Category: Local Love

Show Review: Naan Violence at Cuckoo’s Nest

DSCN0774Last Wednesday night I found myself watching a sitar player in the small living room of a house called “The Cuckoo’s Next”, and was surprised at the turnout for that rainy night. Though the show was promoted to start at 7pm, of course it didn’t really start until around 9pm, but the time passed fast with friendly conversation and record-listening. I loved how they had balloons on the living room floor just for that night, and how I was surrounded by mostly people talking about music and not just forced small talk. Some of the crowd were people I don’t see out often, and others I would not have expected to see there, but it all meshed well together in the hospitable environment.

The small intimate setting of the living room was ideal for the sitarist’s set. I was intrigued by him starting out playing on an acoustic guitar, because I noticed how he played it differently than the traditional ‘American-style.’ That house was his last stop after touring the past two and a half weeks. It was his second time playing in Birmingham, his first time being at The Firehouse a couple of months ago.

I was surprised that he had only been playing sitar for five years because I thought he was quite good, and he’s taking sitar lessons in India later this year. So cool. He said that he felt very well-received by the Cuckoo crowd, and enjoyed being able to play an all acoustic set for a change.

As for the house itself, it was hard to tell who all lived there, but Milton of Them Natives, who booked the show, stated that he is not planning to utilize that house as an established venue, and it is only the second show that has been booked there. Even though that house probably won’t have many shows in its near future, I thought it was still cool enough to document.

As a side note, Silver Reich, a project Milton is doing with Emanual Ellinas, is playing The Firehouse June 24th, so check that out if you can. 


Hear more of Naan Violence at zapcassettes.com.

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.

vulcan

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.

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

ryan1

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

Tuscaloosa says Goodbye to DIY venue Baby Haus

babyhausLast Saturday was the final show at Baby Haus, a house in Tuscaloosa that had been hosting shows in a few different locations for the past four years. As if Tuscaloosa wasn’t already renowned for being a “party town,” Baby Haus would often take it to the next level with antics such as nude moshpits, fireworks being set off in the house and the now infamous story of two girls getting busy during one band’s set.

I remember my first Baby Haus show in Fall 2010 and how I felt immediately welcomed & had so much fun.

Don’t get me wrong, Birmingham is rad, but Tuscaloosa got wild back in those days.

When it relocated to down the street in Fall 2011, the crunkness continued and the house’s walls eventually turned into a mural of random paintings & sketches. There were potlucks, bonfires, and eclectic bills ranging from hip hop to sludge metal (and of course, always the punk & garage rock).

Once Baby Haus moved to across the street, the house’s owner David Allen proclaimed that he didn’t want to have any shows at his new home. However, low-key backyard shows in Fall 2012 quickly escalated into house shows once again, but without the tagging and breaking things. Some proclaimed “Baby Haus was over” since it wasn’t as buck, but I personally appreciated how it had toned down into a setting for more artistic appreciation instead of constant inebriation. Shit was still getting ‘weird’ as recently as December though, when contact was made with Kurt Cobain through a Ouija board at the “Friday the 13th show,” and several people went down that rabbit hole.

I think we definitely took Baby Haus for granted while it was still here. It’s honestly a little hard to imagine our DIY scene without it, but Saturday was the perfect way to close it out.

The music started around 3:30pm and ended around 2am. All of the sets were solid, and shit got wild, reminiscent of Baby Hauses past, when Capsized’s pedal board got trampled and Billy Luttrell’s guitar got destroyed– missing 3 tuners, bridge and tail. I was in the middle of the crowd for nearly every set except for theirs because the moshing was too intense, even for me. Luttrell told me that it was the funnest show he’s ever played.

Carson Mitchell of The Dirty Lungs (who have an album soon to be released on Birmingham’s Communicating Vessels label) told this story of Baby Haus, having played the final show and at the former house: “Very funny story about the first time we played; we actually had a gig booked at the Mellow Mushroom, but there was some kind of mix up with the booking and they weren’t even going to open that night. We found this out as we were unloading all of our gear to the upstairs stage, and were very bummed out about it. To make matters worse, as we were reloading our gear into the van, our bass player at the time Jordan Sellers crushed his hand in the service elevator everyone uses to load their gear upstairs. It literally was broken for 4 months after the incident. Anyhow, after all of this nonsense had occured, we were still determined to make something happen even if it was just a party. Luckily, I texted our friend Madison (Langston) who was still living in T-Town at the time and already at a show at Baby Haus. She asked David right then if we could jump on the bill and he obliged. We ended up having one of the best and oddest shows of our life. Down a member, we had to play whatever we could think of that another one of our members could play on bass. It was also the first night I ever saw Gull, who is practically a celebrity in Birmingham now. I couldn’t think of a better way to experience the awesomeness of Baby Haus for the first time.”

babyhaus2

We are all really sad that the epic nature of Baby Haus is now over, but the memories will live on forever. I know someone will pick up the torch soon; Ttown is too rad not to have a DIY venue.

Saturday actually almost felt like just any other Baby Haus show filled with good music and good times until David Allen started handing out the goodie bags that included compilations, reminiscent of the Piss Shivers and Sorry Y’all era, and that’s when the nostalgia kicked in.  Birmingham is lucky to be getting David Allen, and Tuscaloosa will surely miss him.

However, though Baby Haus is over now, Tuscaloosa’s music scene is not. We had a huge benefit show for United Students Against Sweatshops in the basement of a dorm in January, a “Valentine’s Day weekend ‘Cupid is a Sonofabitch’ ” house show last month and have a “Spring Broke” house show planned for March 29th. We are aiming to have an all ages show once a month now. You can keep up with the current happenings in Tuscaloosa through the facebook group DIY Tuscaloosa.

In the words of OG-Baby Jake Hinson, “This is rock ‘n roll, baby. Get used to it.”

Anna Thomas is a writer studying Education and Spanish at the University of Alabama. Currently in the band Rumblepak, she also books shows for DIY Tuscaloosa. She’s the newest addition to BHAMFM. 

Local Love: Zach and Cheyloe

Zach and Cheyloe

Occasionally people suggest bands or artists for me to listen to or go see. This past Saturday my father-in-law suggested my wife and I meet he and my mother-in-law at a bar on one of the busiest thoroughfares in Birmingham, Highway 280. One of his cohorts he regularly plays pool with has a son who plays music and would be playing at this bar that afternoon. So, paw-in-law suggested we go check it out and maybe have a beer or two. He knows that I am a music fan, and he thought maybe I would dig it. We obliged because who would turn down a free beer? I expected a decent acoustic guitar player churning out cover upon cover of all the crowd-pleasing hit songs from yesteryear. I figured it would be fine for a Saturday afternoon. When we arrived I was

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totally surprised.

There were two people on stage one female, playing a 12-string acoustic and singing, the other, a male, banging out percussion on a “cajon” which is basically a wooden box you sit on and play drum patterns. We walked in and sat down with our beers, and I found myself enamored with these two musicians. Each switched instruments and sang and played off each other like two old pros. I would find out later that the guys name is Zach Austin and the girl, Cheyloe Martin. They were on stage playing original tunes from both artists’ repertoires. A lot of the songs and lyrics to the songs sound like they could be instant hits. Most people would probably put them in the category of Americana. I wouldn’t disagree, but I would maybe add the Alt-Country tag. As I was sitting there watching these two I felt like I could see them on a bigger stage, playing to a large crowd at the Ryman in Nashville. They sounded honest to me.

When they took their first break, I walked up and spoke with Zach and Cheyloe briefly. Both seemed eager to get their music out and make a go of this thing. I told them how much I liked their stuff, and both were cool enough to hand me some music to take home, Cheyloe’s demo and a disc of music from Zach’s other band Calling Station. Both artists have pages I’ve linked below.

Zach Austin – http://www.reverbnation.com/zachaustin

Cheyloe – http://www.reverbnation.com/cheyloe

I didn’t expect what I got when I walked into that bar, and I was more than pleasantly surprised to hear something different. If you live in the Birmingham metro area and are looking for a place to have an afternoon brewski (or 4), check out Courtyard 280 and see if you can catch Zach and Cheyloe. They might surprise you too.

Weekend Show Lineup – 1/10-1/12

For those of you who survived the Polar Vortex, go celebrate your survival this weekend with some live tunes!! Stay warm, stay drunk, stay in the groove.

                                          FRIDAY(1/10)

Birmingham/Tuscaloosa:

·   Bottletree – Cate Le Bon / Drew Price’s Bermuda Triangle / Kevin Morby

·   The Nick – Dirty Mike and the Boy / Economy Cartel

·   Zydeco – Same As It Ever Was(Talking Heads Tribute Band)

·   Jupiter (ttown) – CBDB

Atlanta/Athens:

·   Fox Theatre – John Hiatt / Robert Randolph / Gregg Allman

·   Georgia Theatre (athens) – The Infamous Stringdusters

·   Center Stage – Queensryche

Nashville/Huntsville/Shoals:

·   Foobar – Rearview Ghost

·   3rd & Lindsley – Russell Howard

·   High Watt – Lobo / Voodoo Prophet / Enormity / Call Me Savage

·   Mercy Lounge – Johnette Napolitano / Jim Bianco

·   The Basement – Patrick Sweaney / Corey Chisel

Louisville/Lexington:

·   Headliners – The Del McCoury Band

·   Zanzabar – Junk Yard Dogs

Knoxville/Chattanooga/Asheville(NC):

·   Barley’s Taproom – Dylan Leblanc

·   Bijou Theatre – Iris Dement

·   Rhythm & Brews (nooga) – Machines Are People Too

·   Orange Peel(ash) – Steep Canyon Rangers / Sam Bush

Auburn/Montgomery/Mobile:

·   Moe’s BBQ (au) – The Bama Gamblers

                                            SATURDAY(1/11)

Birmingham/Tuscaloosa:

·         Black Market – Zach Doss

·         The Nick – Skeptic? / Cancerslug / Justify these Scars

·         Bottletree – Shaheed & DJ Supreme / Great American Breakdown / Agent Cooper / Dirty Lungs

·         Zydeco – Sundy Best

    • Innisfree (ttown) – The Bama Gamblers

 

Atlanta/Athens:

·   Georgia Theatre (athens) – The Infamous Stringdusters

·   Red Light Café – Kevin Kinney

Nashville/Huntsville/Shoals:

·   High Watt – Dylan Leblanc / Grayson Capps

·   Cannery – Crosses

·   Exit/In – Same As It Ever Was (Talking Heads Tribute Band)

·   Ryman – Erich Church / Will Hoge

·   VBC (hsv) – Bela Fleck

Knoxville/Chattanooga/Asheville(NC):

·         Orange Peel(ash) – Steep Canyon Rangers

·         Grey Eagle(ash) – St Paul and the Broken Bones / Patrick Sweaney

                                          SUNDAY(1/12)

Birmingham/Tuscaloosa:

·   Bottletree – Shaheed & DJ Supreme / Agent Cooper / Great American Breakdown

Atlanta/Athens:

·         Wonderroot – Speedy Ortiz

Nashville/Huntsville/Shoals:

·   Exit/In – Glossary / Self

Knoxville/Chattanooga:

·   Track 29 (nooga) – Pop Evil / Within Reason

 

***If you see someone(s) I missed, let me know.  My Twitter is @jtid82. See you at the rock show!*** – JT