Food & Music

Girlyman performs at The Red Cat

Pepper Place is the hottest spot in the city to hear live music and enjoy the farmer’s market experience.

by Richard James

The music, strummed guitar notes over a solid keyboard, moves over the crowd of shoppers navigating Pepper Place Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. From the beginning, music has been as much a part of the Pepper Place market experience as tomatoes, coffee and dogs being walked.

This year, Pepper Place market is part of a state-wide celebration of music that includes more than 230 stages and over 300 festivals. It is the Year of Alabama Music, and Pepper Place Saturday Market has teamed up with the Alabama Department of Tourism in a celebration of our state’s rich musical heritage.

For a dozen years, the Saturday Market at Pepper Place has been a Birmingham tradition, a part of the social fabric of the city, and a stylish promotion of sustainable, green living and the local foods movement.

Pepper Place is a thing you can very easily come to love. This collection of buildings, streets, sidewalks, hearts and souls is one of the things that makes Birmingham a special city.

When a place has depth and beauty and style as Pepper Place does, we respond to it with passion. It matters to us in much the same way that a living thing we know and loves matters to us.

People love Pepper Place. They love to come down early on a Saturday morning, beating the crowds to the best parking spot, the best tomato, the most comfortable resting place near the musicians. Here you can spend an hour or two just wandering around watching the human drama of people meandering, kids grabbing for a mother’s hand, the dogs panting in search of a friendly water bowl. You can easily become infatuated with the whole experience of Pepper Place.

Pepper Place is one of the best examples of a common ground where the city comes together in an exciting new way. Stroll through the Pepper Place market on a Saturday and you will see people from the affluent suburbs rub elbows with young people living and working in the city. The farmers from rural Alabama come into the state’s largest city and interact with city residents who share with them a love of growing things.

The region’s farming families come to the Pepper Place Saturday Market to aid them as they make a living from their land. They grow vegetables and flowers, bake breads and cookies, cakes and pies, tend the bees, and drive into the Lakeview District of Birmingham to sell the fruits of their labors in a tradition as old as history.  It is the intersection of farm and city, a place made holy by the respect we should have for our food and the people who nurture it.

In addition to farmers, bakers and beekeepers, you can enjoy local musicians on two stages while sipping a fresh cup of coffee or enjoying a light breakfast. There is a cooking demonstration at 9 a.m. every Saturday morning by Birmingham’s finest chefs. And that’s just the market… While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the shops that have made Pepper Place famous as the city’s premier design center.

When the sun goes down, the music takes center stage at Pepper Place’s collection of dining and nightlife locations. In keeping with the spirit of The Year of Alabama Music, Pepper Place is a terrific place to hear live local music.

Ona's Music Room

Ona’s Music Room relocated to Pepper Place this year and it continues to be a tremendous draw for musicians and fans alike. The new space is beautifully designed to showcase the music in a very special way.

A block away, The Red Cat coffeehouse is a great venue for listening to live acoustic music. With its high ceilings and banks of broad windows, the coffeehouse is the perfect place to relax and let the sounds of local and national artists wash over you. •

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