Category: Local Love

This is Not a Showcase: Birmingham HipHop Shows Out Tonight for Foreign Exchange Show

1421202_10201839221794504_1245245994_oTonight at 433 20th Street South, there will be a coming together of what might be the best emcees, poets and singers in the city.

Baron Amato is home from NOLA for the holidays and so it’s time to show out.


BHAMFM has done features on the beautiful Jazz’Mine Garfield and Baron Amato, so we cannot wait to see the local artists they’ve recommended (including Indyah, Eugenius, Chris Jay… they’ll all be there). Tonight, for $5 you can see the most soulful artists in town at a cool new venue called the Foreign Exchange Experience.

Next week, we will be interviewing Eugenius & Haruskii, two of the guys on the bill who are also putting the show together.

Need some chill in your life? Time for something new? Head on down. BHAMFM approved for sure.



Watch below for some hints as to how it’s going down tonight.



Interview with Jas’mine “JazzMine” Garfield: Birmingham’s Soul Siren


Lately, I’ve been sharing stories & detailed interviews with the stars of our city’s hiphop and R&B scene. This week, one of my personal favorite singers — from anywhere, not just Alabama — talks about conquering confidence issues to becoming an immensely talented voice who collaborates and creates with every relevant emcee in town. Meet JazzMine.

BHAMFM: You have one of the most beautiful voices in Birmingham. Who/what were some major influences that fostered your talent as a child?

Jas’mine: Well, first off, thank you! I was always the kid that was pushed up front. It seems like I could never escape the spotlight.. and I didn’t mind because that’s home for me. I was in many oratory competitions, essay contests, choirs. You name it, I did it! I just loved to perform. As a child, confrontation was hard for me. So was the ability to be understood. Performing in any realm or writing, for example, was life to me. I was understood and even then I just didn’t care what others would think of me. Life has to be another push of influence. I’ve always been an observant, laid back, kool kat, spelled with a K because — hey — we all belong in that “cool society” (laughs). I was this way as a child because there was wisdom in every step, every situation, every bit of time that my mind spent analyzing the truth, which then translated into creativity.

BHAMFM: What part of town did you grown up in?

Jas’mine: I grew up on the west side of town. Forestdale mainly, but my roots are deep in the Ensley area. I attended a private school, Holy Family, from preschool all the way through high school. It was the best school I attended simply because who “I am” grew right from that area.

BHAMFM: Your song “Intoxication” is my favorite R&B song of the year. The production value is amazing. We’ve posted it on our site a few times! How was the song born & who did you work with to record it?

Jas’mine: Keep on posting and sharing! Yeah, it is one of those songs that means a lot to me. There was a time in my life where I had lost myself. I mean, I couldn’t even look in the mirror because my image was resting in the eyes of someone else. We all have those times where we fall into our flesh and the only way we can cope is through wordily substance — not realizing that we are only destroying ourselves. I, like so many, tried to drain those thoughts we can never escape by having what we would consider “a good time”. I remember in the midst of everything that nothing was truly going to waste but myself. Many times I’ve slapped myself in the forehead and so many times I’ve had to sit back and say “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”. So I brought these lyrics to play. I’ve always been a huge fan of the original song sampled, “Feel Like Making Love” by Bob James. That was also my first time working with the amazing AP SWAYZE! He sent me the song and I think I might have screamed a little. Ok, ok… ALOT.

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BHAMFM: You’re an outspoken Christian. You always seem to have such a positive outlook on life, whether it’s sharing verses from the gospel or getting giddy when you post on Facebook about being in the studio. Would you share a little about your role as a Sunday school teacher and singing at your church?

Jas’mine: We have to understand how grateful and blessed we are. I don’t force my faith on anyone, but I know what God has done for me. I know that regardless of what you may go through, every blessing has its lesson… so we must learn. I remember being little and always praying for wisdom and not really understanding what I was asking for. It was those times when everyday seemed like hell, but you understand there is a breakthrough coming. Knowing what peace really is. What love truly means. We have to experience the wrongs to truly understand those things that are right. Everyday is Sunday School for me! When I’m on stage or even just recording, I feel that I’m in class. It’s a message of breakthrough I want to share. Before, I was one of those who couldn’t stand church. I was way too busy worried about those around me judging. Later I learned “Who cares? They don’t matter!” I gotta say, I’m honored to know the truth within my spiritual relationship with God.

BHAMFM: You have a very modern sound melded with a classically soulful voice. Who are your favorite artists on a larger scale? From any time period?

Jas’mine: Nina Simone, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, Kanye West, Nora Jones, Hiatus Kaiyote and Laura Mvula. These are my top for more than just there amazing talent, but for not being afraid of just being themselves. They made me not only fall in love with using metaphors in my composition, but also making me feel proud of just being “JazzMine”.

BHAMFM: Who have been the your favorite people to collaborate with in Alabama?

Jas’mine: There’s so much talent in Birmingham! So far, KLUB M.O.N.S.T.A. and Eugenius are amazing. Eugenius is just his own creator; I LOVE IT! I love those who step outside of the box, because it motivates me to run around the outskirts as well. And KLUB MONSTA, well they are just AMAZING. I was able to be a part of their mixtape “Separate, but Sequel” and their latest record “CANVAS.

Jas'mine and the infamous Gip of Gip's Place
Jas’mine and the infamous Gip of Gip’s Place

BHAMFM: How many records/singles/EPs do you have out that people can buy? Perfect stocking stuffers for folks with impeccable music taste!

Jas’mine: I’m currently working with an amazing group “Beats for Change” for an amazing EP release. Also, my newest EP “Write Every Wrong” will be releasing soon as well. So until then feel free to head on over and grabby my current stuff on my Bandcamp!

BHAMFM: What is an absolutely essential record that everyone must listen to, in your opinion?

Jas’mine: Geesh. This is tough without saying my own (grins). Currently, I would have to say the entire Hiatus Kaiyote album. If you understand good music, then you’ll ride the waves of AMAZING VIBES!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jas’mine is planning to grab her guitar and hit the open road in the near future, so check back in with us for tour dates & shows!

Interview with Chance Shirley of Delicate Cutters on filmmaking and heading back into the studio

Photos courtesy of Arik Sokol, Brandon Brown and Jonathan Purvis

BHAMFM: On top of being a musician, you’ve been an award winning filmmaker for a while. Have you ever had an opportunity to marry the two in any of your projects?

Chance: That opportunity has come up a few times, actually. The biggest was on Hide and Creep, my first feature film, co-directed with my pal Chuck Hartsell. Another pal of mine, Eric McGinty, wrote the music for that movie. And since I drum for Eric’s band the Exhibit(s), I ended up playing drums on several of the musical parts of the movie soundtrack.

Conversely, I’ve shot a few music videos for my band Delicate Cutters, including “Tilt-A-Whirl” and “Warm Beer and Sympathy.” You can watch them on the Delicate Cutters website.

BHAMFM: How long have you been a drummer?

Chance: I got into drums in my mid-20s. Kind of late. Of course, that was almost twenty years ago at this point, so I’ve had time to catch up. Before drums, I played bass and guitar. I learned a lot about those instruments from my dad, who is a really great guitar player.

I still like playing guitar, but drummers seem to be in short supply in Birmingham. So I’m too busy playing drums with these really fun bands to try to do any serious guitar stuff.

BHAMFM: You‘re a machine on Rock Band, as I’ve witnessed first hand. You were stoked when the Beatles’ music became available to play. What would be your dream Rock Band playlist?

Chance: Oh, wow. Tough question. I feel like the Side Two medley from Abbey Road is kind of a perfect playlist all on its own. So many great, short songs, brilliantly strung together.

But while we’re putting together a dream list, I’d add some deeper Radiohead cuts (“Morning Bell,” “There There”). And why didn’t they ever put any Wilco songs on Rock Band?

One more. “Devices” by fellow Birminghamians Vulture Whale would be a killer Rock Band cut.

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BHAMFM: A movie you directed, Interplanetary, was available to watch on Netflix. How is that process and do you think its accessible for most independent filmmakers?

Chance: Actually, Interplanetary isn’t on Netflix anymore. Those deals expire at some point, and I think we were on Netflix for 18 months.

However, we’ve moved on to Hulu, and that’s not too shabby. (

As for the process, somebody could write (and probably has written) a whole book about the intricacies of digital feature film distribution.

The way it happened for us was relatively straightforward. Mike Raso, a cool indie film distributor based out of New Jersey, picked up the rights to Interplanetary for his Shock-O-Rama label for three years. During that period, Shock-O-Rama sells DVDs of the movie, plus makes digital streaming deals with folks like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Shock-O-Rama gets paid for those deals, and they pay us a percentage of the profits.

It is possible for an indie filmmaker to deal with Netflix and other companies directly, but I haven’t done that personally.

BHAMFM: You’ve been with Delicate Cutters a while now. What are you guys working on at the moment?

Chance: Yeah, the Cutters are basically family at this point. The last few months have been fairly quiet for the band, but we’ve been itching to do some recording, so we scheduled a session with Les Nuby (he produced our last LP Ring and a lot of other cool recordings) for late 2013. We’re just gonna go in for a weekend and knock out an EP of some sort.

Recording Ring was a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to working on the EP.

BHAMFM: The Cutters have toured a lot and have scored some great exposure in the blogosphere and beyond. What’s been your best experience with the band?

Chance: Playing New York City was a high point for me. Just driving into the city–me and the other Cutters and all our gear packed into my Honda Element, Bruce Springsteen on the radio–seemed like a big deal.

Then the actual gig was at this coffee shop in Brooklyn called Roots Cafe. The other folks on the bill were locals and nice enough to let us headline. We were playing stripped down–I think I had like a snare drum and one cymbal. There were probably only twenty or so people in the audience, but the place was so small, it felt like a huge crowd. People were clapping and singing along. It was a fantastic show.

We also had a memorable show at Maxine’s, this bar/pizza place in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The venue has a super swank green room for the band, which is not something we’re accustomed to.

Our set that night was insane. I doubt many folks in the audience had heard of us, but from the first note we played, they were totally on board. I mean, those folks were serious about having a good time. The energy was infectious, and we ended up playing a really loud and rowdy set.


Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 4.18.56 PMBHAMFM: As a director, you’ve been in charge of film crews, scripts & filming. You’re a very laid back guy though. Do you enjoy being a background player in a band or do you prefer to be a band leader as well?

Chance: You know, I’ve never thought about it that way. I used to be the band leader back in my younger days, but I think I came into my own as a sideman. I’m a fan of Janet, Eric, and Brian Moon (who leads my other band, the Maisleys), and I feel lucky that I get to work with them and (hopefully) add something cool to their songs.

I think Stanley Kubrick and Orson Welles

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and Alfred Hitchcock were all amazing movie directors, and they were all famous for kind of being control freaks. But I don’t really approach directing that way. I just try to put together a good group of actors and crew guys and let them do what they do. I’m mostly just there to make sure everybody is on the same page –figuratively and literally, assuming there’s a screenplay.

BHAMFM: You and your wife Stacey travel & go to comic/film events a lot. What has been the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at a Con?

Chance: Our con adventures have been relatively tame. I mean, there’s always a bunch of people in extravagant costumes, but it seems like I always miss the really wild stuff in person, only to read about it days later on the Internet.

We did get to meet Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg for a moment back in 2004. They were personally handing out tickets to a sneak preview of Shaun of the Dead. They were just as British and charming as everybody says.

And I got to see a sneak preview of the pilot of Lost. Which was exciting, as I had no way of knowing the show would eventually run completely off the rails.

BHAMFM: What are the 3 things you’re most excited about in 2014 — films, video games or music wise?

Chance: I’m looking forward to Neko Case’s show at Iron City in January. Since I’m always like five years behind on music stuff, I just bought my first Case album a few months ago. It’s ridiculously good, of course. I’m actually excited about Iron City in general. Whoever books for that place has been pulling in some impressive acts.

As a Marvel Comics nerd from way back, I’m excited for the 2014 Marvel movies. Guardians of the Galaxy should be interesting (Guardians director James Gunn made Slither, one of my favorite horror movies of the new century), and Captain America 2 looks totally badass.

Last, but definitely not least, there’s Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival. I’ve been attending since year one and have seen lots of good movies and met lots of cool people there.


BHAMFM: Finally, you have a cat named Yossarian. This isn’t really a question, I just think that shit’s awesome. If you ever get the chance to name a baby or pet again, what literary homage would you make?

Chance: I can’t take credit for naming Yossarian. That was all (my wife) Stacey. Though I totally approve of both the name and the underrated Catch-22 movie. And I am ashamed to admit I haven’t read the book. I’m always way behind on my reading, even more than my music and movies.

I am a Vonnegut fan. How about a cat named Kilgore Trout?

Album Review: Porter and The Pollies


Wanna know what it’s like growing up in the South? Just ask Porter and The Pollies.

Imagine a dim lit bar. Old, smoky, windowless, a jukebox in the corner, a real one; not one of these touch screen, we take debit cards contraptions, the ones you can barely read the names on the album. The beer is cold and cheap and the patrons are like an extended family. This is the kind of setting my mind takes me to when I listen to this album. It’s a hell-raisin’, foot-stompin’, alcohol-fueled southern anthem, of sorts, from a long haired country boy from Alabama. These tracks are raw, rough, fuzzy, live, and genius; it’s filthy. Whoever’s idea it was, or lack of motivation to do it “properly” is an intelligent SOB (looking at you, TJ and Jay).

The gruff and gritty voice that bellows out of Chris Porter (Some Dark Holler, Back Row Baptists) supported by the distorted, buzzy, rock & roll sounds of The Pollies (Jay Burgess, Reed Watson, Daniel Stoddard and Chris James) have accomplished something that many can’t; successfully fusing country roots and rock & roll into something worth listening to again.

“I heard all of its quirks and twitches the first time I heard the mixes. I heard the quirks and twitches while we tracked it, and I love them,” says Porter. It’s an honest, rugged, heartfelt album that only gets better the more you listen.

(Could this album + Matt WoodsDeadman’s Blues bring country music back to it’s rightful place? I don’t know but it’s a damn fine place to start.)

Before I go further, let me say, it’s hard for me to even think of The Pollies as a backing band; they are a phenomenal band as well who I think will also do big things in 2014. They have all the ingredients to successfully become one of the south’s most popular bands and they deserve it. Daniel Stoddard is one of the best pedal steel players in the south; period. What else do you really expect though from a place that gave us Spooner Oldham? Stoddard is our generation’s Spooner; no question.

Oh yeah, the album. This album is honest, relatable, and perfectly descriptive of the southern culture that many of us grew-up in and some of us still live in today. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. There isn’t one song on this album that isn’t applicable to everyone in some way. “Pabst Blue Ribbon and ammunition, broken hearts and bad decisions, she don’t talk and I don’t listen much.” That’s the opening line to “Fourth of July”, the second track on the album, probably my favorite too. It really captures the culture of growing up in the south perfectly. I would know; born and raised in bamalama! I can keep trying to persuade you to listen to this album by throwing around song lyrics and imagery of life in the south but you honestly just need to hear it for yourself; it really is that good. The worst way to end 2013 is by not listening to this album. All the great things you’ve done and all the great music you’ve heard/seen this year will not be enough to help you cope with the self-inflicted pain of missing this southern masterpiece. So grab your favorite whiskey, get comfortable, and let Porter and the Pollies take you on a ride through southern,

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blue-collar, America. “Because I don’t want my last words wasted on sad songs and air.”

Track Listing:

Your Hometown
Fourth of July
Wood and Steel
Rest These Bones*
When I Get Home
Blood on My Hands
*Helen Gassenheimer – on Fiddle/Vox


But it here or here and listen below.

Album Review: Swearin’ – Surfing Strange


Last year, Swearin’ produced a dark horse Album of The Year candidate with their Self Titled debut. This year they’ve incorporated a new songwriter into the mix, and produced an album that multiplies both the catchy moments and weird left turns of their debut. Surfing Strange is a great second album in that it builds on the successes of the first record, while also branching out to try new things.

The vocal interplay between Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride is still a focal point, but the low in the mix vocals from bass player, and new songwriter, Keith Spencer also add a different texture to Swearin’s established sound. The guitars are still hummable, but with a little added fuzz around the edges. Songs like “Dust In The Gold Sack”, and “Young” sound like the missing link between Wavvves commercially acceptable DIY model, and honest to god DIY punks like The Measure [sa].

Surfing Strange also finds the band veering slightly away from the safer pop-punk of Swearin’ toward the more noisy and off-kilter sounds of lo-fi indie rock. This change can be seen throughout the album, but is particularly on “Glare of The Sun” and “Melanoma”. Mixing in their new influences among bursts of their reliable pop-punk, proves to be a winning strategy for Swearin’. Surfing Strange is a solid album that shows progression, and Swearin’s further understanding of their own abilities as a band.

Seasick Records opens up shop in Avondale

Despite several thriving music venues and a high volume of great shows, being a music fan in Birmingham has felt incomplete the last few years. The part of the experience that was missing was the record store. Charlemagne and Renaissance are great places to find used (and even rare) vinyl but they fall short when it comes to stocking new records. Since their opening earlier this month, Seasick Records is trying to fill in that gap.


“Birmingham has a lack of record stores that cater to my generation’s interests,” explains Seasick co-owner Daniel Drinkard, “I come from Memphis, where there are several really great record stores that always had stuff I was interested in, and I felt like Birmingham was missing that.”

Chayse Porter, the other co-owner of Seasick, echoes Drinkard’s sentiments about Birmingham’s lack of quality stores.

“Birmingham has had some good record stores in the past, but Laser’s Edge was the last of a dying breed. Since they closed there hasn’t been a store here that specializes in new vinyl,” said Porter.

After a few months of talking and planning, Drinkard and Porter decided to dive in and open their own store in the burgeoning Avondale neighborhood.

“Right now everyone is focused on reviving the city of Birmingham, and vinyl records have made a huge comeback, so what better time than now?” said Porter. “People are interested in buying new records again so we felt like the time was right to open a store.”

The store celebrated a soft opening on November 3rd, with a show from power-pop band The Sidekicks and is having a grand opening Sunday, December 8th. They’re currently planning on having a raffle, and sets from local Alt-Rockers The Urns, as well as local girl done good, Waxahatchee. Seasick also plans on being open on Black Friday and offering special deals. Plus if that wasn’t enough, Seasick is putting on a screening of the Descendants documentary “Filmage” at Bottletree on Feb 1st, 2014.


Seasick Records is located on 5th Avenue South in Avondale and is currently open Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to 8pm, Saturdays from Noon to 8pm, and Sundays from Noon to 5pm.

Follow Seasick on Instagram here.

Renaissance Man Baron Amato talks poetry, hip hop & fashion

1149026_10201041919862637_535299033_nBirmingham is full of interesting people. Musicians, fashion junkies, poets, radio personalities, rappers & actors. Not everyone is all of these at once.

He’s a spoken word poet who works with a close knit group of local musicians to make music as an emcee. He also headed up UAB’s BlazeRadio while studying towards his degree in Communications. He’s also a sharp dresser who honed his love of fashion & design by becoming involved with clothing line, 1987 Supply Company. He’s now in NOLA using his classical training in theater to gain roles in TV, music videos & film.

I spoke with Mobile native and current NOLA resident Baron Amato about his many outlets and how he still keeps a creative lifeline to our city.

BHAMFM: You’re a quite literally a poet. At what age did you discover your love for poetry?

Baron: Wow. It was late for me. It was when I first got to college, around 18. It came along as a form of release for a lot of things I was dealing with personally at that time.

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BHAMFM: You perform your poems on stage. How quickly did that translate into music? Do you also play any instruments as well as rap?

Baron: “I ain’t went this hard since i was 18…” (does Drake hand motion) Ha! Yes, I’ve performed my poetry mainly at open mics up until recently. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to perform at a beautifully themed wedding. I do rap, and I do sing. I feel that poetry is the foundation of all

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art, at least mine. I played piano in high school and just started back at it again a few weeks ago.

BHAMFM: You were invited to perform at a poetry event called Flow. Tell us a little about that.

Baron: I went out to Seattle right after graduation and the door opened for me to perform alongside some of their city’s best at a venue called Lucid Lounge. Great place! Seattle is great. I also placed second in a slam poetry competition while I was there.

BHAMFM: I’ve been listening to Sound Like A Dream by your group District Phive a lot lately. Do y’all have any projects in the pipeline right now?

Baron: Yes! No Suh Foster & I released our second single God Bless & Safe Travels from our duo project Oh The Places We’ll Go, set to be released February 28th.

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BHAMFM: You’re one of the best dressed dudes I know. Who is your sartorial hero?

Baron: Thank you kindly! I learned everything I know from my dad. He’s where I get my style from. Also, the older black men in my neighborhood have this different style that I really soak up a lot from.

BHAMFM: You were recently an extra in an episode of Ravenswood, a TV series aired on ABC Family. How did that come about?

Baron: I’ve been involved in theater most of my life and when I moved to New Orleans after graduating UAB I promised myself that I would use that training. I got involved with some casting agencies and boom! I’m a tortured slave to it now (laughs).

BHAMFM: You’re involved with Inner Recess. Tell me a little about the mission

& what you guys do.

Baron: My brother actually owns Inner Recess. We’re a multimedia facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. A state of the art recording studio that ranges from audio mixing to video production. We want to provide quality multimedia service to our clients. (They also do record & vinyl swaps! I love it! — author’s note)

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BHAMFM: Who are your favorite artists or bands to listen to at the moment?

Baron: I’m blessed to work with a lot of great artists out of Alabama and right now my phone is full of their music! I’m really into the Bama scene right now: (BHAMFM FAVORITE!) Jas’mine Garfield, Indyah Rashuad, Haruskii, Eugenius, Dee Skillz, Chris Jay and in the mix of all that is Hiatus Kaiyote and Little Dragon. Janelle Monae‘s new album is timeless! Also, the poet named Jasmine Mans