When I found out World Champion Elvis Tribute Artist David Lee was playing in Talladega, I knew I had to go. When I found out he was playing in a historic Art Deco theater in the middle of a charming downtown I had never visited I was even more excited.
I love a small town downtown. After spending years visiting and driving through Southern towns, there's a special place in my heart for the familiarity of their designs -- the county courthouse, the buildings around the square, the old signage and glimpses of new life.
Talladega is about 55 miles east of Birmingham, but I had never been there. In fact. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't even know that it had a historic downtown (including the Court Square). I just thought of its most famous destination: The Superspeedway.
We only saw Court Square for a bit, right before the show.
The performance (and we'll get to that in a moment) was in the historic Ritz Theater. Built in 1936, and restored in 1997, it's a stunning example of Art Deco architecture. And it's home to performances like David Lee's, which benefitted the Talladega Library Hall of Heroes -- a Talladega Library project to honor the county's veterans. We were happy to support this important project!
I stepped out for a bottle of water during the show and snapped this picture of the courthouse. It's the oldest continually operating courthouse in the state. In front, a memorial to the USS Talladega, a transport ship used by the Navy in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
I need to go back during the day for full exploration.
Saturday I was focused on Elvis, or more specifically David Lee. It had been 14 years since I met the Birmingham-based Elvis tribute artist while doing a story. Though I hadn't seen him since then, I've kept up with his wife Tara via Facebook. A talented performer herself (singing background for him on Saturday), she also performs as Reba.
With an 11-piece band, they completely rocked it, and Talladega. We'll be back.