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Big Julie’s Boom Boom Cocktail Room and Debate Club: A look inside

08.8.2007 by André Natta · → Leave a comment

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Editor’s note: This story was submitted by Mark Kelly. 

It started as an occasional after-work gathering, two or three guys bringing guitars to strum between swigs of beer and the resolution-or at least diagnosis-of the world’s problems. Then this person would invite that person, who might bring another person, who might be a singer or a flautist or just a damn good spectator. By the time the third harmonica player started showing up, it was a full-fledged happening, a semi-regular Monday evening hootenanny in the heart of the heathen wilds of Forest Park.

Having allowed things to progress to such a state, the proprietor decided a name was in order, and since this particular proprietor is in no way reticent, no one was surprised when he decided there was no more fitting namesake than his own self. Thus was christened Big Julie’s Boom Boom Cocktail Room and Debate Club.


If ever a name conveyed the true essence of the thing to which it is attached…A spirited interchange on immigration policy segues into a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” a song so heart-breakingly timeless that it could have been written this morning. Big Julie tells a joke that offends all present. A line in a Menewa original sparks a discussion of the commonalities between Christianity and Buddhism. Big Julie complains because the band doesn’t take requests. All the musicians compliment each other on their playing. Big Julie says something so utterly profound that everybody forgives him for the joke he told ten minutes ago. Somebody gets around to making a comment about that blithering goddamn idiot in the White House. Big Julie pours up tequila shots all around. Then, later-sometimes much later-.it’s time to go home.

We live in uncertain and unforgiving times, in the only country in the world where you’re considered a slacker, and perhaps a threat to the social order, if you don’t work a hundred and fifty hours a week and network for seventy-five more. Such being the case, if one is inclined to believing that the social order needs a shaking up on the magnitude of the Niigata earthquake of ‘64, then reveling in the idle pleasure of easy fellowship, genuine conversation, hearty laughter, and (mostly) good music may be the most revolutionary act that can be committed on a Monday evening in Birmingham.

Mark Kelly is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama. He’s also a member of Menewa, a local band (consisting of regulars from the Boom Boom Cocktail Room) that is holding a CD release party tomorrow evening at The Bottletree from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Stop on by if you can, it’s open to the public.

If you’d like to reach him, please email info@bhamterminal.com.

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Filed under: 35222 · alabama · birmingham · music