• A Good News Story

      Americans are unusually charitable. Surveys show that Americans give more to charity than any other country. We give more money, and more time. Good for us.

      We ran across one more example of that in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Muscle Shoals has been called "America ’s Unsung Music Mecca." Recording stars like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, the Rolling Stones, and Paul Simon recorded hits there.

      The area still turns out all kinds of music, from R&B to Country , but talented kids were frustrated because there weren't places where they could perform in front of an audience. Most of the gigs are in bars, and you can’t go into a bar in Alabama until you are 21.

      Enter Pam Buchanan, who owns a small deli, the Lock Stock N Barrel, attached to a gas station. Pam decided she could do something about the problem -- provide a place where kids could perform without alcohol being involved.

      Pam decided to start an open mic night at the deli. Local musician Jim Marlboro helped Pam spread the word. They invited kids to come and perform, and others to watch, and come they did. No charge to play, no charge to watch. It was an immediate hit.

      “They come out here and it’s a safe place for them,” Pam said. “The parents come and shake my hands and they thank me for letting their kids come here and sing.”

      “Kids need a place like this. It keeps them out of trouble,” said one dad.

      And the kids love it. Before this, they had no place to show off their talent.

      “You can practice all you want to at home but unless you play in front of real people in a real crowd, you’re not going to grow as a musician,” said 17-year-old keyboardist Gentry Allen.

      So good for Pam Buchanan, for seeing a problem and using her ingenuity to solve it.

      Her charitable impulse is one more good thing about America.

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