Magic City Mix

10 Bands that make this a great music town.

Written by Sarah O’Donnell

Photography by Liesa Cole

Produced by Tony Rodio, assisted by Christophe Nicolet and Gabrielle Bates

Video production by John and Katie Gaiser

St. Paul and The Broken Bones

St. Paul and the Broken Bones


Jesse Phillips: guitar, horns, bass

James Brangle: guitar, organ.

Keelan Parrish: bass

Andrew Lee: Drums

Paul Janeway: vocals

Where the name came from:

Paul Janeway comes from a Southern religious background and has the vocal delivery of a backwoods preacher. That takes care of the St. Paul portion of the name.

What the music sounds like:

Soulful is the best description, with influences of  James Carr, OV Wright, Tommy Tate and 1960s psychedelic bands.

History of the band:

Jesse Phillips and Paul Janeway have played in bands before together and grew a really close bond, with Jesse orchestrating the song structure and Paul finding the vocal melodies that suit it. Phillips and Janeway admired the other members of the band and asked them to join in.

Dreams for a music career:

“Honestly it is just to make a record that we are proud to be a part of,” Janeway says. “A personal goal of mine is to play the Ryman in Nashville, the home of the original Grand Ole Opry. I think that is only way I could impress my grandfather as a singer.”

Where they love to play:

“The Bottletree is one of the best venues in the country, and we have it in here in Birmingham. We are very lucky, and they are also very supportive of local music.”

What can happen on stage:

“I am kind of a wild man on stage. Jesse and the other guys have to really stay on point while I am up to something stupid. We were playing a show at Bottletree one night, and I was dancing around doing my thing. For some reason I decided to stand on Jesse’s guitar amp and continue the dancing on the amp. Unfortunately, the amp toppled over. I fell on the stage and tore a ligament in my knee. I finished the show with a bad knee, but the next morning I was in so much pain I had to call someone to help me put my pants on. My father was really proud of me for that one.”

Bunny Austin










Bunny Austin










Rich Albright: Bass and vocals

Charles Arndt: Vocals and guitar

Tony Oliver: Keys and vocals

Tommy Prewitt: Drums and vocals

Chris Rowell: Guitar

What is with the name:

Bunny Austin is the name of an English tennis player from the 1920s and ‘30s. A finalist at Wimbledon and the French Open, Austin was a very stylish player and the first male player to wear shorts at Wimbledon.

The music:

A major influence is the post-punk sound of the late 1970s through the early ‘80s from a large array of bands, including The Jam, Gang of Four, The Gun Club, Jim Carroll, early Police and Elvis Costello. Music of the period took the energy of punk and instilled more melody and angles. The band is heavily influenced by the classic sounds of the Beatles, Stones, The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces. The Stones influence is obvious on  songs such as “Sparks” and “Blue and Black.” “Take a ride on My Aeroplane” leans heavily on Beatles-style harmony. The Kinks leave their mark on “I Can’t Take It No More.” But the overall songwriting borrows heavily from the early Who and Small Faces sound and energy. You will also find some David Bowie influence.


History of the band:

The band has been together a little over two years now, but the members have known each other for 20-plus years. Everyone in this band has been around the block a few times and with kids, mortgages and full-time careers as first priorities. Mostly they are just having a great time with the music. Basically this is a great group of guys that like hanging out together and developing their musical chemistry.

Where you can see them play:

The Nick and the Bottletree are favorite venues. The band had a fantastic record release party at Avondale Brewing Co. back in February.

Styled by Mary Beth Wetzel


Juka Tribe

Juka Tribe


John Scalici: electronic and acoustic percussion, sampler, kalimba

Cody McLain: conga, djembe, percussion

Jay Johnson: electric and acoustic bass

Frequent guests: poet Sharrif Simmons, Justin Wallace on vibraphone, Bruce Andrews on harmonica and Mark Kimbrell on guitar. Tribal bellydance group Erynia’s Tribe.

Where the name came from:

Tribe implies family, brotherhood and community. The band evolved from a study-group format where players joined together to play West African, Brazilian, Haitian, and Middle Eastern rhythms. One of those traditional rhythms is called Juka. Hence the name.

What the music is like:

Driven by drums and rhythm, it is exotic, trance-inducing and funky, sometimes even quirky.  There is a heavy ethnic feel to the music with a lot of worId-influenced samples. There is definitely an Afro-beat sensibility there, but then they will turn around and inject a Beledi (Middle Eastern) rhythm or a traditional Samba intro into a song.

Musical influences:

Fela Kuti, Toubab Krewe, Beats Antique, Mickey Hart, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Babatunde Olatunji, Augustus Pablo, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Anthony Bourdain & Andrew Zimmermann, 1970s funk and R&B and plenty of others.

History of the band:

Juka Tribe sprang from numerous Tuesday night jam sessions, first with only live percussion and later with computer technology introduced with blues guitar riffs and lyrics woven into the mosaic of Middle Eastern, Brazilian, and West African rhythms. The core band is Johnson, Scalici and McLain.

Future plans:

Short-term, they plan to finish their second album before the year is over and play more festivals next year.  In the long run, they simply want to continue the world music journey they’ve begun and see where the journey and hard work takes them.

Where you can see them play:

The band says the Bottletree and Workplay have been very good to them, and “of course, there would be no Juka Tribe without the good folks at Crestwood Coffee. They used to let us come in and take over the place with all our stuff and work the kinks out, just to be in front of a live audience.”

Audience participation:

Most concerts feature an after-show drum circle where the band provides 30 or 40 drums and invites the audience to jam. The effect is magical, and reflects a desire to connect with fans in a way that most bands don’t get to do — concert as full-blown tribal gathering.

Mile Marker 7

Mile Marker 7


Seanie Mac: vox and drums

Stache Buckler: vox and guitar

Mitch McElroy: vox , percussion, and mouth harp

“The Wisdom” Gary Justiss: bass

Where the name came from:

Originally named “Melt Your Face Off” or MYFO. After their first gig, the van ran out of gas at mile marker 7. When the musicians finally got gas, they stole the sign and renamed the band.



Describe the music you make:

It’s like musical gumbo for your soul. Mile Marker 7’s vocals consist of three brothers (Mitchell, Jordan and Sean McElroy),  making three-part harmonies a huge part of the overall sound.


Conflicts working together:

“Being brothers is probably the most difficult issue we deal with. We (the brothers) are all type-A personalities and tend to get a little pushy with each other. Probably the second most difficult issue is who’s on first?”


History of the band:

“Growing up together, there were always different instruments in the house, so we each had the opportunity to play instruments and become musicians at separate times. Then in 2002 or so, we wrote our first song together, found Gary by way of our church, and as they say, the rest is history.”

Dreams of the future:

We’d like to be able to influence people with our music, put a little happiness in your step…. And make a little money.

Where they like to play:

“Currently we’re having a good time at Stillwater. They have one of the more band-friendly venues around.”


Ferocious Bubbles


Ferocious Bubbles


Peter Szelenbaum:  guitar, bass, vocals

Andrea Paschal:  vocals, keyboards, synths, extras…

J.M. Cifonie: bass, drums

Blake Wimberly: drums, percussion

Where the name came from:

Band members are really not sure. In the bath, perhaps.

History of the band:

Ferocious Bubbles has been around for many years.  For the most part it has been Pete Szelenbaum as the main songwriter with a rotating cast of characters. Along with many others, they have made either cameo appearances or guest stints in the Ferocious Bubbles live and recorded settings. The current configuration is just what seemed to stick after a lot of different ones. Pete and Andrea Paschal are now sharing songwriting duties and collaborating on building the songs from the ground up.

The music:

The music draws influences from a little bit of everything — pop, shoegaze, dream pop, post-punk, early Cure and even a bit of early U2.  Nick Cave and Kate Bush are Andrea’s top musical heroes. One thing is for certain. They all share an extreme love for a good disco beat.

Where you can hear them:

The Bottletree is a favorite venue without a doubt. The band says they have a huge appreciation for Bottletree’s contribution to building the local music scene by providing the chance for local bands to play alongside their favorite national acts, as well as the attention to detail given to providing the best live sound possible.

Act of Congress


Act of Congress


Adam Wright: mandolin, piano, guitar, vocals

Chris Griffin: guitar, lap steel, mandolin, vocals

Tim Carroll: upright bass, vocals

Connie Skellie: violin, vocals

Musical Style:

Acoustic folk-rock

Why they are worth a listen:

You can hear the diverse musical backgrounds of these musicians coming through in every song they play. They are bright and full of energy.

Challenges of the music business:

“Keeping the monster that we call Act of Congress fed is a very big task considering we are running this ship all by ourselves with no outside help.  Yes, Act of Congress is both a monster and a ship. The challenges of running your own business are exhausting, but the small steps that lead to success are well worth it.”

How they work:

They vote. Creating music with four opinionated musicians can be challenging to say the least. When the musicians can’t agree during the creative process, they default to a voting system. Majority rules, and the minority goes off to pout for a bit.

Where you can hear them:

Though locally focused, in 2012 they will also be playing regionally, including festivals, symphony partnerships and other live music venues. Their favorite places to play around town include Workplay, Alabama Theater and Moonlight on the Mountain.




Anthony DeWayne Mack

Where the name came from:

“The name was something that I’d written on any surface available to me throughout the years. I’m also fairly lazy, so it didn’t take a lot of time or energy to make a name based on my own last name.”

Musical influences:

“Ambient. Noise. Hip Hop. Funk with a tinge of WTF? thrown in for good measure.”

Sun Ra, Madlib, J Dilla, Steve Reich, CAN

Dreams or plans for the music:

Spread the music of Step Pepper Records far and wide.

Favorite venue around town:

“Some venues are more conducive to a great performance than others, but I find that any venue has the potential to play host to an amazing spectacle. It’s always about that one moment in time when a performance becomes bigger than the performer or the venue.”

Musical philosophy:

“I like to take things that are not musical in the traditional sense and mold them and poke them and prod them until they become these catchy sounds that induces involuntary head-nodding.”

To Light A Fire


To Light a Fire


Shane Cardinal: bass guitar.

Alison Smolin: drums, vocals.

Ben Smolin: vocals, piano, guitar.

Where the name came from:

“We think of To Light A Fire as an illustration of what it feels like to listen to good music,” Ben Smolin says. ‘When you listen to a great song you feel something deep inside of yourself.  Good music stirs up your emotions almost as if a tiny flame is lit inside of you.  It is our goal to create great music that does what it takes to light a fire inside of other people.  Plus it kind of sounds kind of cool .”

What the music sounds like:

The sound is reminiscent of the intimate vocal melodies and harmonies of Beach House or Low, backed by the musical complexity of Radiohead or Sigur Ros.

History of the band:

“We were a five-piece band for a long time, which although interesting didn’t really work out in the long run,” Ben says. “People (including myself) are very complicated, and the more people there are, the more complicated things get.  Around six months ago, we suddenly found ourselves a three-piece band, and it’s really been up from there. People’s response to the new stuff has been amazing, and the creative process is so simple and organic it’s really a joy playing. We all live together and play music when we want to. It’s pretty much a stress-free, chill environment that works well for us and the music we create.” To Light A Fire is working on their first album, which they hope to have released in the fall.

Dreams for a music career:

“Starting in August we’ll be touring for a solid 10 days or so out of every month creating an overarching route which we plan to repeat every six months, hopefully building our fan base each time around,” Ben says.  We’re not interested in being an overnight success, if such a thing even exists. Bands that are built on the hype of a single or a couple weeks in the spotlight often have no real foundation and cannot stand the test of time. It’s the groups who have built a foundation for themselves over years of playing the club circuits that are eventually able to achieve real longevity. Plus it’s just so much fun traveling, meeting new people, and playing shows. We’re all about the organic process. We’re just going to do our thing and play our music and let whatever happens happen.”





Chad Fisher: trombone, vocals

Heath Green: guitar, keyboards, vocals

Allen Stone: guitar, vocals

Brian Cooper: bass

Jason Lucia: drums

Rob Alley: trumpet

Brad Guin: saxophone, vocals

Musical influences:

Their music flows from soul, country and rock n’ roll with influences from Sly Stone, The Band, Doug Sahm, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, and James Brown.

History of the band:

Heath Green and Chad Fisher met a few years ago playing gigs around Birmingham. They started playing together in places like Bailey’s and The Nick. These shows were never rehearsed and featured a rotating cast of musicians. The results were often very raw and always had great energy. Green and Fisher started FisherGreen out of a desire to refine this sound, form a steady working band and focus on writing new material.

Dream musical career:

“To play the music we want to play for people that want to hear it, and hopefully make a decent living doing it.”

Where you can hear them play:

Fisher has played as a sideman for many acts, such as The Temptations, Gregg Allman and Jason Isbell. Green is one of the most in-demand musicians in Birmingham and is regarded as one of the most soulful singers in Alabama. FisherGreen’s debut record is forthcoming with CD release show possibly by late summer. The album was recorded at Ol Elegante Studio and produced by Les Nuby and FisherGreen.

The band is known for energetic late-night sets and is often called upon to to play during late hours, most notably locally at the Secret Stages and BAAM festivals.




Josh Jones:  vocals, guitar

Casey Wilson:  bass guitar

Nathan Kelly:  drums

Significance of the name:

An old Southern phrase for a power-trio rock band steeped in the Southern rock tradition.

Musical influences:

Heavy Southern rock influenced by Johnny Winter,

Johnny Greenwood, The Toadies, Dropsonic and Led Zeppelin.

Dreams for their musical career:

“It would be great to make a nice living wage playing music.  It would be nice to leave a legacy of great music. We want to tour as much as possible and play large venues.”

Stories from the road:

Some of the venues the group plays across the country are in front of some of the toughest people and motorcycle gangs alive.  There are really some things that should just stay on the road.

Listen in on these artists featured in B-Metro’s music issue with these FREE music downloads!

To download the music files, right-click on the link and select “Save As” or “Save Target As”.

Arist Song Title Free Download
To Light a Fire Absent Free Download
Beithemeans Black Water Free Download
Ferocious Bubbles Blinding Light Free Download
St. Paul & the Broken Bones Broken Bones and Pocket Change Free Download
Juka Tribe Butler Blues Free Download
FisherGreen Leave It At The Door Free Download
Beitthemeans Pots In The Kitchen Free Download
St. Paul & the Broken Bones That Glow Free Download
MackONE Nocturne Free Download
MackONE These Myths Have Led Us Astray Free Download
Bunny Austin Shadow Life Free Download
Mile Marker 7 Here We Go Free Download
Act of Congress One Will Break Free Download
Mile Marker 7 Mr. Hayes Free Download
Juka Tribe The Grind Free Download
Bunny Austin Make It Last For Now Free Download
To Light a Fire Have You Heard About Your Boy Free Download
Ferocious Bubbles Parasites Free Download
FisherGreen Tearin’ Down My Soul Free Download

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