcoming Ken Burns’ upcoming PBS documentary, Country Music, proving that Shindig provides guests with a one-of-a-kind experience that captures the ethos of the humble city.