March Notes

March music in the Magic City.

by John D

Frightened Rabbit (4/11 @ WorkPlay)Scottish indie rockers hit our shores to promote their newest album, “Pedestrian Verses.”

Festival season (or at least the announcements and the artfully done and convincing fake announcements) are upon us, with the music industry “insider” South By Southwest and Coachella leading the way. These don’t really matter to most of us in Birmingham because we (a). can not afford to fly across the country and (b). we are just people who love music and not industry “insiders.”  What does matter to us is that the right in our backyard Hangout Music Festival, May 17 to 19, has made their line up public knowledge (as you read this so has Manchester, Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, but not by my deadline). The Hangout, as always, does not disappoint. The only problem with The Hangout is that although it has the big names (Tom Petty, Kings of Leon, The Shins, and more) it is actually pretty small as far as capacity goes. Having said that, I suggest you head over to their website and buy your tickets now (

Now that we have the important, and closest, music festival’s covered let’s get on to the more practical and economical music news, i.e. who is coming to Birmingham in March.

The Alys Stephens Center continues to get more and more adventurous in their lineup and this is exemplified in their pairing of The Preservation Jazz Hall Band and The Del McCoury Band (3/9). The two bands have been recording together and played a few shows but the chance to catch the blending of the two groups here in Birmingham is something that, as cliched as it sounds, should not be passed up.

If the show mentioned above isn’t exciting and genre bending enough for you, then you should check out the beat-boxing, looping, and violin playing Kishi Bashi at Bottletree (3/13). Yes, beat boxing and violin. A strange combination, but it works. The classical trained violinist K Ishibashi started this side project in order to explore what he calls “soundscapes.” Each song starts with loops for percussion (the beat-boxing) and rhythm (the violin) which Ishibashi then plays and sings along with. An exciting show and surely something that we don’t often get the chance to experience here in Birmingham.

WorkPlay has a full month in March but two shows stand out. The Black Jacket Symphony will be doing a three night stand (3/8 – 3/10) of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. Although I am not generally a fan of cover bands, somehow the Black Jacket Symphony does not seem like a “cover band” to me. It is more a chance to hear an album brought to life when you otherwise would not have the chance. Plus, who does not have a favorite Prince song? Sure, the man is a little on the odd side, but he has been putting out some pretty incredible music for the last 30 years. Moving away from a symphony performing an album you have the gospel influenced, brass laden, wailing sounds of Birmingham’s very own St Paul and the Broken Bones (3/29). Lead singer Paul Janeway is the consummate front man, dressed in his signature bow tie and blazer, but his wailing and testifying style of singing seals the deal. On his own Janeway is good, but it is the solid backing of the skilled players that make up the band that drives it home. I have yet to see these guys play and not enjoy the show. Opening for the Broken Bones will be the Nashville based blues rock band Luella and the Sun. Luella and The Sun are already making folks on the national level take notice (they will be playing several showcases at South By Southwest). They are the perfect compliment as the opening act for St Paul.

The winter months are not the doldrums but they are certainly slower for touring acts (many bands take the chance to head home or head to the studio). The big festivals announcing their lineups also gives us a glimpse into what bands will be touring. Below is a listing of just a few of the shows that over the next few months are stopping in Birmingham.


Ivan and Alyosha

Frightened Rabbit (4/11 @ WorkPlay)Scottish indie rockers hit our shores to promote their newest album, “Pedestrian Verses.”

Ivan And Alyosha (4/11 @ The Bottletree): Good solid folk pop out of Seattle.

Rusted Root (4/15 @ Iron City). Yes, the “Send Me on My Way” Rusted Root. I am excited to see a group on the main stage at the newly finished Iron City.

The Alabama Shakes (6/7 and 6/8). One of the biggest bands out of Alabama in a long time and it is hard to catch them here. Someone, smartly, booked them for two nights at  Sloss Furnaces. Even better is that accompanying The Shakes are different bands for each show. Dawes one night and Patterson Hood. Although I am excited to have Dawes back, it is Drive By Trucker co-founder Patterson Hood that I can’t wait to see.

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