Music Finds a Home in Waverly, AL
Words and photography by Jones Willingham
The first thing I noticed about Waverly, Alabama, is that it takes forever to get there. You’re on Highway 280, the hell among highways, for a solid hour and a half — ebbing and flowing through towns like Childersburg and Sylacauga and eventually hitting a whole lot of nothing. Then you turn off of the highway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere; little do you know that you’re about to enter an oasis for live music.
15 minutes northwest of Auburn, Standard Deluxe exists as a peculiar but incredible institution for live music, art, and so much more. Established in 1991 by owner and president Scott Peek, the halcyon property seems like your grandfather’s friendly farm in the country. However, Standard Deluxe offers much more than initially meets the eye; for nearly two decades, Standard Deluxe has hosted artists such as Jason Isbell, Charles Bradley, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and countless others that have made the pilgrimage to Waverly, AL for the Old 280 Boogie, which is a festival that brings hundreds to the property every April. The Boogie was started in 2001 in celebration of the Alabama Department of Transportation routing 280 around Waverly rather than through it; the residents of the town decided to throw a massive party to celebrate, and today that party has been featured in outlets such as the Bitter Southerner and AL.com. However, Standard Deluxe is not just limited to their outdoor events; the sweetly-named ‘Little House’ hosts intimate shows for up-and-coming artists passing through the state, or it can serve as an incredibly special experience to be up close to some of the best artists in the Americana genre. Scott recalled the power of the Little House when he spoke of Grammy-winner Cedric Burnside’s show there last year, saying that Burnside “played with no PA, no microphones, or anything — just him and a guitar.”
On top of the incredible music that can be heard at Standard Deluxe, the property acts as a screen-printing shop with a storefront existing to sell products made right in Waverly, AL. You can feel the uniqueness and quality of the shirts, posters, and other goods that Standard Deluxe designs; everything they create feels distinctively southern, with just the right proportions of wit and warmth to yield charm.
When I arrived at Standard Deluxe to cover Dylan LeBlanc’s show at the Little House, I was taken aback at the feeling of community that existed on the property. While I knew it was going to be a small show (the capacity at the little house hovers around fifty people), everyone there knew each other and was incredibly excited to hear Dylan’s new album. Leading the charge was Scott himself, greeting every person that walked in with a handshake, hug, and a “How are you?” It did not feel as if I was attending a loud rock concert that night, but instead like I was coming home to an outdoor barbeque with my closest friends. The kindness and inviting nature of Standard Deluxe swept me off my feet, and I was amazed before the show had started. With a full calendar for the summer and fall, and the Fall 280 Boogie imminent, there is no reason not to pay a visit to Waverly, Alabama and Standard Deluxe. Check out their upcoming events at standarddeluxe.com/live-music to learn more about what’s coming up.