They've got a building, the Talladega Bottling Works.

They remodeled it and put in a recording studio.

They've got local musical writing and playing talent.

They've got an indoor event venue for weddings, concerts, shows, parties and corporate events.

They've got an outdoor venue for shows on and near the old Talladega historic courthouse square.

They've got the support of the local community.

They've grown connections with upcoming country music artists, both local and southeastern.

If you were to make a checklist of how to blossom into a new music recording mecca, Kevin Shawn Smith and his Talladega Bottle Works have checked off most of the boxes already -- and are still checking.

The city of Talladega, located in eastern Alabama about 50 miles east of Birmingham, has been well-known for a menagerie of things over the century:

The racetrack. NASCAR. Race weekends. Practicing and testing. The International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and its related industries.

The award-winning "Blind Boys of Alabama" gospel singing group. Blind, black and brilliant. Since 1939.

Talladega College, a historical black college, its spirited Talladega Tornadoes band, and its scholars and distinguished faculty and graduates.

The restored Ritz Theater and its popular events.

Historical homes and tours. The Silk-Stocking District.

What have I left out? I'm sure some Talladega readers will contact me with additions to the "What is Talladega known for?" list. Well, you can add one more thing to the Talladega parade of hits: A recording studio drawing in musicians from the area – and from the Southeast. 

It also sponsors public performances by local and national artists:

Open mic nights on some Fridays. 

Small Town Sunday, resuming March 3. First Sundays of the month.

The public is allowed to view the studio and watch during most practices (but not during actual recording sessions).

Upcoming in the busy life of Kevin Smith and collaborators:

Recording songs for Danny Dawson's new album: "Dive Bars, Guitars and One Night Stands;" "Cold Side of the Pillow;" "Hell Must of Froze Over," an original song by Kevin Smith; "I Know Why You Hate Me;" "Cowboys Don't Always Ride Away."

To keep up with the growing list of upcoming things to do at Talladega Bottling Works, mark this Facebook page and check back weekly.

Already, the bottling works has been the site of audio or video recordings of:

Jerry Wolfe and his original song, “Moonshiner.”

Dakota King and his song, “Smoke, Honey.”

Jerry Maze Noble, a Talladega native, and his Sunday morning radio show on 105.6 FM from 10 a.m. to noon.

Kat Hunter and Hunter Reynolds performing on the historic square.

Kristen Kelly’s new album, “Warrior.”     

Josiah Rodda recording the studio’s first music video, his original song, “Regret.”

And, of course, the proprietor of all this musical movement, Kevin Shawn Smith, with his song “Mary Jane.”

"Always remember, if you ain't first, you're last." - Ricky Bobby, "Talladega Nights."

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.