Category Archives: events

An opportunity for all to go to the Calico Ball (after all)

imagefrompostercalicoBy New Year’s Eve in 1873, Birmingham’s residents were ready to forget what may have been the worst year in the fledgling city’s history. A cholera epidemic decimated its population. Those that could fled to the country; most remaining contracted the illness and died.

Many doctors stayed in Birmingham to nurse the sick and help bury the dead – and so did the girls employed by our most famous madame, Louise Wooster. The prostitutes working for Wooster assisted doctors and undertakers until the disease was under control.

Local businessman Charles Linn hosted the Calico Ball to celebrate the end of the cholera epidemic and everyone’s return to the city. Doctors, lawyers, businessmen, society dames – the invitation list was a veritable “who’s who” of early Birmingham.

Conspicuously absent from the Ball were Ms. Wooster and her ladies.

Almost a century later, the “residents” of Oak Hill Cemetery are righting that wrong. They will leave the comfort of their resting places and mingle with the living at Avondale Brewing Company to celebrate the Calico Ball After-Party.  Host Louise Wooster and her sister Maggie Bracken welcome Charles Linn, John Milner, and many others for an evening of period music and dancing while dancing to the sounds of The Calico String Band. Slots on the ladies dance cards will be available for a small donation.

Avondale Brewing Company’s historic home has a rich and infamous history, having been home to a several businesses – including a post office, a firehouse, and the Long Branch Saloon. The upper floor of the building was at one time a secret bordello, servicing the saloon’s patrons below, making it a somewhat ideal location for the fundraiser. There are even rumors the building is haunted by a former lady of the brothel.

Terri Hicks, aka Louise Wooster, has been a volunteer at Oak Hill for over four years. “Oak Hill Cemetery is not only a beautiful and historic location that requires a lot of upkeep and maintenance, but it is also a repository for the early history of the Magic City, said Hicks.

She continued, “Many of the movers and shakers who came to Jones Valley in the 1870s with stars in their eyes and money in their pockets, are buried there. From iron and steel magnates to infamous murder victims, the cemetery houses them all.”

“It is important that the citizens of Birmingham remember what a diverse and exciting place the city was from the very beginning and how many people were involved in creating the place that has grown into The Magic City that we know now.”

The Calico Ball is the anniversary fundraiser for the Oak Hill Memorial Association to support activities at the Cemetery, the oldest working cemetery in Birmingham.

“The cemetery is an outdoor museum that is open to the public every day of the year. It was the first Alabama cemetery to ever be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery only hosts approximately 12 burials per year, and although there is still limited space available for purchase, it has virtually no avenue to produce income,” said Stuart Oates, cemetery director. “The cemetery was initially known as the City Cemetery, and to this day is property of the City of Birmingham. The City does provide funding for routine maintenance, but the Oak Hill Memorial Association is dependent on gifts and donations to continue restoration and preservation efforts that lie beyond the scope of routine operations.”

The Calico Ball After-Party takes place this Saturday, February 2, from 7-10 p.m. Tickets are available in advance for $20 via TicketLeap; they will be available at the door for $25. The event is sponsored by The Magic City Post, Weld for Birmingham, and Naked Art Gallery.

Meet the Dead at Oak Hill Cemetery this Saturday

Erswell. Special to bhamterminal.comDowntown Birmingham’s Oak Hill Cemetery will host their fourth annual fall history tour on Saturday, October 20. Tours leave every 20 minutes, from noon to 4:40 pm and last just under two hours.  Tickets are $8 and can be purchased or reserved at Ticket Leap.

This year’s tour will be the largest yet, with visitors able to “meet” and hear the stories of some of the more famous – and infamous – residents of  the cemetery. Volunteers lead groups through the cemetery while relating tales from the early days of Birmingham. Oak Hill is the final resting place for many of the founders of Birmingham and was the first cemetery designated in the city, opening the same year the city was founded (1871). It contains the city’s first pauper’s cemetery, making it the final stop for many victims of the city’s cholera epidemic.

The annual tour is more of a history lesson than a haunted tour. Visitors will find graves for veterans of every war from the American Revolution to Vietnam in addition to those of city founders. Two of the city’s madams, the Wooster sisters Lou and Maggie, are also residents. Lou is considered the annual star of the tour and will again make an appearance as her sister Maggie leads tours.

Still a working cemetery, last year Civil Rights icon the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth was laid to rest across from James Sloss. The cemetery association’s director learned earlier this year that a Titanic survivor was buried at Oak Hill; Titanic survivors Phillip and Emma Mock will have their story told by Emma. Harriet Phillips will also be there to relate the plight of the city’s African Americans.

This year’s tour will again feature city stalwarts John Milner and Charles Linn, the Martin family, undertaker Edward Erswell, and James Sloss. Nannie Kirkley, the widow of one of the first police officers killed in the line of duty, will be on hand as will Emma Hawes, whose death was the cause of the famous “Hawes Riots,” telling the story of her murder at the hands of her husband.

Proceeds from the tour benefit Oak Hill Cemetery’s restoration fund. Many of the families buried in the cemetery no longer have descendants in Birmingham or do not have families willing to care for broken headstones and cracking mausoleums, which then become the cemetery’s responsibility.

The Oak Hill Memorial Association raises funds to maintain the cemetery property as well as some of the grave markers. OHMA hosts events like the annual Fall History Tour, Shoot the (Harvest) Moon, Heritage Days, and the Zombie Walk to raise awareness and supplement the cemetery’s already meager budget.

Rebecca Dobrinski has served as a tour guide since the inception of the Fall History Tour and this year will lead tours as Maggie Bracken, Lou Wooster’s sister.

Photo: You may see undertaker Edward Erswell during this year’s Fall History Tour at Oak Hill Cemetery. Special.

Magic City Live After 5 can go into September

Magic City Live After 5 logoMagic City Live After 5 is one of the newest after hours events in downtown Birmingham, with its inaugural event quite successful (even in triple-digit heat). Tuesday its organizers learned that they’ll be able to extend the series into the beginning of September.

An item (#15) originally on the consent agenda for the July 17 meeting of the Birmingham City Council, the summer mixer series will be able to add a September 6 date to their schedule. After next week’s July 26 installment, currently being billed as a pre-party for those planning to attend the Nicki Minaj concert at Boutwell Auditorium and a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, they will skip a week and then be held weekly through August.

Organizers of the after-hours networking event has also created its own brand page on Facebook in addition to continuing to maintain a Twitter account.

Art on the Rocks 2011 will (in fact) be ROCKING

The Birmingham Museum of Art’s long-running Art on the Rocks lineup for this summer’s been out for a while now though (as mentioned late last week) its start has been delayed in part due to tornado recovery efforts. This year’s edition of the series, its seventh, is being heavily influenced by the museum’s summer exhibition Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History from 1995 to Present – and it looks like it’ll be a great way to enjoy a mini-escape  on Friday nights.

June 17
Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Fan Page on Facebook
July 22
The Posies
Fan Page on Facebook

[youtube] August 19
The Dirty Guv’nahs
Fan Page on Facebook

Tickets are already on sale for the series (though not for the June 17 date as of yet) via the museum’s website. They begin at $10 for members and $20 for non-members.

Play hooky at the Museum this Wednesday, Friday

Birmingham Museum of Art logoNo, that’s not their idea, it’s ours. Considering how nice the weather is outside right now, you can’t not be thinking the same thing (even if it’s late in the day)…

Besides, today’s International Museum Day. Yep, according to the museum’s website:

International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day in 1977 to encourage public awareness on the role of museums in the development of society.

You’ve got until 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon (May 18) to take advantage of special discounts on memberships, discounts on museum store purchases and opportunities to take special tours of the museum’s collection with members of its staff. Admission – as always – is free. You’ll have another opportunity to check out the museum this Friday as BMA Speaks! returns, though you’ll have to wait another month for this year’s Art on the Rocks series to begin.

Help out Art in Avondale Park tonight

Art In Avondale Park logoWe’re thinking that after yesterday’s news, many of our city’s residents are happy that it’s one of the busiest weekends on the fall calendar, especially if you’re a big fan of Art in Avondale Park .

In its seventh year, the community festival is scheduled to take place this Saturday, October 31 (though a rain date of Sunday, November 1 has already been announced) and they are still taking applications for art booths via Eventbrite.

This year they’ve added a Wild and Wicked Cruise to the festival’s list of activities. The fundraiser will be held at Old Car Heaven this evening (October 29) from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Partygoers can listen to live music by Ashley Miller with special guest Rick Carter plus have a chance to sample award-winning chili from Bottletree Cafe and view an outstanding collection of classic cars and a wonderful selection of silent auction prizes.

Tickets are $10 and include one drink and you can still buy tickets NOW.

This American Life live streams into theaters Thursday

Last year, Ira Glass took his Chicago Public Radio-produced radio series, This American Life, to the big screen so to speak. He performed a live stage version of the popular public radio show in Chicago and had it beamed digitally to screens across the country. Last year’s edition was so well received, he’s doing it again.

This American Life Live graphic - courtesy of official websiteThis Thursday, more than 400 theaters, including three within driving distance of Birmingham, will invite fans of the show to enjoy it (as it is performed in New York) in high definition with surround sound, complete with a musical performance by Joss Whedon and a story told via Post-It Notes by Starlee Kine.

Glass was recently interviewed by the Chicago Tribune in advance of a live performance at the Chicago Theater – a dry run for Wednesday’s event if you will. If you miss the performance on the 23rd, you may be able to check out an encore presentation on May 7.

Four bands representing the ‘Ham at SxSW

The list of bands performing at this year’s edition of SxSW continues to grow, and so far the state of Alabama looks like it’s being represented quite nicely. Seven acts will grace venues in Austin, with four (that’s right – four!) of them calling Birmingham home. Here’s the lineup as it stands right now:

Band City Additional profiles
Act of Congress Birmingham MySpace profile
13ghosts Birmingham MySpace profile
Duquette Johnston Birmingham MySpace profile
Wild Sweet Orange Birmingham MySpace profile
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit Muscle Shoals MySpace profile
The Escape Frame Montgomery MySpace profile
Willem Maker Turkey Heaven Mtn. MySpace profile

If we hear of any more, we’ll let you know. If you hear of any more, just add them to the comments. And if we really wanted to, we could just head on over to the SxSW website…

Meet the Art Before ArtWalk

Photo: Checking out the art at last week’s Artwalk Preamble held at Rojo. Andrea Walker

For seven years, Birmingham has hosted ArtWalk, a juried art show that features all types of artwork on display for the public to enjoy and purchase. Each year, Artwalk organizers have held a Artwalk preamble fundraiser, to raise money for the event. However, this year organizers tried something different. Instead of just one night where donated art is showcased, it’s been broken down into four separate nights during the month of August. On each night, a different type of medium is on display. For instance, on this Thursday night at Rojo, participating artists contributed their photography.

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Benefit v2.0

So, now the the Terminal’s benefit show went off without a hitch, local music fans can exercise that bleeding heart muscle for another cause: Cave 9‘s financial troubles.

Our good friends Vulture Whale are heading up a lineup for the venue tonight where all proceeds go to helping the DIY operation stay open. For a refresher of what’s going on at the Cave, check out the about section of their site (located on the front page).

ON DECK: The Photonicas, To Light a Fire and Vulture Whale. According to Cave 9’s MySpace profile, Kings of Metropolis and Fireflies are also playing.

DOORS OPEN: 7 p.m.

TIX: $6