Magic City Mix

Our annual look at the people who make Birmingham rock. Scroll to the bottom of the page to hear tracks from our featured artists.

 Photographed by Liesa Cole

Produced by Tony Rodio

JazzMineJazzMine Garfield

How did you come up with your name?  Any particular significance?

Huge thing about myself is being proud of who I am. JasMine is my name. A producer by the name of Byron the Aquarius started presenting my name spelled JazzMine in every release. I’ve run with it. Never wanted to be any other ego, any other name, but my own!

Members and instruments:

I am a solo artist that mainly plays guitar, but I also play piano. Catch me live, and I’m rocking with a band called Fifth Element.

How would you describe the music you make?

Organic, diverse, soulful, genuine

Any particular influences?

A bit of everything influences me, mainly life. I say life because so many things factor around it from people, to situations encountered. It helps influence expression and that expression is poured through my music.

How did you get started?

I’ve always been inspired to be a musician. When I was younger I’d be front and center on stage any chance I could get.  I started young with a gospel group called Message. From there, my urge to write, sing, and play became my biggest appetite in life. Thankfully I’ve linked up with Courtney Little, owner of Forever Music, and we’ve been moving forward ever since.

Conflicts or challenges working together?

I’ve been blessed to work with individuals who respect creative freedom, and who have also taught me a few tricks. These challenges have turned into open doors that have helped me in so many ways. It wouldn’t be fun if conflict wasn’t involved. You grow from it!

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

I want to be more than heard. I wish for longevity and with that longevity the ability to help heal through music. To sum up my dream, I simply want to be in the midst of creativity every single day.

Favorite venue around town?

The Foreign Exchange, Seeds Coffee, Gip’s Place, and High Note are my favorites. I just can’t pick one because between these four. When you hit a venue you want a good time, and as an artist you wish to go places where your art is appreciated and welcomed. These venues are the most welcoming, diverse, open minded, entertaining places that I always enjoy.

Any anecdote or amusing/interesting story you can tell that would reflect on your personality?

Whenever you meet me expect the goofiest, silliest, sweetest person ever. I love to laugh and love to live! I’m a ball of fun and when I’m on stage that’s exactly what it’s all about! If I can jump in the crowd and dance with everyone I more than likely will!



How did you come up with your name?  Any particular significance?

We went through a couple of lesser names for the project before settling on Downright, which we like because it reflects our personalities— bold, funky, and tenacious. Also it’s a noun and an adjective.

Members and instruments:

Steve Lewis, vocals, guitar and bass

Matthew DeVine, vocals, keys, guitars, bass and drums

How would you describe the music you make?

Rock with elements of funk and R&B.

Any particular influences?

Talking Heads, The Kinks, James Brown, Commodores

How did you guys come together as a band?

We met at the University of Alabama while studying music.

Conflicts or challenges working together?

We were in different parts of the country for a few years, Steve in NYC and Matthew in Birmingham, but now we are both in the Southeast and ready to tour in support of our new record, Lightheaded.

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

We want to own all of our music and be a self-sustaining unit that can reach a lot of people, both in live performance and in various media.

Favorite venue around town?

We love Bottletree, and have a great many others we dig.

Any anecdote or amusing/interesting story you can tell that would reflect the personality of your band?

Matthew once did our entire show dressed as a ballerina.

Anything else you want to say that could be of interest about individual band members or the music you make?

Alabama’s got soul, and Downright taps into that wellspring of musical goodness.


EarlyAmericans_1Early Americans

How did you come up with your name?  Any particular significance?

Zack had a history class where he studied the American Revolution. While flipping through his history book, he saw the name and it stuck.

Members and instruments:

Matt, guitar/vocal

Zack, bass

Joey, guitar

Cody, drums

How would you describe the music you make?

Acoustic songs mixed in with tight drums and electric guitars.

Any particular influences?

Manchester Orchestra, David Bazan, Death Cab for Cutie, Preston Lovinggood

How did you guys come together as a band?

Matt, Zach, and Cody played together in bands in high school. Joey played guitar in other bands that would open up for them and joined right before the first EP was released.

Conflicts or challenges working together?

I think with everyone’s own individuality it can create some friction when writing new songs, but ultimately it just challenges each of us to get better and promote new ideas.

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

Get a new album out that we are extremely proud of and that really represents what we all want to make.

Favorite venue around town?

Bottletree, Parkside, Workplay

Any anecdote or amusing/interesting story you can tell that would reflect the personality of your band?

We just all work very different jobs and are all at different places in life outside of music, which can make getting together all that much better. When we are in a room with each other, we make music that gives us an escape from our everyday lives.

Anything else you want to say that could be of interest about individual band members or the music you make?

Matt is a book worm. He’s recommended a lot of great stuff and has a great taste in literature. Cody is a truck driver by day and a drum slayer by night, I like to imagine him tapping out drum parts all day while driving and listening to our demos. Zach is the therapist of the band; we don’t really have problems with each other, but if you ever do, just go to Zach you can always get along with him. Joey is a flamboyant diva.

GabrielTajeu1Gabriel Tajeu

How did you come up with your name?

Hmmm…my mother and father gave it to me.

Any particular significance? 

Well, I am named after my grandfather.  He was an incredible person, and my last name means “lucky.”

Members and instruments:

I sing and play guitar, saxophone, clarinet, and a little piano, but my album has some incredible regional as well as national musicians on it. My music wouldn’t be what it is without their contributions.

How would you describe the music you make? 

I describe my music as R&B/folk/rock. I’d say the melodies and harmonies are most similar to R&B, but the subject matter of the songs is a bit more introspective and searching plus there is acoustic guitar on all of the tracks, so that’s why I include the “folk” genre.  If you hear my album, you’ll know what I mean about the “rock” part…although there is a smoothness to all of the tracks and a listenability (I made that word up I think), the production approach I took is still heavy on the drums, bass, and electric guitars!

Any particular influences? 

Really too many to name, and really, it’s hard for me to say that my idols “influence” me because there is stuff that they do that I could never dream of doing, so I just try to do my thing. But I’d say that Maxwell, Prince, Joni Mitchell, Ben Harper…all of those folks are where I really fell in love with music.

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

I really want to tour…if I was in Europe playing shows next month, Asia the next, and back in the US after that, I’d be a happy man.  I want people to hear my music and be as inspired as I am when I hear songs I love.  I want people to not only be inspired to make music, but also to be inspired to achieve whatever it is they desire.  This music thing is a tough road, and part of the reason I decided to take it was not necessarily for the fame and fortune (that is pretty rare these days), but because I think it could inspire other people to follow their own dreams and give them encouragement to travel down their own tough roads.

Favorite venue around town?

Wow, there are so many!  Playing a gig at Marty’s, though, on a Saturday night is one of the best times around.  Sure the gig is late, 12:30 to 4:30 a.m., but the energy is amazing!  I really love playing at Ona’s, too.  Ona and Marty, RIP, gave me my start and the opportunity to really play music in this town.  I’ll be forever grateful to them.  I also had the opportunity to play at Bottletree and open for the Wailers at Avondale Brewing Company recently and those were great experiences.



How did you come up with your name?  Any particular significance?

We got the name from a Pixies song. We love The Pixies and also think that Velouria is just a beautiful, if meaningless, word. 

Members and instruments:

Deanna Medina, vocals

Michael Harp, guitar/vocals

John Denton, drums

Stephen Wills, bass

How would you describe the music you make?

Nervous, loud, reverb-soaked indie-rock. Sad, angry, beautiful.

How did you guys come together as a band?

Michael and Deanna met in a school talent show and started playing music together as an acoustic duo. “We realized that we were tired of being so damn quiet all the time, so we recruited John on drums. We shuffled bassists for a while after recording the EP and finally recruited our good friend Stephen, our current and hopefully permanent bassist.”

Any particular influences?

Manchester Orchestra, Pixies, AA Bondy, Local Natives, Title Fight, Radiohead, St. Vincent

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

Our first goal is to make music our career. After that, we just want as many people to hear us as possible.

Conflicts or challenges working together?

Not many. We are all very passionate about the music we make and don’t let petty grievances get in the way. When we are together and creating music, it’s always fun and lighthearted.

Favorite venue around town?

Bottletree Café

Any anecdote or amusing/interesting story you can tell that would reflect the personality of your band?

John has shown up at every gig and practice within five minutes of the scheduled time for every event so far. Also, when we were on Reg’s Coffee House, John decided to scream along to the title track “Smile Until It Hurts” during our in-studio performance. It was completely unexpected and totally hilarious. Also, we recorded our entire album in the dark. We still believe it sounds better with the lights off.

Anything else you want to say that could be of interest about individual band members or the music you make?

We are all very young. None of us are older than 18.  John is actually an Eagle Scout.  We manage ourselves and try to maintain a DIY attitude. Our parents (and some grandparents) come to all of our shows still. Since we’re so young, our musical tastes are evolving fairly rapidly. This causes every song we write to be different than the last, and we think it makes for an interesting sound. We have a few guardian angels throughout Birmingham that have really helped get our name on the map (Les Nuby, Jason Hamric, and Scott Register to name a few).


la resistance 1_1La Resistance

How did you come up with your name? Any particular significance?

We thought through a lot of names when we decided to form the band, but La Resistance seemed to fit what we were trying to do musically. It basically came from the title of the French Resistance in World War 2, but it can have a lot of other meanings also.

Members and instruments:

Greg Summerlin, vocals and guitar

Randle Scruggs, bass

Will Hightower, drums

How would you describe the music you make?

Our first album Philosophy was definitely influenced by a lot of post-punk British bands, but there were many other influences on the album also. It’s been interesting seeing how the press reacts to a band with these type of influences from the Deep South. We have a new album that will be released in early fall that will have a lot more electronic influences, so we are excited to see how people respond to this new material. I’ve really gotten interested in a lot of the sounds coming out of the electronic scene these days and have incorporated a good bit of that in the new songs.

Any particular influences?

With the first album the obvious influences might be New Order or maybe The Cure or Joy Division but we were also listening to artists like Beck and The Flaming Lips. The new songs are definitely influenced much more by American artists, particularly those with electronic leanings.

How did you guys come together as a band?

The band has gone through a few personnel changes since it was formed a couple of years ago. The original group was basically the band that I played with when I was working as a solo artist, but the current lineup just came about because they were friends of someone in the band and it just seemed to work.

Conflicts or challenges working together?

There have actually been very few conflicts within the band. Even when we go on the road there have been very few problems, and things can get really difficult at times when you are out doing tour dates. When the band was formed, and as we have had to replace members, we’ve always tried to find people that would fit in well with the other members of the band both musically and personally. The most difficult part of being in a band these days is being able to tour when some of the band members have regular jobs. It’s really hard to have success without touring and we feel like our live show is really good so we want people to see it.

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

I think immediate goals would be to have success with the new album, both critically and financially, and do be able to do a lot of tour dates to support the album. We also hope that people in Birmingham will really like what we are doing because we have seemed to have more interest from press and radio in the northeast and midwest. For example, we have played more shows in New York than in Birmingham, so hopefully that will change in the future. We had a great show at the CMJ Music Festival in NYC last fall, so we also hope to be able play more events and festivals like CMJ.

Favorite venue around town?

The only venue we have played in Birmingham has been The Bottletree, which we think is a great club. We were having discussions with a band from the midwest about opening up for them on a tour this fall and the first thing they mentioned was how much they liked playing The Bottletree when they came through Birmingham. We hope to get a chance to play other clubs here soon though, because there are other great venues here also.

Any anecdote or amusing/interesting story you can tell that would reflect the personality of your band? Anything else you want to say that could be of interest about individual band members or the music you make?

I actually have had over 30 TV and movie placements from my solo albums, including shows on NBC and ABC and the movie Hotel Gramercy Park which won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival. I had signed a deal with the MTV Networks, which used a number of songs from my solo work, but turned down offers from them for the La Resistance material. We want to be much more exclusive with the La Resistance catalog, so we haven’t licensed much of it yet, but will probably look at more licensing with the new album.

Rusty Luquire_1Rusty Luquire

Founder of Humble Diva, RetroFoxx and Have You Heard Us

How did you come up with your name?  Any particular significance?

I’m always hearing word combinations in my head that don’t seem to naturally go together, but I like the way they sound once I hear them said out loud. I feel like your name also needs to have a little bounce! So with my new projects I was looking for names that would be attention grabbing and make people want to stop and learn more.

What’s your background in the music industry?

I spent 10 years as the lead singer in a number of rock & roll bands (Western Decadence, Storm Orphans, Wendy Gunn). After that I spent another 20 years on the agency side of the industry working with SouthEastern Attractions.

I also hosted two weekly radio shows, Local X with Wex & Wax on The X and The Sunday Night Social with Coco & The Man on Live 100.5. Local X was a show I did with Wes Calhoun, and we played only Alabama bands. I took an offer from Dave Rossi to do that show so I could get some of the acts I represented on the radio. Suddenly bands like Pain, Autumn Lords, and Jive Mob were in regular rotation. After The X went off the air Dave resurfaced at Live 100.5 and I pitched him the idea for The Sunday Night Social while we were meeting with some sponsors on a completely different project. Rossi said yes on the spot so I called DJ Coco on the way back to my office and said, “Hey mate, what do you think about having your own radio show?” We went on the air the next weekend. Once again the radio was a key promotional component and helped give one of my acts some major exposure.

So what is Humble Diva?

Humble Diva is the name of my new management venture. Through my 30 years of industry experience I’ve discovered that I’m most passionate about working with artists in general. Working with people that have different talents, personalities and unique abilities is exciting. So I’ve turned my focus to artist development and representation and launched Humble Diva.

Zeroing in on the “personalities” allows me to also represent non-music acts, which can bring new opportunities such as film, TV, merchandise, etc.  Working with all of these creates a smart package geared toward the modern marketplace.

What about RetroFoxx and Have You Heard Us?

In addition to Humble Diva, I’ve started a merchandise company, RetroFoxx.  RetroFoxx works with artists to design, develop and produce their merchandising products. So Humble Diva and RetroFoxx can work hand in hand and provide artists with a turnkey approach to their marketing, development and merchandising. I’ve also joined forces with two business colleagues, Patrick Johnson and Tracy Smith, on a new venture, Have You Heard Us. Our paths have continued crossing over the years working on a variety of projects and I realized that all of us together would be a force. So I approach them about Have You Heard Us and they jumped on board. Have You Heard Us is a talent management and production company. We have been under the radar for the last several months working on a number of client projects but we are now coming up for air and will have an online presence soon. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of interest and business we’ve already attracted.

Any particular influences?

I’ve got a collection of vinyl records that spans over four decades and that is definitely been my biggest influence, that’s why I’ve always loved DJ’s so much. A good DJ doesn’t need to take requests. They should read what the crowd wants and segue into that next track in their head as they build up to the peaks of the mix. I would have to say currently my biggest influence right now is a DJ named Kaskade. He’s a true electronic performer. However it was The Beatles that got me into rock music at age 4 and had me playing the drums by age 5. I’m still not sure what my parents were thinking!

How did you get into the music industry?

I got into artist management and the business of representation after being the bandleader in two groups I formed while I was supposed to be going to class at the University of Alabama. It was Troy Thompson (Kilgore Trout, T-Minus Band) who actually suggested I represent his band and that started the whole ball rolling. Soon I was tired of being on the stage and just wanted to be behind the scenes where I was able to be more effective.

Troy was smart enough to know you need someone who is not in the band to be able to speak for the band. Otherwise you’ll be a local act forever, which some people are okay with but to me it’s the kiss of death because you’re not going to be out on tour. And on the road is the only place a real act can make any money. There just aren’t too many big advances being handed out for “download deals” so you have to get out there and play shows to sell your merchandise and CD’s.

Conflicts or challenges?

The biggest challenge for me is managing the egos that are sometimes involved when you’re doing deals. And strangely enough I’ve found that the bigger the act the more their egos are in check. It’s the climbers and newcomers who think they’ve achieved something that can really throw out some attitude. Often it’s not even the artists themselves who are jacked-up with big egos, but it’s the people around them.

Plans for your career?

It’s an exciting time for me right now. As you can see I have many irons in the fire, a lot going on and some great opportunities.  I’m currently in the midst of launching Humble Diva and RetroFoxx and moving full time into artist management, merchandise and marketing. This is how I first got into the industry after college so I’m excited to be back on that side of the business. I’m also enjoying the beginning stages of working with non-music acts like comedian and Birmingham native Eunice Elliott. I’m also working with Jasmine Garfield and Phaith Frazier who is the “artist formerly known as DJ Chocolate.” Jasmine is the closest thing to a band that I’m interested in right now. She always delivers whether she’s got 10 cats behind her or if it’s just her and the guitar.  Tasha Simone is another talent that I currently represent. She’s a familiar voice in Birmingham as an on air personality for Hot 107.7 FM.

Favorite venue around town?

I can’t just pick one. But my favorites are Rogue Tavern, Bottletree, Workplay and The Nick.

Any anecdote or amusing/interesting story you can tell that would reflect your personality?

After being in the business this long I probably have too many interesting stories that I could tell… and most of them are not fit for print! People always want to know who is the most famous person I’ve worked with or which artist was hard to work with, etc. Several that comes to mind. Charlie Daniels is probably the most professional guy I ever worked with.  Ludacris, Dierks Bentley and Akon were all super cool to deal with. As far as acts that were the most difficult to work with… I’d have to say it’s a tie between Soulja Boy and the Goo Goo Dolls.


substrate_1Substrate radio

Jason Hamric operates an Internet Radio Station in the heart of Birmingham, called Substrate Radio. “I stumbled across the name early on and thought what a wonderful way to describe the type of music I would be playing.  I was really trying to think of a name that would signify music’s beautiful underbelly and that might be a powerful word to give listeners hope that they could have a station to make their own and be proud of,” Hamric says.

“Our music is always left of center.  Everything from indie rock and punk to the latest synth pop and garage. I was definitely raised listening to rock stations in Birmingham and more than once wondered what I would play if I had my own station. When I was young there were album rock stations that would play a whole side of a record not just the hits, and it gave me a complete vision of what the artist really wanted me to hear.  We definitely try and carry that over to our listeners. Our inner office slogan has always been “Substrate Radio – None Of The Hits, All Of The Time.” The Internet arena allows us to program whatever content the people want without any of the corporate constraints and FCC boundaries.

We also fully support and play local artists.  In fact, we make sure that at least one local artist is played every hour we are on.

Substrate Radio’s lineup highlights

Monday Nights: 7 to 9 p.m.

“The Jackie Lo Show” with Jackie Lo

Tuesday Nights: 7 to 9 p.m.

“Blood on the Knobs” with Jim Fahy

Wednesday Nights: 7 to 9 p.m. 

“Spellbound” with Andrea Paschal;

9 to 11p.m.

“Goodnight Satellite” with Daniel Farris

Thursday Nights: 7 to 9 p.m.

“Get Some” with Tom Bagby

Sunday Mornings: 10 to 1p.m. 

“Wake Up, Boo” with Craig Ceravolo

Sunday Nights : 7 to 9 p.m. 

“Ham Radio” with Blake Ells and Rick Muscles


feather canyon_1Feather Canyon

How did you come up with your name?  Any particular significance?

The name Feather Canyon comes from a line in the Joni Mitchell song, “Both Sides Now.” When it came time to play our first show, we were still undecided on a name and FC was at the top of list so we were all like: I guess we’re Feather Canyon.

Members and instruments:

Clay Jones, vocal/rhythm guitar

Kristi Houk, vocals

Jeana Cobb, lead guitar/vocals

Beth Ragland, bass/vocals

Tonya West, drums/vocals

How would you describe the music you make?

Rock mostly. We have been described many times as The Rolling Stones meets the B-52’s. It’s gravely and guttural and harmonic and sweet all at the same time. Sometimes we describe it as “AM Gold.”

Any particular influences?

With five people in the band,  the influences really run all over the place. We all love songs full of soul and harmony. When I am writing songs, I  try to keep a rule I once heard Johnny Cash say: “Every good song is about Love, God or Murder.”

How did you guys come together as a band?

Kristi and I met after high school in Gadsden Ala. We became fast friends and toyed with the idea of doing music together. We had only one real problem: neither of us played instruments. We spent a few years trying to rope every musician friend into starting a band with us but nothing ever stuck. Later when we moved to Birmingham, I acquired a cheap guitar and slowly learned some chords but was in no shape to be playing music for an audience. The song Creeper, on our first EP, was written during this period probably around 1997. Fast forward to three years ago Kristi and I started meeting on a regular basis with the sole purpose of writing songs or developing songs I had written. After some time we knew we had some good songs together and it was time to recruit other members into the band. I knew Jeana had good guitar skills and a great ear for song structures. Tonya is a great drummer and fantastic with harmony so she signed on, too. We played our first show without a bass player. We opened for a band that Beth was playing in. After the show, Beth came up to me and said “Y’all need a bass player.” Within the week she was in the band giving us the bonus of another harmony part.

Conflicts or challenges working together?

The biggest conflict, really, is just getting five adult people with busy lives together regularly. When it comes to the songs, we all just do our individual things and it always comes together organically.

Dreams or plans for your music/career?

Honestly, we just love playing together. We are always writing new songs, of course, and we want people to hear them. But getting together with good people and writing good songs is like going to church in a way. We do hope to record again this fall/winter.

Favorite venue around town?

It’s just so much fun to play. Festivals are great; everyone is in a good mood and really enjoying the music. Bottletree is so good to their musical acts.  Their hospitality is really top notch, and the stage is awesome.


Magic City Mix 2013 Playlist

01 My Style – Downright

02 I Will Tell You – La Resistance

03 REPEAT – JazzMine Garfield

04 Speak – Velouria

05 Raindrops – Gabriel Tajeu

06 Come Down – Feather Canyon

07 Letters – Early Americans

08 Lovers – Early Americans

09 The Drought – Feather Canyon

10 I’ll Take What She Gives – Gabriel Tajeu

11 Compulsive Behaviour – Velouria

12 Intoxication – JazzMine Garfield

13 Gigantic – La Resistance

14 Where Do You Get Off – Downright

One Response to “Magic City Mix”

  1. Paula says:

    You have” BLESSED “my soul.

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