Oh my goodness. In my town of Florence, Alabama, the annual W.C. Handy Music Festival is the party of all parties. It’s a full week of music and dancing and getting out and being friendly with folks you may only see during Handy Week. You probably associate Handy with Memphis or St. Louis, but the Father of the Blues was born in Florence in 1873. In 1982 some local folks formed the Music Preservation Society to remember and honor the favorite musical son. The first Handy Festival was a weekend of music featuring Dizzy Gillespie. Now, it’s a week-long celebration of jazz, blues, gospel, country, rock-‘n’-roll and things I don’t even really understand but enjoy anyway. Music is everywhere during Handy Week — or just “Handy,” as the locals say. You can hear performances at restaurants, in parks, in stores, on sidewalks — anywhere a musician can set up. Most of Handy is free, although a few concerts have admission. Handy Week wraps up on a Saturday with a New Orleans-style street strut through downtown. Folks deck out themselves and their parasols — many marching for a cause such as breast cancer awareness — and strut their best stuff. So much fun! The two things I like best about Handy Week are 1) You can park yourself somewhere and sit and enjoy free live music for hours and 2) Everybody — and I mean everybody — gets out and has a good time. Tentative dates for 2010 are July 17-26. Put that on your calendar and check the W.C. Handy Music Festival site, http://www.wchandymusicfestival.org, for info and the TimesDaily site, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20090725/VIDEO/907252012# for a video of the strut.