Recap of the 2015 Inaugural Sloss Music and Arts Festival

Sloss Music and Arts Festival (aka Slossfest) was held July 18-19, 2015 at Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama at the height of the summer’s sweltering heat! Despite the heat, Slossfest proved to be an awesome and unforgettable event. It was a two day event that spotlighted everything from great music, art, food, drink, and the Birmingham area in a way that I never thought I would see! It featured 30 plus artists including: Primus,Tyler the Creator, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Modest Mouse, The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses, Cage The Elephant, Young the Giant, Lord Huron, Manchester Orchestra, Sturgill Simpson, The New Pornographers, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Kaleo, LANY, T. Hardy Morris, Muddy Magnolias, and many more!

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Day I of Slossfest

Aside from the great music, I enjoyed sampling the great craft beer from Alabama in the various bar areas at Slossfest. The Starr Hill All Access Area was by far my favorite and featured the Siren of Sloss Summer Pale Ale collaboration beer with Trim Tab Brewing along with their Belgian Witbier with Cherries, Soul Shine Summer Pale Ale, Reviver Red IPA, Keller Czech Pils, and Jomo Vienna-Style Lager. The Siren of Sloss Summer Pale Ale was something special and tasted like a refreshing and crisp IPA disguised as a pale ale! Cathead Distillery of Mississippi also hosted a cocktail lounge that featured mixed drinks. Piggly Wiggly hosted the Craftly Beerly Garden that featured the following Alabama breweries: Trim Tab, Druid City, Cheaha, Old Black Bear, and Singin River.

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Siren of Sloss Summer Pale Ale

The food selection was also pretty impressive and included Jim ‘N Nick’s, Cantina on Wheels, Philly Connection, Shindigs Catering, Jalapeno Corndog, Repicci’s Italian Ice, Flaming Wok, Mexi Grill, Choice Burger, Phat Daddy’s, Sprout & Pour, and Efe’s. I enjoyed the insanely delicious Phat Daddy’s alligator tenders and hushpuppies and a solid Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich by Philly Connection while I was at the fest.

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Phat Daddy’s alligator tenders and hushpuppies

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The fountains of Sloss Furnaces

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The New Pornographers

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The Blast Stage and Sloss at sunset

In addition, the Sloss Metal Arts Program hosted Hands-On Iron Pouring demonstrations for attendees and allowed them to buy one-of-a-kind iron souvenirs from the demos. Various art vendors and local mixed media artists (Yellowhammer Creative, art by Kunkle, Anne Coneway, Feather wild, etc.) had booths where patrons could purchase unique art pieces. Patrons stayed hydrated by MailChimp’s  convenient and free water filling stations on-site, Alabama Power offered free charging stations, and Yelp had a great water misting tent to cool down from the festival’s crazy heat during the day! Overall, Slossfest was a special moment for Birmingham and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival despite the crazy heat of this year’s fest!

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Day II of Slossfest

Until The Next Post,

Janece

P.S. Who was your favorite artist of this year’s Slossfest or favorite memory?

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Underdogs Above Ground: An Examination of Secret Stages – History, Mission, and Aspirations for the Future

What is it about going an impromptu road trip that excites each of us deep within the depths of our spirit? Maybe it’s the open road? Or maybe it’s the endless possibility and adventure that lies ahead? Much like a frenetic and exhilarating unplanned road-trip, Birmingham’s own Secret Stages music festival is that place of excitement that we often get within our spirit after seeing uncharted roads and attractions for the first time. Only Secret Stages is a purveyor of amazing music.

Secret Stages is a unique annual two-day walking music festival founded in 2011 that is hosted in downtown Birmingham, Alabama every first weekend of August over a two block area near local restaurants, bars, shops, and parks. Festival attendees embark a musical discovery journey that includes over 60 up-and-coming bands and artists from various genres of music gracing the stages of local Birmingham spots. In a two day span, your subject to hearing everything from acoustic, alternative country, alt rock, Americana, blues, folk, folk rock, funk, hip hop, indie, jazz, metal, pop, punk, rock, singer/songwriter, southern rock, and so much more.

Secret Stages is hands down one of the must-see events in the Southeastern region of the country that every music enthusiast should make plans to attend. This year’s line-up is comprised of artists from all across the nation from various genres of music! Past artists include the following: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Shovels & Rope, G-Side, Robert Ellis, Jacuzzi Boys, Banditos, Fly Golden Eagle, Lambchop, Hiss Golden Messenger, Futurebirds, Belle Adair, Barton Carroll, Pujol, Ponychase, Shonna Tucker and Ear Candy and many more.

Check out my Q & A Interview with Sam George, one of the creative forces behind Secret Stages below:

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Q & A interview with Sam George of Secret Stages


How did Secret Stages begin? What inspired the conception of it? Did any other festivals or creative events influence the founding of Secret Stages?

  • We formed Secret Stages in the wake of the collapse of City Stages. We felt that City Stages had become bloated and unrepresentative of the spirit of Birmingham in it’s waning years, and that a fest that focused more on up and coming artists, while showcasing many of the great venues that already exist here would be a better fit.

How do you personally define the mission of Secret Stages?

  • For me, Secret Stages is about spreading the particular joy of finding your new favorite band, and of getting to see that band in an intimate setting before they break out and start playing the larger venues in town to hundreds or thousands of people.

Do you feel like Secret Stages has done a great job of exposing people in the Greater Birmingham area and beyond to quality artists on the rise?

  • I certainly do! Every year there have been artists that we’ve booked that have gone on to acclaim. Dawes, Shovels and Rope, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Hiss Golden Messenger and more!

What has been the most challenging thing that the Secret Stages team has faced as a creative unit and has it grown as a result?

  • The most challenging thing has to been to get people to come out for an event featuring artists they don’t know. People are accustomed to paying for festivals where they already know and love the artists, but as we’ve built a reputation for bringing quality up-and-comers to Birmingham, people have begun to trust that he you come to Secret Stages, you’re going to see amazing stuff, even if you’ve never heard of it before.

Do you feel that people are very familiar with Secret Stages at this point – five years after its founding?

  • We definitely have a following, but because of the nature of our lineup, there’s always more work to be done spreading the word!

What audience do you generally appeal to and who’s been the number one supporter of Secret Stages since day one?

  • That’s one of the great things about our fest, it appeals to such a wide variety of music -lovers. We have so many genre’s, from metal to jazz, from electronic to hip-hop. If you like any kind music, there will be something awesome for you to discover at our fest.

What is Secret Stages ultimate aspiration for the future?

  • We’d like to grow slowly out from our center. Though our lineup is huge, we only bring a fraction of the amazing talent available to us. As interest in exploring new music increases, we’d like to continue to expand what we have on offer.

Who’s your favorite artist in the 2015 Secret Stages line-up and why?

  • Hehe, unfair! So many! I’m a big fan of Landlady from Brooklyn, catchy yet complex art-rock.

Where do you see Secret Stages in the next five years?

  • Still doing our thing. Happier, wiser, older.

How can people get involved, support, or sponsor the efforts of Secret Stages?


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Until the Next Post,
Janece
Note: All of the images used in this feature story belong to Secret Stages.

 

Make a Commitment to Help Project Homeless Connect

Kit Drive Flyer

It’s almost time for the annual Project Homeless Connect on April 11th and Hands On Birmingham and One Roof: Uniting Central Alabama to End Homelessness needs your help with putting together care kits. This innovative one-day event is about breaking the cycle of homelessness, increasing access to services, and ending chronic homelessness in Central Alabama. Please consider assisting in this effort by donating items such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, socks, hand sanitizers, feminine care products, sun block, etc. Presently, I serve on the Hands On Birmingham Junior Board and would love to answer any questions you have about the event. In addition, consider volunteering for the event by visiting www.handsonbirmingham.org/PHC

 

 

Recap of the Epic Pre-Valentine Knife Party Dinner at Revelator Coffee on 2/7/15

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Last week, I had the opportunity to finally attend a Knife Party dinner after the pop-up returned from a year long hiatus. I got lucky when I noticed that two spots opened up via Instagram early last week. The dinner was hosted on February 7th at Revelator Coffee Company in downtown Birmingham in early celebration of Valentine’s Day.  I have longed to attend a Knife Party ever since I discovered the unique pop-up outfit about a year and a half ago.  Knife Party is a collaborative secret underground pop-up dinner planned, curated, led, and prepared by Wil Drake and Roscoe Hall. Drake and Hall are two young ambitious veterans of the local culinary scene in Birmingham, Alabama with a knack for the unconventional. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to attend due to the limited seat availability and my inability to RSVP quickly for one of the exclusive dinners before the company’s year long hiatus. You might be wondering – What the hell is a Knife Party? And why is it so hard to grab a seat at the event?

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According to a September 2014 Creative Birmingham article, Drake defined Knife Party as, “a supper club for those who like to eat and enjoy a take on deconstructed recipes of old. We use fresh/local/not local/sometimes frozen ingredients. It’s secretive because it’s not legal.” Each dinner is as unique dining experience that includes a drink pairing with the meal. Hall and Drake appear to be on a mission to expose the Birmingham foodie community to unconventional food offerings that highlight strange, eccentric, and often daunting culinary mashups to tantalize the adventurous diner’s taste buds. Personally, I cannot wait to attend another Knife Party after having such a great inaugural experience. I felt that it was important to taste my way through the meal in tiny steps and soak up all of the lively chatter with other diners, the chefs, and servers. The customer service was outstanding and all of the staff was genuinely welcoming and engaging with the diners. Knife Party may sound a little scary on the surface but is well worth the effort to RSVP to take a leap of gastronomical faith. My highlights from the meal include the following: sipping forest leaf tea along with a venison charcuterie plate that featured salty jerky paired with berry preserves and venison baloney and a delicious peanut veloute soup that included chocolate mousse and chicken skin.

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If you are interested in attending the exclusive dining experience head to the Knife Party website and sign up for the mailing list to get a priority notice about new events. Each event only has 20 RSVP slots so nimble fingers are paramount! In addition, you should check out Revelator Coffee Company if you also love great coffee!

Until the Next Post,

Janece