WC Handy Music Festival

wc handy music festivalWhat happens when you cram 300 musical events into 10 days? You get the WC Handy Music Festival. Because that many events is more than a little overwhelming to navigate, I’ve done some of the legwork for you and created a handy guide to the festival events. I’ve gone through all 300 events and picked out some of the ones I think you all will like and broken them down into several categories:

  • Easy on the Wallet 
  • Family Fun
  • Fancy Schmancy
  • Heart Pumping
  • Mixed Bag

The Man Behind the Festival

WC Handy

The man himself, WC Handy

If the name behind this festival struck you as familiar  there’s a good reason. The blues composer and musician WC Handy is known as the “Father of the Blues,” and even has a connection to Huntsville, AL! He taught music and was the band director at Alabama A&M in the early 1900’s. You may also have heard some of his musical compositions:

  • Memphis Blues
  • Beale Street Blues
  • Saint Louis Blues
  • Ole Miss Rag

But back to the present and on to the music!

WC Handy Music Festival: Easy on the Wallet

These are events that won’t break the bank. All of these WC Handy Musical Festival events cost $10 or less and quite a few are even free!

12th Annual Bluegrass Festival: The Home Of Alabama Bluegrass Music Championship

  • Date: Thursday, July 18th at 6 pm
  • Cost: FREE
  • Location: Rogersville Heritage Park, Rogersville

guitar WC Handy Music Festival 2013Book It with Jazz

  • Date: Monday, July 22nd from 11 am-1 pm
  • Location: Helen Keller Public Library, Tuscumbia
  • Cost: $5 (lunch tickets available at the library, call 256-383-7065)
  • Music by: Robert Dickson Combo

Music and Munchin’ in Gattman Park

  • Date: Wednesday, July 24th from 11 am-1:30 pm
  • Location: Gattman Park Recreation Center, Muscle Shoals
  • Cost: Music is free/ box lunch available for purchase
  • Featuring: Bay City Brass Band

Blues on the Bluff 

  • Date: Wednesday, July 24that 6:30 pm
  • Location: Standpipe Park, Sheffield
  • Cost: FREE
  • Featuring: The Blue Navigators, The Hitmen
microwave dave

Microwave Dave, playing several times during the fest

Black and White Party

  • Date: Saturday July 27th from 7-10pm
  • Location: Studio 256, Sheffield
  • Cost: $10
  • Featuring: Crossroads Band [spacer size=”0″]

WC Handy Music Festival 2013: Family Fun

If you’ve got kiddos in the house, these WC Handy Music Festival events are for you!

Music in the Park 

  • Date: Saturday July 20th from 7-10 pm
  • Location: Wilson Park, Florence
  • Featuring: Rewind

harmonicaJazz it up with Trash 

  • Date: Monday July 22nd at 10 am
  • Location: Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, Florence
  • Featuring: Hands-on activities making instruments from recycled materials
  • Special Guest: Microwave Dave

Kidz Jamm 

  • Date: Tuesday July 23rd at 10 am
  • Location: St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Florence
  • Featuring: Shoals Area Piano Students with guests Bob Wray & James Counts


  • Date: Wednesday July 24th at 1 pm
  • Location: Children’s Museum of the Shoals, Florence
  • Featuring: Where in the World
Pine Hill Hanes

Pine Hill Hanes

Cypress Lakes Music 

  • Date: Wednesday July 24th from 7-9 pm
  • Location: Cypress Lakes Golf & Country Club, Muscle Shoals
  • Cost: Music is free – restaurant and bar available
  • Featuring: The Muscle Shoals All-Star Band with guests the Decoys, Gary Nichols, Christine Ohlman, Charles Rose, Harvey Thompson

Downtown Tuscumbia Street Party 

  • Date: Thursday July 25th from 5-10 pm
  • Location: Main Street, Tuscumbia
  • Featuring: Arts & Crafts vendors, food, music
  • Music: Pine Hill Haints

Evening at the Roxy with The Great Pretenders 

  • Date: Thursday July 25th at 7 pm
  • Location: Roxy Theatre, Russellville
  • Cost: $5 / children younger than 6 free
  • Featuring: The Great Pretenders

saxaphoneYouth Conference 2013 & Hip Hop Finale Concert 

  • Date: Sunday July 28th at 6pm
  • Location: New Birth Ministries, Florence
  • Featuring: Mr. Del & Holy Smith (Former Three 6 Mafia), NBY Step Team, Free to Grow, Vocal Pointe

WC Handy Music Festival 2013: Fancy Schamancy

Looking for a date night? Then head out to one of these $25 dollars and up events at the WC Handy Music Festival.

Helen and the Blues 

  • Date: Friday, July 19th at 6:30pm
  • Location: Marriott Shoals Conference Center, Florence
  • Cost: $50 open seating/ $62.50 reserved seating plus music and dinner buffet
  • Reservations: Call 256-386-4747
  • Featuring Music By: The Thompson Trio and Debbie Bond

Coaches vs. Cancer: “Howlin’ Madd for a Cure”

  • Date: Thursday July 25th at 6 pm
  • Location: Pickett Place, Florence
  • Cost: $80 per person or $150 per couple
  • Tickets: Available at the American Cancer Society Office/ Pickett Place
  • Featuring: Bill Howlin’ MADD Perry & Band, a member of the Delta Blues Foundation

2013 Headliner, Ke’Bo’

Headliner Concert: An Evening with Keb’Mo’

  • Date: Saturday July 27th at 7:30 pm
  • Location: Norton Auditorium University of North Alabama, Florence
  • Featuring: Keb’Mo’
  • Cost: $40 general admission

WC Handy Music Festival 2013:
Heart Pumping

These events combine fitness and music for a fun and healthy day.

Dadoorunrun (5k) & Fun Run (1 Mile) & Walk (1 Mile)

  • Location: W.C. Handy Home & Museum, Florence
  • Date: Saturday July 20th
  • Time: Registration at 6:30am; 5K Race at 8am; 1 mile Run/walk at 9am
  • Cost: Run – $15; $20 after July 13
  • Registration: Online or at the Festival Office, 217 E. Tuscaloosa St., Florence
  • Featuring: Mary Mason Band

drum wc handy music festival 29th Annual 3-State Bike Ride 

  • Date: Saturday July 27th
  • Times: 6 am Registration; 7:15 am Mass Start
  • Location: McFarland Park, Florence
  • Route Options: 21, 39, 61, 70, 100 & 107 mile options; View the route maps online
  • Cost: $30 per rider until July 17/ $35 after July 17
  • RegisterAvailable on-line by searching “Handy”

WC Handy Music Festival 2013: Mixed Bag

From documentaries to musical jazz bees, these are events are anything but your standard concerts.

Swampette Mystery Tour 

  • Date: Friday, July 19th at 4pm
  • Location: Wilson Park, Florence; Tour begins and ends at the parking lot of the 1st Baptist Church Annex on Wood Avenue across from Wilson Park, Florence.
  • Cost: $25 per person. For reservations call 256-740-4141

Artworks & All that Jazz

  • Date: Sunday, July 21st from 1-3 pm
  • Location: Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, Tuscumbia
  • Featuring: Exhibit of current works by artist members of the Tennessee Valley Art Association
  • Music by: Cheryl Sparks

See a screening of The Last Waltz

Bridgin’ the Blues

  • Date: Monday, July 22nd from 6:30-8 pm
  • Location: Old Railroad Bridge over the Tennessee River, Sheffield
  • Featuring: Microwave Dave

Musical Spelling Jazz Bee 

  • Date: Tuesday July 23rd at 2:30 pm
  • Location: Mount Moriah P.B. Church Family Life Center, Florence

Rock Out with the Writers 

  • Date: Wednesday July 24th at 7 pm
  • Location: Shoals Theatre, Florence
  • Cost: $20; All proceeds benefit the Sidney’s Safe Foundation
  • Featuring: Songwriter’s In the Round with Chris Thompkins & Friends

Mr. Handy’s Blues: A Musical Documentary 

  • Date: Thursday July 25th from 10-11 am
  • Location: W.C. Handy Home and Museum, Florence
  • Featuring: Preview and conversation with filmmaker and producer Joanne Fish

mic from WC Handy Music Festival 2013Screening Room 

  • Date: Thursday July 25th from 2-4:30 pm
  • Location: Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, Florence
  • Featuring: Martin Scorsese’s documentary The Last Waltz (1978)

Muscle Shoals To Music Row/Msma & The Marriott Shoals Present A Tribute To Jerry Wexler

  • Date: Thursday July 25th from 8-10 pm
  • Location: Marriott Shoals Conference Center, Florence
  • Details: Concert and Exhibit of Dick Cooper’s Iconic Photographs
  • Cost: $10
  • Featuring: Christine Ohlman, The Muscle Shoals All-Stars, (David Hood, Kelvin Holly, NC Thurman, Mike Dillon, Will McFarlane) With special guest: Bonnie Bramlett, Spooner Oldham, Donnie Fritts, Paul Wexler plus surprises!

12th Rollin’ on the River 

  • Date: Friday, July 26th at 6:30pm
  • Location: Joe Wheeler State Park, Rogersville
  • Featuring: Dorothy Cole as “Tina Turner”

guitar strings from WC Handy Music Festival 2013Gas Handy Fest Concert 

  • Date: Friday July 26th from 7-11 pm
  • Location: GAS Design Center, Tuscumbia
  • Cost: 3 canned goods/ small donation to area food bank projects
  • Featuring: Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy with special guests The Lorels, Elias Patriot, Red Mouth, Clara Belle, The Edward Armstead Project, David Haselton, Hempanzee, and Muscle Shoals Mashup by Canless & Parallel Thought

Street Strut & Parade 

  • Date: Saturday July 27th at 10 am
  • Location: Wilson Park, Florence; Rain location – Regency Square Mall
  • Music by: Bay City Brass, Thompson Trio, Johnson High School Band,  Sheffield High School “Sound of the Shoals Marching Band PLUS Prizes for the best Strutters

Event Information: WC Handy Music Festival 2013

Dates: July 19-28, 2013
Locations: Various establishments in the Shoals
Complete Schedule: You can download a complete event schedule on the WC Handy Music Festival website

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Never miss the events that matter!


  1. 11 says


    If you can’t make it to the Tuscumbia block party, there are several other chances to see them throughout the week. If you like rock/rockabilly/Americana/punk, you’ll love them.