Month: April 2014

No News Is Good News: Is Our City For Sale?

pepsibgAhhhhh! Cold! Refreshing! Corporate!

Yes, who doesn’t enjoy a cold, fizzy soda pop on a hot summer day? From the Jack and Cokes we guzzle at The Nick to the cold Mountain Dews we down in Railroad Park, there’s no doubt our city – like almost every developed city/country in the world – is hopelessly addicted to sweet, sticky sodas. Hell, if health and surviving past the ripe old age of 50 weren’t concerns, I would mainline mounds of sugar via soda on a daily basis. And I’m considered a reserved soda drinker.

So, when the mammoth Pepsi sign atop the Two North Twenty building was quickly announced, installed and settled (according to local government entities, anyway) what right did we, Birmingham area residents, have to get mad? Sure, The Birmingham dot al dot News dot com newspaper website thingy reported eight months earlier that the Birmingham Design Review Committee had flat-out refused the idea more than once. Heck, they even called it a “glorified billboard.” Sick burn, dude!

Yet, like mammoth companies with tons of money and microns of community respect, concern or class commonly do, Pepsi worked and wiggled until their precious (and precocious) sign was “unstoppable.” Our slowly resurging downtown got a shiny new blue rectangle of cockamamie corporate propaganda. SUGAR GODS BE PRAISED! DEATH TO ALL PANCREAS!

I say, good work, city council and mayor! There’s now little doubt that various Birmingham structures are for sell if any impolite but persistent company shows up with enough scratch to keep our local politicians happy. As a concerned citizen (and a proud graduate of Birmingham City Schools), I wanted to do my part and throw out a few more genius advertising ideas.

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How about slapping some Depends Undergarments on Vulcan? Imagine the revenue streams (ha…streams!) this could generate. With the aging Baby Boomer population, we need to throw this idea on the anvil and strike while the iron is hot. Let’s be honest, Vulcan’s high, round, firm buttocks have long been an embarrassment. This genius idea could actually kill two birds with one stone. It would protect Birmingham’s puritanical reputation and generate clouds of copious cash for local politicians. BUTTCHEEK BOOYAHH!

Next, let’s paint the exterior of the half-empty Cooper-Green Hospital bright blue and make it a museum. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield Museum presents – The Denied Coverage Hall of Fame! See patients suffer! Watch children weep! Track the history of financially decimated families! Yeah, pretty dark, I know. To boost attendance, they’d have to appeal to typical Alabama voters by adding on a special wing – The Horrors of Obamacare! See the death panels in action! Watch as your money is flushed down a toilet! See poor people who might have a different skin color than you receive medical care! OH NO, THE HUMANITY! They could offer a guarantee with admission: “We guarantee local visitors won’t sleep for a week!”

The possibilities are endless. Heck, these are just two ideas I thought up one Saturday morning with a hangover. Imagine the damage a motivated PR firm with pockets full of payoff cash could do to downtown Birmingham. Sell BET the Civil Rights Museum. Attach Larry the Cable Guy billboards to every downtown church. Tear down the Alabama Theater and build another Wal-Mart. Vivid Video presents: Lynn Park. Think of all that sweet revenue potential.

Seriously though, we have all got to wonder how much of Birmingham is for sale? After local leaders smiled and shook hands as these international money makers moved in with impunity, maybe we should all be a bit skeptical. What do local officials define as sacred? What would they turn down? There’s little doubt that downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods are on the verge of dynamite growth. Untouched and pretty much forgotten for many decades, the area now has the potential to become a unique, funky, fun and affordable area. Yet, only if the powers that be make decisions with their heads AND their hearts. For me and many others, Pepsi’s blue monstrosity appears to be the first troubling sign.

 

PHIL’S ALBUM OF THE WEEK

ASG – ‘Blood Drive’

Melodic, punchy rock that avoids all the embarrassing cliches. Having first caught ASG in all their glory opening up for Weedeater at the Bottletree, I didn’t immediately trust them. In the metal world, anyone singing at the top of their ability over catchy riffs is disturbing and suspicious. (Cut to me sipping a PBR: “What are these guys trying to do … become the next Nickelback?) Now, after having seen them live three times and following their last few releases, I get the feeling these guys are sincere. If they were looking for the cash grab, would they still be playing places like Zydeco?

Anyway, iTunes says “Avalanche” is my favorite track from this album, but I think “Day’s Work” is the jewel. Give it a listen:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Phil has been a huge part of our site since 2008. His unique perspective on all things Birmingham make him the perfect sounding board for a regular BHAMFM feature. Like what you’ve read? Send us a shout on Twitter (@bhamfmdotcom) and check back in a few days for more from Phil.

Album Review/Interview: JOSH NOLAN

3Rising from a small, blue collar town, buried in the Appalachain Mountains, lies Kentucky’s answer to the New Jersey sound that time forgot; Fair City Lights by Josh Nolan. Nolan’s album is a refreshing, much needed nod, to the early rock and roll sounds of singer/songwriters from the likes of Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen. ‘The Boss’ will obviously be the first thing you’re reminded of when you listen to the album but it’s has so many more layers than that; dig in and find out for yourself… I fully expect it to be included on a whole lotta “best of 2014” list; I know it will remain on mine.
The album,  “Fair City Lights,” kicks off with a track titled “Do it Right.” It’s a great opening song because it adequately shows off what Nolan is brining to the table but only through subtle hints. Therefore you can’t fully grasp his brilliance until you listen to the entire album (the tracks are perfectly placed like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle). Coming out of the gate with his boots on tight and head on straight Nolan masterfully weaves between country ballad type tunes such as; East Kentucky Skyline, Brave Heart Too, and Do it Right into more rock n roll, gritty tracks such as; Lulbegrud Revival (Golden Age), When I was Young, and Waiting on the Night like a horse racing for the finish line at the Kentucky Derby. The closing track on the record, Between the Lights, starts out with a somber fiddle and ends with a fasted paced lyrical delivery in which Nolan is all but literally thanking his influences. This isn’t just my favorite track on the album; it’s is the perfect track to close out this beautifully crafted, debut album from Kentucky’s own Josh Nolan.
Bottom-line: The album is great; an instant classic. It’s also a perfect soundtrack for driving around with the windows down and singing along “to the voices on the radio.” Do yourself a favor, pick up a copy of this album; you won’t regret it.
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I was fortunate enough to pick Josh Nolan and pick his brain a little about the album. Not only is the album fantastic, Josh is a great dude and once you meet him, you’ll love his music even more….
 
BHAMFM: There’s not a whole lot to the cover art, it’s pretty simple, any special reason?
JN: The font on the cover is my mothers handwriting. Mom used to get paid to write peoples wedding invitations. When I tried to write the title it just looked like someone dropped a tackle box on a scratch-off ticket. So basically, someone’s Save-the-Date looks a lot like my first record.
 
BHAMFM: So you write like a 4yr old, noted. I’ve heard through the grapevine (if that grapevine has a lot of hair, tattoos, and also plays in a Lexington, Ky based band) that you played most, if not all, of the instruments on this album. True of false?
JN: I didn’t play the horns on the fiddle and on “Waiting on the Night” my sister played the drums but other than that I can be blamed for the rest!  Starlit Lorentzen (Flickertail Holler) played the fiddle on “Between the Lights. She listened to the song a few times, I gave her the melody and let her play it. I’d point out what I liked and where I liked it. We’d cut and paste, so to speak. The finished product ended up being, essentially, four sections of a solid take; I don’t think it took much more than an hour and that was the first the actual time she had even played the song.
 
BHAMFM: Wow. Well nice work, my friend. Gimme two random facts about the album. 3,2,1 GO!
JN: I wrote all but the first verse and chorus of “Til the World Runs Out” the night before I did the vocal tracks. “Brave Heart, too” was a working title I had given a riff I wrote on the clock while working at guitar center; only then it was Brave Heart II. I finished the music, which was a completely different vibe, and wrote the lyrics; starting with that stupid pun. The lyrics ended up being not so Dude Ranch era Blink and I flipped the music around and rearranged it to let the narrative be the foreground. I had the idea for the accordion intro when I was in the studio; I had initially planned for that to be an organ.
 
BHAMFM: Well the album is one of my favorites of the years. I look forward to much more outta you in the future! One last question; Do you still work at guitar center?
JN: Liquor store
BHAMFM: Like a boss.
 
Links:
 
 
Track Listing:
 
  1. Do it Right
  2. Waitin’ On the Night
  3. Come Mornin’
  4. Brave Heart, Too
  5. When I Was Young
  6. East Ky Skyline
  7. Lulbegrud Revival (Golden Age)
  8. ‘Til the World Runs Out
  9. Between the Lights

THE BHAMFM.COM MIXTAPE :: APRIL 2K14

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Hello everyone. Are you sneezing your brains out because of the horrific amount of pollen in the air? Sweet! Us too! Get through the “hay fever blues” with some tight songs from your friends at your favorite music blog. This month we’ve got all kinds of good stuff for you to listen to. It’s time for another brand new BHAMFM Mixtape.

Check out the songs below and make sure to hit “follow”.

 

FAILURE REUNION, II: TREE OF STARS TOUR COMING TO ATLANTA AND NASHVILLE!

 

Hey guys, remember last year when I wrote a fanboy post about Failure teasing out a reunion on Facebook? Well, it happened!

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Ken Andrews (ON, Year of the Rabbit), Greg Edwards (Lusk, Autolux), Troy Van Leeuwen (A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age, Enemy), and Kellii Scott (Enemy, Veruca Salt) are together again sharing the stage. Failure have already played as opening act at several West Coast TOOL (who are teasing a new album later this year) shows, and are kicking of the Tree of Stars tour opening for A Perfect Circle and Puscifer at the Greek Theatre for Cinquanta: a 50th birthday party for Maynard James Keenan. From there, the tour becomes “An Evening with Failure”, meaning no opening act.

Instead of an opening act, the band will show a short film before launching into a set that they promise will span the breadth of their three full length albums, since fans haven’t been able to see them for so long.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get better after last week’s Game of Thrones (NO SPOILERS!)…

Today, Failure announced that the tour has been extended, which is why I’m just now writing about it. They have added dates for Atlanta (Saturday, June 7 at the Masquerade) and Nashville (Sunday, June 8 at the Exit/In). Tickets for these shows go on sale this Friday, April 18. So, set aside some tax money and get ready to space out! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to start listening to Fantastic Planet over and over until June. I suggest you do the same.

GLEN IRIS DOUBLE FEATURE: Southside’s day of shows

houseshow

Last Saturday, 1612 had its first show.

Things kicked off around noon with a lineup of Balcony View, Electric Sheep, and Bird’s Nest. Around 8pm the ‘double feature’ continued with Lume (new local shoegaze– Lizzie Little, Rickey Edge, Zane Lake, Jacob Watson, Jake Lovett), Mightus, Dommel Mosel (Adam Measel), and White Sands Missile Range. It was a great time, plus there was pizza and the neighbor let us jump on their trampoline, so what more do you really want from life.All of the bands said they had a great time playing and chillin’ at the house, with emphasis on the advantages of the intimate atmosphere a house show provides as well as the diverse turnout of a more eclectic show.

Rickey Edge, resident of 1612, said that he came up with the idea for a day show a couple of months ago, elaborating on their goal to “foster the growing sense of community in our scene” by showcasing bands from mixed genres. Rickey also stated that they are definitely going to have more shows at 1612 in the future and already have a few in the works.

After things wrapped up at 1612, The Steel City Jug Slammers played around midnight at David Maclay’s (of Electric Sheep) house. Their downstairs space is great for a band to play, complete with a built-in bar and even a spare room with a couch and red light 😉

Being somewhat in the know myself, I anticipate the block-party-shows that await Birmingham this Summer. So stay tuned DIY fam, because summertime will be here sooner than you probably realize.

 

Interview with Ryan McLaughlin of JOX Gameday

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His story comes from all corners, including Atlanta and Memphis (Collierville to be exact), but Stone Mountain, Georgia native Ryan McLaughin has now found a home in Birmingham. Trying his hand at managing UAB’s college radio station led to a job hosting at sports radio staple WJOX. He also writes about music & lifestyle for several sites. He talked with BHAMFM about the local sports radio fanbase, wild interviews with celebrities & what it’s like having a real job in media in the new millenium.

BHAMFM: How did you first get involved in radio?

Ryan: Going back a little bit here, but I first got intrigued with the idea of a media career back in High School. My school offered a TV Production course that I loved. We made intros for our school’s morning news show, music videos,a music-themed TV show and more.  Fastforward to college and I decided to give BlazeRadio a try (even though I was an Exercise Science major).

BHAMFM: How long were you at BlazeRadio and how was your experience running the station?

Ryan: I actually started at BlazeRadio during my senior year. Again, just something I decided I’d try out. At first my shows were relatively simple and had a small audience (read: family). I did three shows a week: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all two hours a piece.  I eventually traded between countdowns and music-based talk formats, similar to what you hear on Urban FM stations.  Running the station was probably the best experience I had out of my whole tenure with the station.  Got to learn my management style and learn just how difficult it was to manage 30 different personalities! It got a little crazy, but having well-balanced people assist me throughout made it definitely worthwhile and a whole lot less stressful.  I feel as if the roster we had allowed us to be dynamic in how we were presented on campus!

BHAMFM: What was your favorite show to host there (sports or music) and who else hosted?

Ryan: Whew, I had a TON of different shows while on there. As far as my own shows were concerned, it was a tie between the BlazeRadio 15 and The Sports Forum.  The BlazeRadio 15 went from a countdown to more of a news-based show, but it focused on odd stories rather than standard news fare. My co-hosts rotated from LeBaron (known as Baron Amato), Haruskii, Cam, KeeKee, Lauren Woods (now a News Producer in Arkansas), Mimi Turner, Conrad Atkins and more, all good friends of mine!  The Sports Forum was hosted by myself, Daniel Seahorn (Asst. Coach at Tyler Community College) and Chris Sturdivant (does something at 95.7 JAMZ).  As far as other shows I loved being part of? LB’s “The Butter”, “The Chris Sturdivant Show”, “Roxie’s Rock Hour” and so many more.

BHAMFM: What did you do right after graduating?

Ryan: I somehow backed into a job with Citadel Broadcasting (now Cumulus Media), their Birmingham offices broadcast WJOX 94.5FM, HOT 107.7FM, 100WAPI (now 1070WAPI), 99.5 The Vibe (formerly Rock99) and more.  I had actually interned with the guys of The Roundtable, JOX’s midday program, and due to great references from SaBerre and Rockstar, was hired as a Promotions Tech.  I was basically one of the guys who help setup for different events that the station would host/broadcast, but being that I was the new guy, I mainly watched Orlando and Brian (two great guys who helped me through a lot at the time) do the job while occasionally given my own tasks.  After about 5 months, I was asked to fill-in as Richard Dixon (Afternoon host on 100/1070WAPI)’s Board Op due to the unfortunate and unexpected passing of his then producer, Christopher Kane.  I learned a lot during that timeframe, Dixon has worked in the industry for a long time and even though I was very stubborn coming out of college, some of the knowledge he passed on to me did stick. I was lucky to hang around as long as I did.  Even got to do some odd-jobs around the building as far as production was concerned, and leeched my way onto JOX.

BHAMFM: What was your first job at JOX like and how does it compare to what you do now?

Ryan: I started off as a board operator for any Alabama or NFL games that came on so I could make some extra cash.  Eventually David Sears and John SaBerre asked me if I could run the board for their Friday Night Football show, I accepted and was able to spend some of my actual work time talking sports rather than politics…or food, which Dixon and I got into a LOT.  Eventually the three of us earned a spot on the Saturday Late-Morning slot with “JOX Gameday Overtime”, transitioning into the hosts “JOX Gameday” itself. We later added Joe Hunk to the mix.  I was amazed by how many people love College Football so much that they would willingly listen to (then) three (now four) dweebs babble on about it with little to no coherency to the program whatsoever. As time went on, we grew more confident in our abilities and knowledge and now have a solid show with a solid audience.  I still work with them part time, even though I do not work in radio full-time at the moment (I work with UAB).

BHAMFM: Spoooooorts question. What are your favorite teams, pro or otherwise?

Ryan: My family is full of Oakland Raiders fans since my Mom is from LA (and of course there was a time when they were the LA Raiders), she convinced to follow this path as well.  My Pops is an Eagles fan because he grew up with one of their all-time great players, Harold Carmichael.  I grew up in Atlanta and became a Falcons fan, it was solidified when Michael Vick was drafted back in 01.

BHAMFM: Who are your favorite Birmingham artists?

Ryan: I don’t have one per se, Haruskii (who’s gone by several aliases) is one of my favorites… and he’s a good friend of mine. Big fan of The Nu Nation and GA Band “All The Locals”…..not all of those are Birmingham folks, but yeah….

BHAMFM: What was your craziest interview ever?

Ryan: Not sure if I had a CRAZY one, but I have had some odd ones.  When I worked for WAPI, Chris Kattan (of Roxbury, SNL fame) came to the studio and gave one of the most awkward interviews I’ve ever bared witness to. It wasn’t even like watching a trainwreck;  it was something much more intriguing.  Most interesting interview I have conducted probably goes to the guys of MyWayEntertainment, back when the Juggernaut/X-Men parody was going viral.

BHAMFM: On that same note, how is it dealing with regular sports radio callers? It can get crazy in Birmingham.

Ryan: It’s….interesting to say the least.  I didn’t grow up a college football fan, but I certainly enjoy it since I consider myself a football junkie. It’s fun conversing with people who feel as passionate about a sport as you do, even if you don’t focus on the same levels.  It’s easy to go and call some of the people that we interact with every Saturday “crazy”, because they can be overzealous, but it all comes from a passion that they share.  In Georgia, I grew up a Falcons fan, living for every Sunday, in Alabama they grow up Alabama/Auburn fans, and live for every Saturday. Same idea, different day.

BHAMFM: Do you have a 5 or 10 year plan for what you want to do in radio? What do you ultimately want to end up doing?

Ryan: You know, I’ve worked and reworked various ideas in my head and I’m at the point where I’m letting life take me where it needs to take me.  Before I make decisions now, I try and ask myself “do I NEED to do this? How does it benefit me in the long run?”. I’m enjoying myself and what life has to offer, and a woman that I love and care for dearly, so I really can’t just up and make decisions without thinking things through anymore.  I’m writing part-time, so we’ll see how that develops over time, and I would love to find myself on the other side of the glass in the near future, but I have to work on my craft and make myself and my personality an entity that a company would want representing them.  Right now I’m working in higher-ed, and loving it, since it’s in a department I never would have thought about working in, and again, if the right opportunity arose, I would probably stay in it, it definitely has its perks!

BTW, Ryan’s show is JOX Gameday. It airs Saturdays from 8am to 11am on JOX 94.5FM, it can be found online at joxfm.com or iheartradio.com.  He’s also now writing on occasion for From The Rafters at fromtherafters.com