“Take the Woods Ballistic! Black Belt Nightlife” disrupts the sleepy picture of rural life by taking you into its nightlife. In Alabama’s Black Belt, the night scene has a beat all its own, rooted in a sense of deep community. We dive into bootlegging, clubbing, and a legendary Black Belt festival: the Footwash in Uniontown. Catherine Shelton of the Coleman Center for the Arts in York and Bosephus Gary of Bo’s Fashions in Uniontown take us into the mix, revealing how Black Belt residents balance a hard work week and an ongoing fight for environmental justice with nights of leisure and release.

This batch of Gravy is reported and produced by Jackie Clay, Executive Director at the Coleman Center for the Arts in rural Sumter County, Alabama; Matt Whitson; an award-winning production audio mixer and video editor at Alabama Public Television in Birmingham, Alabama; and Emily Blejwas, Executive Director of the Alabama Folklife Association and author of The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (UA Press).

Photo of Catherine Shelton by Jackie Clay.