The Alabama Theatre at Barefoot Landing has been entertaining thousands of fans for more than two decades, but the story behind the popular musical and theatrical venue is even more deeply rooted in the Grand Strand sand, all the way back to the early 1970s.
That's when a little-known house band called Alabama was playing for tips at The Bowery, a historic honky-tonk in the heart of Myrtle Beach's downtown district. Few knew the band of starving musicians would go on to reach the level of stardom it did in achieving heavyweight status, winning 18 American Music Awards, 15 Academy of Country Music Awards, two Grammys and, most recently, a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. The Alabama Theatre is a culmination of the band's rags-to-riches career.
The trio of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook honed their skills before packed summer crowds at The Bowery, and Alabama began climbing its way up the country music ladder with the help of tireless touring and a three-piece harmony that made audiences melt. Combining traditional country, bluegrass and a touch of Southern rock, their unique sound led to breakthrough hits like “Dixieland Delight” and “Mountain Music” — two of 30 No. 1 hits the band recorded during its CMA Hall of Fame career.
After reaching the pinnacle of the country music world, Alabama decided it was time to physically leave their mark on the Grand Strand by paying tribute to their musical roots. In 1993, the group opened the Alabama Theatre at Barefoot Landing, then a new entertainment complex. The event was covered nationwide on such TV shows as ABC's “Good Morning America,” CBS's “The Morning Show” and NBC's “Nightly News.” The grand opening marked a new era for both the band and the local music scene.
Partnering with Gaylord Entertainment, the same outfit that operates the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, the Alabama Theatre began attracting top national musical acts and touring theatrical companies to this stretch of Carolina coast that was in need of a boost in the world of entertainment. Concerts and shows played to packed houses, as they still do after 23 years of operations. Long-running performances like “One: The Show” and “The South's Grandest Christmas Show” continue to thrill crowds, and the concert series has brought big names like Vince Gill, Josh Turner, The Temptations and The Four Tops to the stage.
Recently nominated for the Country Music Association's Venue of the Year Award, the Alabama Theatre is a palatial concert hall that is dedicated to the memory and life work of the band that shares its name. Featuring only 2,000 seats (there's not a bad one in the house), the Alabama Theatre provides patrons with an intimate experience and a comfortable environment. The beautiful lobby features a full bar, concession stand, souvenir shop, ticket booths, and decorative photos and posters of Alabama and other past performers. The Alabama Theatre gets a festive makeover for the holidays, creating a winter wonderland for those who come back year after year to see “The South’s Grandest Christmas Show.”
Performances continue almost nightly throughout the summer months, with the updated “One: The Show” making up the majority of the schedule. Special appearances include LeAnn Rimes (July 7), Martina McBride (July 22), The Temptations and The Four Tops (July 28) and Josh Turner (Aug. 12) taking the stage. Late August features a trio of comedy acts — with Jeanne Robertson (Aug. 19), Jay Leno (Aug. 26) and the Ricky Mokel Comedy Show starring local product Grant Turner (Aug. 27) delighting crowds. For showtimes and ticket information, call 800-342-2262 or visit www.alabama-theatre.com.