Keeping the Music in Muscle Shoals with Traci Thomas

Episode Summary

Known as the “hit recording capital of the world,” Muscle Shoals, Alabama has seen some of the biggest names in music history come through its studio doors to record – from Aretha Franklin to Bob Dylan.

Episode Notes

Known as the “hit recording capital of the world,” Muscle Shoals, Alabama has seen some of the biggest names in music history come through its studio doors to record – from Aretha Franklin to Bob Dylan. Traci Thomas is lucky enough to call Muscle Shoals Sound Studio a second home. We’ll talk to Traci, the longtime manager of musician Jason Isbell, about moving to nearby Florence after falling in love with a turn of the century Queen Anne and the music legacy of the area. It’s a legacy that’s important to her and Jason – leading them to form the live music festival ShoalsFest, now in its third year. We’ll hear from Traci what it was like to make the move from Nashville and what makes Muscle Shoals so special.

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Find episode transcripts here:

Episode Transcription



You hear that? That’s the sound of a wind storm that just hit the island where I live. 

I woke up earlier today... and I was all ready to record this podcast and noticed that the wind chimes next door were going crazy...

[wind chimes sfx]

And then I heard a sound while I was out walking the dog and I knew...there goes the power.

That sound was the sound of generators on the island clicking on. A lot of people on this island have generators for when the power goes out because it does from time to time. 

Today it went out because there was a tree that hit an electrical line and it started sparking and if there’s a fire on the island, that’s big problem. 

So they just cut the power to the entire island and we knew what was going on because immediately everyone posted “power’s out” on Nextdoor.

[ Theme stem in]

And exchanging all the information they have.

But to solve that problem today, I figured out I would go to a friend’s who has a generator and you might hear that sound faintly buzzing in the background while I’m here... recording. 

And you know this is part of small town life. 

Not every small town has generators by any means. My small town has a lot of 'em and luckily, today I'm talking to someone who can totally understand this situation.

Her name is Traci Thomas and she also lives in a small town. Florence, Alabama. 

[Full Theme song in]

This is Townsizing, a podcast from HGTV all about small town living. And I’m your host, Anne Helen Petersen.

Florence is next door to Muscle Shoals. Yes, THE Muscle Shoals. In the 1960s it was THE recording capital of so much music that we have now come to think of as like the heart of rock and roll...People like Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger and Greg Allman – all of them would come to town to record some of the biggest hits of our time at studios like FAME or Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. 

That’s what drew Traci from Nashville. 

She’s a music manager so living in Muscle Shoals is kind of like the ultimate dream. Over the last twenty years, she’s managed the Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Jason Isbell – who I love. And if you don’t know him, he's kind of – idk -- the king of the alt-country world. He has a great Twitter account I should also add. And he’s known for his work in the band Drive By Truckers and also his solo career.  Living and working in Muscle Shoals, Traci and Jason knew that the town was saturated with music history. But they wondered how they could bring that legacy into the present. So together, they decided to found Shoals Fest. The first one happened three years ago and it’s a music festival that brings some of the best in country, folk and rock to town for incredible live performances.


Now, when Traci needs to get out of the house, she often heads to the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. So we found it fitting to start our interview there.

[Theme song fade out]


Hey Carol

Doing a little interview with HGTV Podcast

Got photos of McJagger...etta james. All the greats on the walls here, it’s muscle shoals sound studio.

Do you want to me show you the secret spot? Ok let’s go downstairs. 


[00:00:00] Anne: so you just took us on a little tour of the historic Muscle Shoals sound studio. And I wanna ask for people who are unfamiliar, can you tell us about where you are and why this is such a special 

[00:00:18] Traci: Of course, this is one of my favorite places on earth. Um, muscle Shoals sound studios was started by the muscles shoals rhythm section, which is also known as the swampers. They left FAME studios in 1969 and came over and built their own studio. Cher was one of the first artists to record here. The rolling stones have recorded here…Bob Dylan, uh, Bob Seger, Mavis Staples, and the Staple singers, uh, Leon Russell, the, the list goes on and on. So it is just, it's just a really magical place and I'd still get chill, bumps every time I come in here, just if these walls could talk, it's a very special place and happy to call kind of my home away from home. They let me come over here and squat in the basement when I need an office from time to time. 

Anne: So, like what does it feel like when you step in the studio? So you said it gives you kind of goosebumps, but like, do you just feel that spirit almost?

[00:02:03] Traci: You do. it just, it, it, it has an energy that it's just kind of undeniable. You know, working in the music business, I just kind of wish I could go back in a time machine and be here back in the heyday of the studio. But I mean, thank goodness we have all the amazing recordings that have been made here and, I get chill bumps, just talking about it. It's just, um, it's just, it's pretty, pretty incredible that this little town produced so much music that, you know, it just put its stamp on the music scene all together. I mean, you know, anyone that hasn't watched the muscles shoals documentary needs to. I think I've watched it three times in the past year.  it's kind of a prerequisite, if you're gonna come visit me, you need to watch it.

[00:03:18] Anne: Well, and that's a testament that you don't get sick of watching it and just like you don't get sick. of hearing the tour. Like it doesn't feel cliche to you. It just feels special. 

[00:03:24] Traci: No, not at all because it's not. It just is… It's just a really magical place. And the fact that these four white guys from north Alabama made some of the grooviest music, you know, that's ever been made in the history of music is just pretty incredible. And also very honored that that David Hood, who's one of the Swampers, considers me like an honorary daughter, to be family to those guys, is  important. You know? And I just, I really enjoy being down here and soaking up all this knowledge. 

[00:04:01] Anne:  What do you think it is about like this tiny little town that inspired so much creativity? 

[river sfx]

[00:04:08] Traci: Well, some people give the river a lot of credit for that. It's called the singing river. and, you know, certain people think that the river sings or speaks to you. but to quote my dear friend David Hood, he says it's really just  the people. 

[Townsy Vibe 1]

Traci contd: Everyone is just really kind and welcoming. There's just, I don't know. It's over the years coming here when I was a kid, I didn't get it. But as an adult, obviously I'm getting it. My family. from Columbia, Tennessee, which is -- kind of midway between here and Nashville. Yeah. and I did, I have some family here, so we would come here growing up from time to time. And I just really didn't appreciate it as a kid, but as an adult it’s really…I see how special it is. 

[Townsy Fade Out]

Anne: So what do you think draws people to the area now? 

[00:08:22] Traci: I think it's still the music. we have a cool program that, uh, economic development has called remote Shoals and if you're able to work remotely, they will pay you $10,000 dollars to move here. And they've had over 4,000 applicants. It's pretty incredible.  I think the biggest place that people have moved from oddly enough is Portland, Oregon and I think a lot of it also is the cost of living. You know, people can still afford to buy houses here. 

[00:08:57] Anne: Yeah. Yeah. And you bought. like a gorgeous, huge 

[00:09:00] Traci: huge house. I did, uh, my husband and I bought an 1899 queen anne Victorian. That is just like, kind of like a doll house. It's 6,600 square feet. 

[00:09:38] Anne: I think, you know, the real estate is something that some people talk about, but not enough people talk about about Like this dream of being able to buy something anything is still really alive in a lot of small towns

[00:09:50] Traci:Yeah. That's, that's, you know, and that's a really important thing and like, In, in Nashville, we live in east Nashville and like I didn't cross the river when growing up in Nashville, I didn't go to east Nashville. I grew up in south Nashville. But, you know, once you start exploring more and, you know, ready to buy a house east Nashville was still very affordable, 20, 25 years ago. And so it's full of cool creative artists, whether it's visual artists or musicians that live there. And so that's what, you know, you're drawn to. But I had a discussion with a young manager the other day about, you know, how much could $250,000 dollars get him for our house down here? And I was like a mansion. it's affordable and it's just, it's a really, it's about a quality of life. You know, we don't have traffic, you know, we don't have all the pollution cuz you don't have all, you know, as many people and I can walk downtown to dinner. I've never lived in a walkable city. 

[00:10:59] Anne: Yeah. That's, that's the, thing that, like, I think people often forget walkable cities are fantastic. And like, there are real cities, like New York city, which is still very walkable. But so many of these like places in between, we've forgotten to make that sort of infrastructure that makes it walkable. That makes it really livable 

[00:11:20] Traci: Yeah. And on that  affordability,  some friends of ours have something they're working on, they're calling it  “Nashville's next big backyard.” And what it is is highlighting all the little towns between Nashville and the Shoals and just showing people what they can get for their money. And, you know, after COVID more and more people are moving out of the big cities. There's a lot of nice little possibilities between here and the Shoals, that are other possibilities to get you outside of Nashville but like at the same time, it takes me two hours and 11 minutes to get back. I get on the phone and I'm there. Or I listen to a podcast, you know, or listen to a record. You know,  it's some nice quality time by myself, which I enjoy.

[00:12:42] Anne: yeah, and I think too, that A lot of this desire, you know, part of it's real estate and part of it's like, I wanna be in a place where I don't feel totally cooped up if we do have to be in our homes again. And part of it is that real yearning for community too

[00:12:55] Traci: we have that in Nashville, but we it's, we definitely have it here. And, um, another one of my, I feel like a mission I've been since I've kind of been here is,, there's not really ever been a much of a live music. So I've been working with Shoal’s economic development. They have a music incentive where they'll give you up to 30% of your budget if you record here. And before we launch this incentive, we kind of all the players, you know, got in a room and we've kind of formed a real loose coalition to kind of help elevate the whole music scene here.  cuz there's a lot of people moving from different places. And just to kind of, there's mainly studios here has been the business in the past, but there are more people like me, like there's record people and publishing people and other business people moving to town. So I've been trying to kind of get us connected as a community, right behind the studio. Here is a church that some friends of mine have purchased called the Muscle Shoals Church of Sound. That's kind of becoming our little kind of clubhouse for lack of a better term. you know, they're renting it to to bands for rehearsal space. It's pretty cool.

Anne: That’s awesome

Traci:  Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:14:39] Anne: I mean, so  this is a good segue actually to like how ShoalsFest figures into the entire legacy of the town and the future. Of the town. 

[00:14:39] Traci:  I've started a, a festival here called ShoalsFest with my client, Jason Isbell. Jason’s from the area. And again, kind of going back to, there was a lack of a live music scene here. And if we were gonna start a festival, why not started in his hometown and, and bring them something that they hadn't re gotten in the past, you know, bring them world class music. it's in McFarland park. If you're really from here, people call McFarland bottoms.  I had Billy Reed do a t-shirt last year and he asked if he could put McFarland bottoms instead of the park. And I'm like a hundred percent . 

Anne: Yes.

Traci: We just wanted to, to bring, you know, world class music to this place that's recorded world class music,  our first year we had Mavis staples. She hadn't been down here since she recorded in 1972

Anne: Wow

Traci:. You know, and you hear her at two or three times in, “I'll take you there” refer to little David. Well, that's little David Hood and David sat in with her at the festival. Last year, we had David's son, the drive by truckers, which is the band that Jason started out off in. This year, we have Nathaniel Rateliff. We have driving and crying, which Jason's guitar player, Sadler Vaden, used to play in driving and crying. we also did a record, uh, last year called Georgia blue, which Jason said of Georgia went blue. He would do a record of all Georgia songs, and we've given that money to organizations that make it easier for people to vote in the state of Georgia.

[00:19:07] Anne: It's such a good connection of like, Like ,you said, like it's things that are a little bit familiar and that are, are legible to audiences that aren't super, super familiar with the, you know, with music, but then also an opportunity to introduce people to the history and to people that they might not know that  they are about to fall in love with.

[00:19:26] Traci: Exactly.

[00:19:33] Anne: so. before you made the move, you were commuting, you know, you were doing that drive that two hour drive. What made. you pull the trigger? 

[00:19:40] Traci: part of it, my husband, we were engaged and, you know, just kind of looking at starting our life together. We had been looking at  houses in Nashville and, you know, things were just getting crazy. And we started looking at lake houses and then my husband and his brother were doing a trade. My husband makes furniture. And he was making his brother a couple of tables and he gave us a boat. So we're like,well, let's look at lake houses. And then he found my husband Allen found this, this house downtown. And I think we both kept going back and looking at it separately and  once we saw it, it was just kind of all she wrote, cuz it was just, we both love old houses and someone had done a really impeccable remodel on this house and it, it was on the market for almost a year. So I also kind of feel like it was waiting on us. 

[00:20:31] Anne: You know, and I do feel like houses, tell you a story in some way. We live in  this house that's from 1904 and used to be like a house for wayward boys. Like they would send boys over from the mainland to like, learn how to hunt and fish on their own in the early 1900s. And then it was really a fishing cabin and I'm sure you, ha I mean, even with the, our house also had like a, a big remodel. There’s still these things like where does this pipe go? the electric is what? you know. it’s just. You're like, I don't know when the, and that's part of the fun almost, I don’t know. 

[00:21:08] Traci: We currently have a ghost that I have yet to encounter  but our drummer's daughter has stayed at the house a couple of times and, and she says the piano is played by, by itself. And so I wonder if the ghost isn't a young girl and she only comes out when she's there. Um, but seems to be a friendly ghost. So I'm not, I'm not really concerned about it, 

Anne:  what surprised you when you first made the move?

Traci:  I don't know, uh, other than sometimes this little small town chat, like yeah. You know, the people that knew who we were before, I knew who they were like, it was almost like a press release had gone out that, you know, we’re the the the cool new kids in town. 

[00:23:13] Anne: Yeah, totally. And then, Yeah. They, sometimes they call this island, they call it like, uh, a gossip, surrounded by water. Um, But it's usually just gossip about like, I don't know who like forgot their dog poop bag at the the entrance to the trail. That sort of thing.

[00:23:29] Traci: Yeah, I guess it was, I just had never lived in a small town, so there's some of that that I'm like, I kind of wanted to come in here quietly, but then I don't really do anything quietly. And then I, I also couldn't come in as a leader in the community and be quiet about it. So decided I had to come just roaring in. 

[00:23:51] Anne: what's your your neighborhood like? can you explain it? 

[00:23:51] Traci: It's beautiful. It's right by the U a campus and U a is the oldest university in Alabama. Really? Yeah. So the, so they're, we're just surrounded by all these beautiful historic houses. Yeah. Um, you know, we have sidewalks. You know, we have kids walking to the university, like people walk their dogs all the time. The two best streets in the, in Florence are Walnut and Wood. And on paper, I might have picked Walnut because it's not as busy and it's quieter, but in hindsight, I really love Wood because I love the energy of people moving around. Like we do a lot of porch sitting. 

Anne: Yep

Traci: That is one of our favorite pastimes.And, you know, and, and we just don't see other people doing that, you know, um, you know, of course we all have the Hank blue ceiling. On our porches to keep the spirits away. Um, you know, and it just, we,we, we spent a lot of time on the front porch. We rang in the new year on the front porch. 

[00:24:58] Anne: That is Southern privilege to be able to be outside ringing in the new year.

[00:25:05] Traci: Last Memorial day, it was too cold to go to the lake. We ended up on the front porch. I had to get blankets. But yet new year's Eve, it was warm enough to be outside. 

[00:25:16] Anne: Yep. Where do you take when people come people come to visit, where do you take them?

[00:25:18] Traci: Um, well, I take them to Odette or Esthers or two of my favorite restaurants in town owned by my friend Celeste. Uh, I take them out to the Alabama Chanin factory, uh, Alabama Chanin and Billy Reed are two world class designers that live here. Um, they both have stores here. Uh, Alabama Chanin does workshops and. The space is just beautiful. I've kind of been obsessed with Natalie for a long time. In fact, I'm wearing an Alabama Chanin dress today.Um, the wall is a very, very special spiritual place. Tom Hendricks’ great, great grandmother was a Yuchi indian and she walked the trail of tears to Oklahoma. And the rivers in the streams did not seem to her. And she  walked back and built a rock wall around his house to represent her steps. Wow. And it is just a really magical, special place. The morning of our wedding, I really wanted Chick-fil-A chicken minis while I got ready, but apparently they're only for breakfast. so my husband and I went and got chicken minis and we went to the wall and set our intentions to each other at the wall. but it is a really special spiritual place. And then of course I bring 'em to the studios, FAME studio, Muscle Shoals Sound. 

[00:27:51] Anne: Do you feel like there's anything that when  you first moved that you were like ready? Like for me it was something like, um, a target, Right That you're like, oh, I could just go to target and get that. And you're like, Oh, yeah, it's the, this how this is how long it takes to get to target.Like, is there something that you realize in those first couple weeks, you're like, oh, well I don't have the the conveniences 

[00:28:13] Traci: Well, the 

[00:28:14] Anne: of the big city anymore. 

[00:28:16] Traci: or, you know, right. Like, 

[00:28:18] Anne: right. 

[00:28:19] Traci: you know, kind of. Postmates. And you have 50 restaurants who might have five, you know? Um, but you know, those are little in, they're not that Inco, you know, it's 

[00:28:29] Anne: Yeah. Somehow we did 

[00:28:30] Traci: we did without them for many, many, exactly, exactly. It's a total like privilege thing. and and I I'm a shopper and even like, I'm a, I'm a good cook. So I enjoy going to the grocery store because also, you know, who hasn't like thought you were getting one onion and you ended up with, you know, five pounds of onions somehow when you order 'em online.  

[00:28:51] Anne: Yep, totally, totally. Well, and also for me, the pandemic really taught me how to only go to the grocery store once a week. Right.. But people ask me all the time. They're like, oh, do you have Postmates on, on the island? I'm like, No, we don't. We have one restaurant really. No it doesn't work like that., we have one of the fanciest restaurants in the west coast. That's on the other side of the island that like, no, one could go to cuz it's $500 a plate. Uh, and then you have this really great community restaurant that's just on like I can walk to it and there's something so wonderful about like,oh yeah, we go to the restaurant and we talk with all of our neighbors when we're at the restaurant. It's like a really community feel.

[00:29:44] Traci: Yeah. if you if you walk out of our house to the right, you go downtown. If you go to the left, there's a little area called Seven Points and we've got like an ACE hardware. my favorite new place down there is Northwood social. That serves Polish food 

Anne: Yum. 

Traci: Yes. So like, but it is such a little neighborhood feel like you go in there and you have like the hipsters and a move to town with the 75 year old ladies that live around the corner, you know, having their afternoon Manhattan, you know, it is, it's just a neighborhood feel and it's, you know, it's, it's a beautiful thing. 



[00:30:22] Anne:  So when you first arrived, you know, we talked a little bit about how, like you were arriving as a community leader. And I think sometimes there's, I don't know, there's sometimes a little bit of hesitation about new people coming in who are in charge of larger projects or like, you know, just auto, like, just new people in town, no matter what, no matter what you're doing. Did you feel that at all or, Or what was that process like?

[00:31:51] Traci:  You know, there was a little pushback here and there and you know, which is it's for me is always hard because I always come from a place of positivity and whenever I'm jumping into something new, like this it's, it has nothing to do with me. It's about the betterment of our community. But I think there were some people that assumed that I was doing it for my benefit or the benefit of the festival or Jason or whatever, but I just have to remind myself, it's a long game that like some of this stuff it's not happened here for a reason yet. And you know, it will happen. I’m also a believer in things happening when they’re supposed to happen. 

[00:33:00] Anne: Well, And one thing, one like, just people are oftentimes resistant to change… just because, Right? Like, you know, there, it's just the way that we've done things and we're just gonna  like that you know, I, I kind of get it, like if you've done something for a long way, you've done something a certain way for a long time and it's felt okay. It can feel weird to, to,have, you know, a new restaurant or a new activity, or even just new people. But also if you can be patient and graceful with one another, it can…

[00:33:32] Traci:  Yeah. And I have, I have to remind myself of that sometimes, and that, and also know where my intentions are, you know, no matter what anybody says, I ultimately know, but also wasn't coming in here as a complete outsider. Because of ShoalsFest and because of Jason and they also knew that I, you know, was someone that I know what I'm doing. 

[00:34:27] Anne: You know, and it can be such an economic boost too. There's a couple small towns in Montana that host, essentially like it's like almost like old fashioned Roadhouse style, right? Like they get, they get pretty big acts, especially like kind of all, alt country style acts that come through. And they're going to like the one small, old time saloon in town and people come from all over and really bring a lot of money to the town. And I think there's like, people are, are happy about that, but then also are like, well, where are they all gonna park? Right? That tension.

[00:35:01] Traci: Well, we're also, we're two hours from Nashville. We're two hours from Birmingham. We're, you know, two hours from Memphis. You know, it's perfect routing. Yep. You know, it also keeps a band like it gives them a, a stop. You know, instead of driving those full four hours, it's a break. Yeah. Um, so part of hope, what we're hoping with this incentive is that we can,you know, get some bigger names to come down here and record. And then we have a, we have an amazing theater in downtown Florence, the Shoals theater. 

[00:35:33] Anne: was it an old theater, like an old movie theater?

[00:35:35] Traci: Yes. And it's so they do still do some movies. Um, and it's the home of our community playhouse, you know, so they, they do the plays and stuff. Um, but that's part of my vision for that is like, you know, to get a bigger name, to come record here, and then they have some skin in the game and then they'll come back and do an underplay at the Shoals theater or, or play ShoalsFest, you know? Um, it just is such a, it's just ma it's just so magical that I just, you know, I just want to share it with as many people as I can. Without having them all move here all the time at once. Like Nashville.

[00:36:11] Anne: right. That's, that's the thing, right. As you're like, it's amazing here. A couple of you should move here. But maybe not everyone. 

[00:36:16] Traci: If I could handpick the ones like.

[00:36:21] Anne: I can't,uh, what was the, the very first ShoalsFest like? like, can you remember what that felt like

[00:36:27] Traci: God. I was so nervous. know, um, I had never done anything like that before,  you know, also. ,you know, I had to have  conversations about active shooter plans.Yeah. Great. And these are things that I, you know, was not taught in college and, and, I was just so concerned, um, with pulling it off and it being good in Jason's hometown. Um, but it was, it was magical. Like I was crying at the end of the night, just tears of joy. And, um, we kick off the festival with the Rogers high school marching band, which is where Jason went to school. And that first year the band director, John McCollum was still there. Um, he was Jason's, he was Jason's band teacher. And so they march in playing Alabama Pines and that's how we kick off the festival. You love it. And we weren't able to do that last year due to COVID, but we will be doing it this year. And it's, you know, it's, it's pretty awesome. Um, because, you know, he was, he was a band kid and they also wouldn't. Um, I found this out like just last year that they wouldn't, the other parents wouldn't let him march with the guitar. So now what do I do every year? Is I give the band program guitars.  

[00:37:47] Anne: That is great. 

[00:38:24] Anne: Yeah, I love that.  What do you  um, what do You feel like like, are people excited for. 

[00:38:30] Traci: for the 

[00:38:31] Anne: the third annual festival, like coming up, you know, is it like something that you can feel 

[00:38:35] Traci: can feel in the community that people are, Yeah, like we've, um, you know, we've got little, you know, the flags on the, on the, on the, uh, light post and downtown Florence. Um,  uh, last Friday was, uh, the mayor had declared at ShoalsFest day in the city of Florence. Um, Yeah. People are, people are really excited and they're, you know, they're just so complimentary And so happy that we've brought the festival here. Yeah. Um, so it's, it's, it's nice. [00:39:14]

[00:40:18] Anne: you know, if someone came to the town, came to Florence, came to schuls Fest in like, a couple What do you hope they feel stepping into the town? like, what do you like, what do you feel like, do you want that legacy to just really just feel very 

[00:40:36] Traci: very strong still? Yeah. I mean, I. I hope we can always continue to, to have that small town feel. Yeah. Um, but that we can have the big, big town feel with music. 

[00:40:48] Anne: Yeah.That that is such a great way of thinking about it, right? And I think so many small towns want that right? Once a year, twice a year, have that big town feel of something. But the rest of the time you can still have that –

[00:40:57] Traci: like in downtown, we have, we have this great little, um, It's kind of like an old school dairy dip, it's called Trowbridges. Yeah. You know, and it's just so old school. It's awesome. Like, um, you know, just go in there and get a pink, hot dog with chili on it, you know? And then we also, we also have bunion slaw dogs, which I love that the day before my wedding, that's what I was eating was a bunion slaw dog. I was not worried about fitting into my dress. That's that was my priority was to have a bunion dog. 

[00:41:28] Anne: that's amazing. no, and I think that that's the other thing too. You don't want those places overtaken by chains, right? Like how long can we keep those things that really make this place?

[00:41:38] Traci: What it is Yeah, our, our, uh, friends, uh, Ben Tanner, um, he's part of single lock records and his wife Christy Bevis. They just opened up a record store coffee. and they do the coolest pop ups. Like there's, there's sometimes a plant popup or somebody's making pizzas or vintage clothing and it's become such a hub of our community. And I love sometimes just going in there in the morning and hanging out and chatting with whoever's there. But I think there are people that probably do that every morning. But it feels like home. 

[00:42:15] Anne: It's your version of what happens in a lot of towns out here, which is like the gas station is where like the old farmers come in and, you know, they just have that coffee and shoot the shit, shoot the crap for, for, you know, as long as they want to. And then it makes them, you know, it feels like home.

[00:42:33] Traci: Oh yeah. Out outside of the Shoals Theater every day, there's about, I don't know, seven or eight men with their little fold up chairs that just sit out there. And I, you know, when I'm walking the dog, I’m like Y'all solving the world's problems today? And they're like, yep. Trying to. like, it's just, it's it's hilarious. like it's all about community 

[00:42:58] Anne: Yep, yep. walking. The dog is an underrated way to get to know your neighbors. 

[00:42:33] Traci: Oh. A hundred percent. 


[00:43:08] Anne: Yeah! Tracy, thank you so you so much for joining me today really fun talking to you

[00:43:31] Traci: Of course, thanks for having me. 


In episodes to come, you're going to hear more from people like Traci, who are dedicated to the revitalization of their small towns. 

Next week we’re heading to Oklahoma. And we’re chatting with Heady Coleman who loves his small town so much he’s made a podcast about it! He’ll tell us about why he moved back and how he’s made it his mission to bring investment and new businesses to his historic hometown.


Townsizing is produced by Neon Hum Media for HGTV. You can follow our show wherever you get your podcasts. If you like the show, we'd love if you could take a second to leave us a review on Apple podcasts. It helps other folks find the show. I’m Anne Helen Petersen and if you see me online or I don’t know, in real life, be sure to give me that small town wave.