The Wiregrass Blues Society wants to keep the blues alive while also acknowledging the musicians from the area that many people don’t even realize have local connections.
Like Jay Scott – a Wiregrass musician whose likeness is featured on the music mural in downtown Dothan. If you listen to a recording of Alicia Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife,” that is Jay Scott you will hear during the song’s famous saxophone solo. It’s a song that was huge in the disco era of the 1970s and has been featured in movies. But most people don’t know a Dothan musician is heard during that saxophone solo.
“Jay Scott was so incredible on the sax,” said Wiregrass Blues Society President Dr. Jeneve Brooks. “He also played flute, he played percussion and he was a great singer, but he was truly gifted on the sax.”
Brooks wrote, produced, and directed a short documentary film on Scott, “The Life and Legacy of Jay Scott,” with funding support from the Alabama Humanities Association. A public screening of the film is just one of two upcoming events the Wiregrass Blues Society is hosting.
The local group will hold a Project Preservation concert and fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 16, at Folklore Brewing and Meadery, located at 153 Mary Lou Lane, in Dothan. Gates will open at 7 p.m., and music will start at 7:30 p.m.
The concert will be headlined by Enterprise blues guitarist Lil’ Jimmy Reed and Dothan R&B singer Marla Drake as well as singer Peggy Jenkins of Columbus, Georgia. They will be backed by a band of Wiregrass musicians, some of who also performed on a Project Preservation album still in the works.
Admission to the concert is $10 for Blues Society members, $15 for early general admission and $20 at the gate.
The Project Preservation album started in 2020 with seed money from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. It’s a 12-song album of blues songs recorded and produced at Sunland Recording Studios in Daleville. The album features the concert headliners and musicians with Wiregrass ties – Paul Hornsby on keyboards, Kevin Scott on bass, David Adkins on lead and rhythm guitar, John Seals on drums, and bass player Marcus Hart.
The album is a way to preserve just some of local musical blues history.
“We want to document and preserve blues,” Brooks said.
The recording will become part of the Wiregrass Archives at Troy University in Dothan and copies will eventually be for sale.
Hornsby is best known for his time as a Southern rock producer working with the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band. He also played with Gregg and Duane Allman in the band The Hour Glass.
Adkins played with Beaverteeth, BJ Thomas and Billy Joel Royal, while Kevin Scott – nephew of Jay Scott – played with Colonel Bruce Hampton and did session work with musicians such as Fergie.
Seals has produced over 300 records and owns Sunland studios. Hart is the bandleader for The Legacy.
The public screening and debut of the Jay Scott documentary will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at Porter Park on Foster Street in downtown Dothan. Those attending the screening are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets for seating.
Jay Scott was the Wiregrass Blues Society’s 2020 honoree. He spent part of his life doing studio musician work. Along with Bridges’ “I Love the Nightlife,” he also played sax on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “What’s Your Name Little Girl?” and Melissa Manchester’s “Whenever I Call You Friend.”
Brooks said footage of Scott performing overwhelmed her when she was making the documentary because he was so talented and so few people really know who he is.
“You can’t even believe the kind of music that’s coming out of him,” she said.
Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.