Festival Season

Elvis Costello and the Roots

Elvis Costello and the Roots

This is a great time of year for live music. 

by John D

As summer winds down, bands that were doing the festival circuit are free to tour on their own, which means Birmingham’s live music doldrums of July and August are gone. A lot of great acts are coming this fall, and we have a new festival in Birmingham to talk about. Before we do that, let’s talk about what you should listen to.

Wise Up Ghost, a collaborative album between Elvis Costello and The Roots, will be out on September 17th, but thanks to an advance copy, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this collaboration. Odds are you know Elvis Costello, but you may be less familiar with The Roots, or may know them as the house band for Jimmy Fallon. The Roots, a hip hop band, are unique in that they actually play instruments and pull from hip hop, soul, jazz, and sometimes alternative. They met when Costello performed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and something clicked. They decided to work together on an album and not tell anyone (including their respective labels). There was no label input and no deadlines set and it appears to have worked. The album is at times funky, while at others has a smooth jazz feel (but in a good way). The lead single, “Walk Us Uptown,” has crisp drums and jangly guitars paired with Costello’s distinctive wail, and is definitely a catchy song. “Tripwire,”the fifth track on the album, can be best described as bluesy ballad, while the very next track “Stick Out Your Tongue” is downright funky.

Now it is time to move on to who you should see live and the details behind Cask and Drum.

Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam

Cask and Drum is happening on October 12th in Birmingham. Taking place in Lakeview, the event centers on a large green space on 1st Ave South (between Red Mountain Expressway and 28th street). The Cask part of the title refers to the way spirits are contained and attendees have the chance to sample craft beers and wines from all over the world. The Drum refers to the music portion of this inaugural event. The festival (curated by local folks) has secured a diverse but fantastic line up. Dwight Yoakam is anchoring the main stage, which will also feature Shovels and Rope, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Railroad Earth and Lord Huron. There will be a smaller stage (The Reg’s Coffee House Stage) which will feature up and comers like Kopecky Family Band, Courtney Jaye and local favorites John and Jacob. By the time you read this, the “Early Bird” tickets will have already sold out and if the pace keeps up, you may need to put this magazine down and go to Caskanddrum.com to get yours.

WorkPlay has a three–night run of great shows starting on September 19th with Mindy Smith. Smith was born in New York but now calls Nashville home. Smith has the rare distinction of covering Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” which Parton praised and lent backing vocals. Yes, her voice is that good. Andrew Belle is the very next night and has just released his third album, Black Bear. The new album finds Belle straying from his pop sound and into (and in my opinion, better) a rock and roll vibe. Austin based Bob Schneider wraps up the third night on the 21st. The prolific Schneider is known for mixing just about any genre to make his own distinct brand of music and thrives on the energy from playing intimate shows.

Iron City has booked quite a few larger shows in September and late October (with quite a few selling out), but you still have the chance to get tickets for Phosphorescent (9/18) and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (9/25). The addition of Iron City, with a capacity of almost 1,400, to the mix of venues in Birmingham may just be what the city needs to get more national acts.

Rounding out September’s line up is the Bottletree. Rock cellist Ben Sollee (yes, rock cellist is the best way to describe it) stops by on 9/16. If you like off–the–wall stuff, you need to check it out. Portland-based Blitzen Trapper stops at the Bottletree on 9/24, showcasing its blend of folk country rock. Birmingham band on the rise St. Paul and the Broken Bones will wrap up September at Bottletree with back–to–back shows on 9/27 and 9/28.


Shovels and Rope

Shovels and Rope

Upcoming shows:

Dawes 10/20 at WorkPlay. Try hearing a Dawes song one time and not singing it over and over. Catchy to say the least, but still music that tells a story. A band that is better live than they are on an album.

Valerie June 10/9 at Bottletree. From Nashville, steeped in R & B, Gospel, and Jazz,  Valerie June is already well known in Europe. With the release of her album, Pushin’ Against A Stone, she is poised to be the next big thing in the states.

The Arctic Monkeys 10/9 at Iron City. English Indie rockers drop a new album, AM, in September and stop in Birmingham in October.

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