Birmingham Free Press Presents

ImageOur erstwhile alternative to the alternative newspapers, the Birmingham Free Press, has not printed a broadsheet edition since December due to budgetary restraints. We have a few advertisements in the paper, but not enough to cover our print bill. To address this setback, we are introducing a series of fundraising shows. And yours truly will be the host.

The first of these is tonight, March 29, at Bottletree, featuring Voices in the Trees, the High Fidelics, Ghost Herd, Red Mountain Family Band, and Opera Sextronique. The bands start at 8pm (despite what the graphic to the left says), and the cover is $7.

The second show is at the Nick on Wednesday, April 4. That show will feature Jerolyn, Devour by Infection, Throng of Shoggoths, Thothamon, and Braineaters.

On April 14, we will be hosting a show at Metro Bar with Mile Marker Seven, John Elrod, and other acts TBA.

If these shows go well, we will probably continue the series. Some shows may be fundraisers. Others may just be regular shows that we curate. Still others might just be themed parties or mixers for people in the Birmingham music industry. Our inimitable all-things-BFP-Music guy Lee Waites has many ideas about directions this series might go.

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Steel Toe Review Anthology #1 is Here

The Steel Toe Review Anthology featuring the best pieces from our first year online is now available. Those of you who contributed work or donated to our kickstarter campaign should be getting your complimentary copies in the next few days.

Click here to buy a copy from lulu.com.

You can also check out our classy promo video:

Proof

I woke up this morning thinking, “I should have gotten my proof copy of STR yesterday.” Looked out the front door, and there it was. After I fix a couple of things I already noticed, I’ll send a new PDF and bam! It’s done. The final version should be available for sale in a few days. I will most certainly keep you posted.

Two Major Losses

Yesterday, we lost two major figures of recent American history, Steve Jobs and Fred Shuttlesworth.

The news spread quickly, in Birmingham at least, about Shuttlesworth. For several hours, my Facebook feed was chock full of remembrances and eulogies. They were discussing it on NPR all afternoon too. Shuttlesworth was a true American hero. Kyle Whitmire said on the radio, and I agree with him, that from a global perspective, the Civil Rights movement is probably the most important thing to come out of the United States ever. It happened in the United States, largely, because of events in Birmingham. It happened in Birmingham because of Fred Shuttlesworth.

Sometime in the evening, Steve Jobs passed. The news eclipsed the news about Shuttlesworth, naturally. In recent years, Jobs has certainly been in the news a lot more. Most people have heard of Steve Jobs even if they haven’t heard of Fred Shuttlesworth. There’s no denying that Jobs was probably the Thomas Edison of our time. His impact on the technology industry has been no less than revolutionary. He changed the way we live.

Still, there is something about the coincidence of these two losses happening so close together that bothers me greatly. I don’t want to try to equate the two. I never met Fred Shuttlesworth, and I’m not what you’d call an “Apple fanboy.” So neither of these losses are especially personal to me, but I feel the impact of both deeply. I think the thing is this: I’m a little bit in denial about Steve Jobs until I’ve had some more time to absorb the first loss. If Steve Jobs was the Thomas Edison of our time, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that Reverend Shuttlesworth was something like the Moses.

I suppose I just feel compelled to remind everybody, just not forget that we lost more than one revolutionary this week.

September Gigs

September is full of gigs. Here’s the lowdown:

Birmingham Free Press Print Issue Hits the Streets

So here’s much of what I’ve been working on the last few weeks. Actually, Brent, Stephen, and Lee did most of the work. Mostly, I’ve just bossed them around. And now we have a newspaper.

Here’s the proof.

There are boxes downtown, in Southside, at UAB, and in a few other locations around town. They should all have actual papers in them by later this afternoon. We will have copies inside many businesses also. Pick one up, and let us know what you think.

And now we have to start getting together the next issue, and we need all the help we can get. If you are in the Birmingham area and interested in writing something, contact me. We also need people to sell ads. Need some extra cash? We ‘re offering very generous commissions.

See www.birminghamfreepress.com for more information.

Saying Goodnight to Sipsey Tavern

Tonight is the last night my favorite bar in Birmingham will be open for business. A couple of months ago, Red Mountain Development refused to renew Sipsey Tavern’s lease in the historic Terrace Court building on the corner of Highland Avenue and 12th Avenue South. And now the lease is up.

A year ago when I moved back to Birmingham, I found my home away from home at Sipsey Tavern. I became friends with the owner Matt Mauldin and his staff. I saw dozens of amazing bands there. My own new band made its debut there last January and has continued to play there regularly. I fell in love with a woman who lives in the apartments upstairs from the bar (at least until Red Mountain Development eventually kicks her out too, which is now inevitable and much more upsetting even than the bar’s closing… that will have to be another blog post). Almost everybody that has become my friend in the past year became my friend at Sipsey Tavern.

Sure, the service was sometimes slow, and they ran out of Guinness more often than they should have. But Matt and his crew worked extremely hard to make it a nice place and to bring customers in the door. They had the best trivia night in town, but people didn’t come out for it regularly enough so they canceled it. They booked some of the coolest bands in the area that you would probably never hear of otherwise. They struggled, but they were reportedly just starting to make money. It was the best kept secret it Five Points.

I’ve been there every night this week so far, drowning my sorrows in the Maker’s Mark that Ryan/Jay/Leslie/Jennifer almost always have poured for me before I even reach the bar stool. Last night I saw yet another great show with Piss Shivers, Necronomikids, and Red Mountain Family Band. I’ll be back tonight to see Motel Ice Machine, Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band, Zach DossBrain Eaters, Renegades of Folk, and Jasper Coal. But mostly I’ll be there just to say goodbye one more time.

There are a lot of rumors about what Red Mountain Development has planned for the building, but I’m not going to speculate about it here, despite the evidence and plausibility of one of the more disturbing stories going around. But I do think it’s incredibly disingenuous at best that their website boasts, “Red Mountain Development believes there is more to long-term value than short-term profit. … we specialize in developing property responsibly.” And ironically, I guess, Terrace Court is listed right at the top as one of their flagship properties.

And the question now is, where are we all going to hang out now? Some will go to Stillwater Pub, others to the Upsidedown Plaza. Maybe a new bar will open up. Maybe eventually, Matt will open a new Sipsey Tavern at a different location (rumors of them re-opening in the Lakeview district are unfounded, according to Matt). But Five Points will not be the same after tonight.

Tonight we drink. Tomorrow we thirst.