| NASHVILLE, Tenn. April 5
NASHVILLE, Tenn. April 5 Ten years after
embarking on a lengthy "Farewell Tour," country music band
Alabama was back on the road on Friday to mark 40 years in the
While the 2003 tour packed arenas across the United States,
the crossover southern rock and country band will play in
smaller venues this time, as well as taking to the seas for the
first time on a four-day Caribbean cruise.
"I just thought it would be a shame if we didn't make some
kind of an effort to celebrate the 40th year of starting at The
Bowery, and what we do best is sing," singer Randy Owen told
"It's a historical thing as far as our band goes. All of us
are still together, still alive. We are so blessed to still be
able to get on that stage and play. We're gonna have fun," Owen,
The group, consisting of cousins Owen, Jeff Cook and Teddy
Gentry, got their first major gig in the South Carolina town of
Myrtle Beach in 1973 as the house band at a small club called
Loyal fans were packing that club by summer's end, having no
idea this bar band would go on to sell 73 million albums in the
1980s and 1990s and have more than 40 No. 1 singles, including
"Love in the First Degree," "Dixieland Delight," and "Feels So
After a free show for some 200 fans at The Bowery on
Thursday night, the 16-city "Back to The Bowery" tour officially
kicks off on Friday at the Alabama Theatre - named after the
band - also in Myrtle Beach.
The band is also joining the latest trend of short
themed-cruises that feature musicians, dancers, Broadway stars
and other celebrities who sail with fans for several days of
concerts, lessons and autograph signings.
The Alabama & Friends Festival at Sea leaves from Miami in
October for for the Bahamas on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian
While tour tickets are selling well, Owen said they had no
idea if they would be playing to five people or a sold-out house
when the tour was announced several weeks ago.
"We just didn't know how the economy would affect people
buying tickets. We didn't decide to do the tour for the money,"
While the band has played concerts such as a benefit for
tornado victims in Alabama in 2011, this is the first official
tour since 2003. The group is bringing along three to four
musicians to round out their sound.
Owen said the band members are looking forward to seeing
their fans again. "I think it's wonderful we still care about
one another and we still care about the music. And actually we
are still a pretty good band.
"It's just one of the lucky stories in country music. It's
great to know that people haven't forgotten the music," he said.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Vicki Allen)