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Webb Dalton bringing love of music to MAMA Fam Jam on Thursday

The Montgomery Advertiser logoThe Montgomery Advertiser 3/24/2021 Shannon Heupel, Montgomery Advertiser
a man holding a guitar: Webb Dalton is the featured artist for Thursday's MAMA Fam Jam at Commerce BeerWorks in downtown Montgomery. © Contributed Webb Dalton is the featured artist for Thursday's MAMA Fam Jam at Commerce BeerWorks in downtown Montgomery.

Webb Dalton has a love for music and justice, and has spent decades finding ways to honor both. 

"I've been at it," said Dalton, a musician for more than 40 years. "You'd think I was 90 years old." 

He'll be pretty spry on Thursday starting at 7 p.m. as the featured artist for the Montgomery Area Musicians Association's Fam Jam at Commerce BeerWorks, 166 Commerce Street in downtown Montgomery. 

"The type of music I do is like rockabilly, honky tonk and rock and roll," Dalton said. "It's kind of a mix. I never really cared for labels. I enjoy different kinds of music, but I was raised on country." 

Randy Travis and woman posing for a photo: Early in his career, Montgomery native Webb Dalton, right, opened for Randy Travis. © Contributed Early in his career, Montgomery native Webb Dalton, right, opened for Randy Travis.

Along with music, Dalton has spent the past 33 years in law enforcement. He relocated back to his hometown of Montgomery with his job about a year ago. Among the first things Dalton did here was attend local jam sessions, meet area musicians and songwriters, and join MAMA. 

“I came to town, didn’t know a soul in the Montgomery music scene, and was thankful one of the first people I met was Alesia Gilliland with MAMA," Dalton said. "MAMA is a great organization that helps artists and venues connect, and they also believe in helping musicians with financial support when needed." 

a man holding a guitar: Webb Dalton is the featured artist for Thursday's MAMA Fam Jam at Commerce BeerWorks in downtown Montgomery. © Contributed Webb Dalton is the featured artist for Thursday's MAMA Fam Jam at Commerce BeerWorks in downtown Montgomery.

His work in music goes beyond performing. He's helping provide health care for musicians across the Gulf Coast. After seeing fellow artists pass while not having coverage, Dalton spent more than two years setting up Gulf Coast Musicians Medical Fund, a non-profit 501(c)3 charity. 

In his years away from here, Dalton said he stayed connected to his Montgomery country music roots, while being exposed to the sounds of Memphis. His audiences will be treated to the music of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Delbert McClinton, BB King, Jimmy Buffet, The Drifters and more.

After Dalton's set, the night turns into an all-genre open jam. Along with MAMA, the evening is hosted by the Alabama Jazz & Blues Federation and DBA Montgomery. The AJBF All Stars band will be backing Dalton and other performers. 

"I appreciate MAMA, Commerce BeerWorks and the Alabama Jazz & Blues Federation for hosting the Fam Jam and being invited as the guest artist for their event," Dalton said.

text: The cover for Webb Dalton's project Things Left Undone. © Contributed The cover for Webb Dalton's project Things Left Undone.

Journey into music

Dalton, who moved from Montgomery to Memphis as a child, remembers his first music gig. He was 14, playing in Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in Nashville. 

"Once it gets in your blood, you develop a passion for it," Dalton said. "It's always been something I've enjoyed and loved doing." 

He came by music naturally. His father used to sing in quartets, and attended Humes High School in Memphis. "He was in a talent show, and Elvis Presley was in it too," Dalton said. "My dad sings and plays guitar as a hobby." 

Dalton said he's had many blessings through the years. He's opened for stars like Garth Brooks, George Strait, Randy Travis, Kathy Mattea, George Jones, Travis Tritt, T. Graham Brown, Keith Whitley, John Conlee, The Gin Blossoms, and others. 

But before all the blessings, there were some struggles. When he moved to Nashville, Dalton found himself living in the back of his truck at Two Rivers Campground.

Garth Brooks wearing a hat: Montgomery native Webb Dalton, right, opened for Garth Brooks early in his career. © Contributed Montgomery native Webb Dalton, right, opened for Garth Brooks early in his career.

Dalton found work playing at the Nashville Palace, where he befriended a kitchen employee who would come out and sing a couple of songs. This worker mentioned to Dalton that he was talking to Warner Brothers about getting something going. Dalton remembers congratulating and encouraging him.

"This kitchen employee was Randy Traywick, who later changed his name to Randy Ray and is better known today as Randy Travis," Dalton said.

Their friendship continued, and Dalton opened for Travis at a fan club show, and again in Memphis at the Mid-South Coliseum. 

Dalton's music career continued to be strong. Along with all the opening act shows, he had a single on the Billboard charts. But after 5 ½ years on the road, Dalton chose to switch paths and pursue a career in law enforcement. 

“I was on the road 2 to 3 months at a time playing shows in Canada and across the U.S., when I had a situation where my fiancé had a serious health issue," Dalton said. "I had to choose between music or family. I chose family."

Dalton spends a lot of his weekends playing on the Gulf Coast and says he’s working on booking new shows in Montgomery and the River Region.

Gulf Coast Musicians Medical Fund

a close up of a sign: Webb Dalton created the Gulf Coast Musicians Medical Fund to help musicians who don't have health insurance. © Contributed Webb Dalton created the Gulf Coast Musicians Medical Fund to help musicians who don't have health insurance.

Minor health issues can easily turn into major ones if they're left untreated. That's often due to the costs involved with seeing a doctor. Many musicians don't have health insurance. 

"I realized I needed to do something," Dalton said. "So with the help of friends that God had put in my life who had started non-profit charities, GCMMF was born.” 

GCMMF pays for urgent care/minor medical office visits and prescriptions for Gulf Coast musicians and songwriters in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. 

Dalton recorded a gospel CD “Things Left Undone” that includes 10 songs, several old Southern gospel standards ("Just a Closer Walk with Thee," "Because He Lives," "I Saw The Light," and others). All proceeds from the CD's sales go to GCMMF. The CD was recorded in Memphis with Dalton's Memphis band, and co-produced with Grammy and Dove award winning artist and songwriter Bruce Carroll. Things Left Undone can be purchased on all digital download sites or at gcmmf.org, which is the official web site for the charity. 

Each year since the inception of GCMMF, there's been an annual fundraiser in Perdido Key, Florida at The Point Restaurant. It's a two-day event on two stages (indoor and outdoor) with local artists and bands playing throughout the day. Donated items are raffled off throughout both days, local artists exhibit their artwork, donating a portion of their sales to the charity and tickets are sold for one day or both days of the event.

“Because of the love, support and generosity of others, the charity has become successful in helping Gulf Coast musicians and songwriters who do not have insurance, get the help and assistance they need and deserve," Dalton said. 

Follow Dalton on Facebook @webbdaltonmusic

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Shannon Heupel at sheupel@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Webb Dalton bringing love of music to MAMA Fam Jam on Thursday

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