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article imageInterview with Teddy Gentry of Alabama Special

By Adrian Peel     May 31, 2013 in Entertainment
The Country Music Hall-of-Famer chats to Digital Journal about 'The Alabama & Friends Festival at Sea', a star-studded cruise to celebrate the group's 40th anniversary.
On October 24th 2013, country legends Alabama and a host of well-known special guests will board the Norwegian Pearl ocean liner in Miami and set sail for Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, an island in the Bahamas.
Joining the award-winning band, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, on this 'four days and nights full of music, adventure, relaxation, new friendships and amazing moments' will be, among others, Randy Travis, Diamond Rio and Craig Morgan.
"Well it's the first time I've ever been on a cruise!" laughs bearded bass player Teddy Gentry, a cousin of lead singer Randy Owen and a distant cousin of guitarist/fiddler Jeff Cook. "We're looking forward to it. There's gonna be some of our fans out there that we'll get to hang out with for a few days, and get to play some music for, and I'm excited about it."
"Actually, I think the management company came and presented the idea to us about doing it about a year ago," he continues, revealing where the splendid notion came from, "and we said yes."
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Teddy, Randy and Jeff (then performing as 'Wildcountry') playing The Bowery in Myrtle Beach for the first time, the famed South Carolina nightspot considered to be 'the place where it all began'.
To commemorate the occasion, the prolific threesome (long-time drummer Mark Herndon is no longer involved, having left rather acrimoniously in 2008), who have notched up 43 number ones and sold over 73 million records during their long career, are in the middle of their Back To The Bowery Tour, Alabama's first ongoing series of shows since 2002. Is the cruise the pinnacle of the festivities, the 'icing on the cake', as it were?
"Yeah, I think so," replies Teddy, a native of Fort Payne, Alabama. "It's probably a one-time event and to be able to take some of our country music fans out with us on the boat too, it's gonna be a good time."
And you'll be playing all the classics and some new songs as well?
"Well we'll definitely be playing all the classics and throwing out a couple of new things, I'm sure, but we haven't made a list. We'll probably make a list about two hours before the show!"
As mentioned, some very big names are set to accompany Alabama, the first country combo to achieve widespread success, on the informal cruise that'll give fans the chance to get 'up close and personal' with their heroes. As well as those listed above, Meghan Linsey of Steel Magnolia, Joe Bachman and Rockit City (featuring Teddy Gentry) are three of the other acts scheduled to appear.
"When Alabama came off the road (from their Farewell Tour) back in '03, '04, then I really started playing with these guys just to jam and have somebody to play with, so that the fingers keep working," says the 61-year-old musician of his side-project, Rockit City. "Then it developed into quite a good band. It's a bunch of local guys from Nashville that get together with me and we have a good time."
Will you also be sharing the stage with some of the other artists?
"Yeah, I'm sure we're gonna have a songwriter-type event too, where it's very casual with just acoustic guitars... All the artists that'll be on the boat will probably do some different things as well."
After wrapping up their aforementioned Farewell Tour, the band went their separate ways, regrouping in 2006 and 2007 to record the gospel albums Songs Of Inspiration and Songs Of Inspiration II, before Brad Paisley brought them back together in 2011 to sing on his number one single - and personal tribute to one of America's best-loved groups - Old Alabama.
"It feels great," enthuses Teddy, discussing being back with his musical brethren. "We started with the shows that we did for the Tornado victims here in Alabama - that's what started us playing again.
"But after we played together again, it had been a few years and you sure realise how much you miss playing... If you love it, you know you just miss it, so it's been fun to get back together and do some shows again."
Finally, I asked the somewhat private family man, set to release a new album with Alabama in September, what he's most looking forward to about the four-day trip later this year. "I think the food!" he laughs. "From what I've heard they have wonderful food... But I guess I'm most excited about just getting to play for our fans."
The Alabama & Friends Festival at Sea is from October 24th to October 28th 2013. For more information, visit the band's official website.
More about Teddy Gentry, alabama band, Country music, randy travis, Brad paisley
 
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