Listen Up / January 2011

Who to see and What to hear in January

This time last year, Birmingham was still home, in my opinion, to one of the best radio stations in the country, Live100.5.  The Adult Album Alternative (or AAA Station) format featured an eclectic mix of artists not normally heard on standard radio.  Instead of featuring the same overproduced pop, hard rock or country song 40 times a week, Live100.5 focused on new music, some unknown artists and broadening its listeners’ music horizon.  AAA radio gives the listener a chance to rediscover music and the opportunity to find artists that might have otherwise stayed under the radar.
Live100.5 was programmed locally and was successful due largely in part to Birmingham’s Scott Register of Reg’s Coffee House.  Register and the station gave its listeners and our community an exploration into new musical territories.  Artists like the Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons and Oceanship recognize that Register and the station contributed largely to their success and popularity in this market and across the country.  Birmingham finally had the crucial nugget it so desperately needed, a radio station that helped break artists on a national level, a station that promoted shows across the region and played music to which more than one demographic could relate.  Live100.5 brought all of this to the table and more – until the broadcasting corporation that owned the station took it all away.
February 14, 2010 was the day that music died in Birmingham.  Register was the last human voice heard on the station as his show, Reg’s Coffee House, brought down the curtain on the station’s short run.  No music, no new artists, no enlightening.  What was a way of life to many in Birmingham was replaced with yet another talk radio station.  Register was without a radio show for the first time in almost 15 years and the station’s listeners went back to listening to their ipods.
That was then; this is now.  Excitement filled the air last month when The Mountain made its debut on Monday, December 13 at  The new station is similar in many ways to Live100.5.  It helps its listeners discover new and emerging artists, it helps promote local and regional events and it is home to a few familiar voices; including Register and Reg’s Coffee House.  The rules of terrestrial radio are no longer.  The ability to feed music to our community is now in the very apt hands of a couple of guys from Birmingham and we couldn’t be more fortunate. The boundaries are limitless.  It’s a new day for radio and a new year for Birmingham and what a difference a year makes.
Now let’s look at what’s happening at a music venue near you, on this first month of 2011…

Girl Talk

Girl Talk – Gregg Gillis is basically a genius.  It doesn’t take a genius to mash a couple of songs together.  It doesn’t take a genius to travel around the world and make thousands of dollars performing in front of a rabid fanbase.  It doesn’t take a genius to be a DJ.  It does, however, take a bit of a genius to study biomedical engineering with a focus on tissue engineering.  I am told that is the day job that Gillis resigned to pursue his current venture.  I would have to say that the move has paid off quite nicely; a “genius-like” move if you will.  If you have the opportunity to see this show and simply people watch, you will not be disappointed.  However, if you are reading this and you have yet to purchase your tickets, you are probably out of luck as the show was close to selling out early last month.  Move quickly.   Thursday, January 20 – WorkPlay Soundstage –


CAKE – Dating back as far as the early 90s, Cake and its music have certainly stood the test of time. Cake’s musical style is predominately characterized by half-sung, half-spoken vocals and creative and witty lyrics.  While the line-up has changed frequently over the years, Cake still manages to produce a product unmistakable of the “Cake” sound.  This could all change however, when their new record, Showroom of Compassion is released later this month.  Cake front man John McCrea has stated that this new effort is quite different from their previous works.  How so?  You’ll see when the band combines new and old at their show in the WorkPlay Soundstage. Saturday, January 22 – WorkPlay Soundstage –

We Came As Romans

We Came as Romans – Michigan formed rock band We Came as Romans visit Birmingham this month.  I have heard great things about the band but was admittedly unfamiliar with their history and work until I did some investigating.  The band’s current product is a follow-up record to their successful EP, Dreams.  From the band’s website: “Not unlike the EP, the lyrics on To Plant a Seed reflect We Came as Romans’ goal of spreading a positive message through their music. The band hopes, ‘when people hear the album, they might not change the way they think or the way they act right now, but hopefully we’ve planted that ‘seed’, that thought of love, and it can grow.’”   As old as it makes me sound, it’s nice to see an artist representing a younger generation in a positive way and I hear their life show is pretty amazing.  You be the judge. Sunday, January 23 – Zydeco –

Yo La Tengo – This marks the third time that Yo La Tengo has played the market in the last five years.  That may seem like a lot but when a group like this rebuilds its show from tour to tour, it is as if every show is performed by a different, but very familiar artist.  The ability that Yo La Tengo brings along is hard to describe, impossible to define and a joy to experience.  You’re in for a treat whether or not you know anything about the band or its music – trust me.

Monday, January 31 – WorkPlay Theatre –

Todd Coder has 15 years experience in the music business as a promoter, booking agent and musician and is currently the Live Music Talent Buyer at WorkPlay. Todd is a Birmingham native and remains committed to his community through volunteering with local non-profit organizations and serving on the Junior Board at The Club.

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