Category Archives: festivals

Preserve Jazz Festival announces sabbatical for 2015

2014preservejazzfestivaladThe Preserve Jazz Festival will not be taking place in 2015 according to an email sent out late Wednesday evening, January 21. There had been no date set for the 2015 edition as of yet. It had just relocated in 2014 from the great lawn at The Preserve in Hoover to Sloss Furnaces. It was also the first year without co-founder Eric Essix, who started a new event, Eric Essix’s Jazz Escape, in September 2014.

Jason Henderson, co-founder of the eight-year-old event, included the following statement:

Dear PFJ Fans

After a great deal of thought, I have decided to take a sabbatical this year from producing the festival.

Thank you for your loyal support over the last 8 years and we may consider a return in 2016 with a rebranded/new jazz concept.


Performances at the festival had included ones featuring Essix, Johnathan Butler, Chad Fisher Group, the Larry Mitchell Trio, and Gerald Albright.

Magic City Art Connection extends 2015 artist application deadline to November 15

3734546376_671a051b84_zArtists thinking they’d missed the deadline to apply to participate in the 2015 Magic City Art Connection can stop worrying. Organizers for the annual event announced on Monday, November 10, that the regular application deadline had been extended from October 31 to this Friday — November 15.

Those interested in participating in the 32nd annual event, currently scheduled for April 24-26, 2015 in downtown Birmingham’s Linn Park, will want to take advantage of the extension if they can. Currently, the application fee is $25; there is an additional booth fee (ranging from $185 + 15% commission to $600 for a double + an additional $125 added for premium placement near the fountain located in the center of the park).

According to the event website, late applications may be submitted for any remaining space or the (eventual) wait list.  The application fee rises to $30 for those spaces if they are open, with the booth fees increasing on February 1 and March 1. By the way, the photo we’re using is from the 2009 installation for the festival, “Artist’s Fire” by Christopher Fennell.

A day of music in Birmingham this Saturday includes a stop at The Junction

The longest-running music festival in Birmingham, AL kicks off tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with a parade. No, it’s not the one you think it is.

While the Schaeffer Eye Center CityFest (the festival formerly known as the Schaeffer Eye Center Crawfish Boil) also takes place tomorrow with a heavy-hitting line-up — one that includes The Roots (a.k.a. Jimmy Fallon’s house band on The Tonight Show) and American Idol winners Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks — we’re talking about The Function in Tuxedo Junction.

This year’s edition of Function in Tuxedo Junction, its 29th, will take place on the 100thanniversary of the birth of the famous song’s composer, Erskine Hawkins. It was founded in 1985, with Hawkins performing every year until his death in 1993. This year’s lineup featuresThe Manhattans (best known for their 1980 hit, “Shining Star”).

We realize every year we see a tremendous spike in traffic as folks try to find the schedule — which is why you’ll find it below. Please note the start times listed are approximate only and may change. You may also download this PDF of the schedule.

10 a.m. Grand Parade
11:40 a.m. The Christian Heart Gospel Group
12:20 p.m. The Golden Humming Birds of Birmingham
1 p.m. Sherry Reeves & Group
1:45 p.m. Halo & The Rubber Band
2:30 p.m. TBA
3:15 p.m. Birmingham Heritage Band
4:05 p.m. Recognition of Neighborhood officers, dignitaries & scholarships
5 p.m. “Billy Ocean” Witherspoon
5:35 p.m. Clutch
6:20 p.m. Force Five Band
7:10 p.m. Season to Please
8 p.m. The Manhattans

Getting to know Kurt Jenkins

Kurt Jenkins. Photo by Buddy RobertsKurt Jenkins was a couple of hours away from a performance at Railroad Park, spending the afternoon blending into the décor at one of his favorite hangouts.

“I like coming here,” he said, taking in all of Mountain Brook’s Continental Bakery with a gesture that almost bumped into a rack of baguettes. “It makes me feel like I’m in France.”

Ensconced at a table in his blue shirt, gray waistcoat, and tan boots, Jenkins had a distinctly European look himself. The front man for local alternative pop band Skyway Spirits, one of the Birmingham Arts and Music Festival’s scheduled headliners with a set starting at midnight Saturday (8/13) at Rogue Tavern, serves on the festival’s executive committee and readily fielded questions about the band, its intriguing name, and what he aspires to be as a performer.

A native of Hoover, Jenkins attended college in Orlando, where he played the lead role in a production of Bat Boy: The Musical. He can’t remember a time when he didn’t love music. “I brought Jeff Beck’s ‘Blow by Blow’ to kindergarten show and tell, which was completely inappropriate for a kindergartener to bring. Everybody else brought action figures.”

He started taking piano lessons as a fifth grader and first picked up a guitar in a sixth grade music class. “I remember it being really easy to play. The guitar was a piece of crap, but I got the concept right away. It made perfect sense to me, maybe because I’d taken piano lessons before. I continued playing piano for a couple of years, then I heard Jimi Hendrix, and it was all over. I quit piano the next week and started playing guitar.”

“I don’t want to sound too highfalutin about it, but it was completely free. I listened to ‘Red House,’ and hearing a guy express himself with the instrument like that, I started freaking out. The emotion that came through was amazing.”

Jenkins could be considered an instrumentalist, but is he?  “I can make you think I can play mandolin and bass, but the guitar is the only instrument I can really hang with. I’m trying to get back to my roots with the piano. I want to learn to play it well.”

Jenkins is backed in the trio by Don Tinsley on bass and Jesse Suttle on drums. “A mutual friend introduced us. He told me they’re the only two guys in town you want to work with.” His original name for the band was Skyway Patrol, derived from his obsession with the idea of flying cars. “I’d love to drive on s a skyway, but Skyway Patrol that sounded too much like Snow Patrol, which was a British band from a couple of years ago. I needed another word than ‘patrol,’ and ‘sprits’ just phonetically flows.”

The band performs Jenkins’ original compositions and a few covers. “You have to do one or two covers just to break everything up. An audience can only take so much they’ve never heard before.” He dislikes describing its style by naming influences or drawing comparisons with better-known bands. “It’s dangerous to have influences if you sound just like the music that influences you. I don’t want that. I have no problem being compared to somebody, but if that’s all they see, I’m doing something wrong.”

“At the end of the day, I don’t know what it’s like to write a song. Very few times have I sat down to write a song and had a song come out. It’s not romanticized at all.”

When asked about what inspires his songwriting, the answer is quite simple. “Women. Through the ages, that’s what it’s been, and it still is today.”

“Some songs are definitely written out of sadness and joy. Any kind of art is filtered by what we’re going through. Take Jackson Pollock. I don’t know anything about him, but he was obviously going through some stuff. The work is trying to make that explain something, and the way it’s ingested – particularly music – is not very artistic. Very few people sit down, listen to music, and take it in. It’s background for their conversation. An audience is not obligated to like you or pay attention to you. As a musician, you have to put yourself in a space to influence somebody to want to know you. You have to do something to make someone stop a conversation in its tracks.”

Jenkins performing. Photo by Buddy Roberts.Jenkins prefers performing over writing and recording. “My foundation is in theater, and it’s a lot more fun than writing and recording, which are more like processes. I like it once we’ve got it, we’ve written it, we’ve recorded it…now let’s do it.”

His goal with a live show is “at best, to be mistaken for a god for an hour or two. I’ve never reached it yet, but that’s the ultimate goal. A performance is a symbiotic broadcasting of emotions and feeling. When I see a really good live show, it makes me want to go home and write and play music. Really good performers make you want to be a really good performer.”

He’s seen some really good live shows over the years too.

“Bonnie Raitt, when she came to City Stages a long ago. ‘N Sync, although at the time I didn’t tell anybody I went to see it. My favorite show was Billy Joel, in 2007 when I was in college. He’s older, but he still has some energy and passion, combined with being a great singer-songwriter. Every song he played, the audience knew all the words, and it was great to be singing along with ‘Piano Man’ on a Saturday night. A close second would be Bob Dylan, the last time he came through here. I’d never heard sound like that before. It really was a wall of sound.”

I wondered if Dylan’s set include ‘Like a Rolling Stone?’ “Of course. He’s contractually obligated by God to do that song.”

Although he’s a staunch supporter of the local music scene, Jenkins has high sights set beyond Birmingham. He’s lived in New York, recently returned from doing a couple of performances there, and hopes to make his home there again. “I consider myself a New Yorker marooned in Birmingham for the time being. Birmingham is a tough town to get something going whose purpose is to get out of Birmingham. The shows aren’t much different in New York, but the opportunities are. You never know who anybody is in New York. Some random kid in the audience could be a scouting agent for MTV or a music blogger read by a million people. It’s easy to be a big fish in a small pond, but I’d rather struggle in a big city. It makes you work harder.”

If you miss their show at Rogue during BAAMfest!, they’ll also be performing on 8/20 at 9 p.m. with “Sperry & The Top-Siders” at The Barking Kudu benefiting Alabama’s Lost Birthdays & 10:30 p.m. Friday, September 2 at The Metro Bar.

Visit the band’s website at and follow it on Twitter @SkywaySpirits.

Photos courtesy of  Buddy Roberts.

Get your Zine on this weekend at GreenCup

The Greencup Book, Zine, Music and Arts Fair gets birthed this weekend, November 14 & 15, courtesy of Greencup Books, Bare Hands Gallery and THE2NDHAND. It will be a one-stop shop for folks to find local and regional writers, lit magazines, small presses, comic artists, area record labels and bands, zine makers and handmade book artists. The fun takes place on Southside (directions). There will be info tables telling you about the local zines and music sources as well as readings from area authors and of course, music. Friday night’s welcome party/meet & greet will include a reading courtesy of THE2NDHAND. Saturday’s events include an after party at Greencup Books.

After the jump, check out the performances scheduled for the weekend: Continue reading

It’s almost time for a Taste

Screenshot of (Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival) website.

A redesigned website (courtesy of MBI) and a slight breeze in the air means that it’s almost time for the annual Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival. The fun takes place in the 4th Avenue Historic District next Saturday. The parade starts at 12:30 p.m. and will include performances by Neo Jazz Collective, Eric Essix and Michael Ward. A perfect complement to that other event going on that weekend (and that conference we’re organizing).

Got plans this weekend? 4.25 – 4.27

Actually… there’s not much to read this weekend. Charles has done most of the work for me (Thanks Charles!) by giving you the scoop on the 25th annual Magic City Art Connection in this week’s In Love With column. I’m in love with this art show too and I always find fabulous stuff for me and my walls to wear. The FREE festival is Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

Here’s my tip: Go without the kids Friday on your lunch break or skip out of work early. Then, take the kids Saturday or Sunday to the creative zone set aside just for them. That way, you get to see the art without meltdowns and the kids have a fun day outdoors with their favorite person in the world, you. Win-win, funnel cakes for everyone.

If the art is for sale downtown in Linn Park, then everything else will be for sale at the old Century Plaza Belk. That’s the site of this year’s annual Bargain Carousel. One word for you: Huge. People stand in line for this giant of a garage sale put on by the lovely Junior League ladies to support their good works. Hours are Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. If you want to get the best deals early, you’ll have to pay $5 to get in Saturday until noon. After that, it’s FREE.

More after the jump…

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Got plans this weekend? 4.4 – 4.6

April showers bring May flowers … that’s if you stock up at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens big sale. Big is an understatement. This is the largest plant sale in Alabama history! Lots to choose from, good prices and all proceeds go to the Gardens. I myself want to do everything possible to support the Gardens and keep the admission free. It will break my heart if they ever start charging. To attend the sale is free too and the hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Happy planting!

More after the jump…

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Got plans this weekend? 3.28 – 3.30

And so another month comes to a close. Here’s what you can do during the last weekend of March, starting with lunch.

Today from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. is the 5th Annual Empty Bowls Event at St. Vincent’s Hospital in the Bruno’s Conference Center. Except the bowls aren’t really empty.

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