It’s no secret the arts can positively impact a community. Concerts, performances, exhibits, and other special events bring in more than just revenue. They open up a space for people to come together and share stories. This month, we invited people who know a thing or two about the importance of community in Birmingham to share in the conversation: Keith Harrelson, founder of Moonlight on the Mountain, and Meredith Drennen, the director of the Homewood Chamber of Commerce.
Harrelson founded the Moonlight on the Mountain music venue in the early 2000s, establishing its current Bluff Park location in 2009. Settled in one of Hoover’s oldest buildings, the venue is close to Tip Top Grill and Mr. P’s Deli, with an incredible view overlooking the bluff. Harrelson appreciates the authentic nature of this neighborhood that generations of families have called home. “It’s great to be a part of a community with such great history,” he says.
Moonlight stands out from your typical concert space. Don’t expect to find flickering television screens and rows of auditorium seating. Instead, you’ll discover a refreshingly intimate vibe that feels more like you’re hanging out at a friend’s house. The venue showcases original acoustic music from across the country, as well as local talent. Guests are invited to bring their own food and beverages, a unique element of the eclectic space. “There are moments when the audience is taken away and magic happens,” he says. “It’s one of the few places where that happens anymore.”
Drennen recently took over as director of the Homewood Chamber, a nonprofit organization with 450 members providing networking and marketing opportunities to the Homewood community. The Chamber hosts a networking luncheon at The Club the third Tuesday of every month and also puts on fundraisers throughout the year such as Taste of Homewood, which showcases the community’s myriad restaurants, and Pickin’ in the Park, a chance for guitarists to gather together in Homewood Central Park.
One moment stands out for Drennen that encapsulates the heart of Homewood. She recalls sampling treats from Magic City Sweet Ice, a new shaved ice venture in West Homewood, and walking across the street to Patriot Park. “Is there anything better than having shaved ice on a sunny day watching kids play?” she says.
Drennen is particularly excited about a bike-share task force headed by the Chamber that will involve public involvement meetings. She believes that this transportation initiative will make even better use of Homewood’s current walkability while promoting healthy habits. “It’s great to see something so innovative come to this area,” she says.