On March 4, 2006, my old friend Deryle Perryman and filmmaker Moises Gonzales showed their documentary film Dangerous Highway at the George Lindsey Film Festival in Florence, Alabama. The film, screened at Fame Studios, was a documentary about the life of Eddie Hinton. Since that first screening in March of 2006, the film has traveled all over the United States, and this July it will be shown in Porretta Terme, Italy, at the Porretta Soul Festival. Porretta Terme is located about 45 kilometers from both Bologna and Florence, respectively.
When I first saw Dangerous Highway, I knew little or nothing about Eddie Hinton, and all I knew about Zane Records was that Peter Thompson was a friend of my brother-in-law Billy C. Farlow. I had heard the name Dick Cooper, was familiar with the history of Muscle Shoals Sound and Fame Studios, but knew very little about the group called Drive By Truckers (after the screening I had the privilege of meeting David Hood, the father of Patterson), and next to nothing about Birdland Studios.
Having grown up in Athens, Alabama, just across the Tennessee River from Johnny Wyker, I knew a lot about him (a legend in his own time), but he knew (and probably still knows) nothing at all about me. I now live just up the Elk River from Spooner Oldham, who also knows nothing about me except that I regularly walk the road in front of his house.
During the past two years, I have made some fabulous connections, and I have truly discovered the fabled “six degrees.” About a month ago Deryle sent me an email saying that Graziano Uliani had invited him and Moises to show their documentary Dangerous Highway at the soul festival in Porretta. He included a letter that Uliani had written him to which was attached the piece about his meeting Hinton and Wyker in North Alabama in 1991. I immediately wrote Uliani and asked if I might publish it, and he graciously agreed. I called the feature Eddie Hinton Does Porretta—Again!
Some day soon I would like to host a reunion on Elk River so that all the folks who have connections to the music of the Shoals can get together and get down. Peter and Diana could come from England and Graziano from Italy and Jason Wilson from San Francisco. And, Michael Buffalo Smith, your name will be first on the list.
---Penne J. Laubenthal