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OCTOBER 2016

VOLUME 1

ISSUE 5

IRON CITY

INK labor of love Dia de los Muertos weaves cultural traditions into communal celebration. 22

INSIDE October Special

BUSINESS

One step at a time WorkPlay general manager re-establishes music career after car accident left him paralyzed for six years. 20

FACES

B’HAM BIZARRE

DISCOVER

Street spirit(s) Edward Wolfgang Poe leads Halloween favorite Birmingham Ghost Walk on a path of dark tales around city’s (haunted?) downtown fixtures. 24


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IRON CITY INK

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ABOUT

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

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OCTOBER 2016

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

22 COVER STORY: Dia de los Muertos gathering weaves cultural traditions into communal celebration.

BUSINESS

HAPPENINGS

FACES

A NEW STAGE: Brandon Bruce becomes artistic director

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT: Artist uses collaborative mural to open discussions about Interstate 20/59 future. 17

of Birmingham Children’s Theatre, where 'so much is possible.' 10

TROUPE COMES TO TOWN: Tuscaloosa burlesque group bringing annual masquerade to Saturn. 12

BRINGING NORTH TO SOUTH: Birmingham breweries sponsor adult hockey teams, further exposing ice sport to football-focused culture. 18

KEEPING OPERA RELEVANT: As art form thrives in 21st century, Opera Birmingham is keeping pace. 14

ONE STEP AT A TIME: WorkPlay general manager Joe Benintende on the move after six years of paralysis. 20

B’HAM BIZARRE SETTING UP SHOP: Friends end up in Magic City, decide to become business partners and establish modern mercantile Winslet & Rhys next to MAKEbham in Avondale. 6

SPIRITS IN THE STREETS: Birmingham Ghost Walk a path of dark tales around city’s (haunted?) downtown fixtures. 24

SIPS & BITES

DISCOVER

A TASTE FOR TOTS: Birmingham native finds potential in potatoes, food truck business. 8

IRON CITY

INK

AN ARTISTIC BRIDGE: Alys Stephens Center at 20: New director shifts focus of UAB’s fine arts epicenter. 16

Publisher: Managing Editor: Contributing Editor: Design Editor: Director of Photography: Director of Digital Media: Copy Editor:

Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Jesse Chambers Kristin Williams Sarah Finnegan Heather VacLav Louisa Jeffries

OCTOBER’S BEST BETS: Your quick guide to metro Birmingham music and events scheduled this month. 43

Community Reporters: Erica Techo Lexi Coon Contributing Writer: Tara Massouleh Page Designers: Cameron Tipton Shweta Gamble

Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC

Contact Information: Iron City Ink PO Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 dan@ starnespublishing.com

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Legals: Iron City Ink is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Information in Iron City Ink is gathered from sources considered reliable, but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Iron City Ink. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

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ABOUT

EDITOR’S NOTE

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tarting a new paper means you have to spend a lot of time establishing who you are. Whether calling potential interview subjects or making casual conversation, I’ve had to spend a lot of time explaining exactly what Iron City Ink is. Without realizing it, my explanation became automatic. When people asked, I didn’t just say “I work for Iron City Ink.” I said, “I work for Iron City Ink, a monthly publication that covers …” as I launched into my 30-second spiel. Until a surprising — and delightful — thing happened: Someone stopped me. The man was a total stranger, but I got as far as “monthly publication” before he said, “Yeah, I know that paper. I was just reading it last week.” Then, it happened a second time. And a third. Most people still give me a blank look

when I say the paper’s name. But peppered in between are the people already familiar with who we are and what we’re doing. I enjoy every one of them as much as the first. So, thanks to you for picking up this paper, hopefully every month, and seeing what’s inside. Starting a new project like this can be a little daunting when you’re the new fish in the pond. But here we are at our fifth issue, and we’re starting to feel the love as more and more people take note of Iron City Ink. We had a lot of fun creating this October issue, and I hope you enjoy it. And share it with a friend — maybe soon I can retire my elevator speech.

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BUSINESS

IRONCITY.INK

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

OCTOBER 2016

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

WINSLET & RHYS: Modern mercantile now calls Avondale home

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By TARA MASSOULEH

ike much of the exciting work coming out of Birmingham, Winslet & Rhys is a product of collaboration. The modern mercantile shop sells everything from home goods and baby clothes to women’s apparel and beauty products. It opened in Avondale in July. Winslet & Rhys, a play on its owners’ maiden names Winslett and Rice, is the first project from recent Birmingham transplants Brittany Baker and Mallory Collier. The women, who met at Auburn University, said the opening of a specialty mercantile store has been a long time in the making — both for them and Birmingham. Though they met in college, Baker and Collier didn’t connect until two years post-graduation when they were living in different states. Baker, an architect with a heavy

background in design, was doing freelance graphic design about the same time Collier was planning to get married. Baker’s husband knew Collier and her fiancé from the Auburn building science program, so he suggested his wife reach out to Collier about designing her wedding invitations. “She had a three-month engagement, which is probably why she said, ‘yes,’” Baker said. Thus, a long-distance friendship between Baker and Collier was born through wedding invitations. Baker went on to become Collier’s resident card designer for everything from Christmas cards to baby announcements for the birth of her daughter, Ava. “Basically, I was her first client,” Collier said. “Then, we became pen pals from afar.” During the next few years, Baker and Collier moved around the United States, and even around the world. Collier and her

Mallory Collier, left, and Brittany Baker inside their modern mercantile shop, Winslet & Rhys, in Avondale. Photo courtesy of Stacy Allen/Mountainside Photo Co.

husband lived in Nashville and Huntsville, while Baker’s husband’s job at Harbert International took them to Morocco, Senegal, Memphis and eventually Laredo, Texas. It wasn’t until late 2015, when Collier moved to her husband’s hometown of

PIZZA AND BEER NIRVANA COMING OCTOBER 3RD!

Open Daily for Lunch & Dinner! www.PIESandPINTS.net

Birmingham, that the idea of opening a mercantile shop finally became a reality. While Collier was renovating her home in Vestavia, she realized just how much of a need there was for more modern products in Birmingham.


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BUSINESS Winslet & Rhys features everything from home goods and beauty products to clothing and furniture from 50 makers from Birmingham and beyond. Photos by Tara Massouleh.

“West Elm is really the closest thing we have here to my style, and I just got really tired of having to source from a big box or online,” she said. “There were all these things in my house that my friends kept asking where I got them from.” Around the same time, Collier passed by a retail property with a for-lease sign. It wasn’t at their current location on Third Avenue South, but it got Collier looking. Eventually, she found Bruce Lanier, who was renting out the other portion of MAKEbhm’s new Avondale home. “He was ready to go, so it forced us to really make a decision,” Baker said. “It was a now or never thing.”

They chose now. After four months conferring through Skype and email, Baker moved to Birmingham, and two months later on July 8, Winslet & Rhys celebrated its grand opening with live music and treats from Tot Spot truck and Hero Doughnuts. Since their opening, Baker and Collier said they have been overwhelmed with support, both from their patrons and their more than 50 makers from across the country. Collier said the store did better in its first week than she expected to do in its first month. “It’s very validating because we thought [Birmingham needed it], and we were just

recent transplants,” Collier said. “This one girl walked in, and she was like, ‘This is my happy place.’” Collier said they’re also happy to be providing a home for many Birmingham makers who don’t have many opportunities to sell their goods in an environment that fits their brand aesthetic. The store’s list of Birmingham products includes furniture from Plenty Design Co-Op, soap from Freedom Soaps, cards and art from Morgan Johnston, and screen prints and T-shirts from 1871 Project. Another big part of Winslet & Rhys is its emphasis on developing custom, in-house products through collaboration with makers.

Great Bear Wax Co. developed a signature candle for the shop called “House;” Susan Gordon, who works out of MAKEbhm, develops custom ceramics; and Yellowhammer Creative is printing the shop’s custom tea towels. Baker also is putting her personal touch on the shop with a line of cards and stationery she’s printing with the help of Amelia and Phineas, two in-house letterpresses from the 1800s. Collier said she hopes to follow suit by using her experience in virtual design to offer accessible interior design services through the shop. The women also plan to follow in the footsteps of their MAKEbhm neighbor by providing workshops teaching skills such as calligraphy, letterpress and graphic design. “That’s one really good thing about being tied to MAKE,” Collier said. “They’re all about teaching people how to do things, so we definitely want to be a part of that.” For the owners of Winslet & Rhys, their store is the first answer to a call many have echoed in Birmingham. “Everyone is really into small batch,” Baker said. “They want to know who made it, what it’s made of and how it was made, so having this store is answering all those questions and giving people a place to come and hang out, too.”


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HAPPENINGS

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B’HAM BIZARRE

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DISCOVER

a taste for tots

W By ERICA TECHO

Seth Beisher works in Michael Cannova’s tater-tot food truck, Tot Spot, in June. Each tot is handmade, which Cannova said is a difficult process, but something that is worthwhile to produce a better product. Photos by Patty Bradley.

hat goes with cinnamon sugar, whiteand-red barbecue sauce, kimchi and Nutella? If you ask Michael Cannova, he’d tell you it’s tater tots — just not all at once. Cannova, who was raised in Cahaba Heights and now lives in New York City, launched his specialty tater-tot food truck, Tot Spot, in Birmingham in June, and he is working to bring any and every flavor to the popular potato-based side. “I’ve never heard one person say, ‘I hate tater tots,’” Cannova said. “There’s something fun about them. There’s something comforting about them.”


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SIPS & BITES Even after moving to New York City in 2006 to work in advertising, Cannova would return to Birmingham to visit family and started to see changes in the city, including with the food scene. “I just noticed that Birmingham was opening their mind,” he said. “They were just becoming more open to creative things in Birmingham, and this renaissance and resurgence kind of started with downtown.” Inspired by the food trucks he saw in New York, Cannova said he knew he wanted to open one of his own. As someone who enjoys interacting with a restaurant’s kitchen, Cannova said the openness of a food truck is what appealed to him. “There’s a more fun experience with a food truck,” he said. “You’ve got this interaction with people. It doesn’t feel stiff or stifled by having to go through a routine.” The next step was figuring out what food on which to base his truck. Because the food truck scene has grown significantly in Birmingham over the last few years, Cannova sought something previously untapped — meaning no tacos, no seafood, no sandwiches. “The food truck scene, it needed something fun and new,” he said. He noticed tater tots cropping up on restaurant menus but said there were not

many variations. That’s when his opportunities from advertising and passion for tots merged. “I’ve traveled the world in advertising, and I’ve eaten cuisines all over the world, and I just started thinking about how I could merge these things with tater tots,” he said. Cannova started by topping tater tots with his favorite foods — sweet potato tots topped with kimchi, russet potato tots with white-and-red barbecue sauce — and has since developed more than 100 recipes. When the food truck first launched, each tot was made by hand by staff. That soon became unsustainable, Cannova said. After turning customers in as little as an hour due to tot shortages, Cannova said they started outsourcing the tot-making process in order to keep up with demand. The Tot Spot menu will constantly rotate, Cannova said, and will not be dictated by normal meal times. That means there might be cinnamon-bun-inspired tots at dinnertime and buffalo tots first thing in the morning. “I want it to be kind of diverse because I’m one of those people where I eat the wrong foods at the wrong time,” he said. “I don’t have a schedule.” The sense of novelty that will come through tater-tot recipes is something Cannova said he hopes registers throughout

the brand. The Tot Spot food truck, for example, is not wrapped in the typical vinyl — it’s one giant chalkboard. “Even before I made a first tot, it was, ‘How do I make this [food truck] interactive? How do I make this fun?’” he said. Cannova got the idea of making the truck a chalkboard from the chalkboards commonly seen in restaurants. The truck’s side will be used to display that day’s menu, and he said he hopes to bring in local artists to help decorate. “We want consumers, whenever we don’t have art on the side of the truck, to come out and doodle on it,” Cannova said. “There’s something beautiful about the organic, like an old handwritten letter. There is a charm to something that is tangible.” Cannova will continue to live in New York and plans to return to Birmingham as often as possible to work with the truck. When he’s not in Alabama, however, he has Seth Beisher, the “man in the window,” and a part-time employee running the truck. Cannova continues to send over new recipes. “I’m sad not to get to be there the whole time, but they’re awesome people and wellequipped to deal with it,” he said. In the truck’s first few weeks, Cannova said they received great feedback from

Seth Beisher assists customers with their order at Tot Spot. Cannova said his world travels inspired more than 100 recipes for his tater-tot menu.

customers, and they are looking forward to bringing more recipes and more tater tots to Birmingham. “We’re going to have a lot of fun with this brand; we’re going to have a lot of fun with this food,” Cannova said. “We’ve got a lot of things in the works.”


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A NEW stage

DISCOVER

Brandon Bruce becomes artistic director of Birmingham Children’s Theatre, where ‘so much is possible’ By RACHEL HELLWIG

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Courtesy of artsBHAM

randon Bruce’s journey in theater began with a classic twist of fate — he got to fill in for the star of the show, who became ill the day before the performance. Bruce was in the second grade, and the coveted role was Christopher Columbus in his school’s play. “I wanted the part so badly that I already had his lines and music committed to memory,” Bruce said. “I became more seriously interested in theater when I began performing in high school, but I like to think of this early experience as the true beginning: I didn’t get what I wanted at first, but I remained committed despite the initial setback.” Bruce’s commitment led to a career as a professional stage actor and director. He holds a BFA in acting from Kent State University and an MFA in directing from the University of Iowa. As a performer, some of his favorite roles include Dogberry in “Much Ado About Nothing,” the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and the title roles in “Macbeth” and “Hamlet.” As a director, he’s led Chicago’s BackStage Theatre and Strawdog Theatre, Indiana’s Shawnee Theatre and the theatrical programming at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Now, his path brings him to the Magic City, where he serves as artistic director of Birmingham Children’s Theatre. “BCT has an amazing reputation in the theater community, and I’m thrilled to be a part of its story,” he said. “I’m excited to work with its extraordinarily talented artists, devoted and committed staff and the visionary executive director, Scarlotte Deupree Kilgore. When I first walked into the theater at the BJCC, I was floored. My first words to Ms. Kilgore upon seeing the space were, ‘I feel like a kid in a candy store.’ So much is possible at BCT that I often feel overwhelmed by those possibilities.” Though Bruce had no previous connections to Birmingham, he said he’s impressed

Brandon Bruce says his chief goal as artistic director of Birmingham Children’s Theatre is to create world-class programming for children. The theater’s production of “African Tales,” poster seen at top right, runs through Oct. 21. Photos courtesy of Birmingham Children’s Theatre.

by the city and its rich cultural landscape, and said it only took him a few hours to fall in love with his new home. He said he’s looking forward to checking out the local theater scene as well as iconic city attractions such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Botanical Gardens, McWane Science Center, Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Barons baseball team.

Bruce’s previous directorial work included productions for adults as well as productions for children. “A good amount of the work I directed for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was aimed at young audiences,” he said. “Everything I oversaw there was steeped in education.” When Bruce compares directing theater

for younger audiences versus older ones, he said the main distinction is a sense of responsibility. “In children’s theater, many of the audience members are seeing their very first play,” he said. “As artistic director, it is my responsibility to make the absolute best theater I can possibly make. It is my responsibility to make the story clear yet intellectually stimulating, a thrilling experience that provokes thought. The young people coming into our theater are the future of my art form. It is my job to make sure it continues to thrive.” As Bruce enters his new role, he said his chief goal is to create world-class, inclusive programming for the children and families of Birmingham and beyond. He said he believes every child, regardless of background, should see himself or herself represented in strong, positive role models onstage. “While children will always come first in our building, I hope that Birmingham’s adults (those with and without children) will check out BCT. Pixar’s films are enjoyed by children and adults alike. There’s no reason why BCT can’t do the same,” Bruce said. Birmingham Children’s Theatre’s production of “African Tales” runs through Oct. 21. “This play immerses its audience into the rich storytelling traditions of West Africa,” Bruce said. “It presents both a traditional African tale and a European tale — but with an African twist. It is highly interactive, filled with music and dance. It’s a wonderfully charming piece, one that captured my heart immediately.”

Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.


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HAPPENINGS

Birmingham Education Foundation, UAB present 2nd annual Ed Family Game Night On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Birmingham Education Foundation and UAB will present the second annual Ed Family Game Night at the Alys Stephens Center. The evening will highlight UAB’s leadership in the education community while featuring college-bound students from Birmingham City Schools. In a game show-style competition, teams of local executives from Birmingham’s leading corporations will compete for a scholarship for the winning student. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Education Foundation. The inaugural event was hosted in March, where students from the and drink reception from 5-6 p.m. Tickclass of 2016 at Ramsay, Carver and ets may be purchased through the Alys Huffman high schools won scholarships Stephens Center box office, by calling 975to be applied to their current enrollment in institutions including Birmingham-Southern 2787 or at alysstephens.org. – Submitted by Birmingham Education College and Troy University. Foundation. Tickets are $20, which includes a food

Southern Museum of Flight to celebrate 50th anniversary with Oct. 29 gala By SYDNEY CROMWELL Fifty years after the Southern Museum of Flight was founded, it now houses nearly 100 different aircraft along with models, historical exhibits and paintings. To honor its history, the museum is hosting a gala at the Birmingham Airport. The 50th Anniversary Gala will be Oct. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the airport’s HealthSouth Hangar, at 4851 65th Place N. Executive Director Brian Barsanti said the event will be the museum’s main fundraiser of the year. The gala is black tie optional, and the evening will include live music, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and a silent auction. “We have been in the planning phase for the Gala for roughly a year now. It will serve as a celebration of the museum’s storied 50-year history — where we have been, where we are and where we are going. It is a testament to the museum’s longevity and education-oriented mission,” Barsanti said. The museum was started in 1966 by Mary Alice Beatty with six display cases of her own memorabilia from years of flying with her husband, Donald Beatty. The collection had several homes until its current location, 4343 73rd St. N., opened in 1983. Since that time, the Southern Museum of Flight has been expanding its collection, exhibits and educational programs. Barsanti said he was particularly pleased with the improvements in the museum’s

Photo courtesy of Southern Museum of Flight.

life-size dioramas, interactive exhibits and education work over the years. The funds raised at the 50th Anniversary Gala will help support some of the museum’s upcoming work. Barsanti said these include the opening of the 75th Anniversary Civil Air Patrol Exhibition Oct. 14 and a re-dedication of the Early Aviation Hangar Dec. 17, which will feature a Wright Flyer replica, a WWI German fighter and an early Delta Airlines planes. In 2017, Barsanti said the museum will unveil a Tuskegee B-25, which was used as a bomber training plane during World War II, as well as a D-21 supersonic reconnaissance drone. Tickets to the 50th Anniversary Gala are $150 and table and sponsorship options are available. Contact Melissa Morgan at melissacmorgan11@gmail.com or Dr. Brian J. Barsanti at Brian.J.Barsanti@outlook.com for more information.


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TROUPE comes to town

Tuscaloosa burlesque group bringing annual masquerade to Saturn

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By JESSE CHAMBERS

he performers in Pink Box Burlesque of Tuscaloosa spend all year preparing a special show — their annual fall masquerade. “They get to let their hair down,” said Soapy “Mama Dixie” Jones, the troupe’s founder. “We get a little dark, a little dangerous, a little weird. Halloween is a favorite holiday around these parts, and the performers pour their spooky love into the show.” The latest PBB production to receive this injection of “spooky love” is “Little Bo Peep Show: A Fairy Tale Masquerade,” to be presented at Saturn in Avondale at 9 p.m. Oct. 22, according to the troupe. Like the other masquerades, “Little Bo Peep” will include mysterious characters, disguises and an ambience that welcomes the audience to join in the masked fun, Jones said. And the show, part of PBB’s ninth season, is another chance for Jones and her fellow performers to attract new fans to an old showbiz form — burlesque — that has experienced quite a renaissance in America in recent decades. “Little Bo Peep goes into the woods to find her sheep. There’s an evil queen, a good queen and a jazz band,” Jones said. PBB performer Luna Blues will portray Bo Peep, and will be joined by several regulars known by their stage names: Mona Squeels, Kitty B. Haive, Hoops DeVille, Ophelia Love, Winnie Wont, Nubia Gorme’ and Harley Plush. Jones will handle all of the vocal numbers. PBB includes both male and female performers and typically offers a mix of tease, dance and song, as well as comedy and live music. The PBB Band features musical director Nigel Featherbottom, who plays piano, saxophone and a bit of bass and guitar, Jones said. He’ll be joined for the Saturn show by Harmful Johnson on guitar, Dick Move on drums and Mr. Bassman on bass. The annual masquerades “always include

Soapy “Mama Dixie” Jones, above, is the leader of Pink Box Burlesque of Tuscaloosa. Photo courtesy of D Smith Scenes.

someone dying, someone getting lost and someone finding that thing they never knew they needed,” Jones said. “It’s a good story.” “Little Bo Peep” will be the first fairy tale given the group’s masquerade treatment. “Each year’s story is different,” Jones said. This will be PBB’s second show at Saturn, following an appearance in March when the performers had an amazing time, Jones said. The troupe has also played Black Market Bar in Five Points South. She heaped praise on Saturn, calling it “an amazing venue” and a “community asset” that welcomes all sorts of entertainment. Burlesque has been booming nationally since the 1990s, and interest is still growing, Jones said. “I think it brings a flavor of realness to the stage that other performance forms lack, and the empowerment it provides gives agency to those who feel at home in its style,” she said. Jones is one of the artists who has experienced this empowerment. “Before I started this troupe, I had never

taken the stage for anything,” she said. “I’m a rather shy person. I tend to keep to myself. I’ve always been labeled as odd or weird.” The other members of PBB have experienced their own transformations, Jones said. “It’s a family full of people who have meaningful things to communicate on stage,” she said. “Expressing themselves allows them to grow and learn and find a voice for their perspectives. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” Jones revels in the creative contradictions, or seeming contradictions, of this classic American pop style. “Burlesque is a raw art form that has strength in its vulnerability, pride in its humility, power in its satire,” Jones said. “I think I’m suited to burlesque more than I’m suited to any form of theater that behaves itself.” Perhaps because of this nearly perfect fit between artist and genre, Jones — after nearly a decade running PBB — remains hungry for show business. “I love it every day,” she said. “When I’m not at rehearsal, I’m researching, booking

shows, finding new costuming, discovering new music and new ways to challenge myself and the other performers.” Jones believes Pink Box can still grow its Birmingham and Tuscaloosa audiences. “I meet people all the time who have no idea what burlesque is [and] are excited by the prospect of it,” she said. “There’s always someone we haven’t reached yet.” And the impresario and performer continues to look to the troupe’s future. “I’m proud of what we’ve become and excited for what’s to come,” she said. Jones said PBB is the longest running burlesque troupe in Alabama and already is planning something special for next season’s 10-year mark. Doors open at Saturn at 8 p.m. on Oct. 22. Admission is for ages 21 and up. Tickets are $12 in advance at saturnbirmingham. com and $15 at the door. PBB will also present “Little Bo Peep” at The Flying Monkey in Huntsville on Oct. 8. For more information, go to pinkboxburlesque.com or facebook.com/pinkboxburlesque.


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Keeping opera relevant As art form thrives in 21st century, Opera Birmingham is keeping pace By MICHAEL HUEBNER

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Courtesy artsBHAM

common misperception about opera is that it is a historical relic. Year after year, from the Met to La Scala, endless supplies of “La traviata,” “The Magic Flute” and “Tosca” lend credence to that notion. And while these and other top 10 favorites dominate playbills, real live composers are making important contributions to the 400-yearold art form, casting timely music dramas that speak to family relationships, AIDS/HIV, death row, wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and other topics. Until recently, Opera Birmingham fell mostly into the category of warhorse producer, every few years cycling through the “Carmen,” “Barber of Seville,” “Marriage of Figaro” and “Aida” shows that pulled in established clientele. Modern composers such as Philip Glass, Tan Dun, John Adams and Jake Heggie, whose operas were garnering worldwide acclaim, were bypassed. Keith Wolfe, Opera Birmingham’s general director since January 2015, would like to bring the company more up to date, and at the same time retain a foothold on the classics. In 2015-16, Wolfe’s first full season bore that out. Verdi’s “La traviata” contrasted with two chamber operas by Ricky Ian Gordon, “Green Sneakers” and “Orpheus and Euridice.” The two main-stage shows in 2016-17 continue the pattern with Jake Heggie’s 2008 “Three Decembers” in January and Donizetti’s 19th-century classic, “The Elixir of Love,” in March. Wolfe recently talked about the season and his long-term vision for Opera Birmingham. Q: Why perform contemporary opera? A: One of the roles art should play is to help evaluate what we think, challenge our views of the world. Opera has lost that in the past, but it’s starting to come back. It’s so exciting to see the range of contemporary works being offered. Science, human relationships, war — so many interesting topics are being explored. Q: How can you convince established audiences as well as newcomers to subscribe to contemporary opera? A: It takes some time to build audiences, so there has to be a commitment within the organization, not just trying it and saying it didn’t work. It involves educating the audience as to why we’re doing the works. The other great opportunity is that the composers are still here. We brought Ricky Ian Gordon last year, and we’re talking about bringing Jake Heggie. It’s an opportunity to not just hear the works but to talk with the composer about them.

Rena Harms as Beatrice and Keith Phares as Charlie in a scene from Florentine Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s “Three Decembers.” The opera will be produced by Opera Birmingham in January 2017. Photo courtesy of Florentine Opera.

Q: Is this the right place and time to make this happen? A: We have a great light-music scene in Birmingham. A lot is happening downtown, with new venues opening for performances of all kinds. Last season we turned to Red Mountain Theatre Company for their cabaret space, where there is already an

expectation of interesting work happening. There is so much potential in tapping into a market that some people wouldn’t think of as opera. Q: Last season’s “Green Sneakers” dealt with the tragedy of AIDS. What other new operas would you like to bring to Birmingham? A: High on my list is “Glory Denied,” the true

DISCOVER

Opera Birmingham: 2016-17 schedule For tickets and more information, call 322-6737 or go to operabirmingham.org.

• OCT. 16, 2:30 P.M.: Catch a Rising Star: Baritone Alex DeSocio, winner of 2016 Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition, in recital. Brock Recital Hall, Samford University. • DEC. 9, 7:30 P.M.: Sounds of the Season: Holiday music performed by Opera Birmingham Chorus and solo artists. Brock Recital Hall. • JAN. 20, 7:30 P.M., JAN. 22, 2:30 P.M.: Heggie, “Three Decembers.” Red Mountain Theatre Cabaret. • MARCH 24, 7:30 P.M., MARCH 26, 2:30 P.M.: Donizetti, “The Elixir of Love.” With Alabama Symphony, Tyson Deaton, conductor. Wright Center. • MAY 6-7: 39th annual Vocal Competition.

story of an American POW who was held for nine years in Vietnam and has to put his life together after his release. “Soldier Songs,” “An American Soldier” and “Fallujah” are three very different pieces, but all deal with soldiers’ experiences. And clearly there’s a long history here with civil rights. We could use those stories to have a bigger conversation in the community. Q: What are some of the main issues in this season’s “Three Decembers”? A: It explores family relationships and conflicts. Maddy, a music-theater star and single mother, has raised two children who believe their father was killed in a car accident. Her son’s partner is dying from AIDS, and her daughter is an alcoholic. It takes place over three decades, in December, and you see how life has progressed for them. The show is as much about the story as it is about Jake Heggie’s music, which is so theatrical. Q: At the opposite end of the spectrum, Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” comes from the heart of 19th-century Italian opera, a staple of operatic literature. A: We will always continue to produce grand opera. It’s the core of what we do. I love “La bohème” and “La traviata” and “Elixir,” but that’s a different kind of art. We are looking at ways to expand our audiences, and a big part of that is exploring contemporary repertoire.

Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.


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an artistic

bridge

Alys Stephens Center at 20: New director shifts focus of UAB’s fine arts epicenter By MICHAEL HUEBNER

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Courtesy artsBHAM.com

ince the Alys Stephens Center debuted on UAB’s campus in 1996, it has presented an eclectic mix of traditional fine arts, global pop and classical, singer-songwriters, folk and jazz artists and star-studded performers. By itself or with community partners, ASC has hosted a mind-boggling diversity of acts in its four venues, including opera divas and divos, student ensembles, touring European orchestras, acrobatic arts and dance legends. In recent years, however, it has veered away from its sharp focus on fine arts. While its principal tenant remains the Alabama Symphony, classical superstars at the level of Kathleen Battle, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Yo-Yo Ma have appeared in diminishing numbers compared with jazz and pop shows, comedians and other box office-friendly acts. Anna Thompson, ASC’s first executive director since Caron Thornton retired in 2009, would like to see a healthy balance in the center’s fare, broadening fine arts while connecting more with the Birmingham community, and strengthening the venue’s identity with the campus, students and staff it serves. A Michigan native, Thompson comes to Birmingham from Notre Dame University in Indiana, where she directed the De Bartolo Performing Arts Center from 2007-15. For the 20th anniversary season in 2016-17, she would like to align ASC with performing arts centers at similar university-based organizations. While maintaining a high profile in entertainment and fine arts, the center should be an arts gathering point for UAB and the Birmingham community, she said. “I didn’t feel the institution was aware that it was a university presenter,” Thompson said. “The role of the university presenter is different than, say, the Alabama Theatre or the Lyric [Theatre]. You’re serving students and faculty, and you’re a bridge to the community. I don’t think that role was forefront in what had been programmed. You have to have things that pay the bills for everything else you do on the season, but you also have to do things that are engaging faculty and students and bringing them in as part of their classes.” Although the final roster of acts has yet to be finalized, Thompson offered a glimpse into ASC’s 2016-17 season,

Alys Stephens Center Executive Director Anna Thompson says fine arts programming should serve both the University of Alabama at Birmingham students and faculty while acting as a cultural bridge for the community. Photos by Frank Couch.

which reflects that strategy. In addition, the season will celebrate ASC’s two decades by bringing back several iconic acts that have defined the center’s direction. Among the highlights: ► Bandaloop: The high-flying acrobatic dancers scaled the exterior of the center in 2011. ► UAB Gospel Choir: The award-winning chorus directed by Kevin Turner will perform with Alicia Olatuja. ► Salon series: Three events that bring audiences closer to performers. It will include piano superstar Jeremy Denk surrounded by 350 listeners on the Jemison Concert Hall stage. ► Anoushka Shankar: The celebrated daughter of Ravi Shankar will return following a solo appearance in 2013 and an appearance with her father in 2007. ► Family and dance series: Stage renovations, including a full-length curtain, sound system, side lighting and side drapes, will enhance dance performances in Jemison. Partnerships with community organizations such as Alabama Dance Council are being renewed, and weeklong residencies by renowned performers will be established. ArtPlay, the Stephens Center’s community arts education center, will continue its robust course offerings and chamber music presentations. Hispanic Heritage Month and IndiaFest will expand global arts exposure and tie into UAB’s push to enroll a greater percentage of international students. Thompson has had plenty of experience galvanizing such a diverse array. She held arts administration positions in Minneapolis for 10 years and in Indianapolis for 14 years. At Notre Dame, she worked with an annual budget of $3.2 million, but relishes the opportunity to work with the

Stephens Center’s larger budget of $4.7 million, of which $1 million is for education programs at ArtPlay and community programming. “There will be something for everyone next season,” she said. “I hope we left enough of the things our audiences are used to seeing — we don’t want to alienate our existing audience members. We also want to offer new things. We’re a multidisciplinary presenter, so we’re game for a lot of different things. We obviously want to cover costs and break even on what we present, but it’s about the artistic experience we bring to our community. You have to have a point of entry for the community.” Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.


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Birmingham artist uses interactive mural to boost freeway discussion

“A

By JESSE CHAMBERS rt is one of the most powerful things on this planet,” said Birmingham visual artist Rob Clifton, who attempted to harness that power by putting up a temporary installation, a mural, at the Art on the Rocks event at the Birmingham Museum of Art on a rainy Friday night in mid-August. The mural, which was installed in the BMA’s upper plaza, consisted of three large canvas letters — B, H and M, referring to the city. Within each letter, Clifton used his signature technique of clean, sharp, black lines to cut in the shapes or outlines of cars. The mural, which has an iconographic feel, was unfinished; stormy weather prevented Clifton from having his attendees help him paint in the colors of the cars during the event. But Clifton’s mural still managed to evoke a strong image of cars and traffic, and his goal was to use the installation to help boost vigorous public discussion of what he believes is a major issue in Birmingham: the

Rob Clifton in front of his latest mural at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Photo by Lexi Coon.

potential social and economic drawbacks of the Alabama Department of Transportation’s plans to redo — but leave in use — the aging Interstate 20/59 overpass that slices through the heart of downtown. He had wanted to do some work to the piece alongside attendees in order to break down barriers and “to really stimulate conversation” of the art and the I-20/59 issue, he said. A nearly lifelong Birmingham resident and 2014 UAB art graduate, Clifton — standing on the wet plaza with crutches

thanks to a recent bicycling injury — said the mural itself doesn’t advocate a particular stance on one side or the other, but that it’s meant for people to talk about and to realize that the freeway and its effects on neighborhoods is a serious topic. “It’s about community, connection and awareness — awareness of the community around you,” Clifton said. “There are so many points of view. I started with very literal drawings of cars and trucks. As I worked it, I realized that I didn’t want it to

say a specific thing. I wanted to bring up the idea or topic of it. I came up with (abstracts) of cars laid over each other in a chaotic manner.” At the installation, the artist provided attendees with literature for the nonprofit group Move I-20/59, which would like to completely eliminate the elevated interstate, calling it a barrier between neighborhoods, a nuisance downtown and even a contributor to the segregation of poorer districts to the north. Art on the Rocks was a good place to attempt to raise awareness of the I-20/59 issue because it draws a lot of young, middle-class white people, Clifton said. “I realized a lot of my friends are in that demographic and have never heard of the 20/59 movement,” he said. “A lot of the people who attend this don’t know about it. It doesn’t mean they don’t care, but they haven’t had the chance to experience or understand it. I wanted to provide a conversation piece.” Clifton said he is hoping to take advantage of the canvas mural’s portability and present it at other public events and to allow for the audience to finally take part in painting in the car shapes.


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bringing North to South

Breweries sponsor adult hockey teams, further exposing ice sport to football-focused culture

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By JESSE CHAMBERS

rinking beer and playing hockey just go together, according to Daniel Howard, a bartender at Cahaba Brewing Company who’s played the sport since he was 11 years old in Huntsville. “If you say the phrase, ‘beer league,’ the thing that comes to mind is hockey,” he said. Trim Tab Brewing Company CEO Harris Stewart said beer and hockey go together like football and the South. “It’s just part of the tradition, part of the culture,” he said. Given this connection, it’s perhaps no surprise that Cahaba Brewing, Trim Tab and Good People Brewing Company now sponsor teams in the Pelham Adult Hockey Association (PAHA) at the Pelham Civic Complex. The summer/fall season, which runs from July to November, is the third season for Cahaba Brewing and the second for both Good People and Trim Tab. And while these sponsorships provide the breweries with special marketing opportunities, they seem to have a larger significance in the Birmingham sports community. The fresh support from craft brewers is helping draw other corporate sponsorships, giving the teams some much-needed financial help. Perhaps most important, they also are helping drive greater interest from fans and players — both newbies and veterans — in a growing league that is making room in Alabama for an exciting, fast-paced sport from the frozen north. “These guys love the sport, want to compete, and carve out their own time and often their own money to make it possible,” Stewart said. “So they make the most of it and have a … good time while they do it. We’re proud to support them and to help cultivate a developing sport.” Howard plays center and wing for Cahaba Brewing, making him the only brewery employee on any of the brewery-sponsored teams. He also helped start the trend toward sponsorships in 2015 when he became captain of the team, which already was active. He asked Cahaba Brewing for help and discovered that co-owner Eric Meyer had played hockey in high school. “He was all over it,” Howard said. Trim Tab and Good People followed

Members of the Cahaba Brewing Company hockey team compete at the Pelham Civic Complex ice rink. Photo by Patty Bradley.

Cahaba Brewing’s lead. The breweries generally pay for the players’ jerseys and hockey socks, and also give them free beer after the games. The players said they enjoy being linked to the breweries. “It’s been kind of fun to see this subgroup of people come out,” said Drew Thomasson, the Good People squad’s goalie. “Hockey is a beer-type sport, like in the movie ‘Slapshot’ in the ’70s. There’s a camaraderie. A lot of guys go to bars after games. Like rugby, they have their own chants or songs.” Good People Marketing Director Lauren McCurdy said it’s been a fun promotion for the brewery. “The South is mostly known for their love of football, so we jumped at the opportunity to support a group that wanted to branch out and play a sport they loved,” she said. Erik Hudson, hockey director at Pelham Civic Complex, said the league has 14 teams — four in the Gold Division, six in

the Silver Division and four in the Bronze Division. Gold Division teams have advanced playing experience, such as high school, college or professional hockey. Cahaba Brewing and Good People — a veteran team formerly in the Gold Division — play in the Silver Division. Trim Tab plays in the Bronze Division. Cahaba Brewing won the Silver Division championship for the 2015 summer/fall season. The squad travels to tournaments across the Southeast, winning events in Dallas in 2015 and in Huntsville this summer, according to Howard. Good People won the winter/spring 2016 Silver Division championship, beating Cahaba Brewing 4-3 in overtime in the final, Howard said. The two squads have developed a rivalry on the ice. Good People is the “old-school team” in Pelham, Thomasson said. “I’m the youngest guy at 33. We have some guys from Toronto in their early 50s,” he said

“We have definitely been the top two teams,” Howard said. “Those games are always a little faster, a little more physical and a little more intense.” This has been an “exciting” time for the PAHA, according to Hudson. Since he became director in October 2015, they have grown from about six teams to 14. “We’re recruiting players and getting people involved,” he said. The brewery sponsorships are a boost. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest from other businesses now that beer sponsorships are involved,” Hudson said. The sponsorships give the league a public-relations lift. “I was at Good People after a [Birmingham] Barons game and saw a jersey for the hockey team,” Hudson said. “It helps with money, but it’s also great to have the Birmingham crowd involved with our program.” “Having the breweries is an extra draw,” Thomasson said. “People who wouldn’t normally come to see the sport are coming out.” There are now bars with teams, as well as groups of police officers and firefighters, some of whom take part in a developmental league, according to Thomasson. Black Market Bar has two teams, a silver and a bronze, with the bar’s owner George Cowgill — a Birmingham firefighter — playing for the bronze team, Hudson said. Most PAHA players are from the South, according to Hudson. “We have 200 adults who play, and I’d say 70 percent are from Alabama, Tennessee or Mississippi,” he said. The league also has its share of Northerners. “We have a lot of people transplanted [to Alabama] due to UAB and the auto industry,” Hudson said. Hudson would like to have more fans at the games, and said there are concessions and “a good atmosphere” at the arena. “At the gold level, we have a high quality of play,” he said. Stewart said that hockey is fast-paced and intense and predicts an increase in its local popularity. “As people learn more about the sport, know more people involved, and most importantly get to see some games, it will only improve,” he said. For more information about the PAHA, including schedules, call 620-6448 or go to pelhamhockey.net.


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ONE STEP AT A TIME

WorkPlay General Manager Joe Benintende on the move after 6 years of paralysis

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By TARA MASSOULEH

oe Benintende walks with a cane. The honey-colored wood falls even with his waist where it curves into a traditional cane handle. Its surface is covered in markings ― symbols of the Free-Masons, Benintende said. The cane once belonged to his grandfather. The 58-year-old is probably a little young to be walking with a cane, but then again, he’s lucky to be walking at all. After almost 40 years in the music business, Benintende’s career came to a halt when he was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle, he said. In October of 2015, after being paralyzed for six years, Benintende took a trip to Tampa for an experimental treatment that eventually restored movement and feeling to his legs. After a week, he was walking again, and he hasn’t stopped since. As if that wasn’t achievement enough, Benintende is hard at work putting WorkPlay on Birmingham’s map as its general manager.

MUSIC: LIFE’S PASSION

Benintende’s love for music began in New Orleans, where he grew up. At 15, he attended his first concert at the legendary Warehouse music venue. He marks the show, “Peter Frampton Comes Alive,” as the beginning of his lifetime obsession with music — the day he knew he had to work in the business. Since that first concert, Benintende has had the opportunity to work headlining tours across the country in every genre. He’s worked shows for the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Aerosmith, John Mayer, Toby Keith and *NSYNC, which he regards as his favorite of all. “It was hard, but it was a blast,” he said of his time promoting with Live Nation. “I promoted basically every show I could imagine. I literally got to go around the world three times. What else can you do for a living that lets you do that and still pays?” In 1990, Benintende’s mentor, longtime Birmingham concert promoter Tony Ruffino, called on him to work with Live Nation at the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. Benintende accepted the job and spent the next 18 years working as the director of productions and operations. Long before Benintende got started promoting music, he played it. The lifetime singer-songwriter said he has always dealt with his emotions through music. When the World Trade Center attacks happened in 2001, Benintende said he did what he’d always done in hard times: He wrote a song. Three days later, Benintende produced the President’s National Day of Prayer at the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. The event, one of 50 across the nation, drew 7,000 people — the most of any state, earning it a live spot on CNN. He said the governor heard about his song and invited him to sing it on stage at the event.

A JOURNEY OF STARTING OVER

In 2009, Benintende was driving back from St. Peter’s

As general manager, Joe Benintende oversees all 30,000 square feet of one of Birmingham’s most well-known venues, WorkPlay, which houses a full-service bar, theater, sound stage, office space and three recording studios. Photo by Frank Couch.

Catholic Church when his life was turned upside down. Stopped at a traffic light on Lorna Road in Hoover at about 1:30 in the afternoon, a car hit him from behind. After several major surgeries and six months in the hospital, Benintende was left with four artificial vertebrae; his spinal cord was 50 percent severed below the L5 vertebra; and the diagnosis was that he would never walk again. He had no feeling below his navel. He visited spinal cord doctors across the country and even contacted the Christopher Reeve Foundation for resources, but they all had the same response. They told him it was best to work toward accepting his new life as a paraplegic. “So I came home and tried to make the best of my life as I could from a wheelchair,” he said. He was forced to quit his job in the music industry. Benintende said he proceeded to mourn the loss of his legs

through the five stages of grief. First was denial. “I can remember trying to shake my legs back into feeling and moving again,” he said. “I remember literally beating them against the floor, thinking if I just shake them enough there would be the right connection, and they’d start working again.” Once he cycled through anger, bargaining and depression to reach acceptance, Benintende said there were still adjustments and disappointments to encounter every day. One of the biggest problems for Benintende was wheelchair accessibility, he said. For example, he said he had to switch churches because the only way into his church’s sanctuary was by going up stairs he could no longer climb. “I couldn’t do what I loved to do, because in a wheelchair, you can’t go places you want,” Benintende said.


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FACES Then, last October, everything for Benintende changed again. He received a call from Tampa. A few of his friends in the medical profession had found a guy who had healed paralyzed people. “I’m thinking that he’s a scam artist because there’s no cure for spinal cord injuries,” he said. Out of curiosity, Benintende gave the man — Ken Bryant, a 44-year-old legally blind licensed massage therapist and certified reflexologist — a call. He said Bryant explained how he uses minute electrical currents to restimulate movement. He said if the nerves sustain a current for long enough, they can re-communicate with the brain and bypass the spinal cord. Benintende, still skeptical at the time, told Bryant he might give him a call when he could save enough money for the treatment. Then, Bryant said something that sealed the deal for Benintende. “He said, “Don’t not come because you can’t afford it. I’ve never not treated someone because they couldn’t afford it. If you come here, I’ll treat you,’” he said. So Benintende, along with his service dog, Angel, set out in his Dodge Caravan for the 14-hour drive to Tampa. Benintende said he was still doubtful once he arrived, so he decided to use his phone camera to film the treatment and his progress. Benintende became Bryant’s 685th patient. By the end of the first day, Benintende was able to move one foot about an inch off the ground — the only movement he had been able to produce from the waist down in six years. “It seems like nothing, but to me, it was substantial,” he said. By the second day, he could move both feet another inch, and by the third day he was able to wobble his knees.

Benintende said the gravity of the situation hit him the first time he was able to make a movement that resembled taking a step. Strapped to a leg press machine, Benintende recorded the moment when his right foot shot forward a few inches: his first step. “I just cried. I bet I cried for a day, because I honestly had gotten to the point where I didn’t think I was ever going to move again,” he said. By the end of two months, Benintende had regained full sensation in his lower body.

PERFECT TIMING

Over the next few months, Benintende said, his only goal was to build back his strength and balance. At least it was until Tom Williams, former Birmingham auto tycoon, called. The owner of WorkPlay needed a new general manager for the venue, and he didn’t want just anybody. He wanted Benintende. “I love the music business, and I was more than ready to get back into it,” he said. “It was really just perfect timing.” Benintende said going back to work has been a blessing in more than one way. As general manager, he oversees all 30,000 square feet of the venue, which houses a full-service bar, theater, sound stage, office space and three recording studios. With no short distance to walk, Benintende said working at WorkPlay has pushed him to the limits of his post-accident ability. “My first week or two, I was really sore,” he said. “This place has actually helped me a lot in the sense that I have to walk a lot now, so that’s built my strength up even faster.” But the relationship doesn’t go just one way. Benintende wants to help WorkPlay just as it has helped him. After the

redesign of WorkPlay’s outdated bar in March, Benintende said he intends to follow suit with the rest of the venue by giving much needed attention to the rest of its amenities. One of his plans is to make the soundstage more userfriendly, which means adding a permanent bar and creating a patio where people can congregate before and after shows. He said he hopes to add a similar outdoor space in front of the main bar, and plans already are underway to get all eight Birmingham breweries on tap as well. Benintende said he also wants to revive WorkPlay’s music academy. At his new academy, students will learn to play an instrument, as well as learn about production, promotion and recording. At the end of the program, he envisions a collaborative performance in the style of the Jack Black movie “School of Rock.” As the second-oldest operating music venue in Birmingham, Benintende said its time to give everything an upgrade at WorkPlay — even artist lineups. “Everything we do, we’re magnifying times 20,” he said. “We’re completely turning this whole place upside down.”

ONE STEP AT A TIME

Though he’s ready to go full speed ahead on WorkPlay’s changes, Benintende said he intends to tackle things the way he has his entire life: one step at a time. “One of the things I’ve never tried to do is predict the future,” he said. “I figure between now and whatever time, I’ll make the most out of each 24 hours.” For Benintende, each step forward is monumental. “I believe God put me in the position to be able to do these things again,” he said. “Not everyone gets that opportunity so it’s one, a miracle, and two, a blessing.”


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COVER STORY: 14th annual Dia de los Muertos festival a day to ‘viva la vida’ and honor loved ones.

a labor of love

Day of the Dead event weaves cultural traditions into communal celebration

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By TARA MASSOULEH

t just 5 foot 2 inches and 125 pounds, Birmingham photojournalist Spider Martin’s small stature directly opposed the immense impact he had on the world. In 1965, he claimed national attention with his documentation of the civil rights movement in Selma. His iconic photographs were published in The Birmingham News and later picked up by Time, Life and The Saturday Evening Post, among other publications. While Martin will always be remembered for his pivotal role in the civil

rights movement (Martin Luther King Jr. credited him with helping the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965), each November, Birmingham remembers him for a different reason. On Nov. 2, 2003, less than 50 people gathered at Bare Hands Gallery under twinkling lights in the company of brightly painted papier-mache skeletons. They had come to honor Spider Martin in a Day of the Dead-inspired art memorial, which his daughter, Tracy, had created for him. The small gathering became Birmingham’s first Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festival. This year’s festival at Cahaba Brewing on Nov. 2 will be the 14th installment.


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FACES said the board considered using 2016 as an off year to raise funds and prepare for future festivals but was convinced otherwise after outcry from regular attendees. “It’s pretty much a part of the city,” he said. “It was here before the revitalization happened. There’s no reason why each year it can’t be bigger and better.” The festival adapted, and it is set to be at Cahaba Brewing on Nov. 2. Though the location has changed, Hernandez said, the festivities will not. There will still be a large area where attendees can display their altars. Face painting, live music, traditional Mexican food, sugar skull decorating and a Mexican style Mercado will all return. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for kids 7-12 and free for those younger than 7. During the first half of the festival, the mood remains more somber and subdued. Attendees visit each other’s altars and pay their respects to the dead. The atmosphere shifts after the roll-call ceremony, where the names of guests’ lost loved ones are read aloud for the public. Those who submitted names are encouraged to say “here” when the name they submitted is called. Once all names have been recognized, the party portion of the evening kicks off as Frida Kahlo, the longstanding patron artist of the Birmingham event, rises from her coffin shouting “Viva la vida,” or “Live the life!”

‘FROM THE HEART’

Former Bare Hands Gallery owner Wendy Jarvis said the timing of the first festival was bittersweet. Six months before his sudden death in April 2003, Martin had expressed a desire to hold an arts and cultural event acknowledging Day of the Dead. For the art memorial event, Tracy Martin constructed a large altar to honor her father. No one was asked to, but Jarvis said four people brought tiny trinkets, sort of mini altars, to accompany Tracy Martin’s and honor their own loved ones. It was at this point, Jarvis said, she realized how much bigger the event could be for Birmingham. “Tracy and I were talking about what a lovely event it was, and I said, ‘I think your dad is going to get his wish,’” Jarvis said. To prepare for their first official Day of the Dead event, Jarvis and other event planners reached out to their friends of Mexican descent. They realized the irony in two women without ties to Mexican culture hosting a Day of the Dead celebration, and they wanted to represent the culture of the holiday as honorably and authentically as possible. One of the first friends they sought out was restaurant owner Guillermo Castro, whose family is from Oaxaca, Mexico. Castro loved the idea and volunteered to bring food from his restaurants Cantina and Taco Morro Loco. Since their original partnership with Castro, Bare Hands has continued to reach out to Hispanic organizations such as HICA and Fiesta for their advice and support. In 2005, the festival, though still small, began to take on the structure it would keep for the next 10 years. Festival organizers decided to incorporate remembrance traditions from other cultures, including the Creole tradition of the jazz funeral procession and the American traditions of Decoration Day, a precursor to Memorial Day. The New Orleans jazz funeral procession was adapted into a Day of the Dead parade complete with a marching mariachi band. They also carried out the Mexican tradition of having attendees create altars to represent lost loved ones. In accordance with tradition, family and friends bring offerings of food and drink to the altars as ways to guide the spirits of their loved ones back to Earth. “We thought it would be a beautiful idea,” she said. “We hoped it would be a coming together of people from all races, backgrounds and walks of life to remember lost loved ones and pay homage to Dia de los Muertos.” From 2006 until 2015, the festival was in the alleyway behind Bare Hands Gallery, as well as in an adjoining fenced-in parking lot on First Avenue South between Richard Arrington Boulevard and 22nd Street. Each year, attendance grew significantly, reaching its highest at about 6,000 people, but for Jarvis, it was the festival’s quieter moments that spelled success — moments like Castro’s first festival in 2005.

‘A DAUGHTER’S LOVE’

Clockwise, from top: Altars created to honor lost loved ones. Frida Kahlo, at the festival in spirit thanks to a longstanding patron artist, and seen in a photograph at an altar. Photos and cover image courtesy of JC Bravo.

“I walked up to him and asked him what he thought [of the festival],” she said. “And this big, beautiful man had tears in his eyes and he said, ‘This is corazon — this is from the heart. It’s just like my hometown.’ And that moment for me was really profound.” Castro died in 2011, but his legacy lives on in the festival through his family. His son, Marcus, recently moved back to Birmingham after attending the University of Alabama, and he now serves as the president of the festival’s junior board. Since he started attending as a kid, Marcus Castro has only missed three or four years. “I’ve always loved it, but when my dad passed away, it gave me a different perspective and a different love for it, too,” he said. “It’s almost like my time of the year where I can cry, be happy and celebrate all at one time.”

‘PART OF THE CITY’

Over the past 13 years, Bare Hands Gallery’s Day of the Dead festival has been a mainstay for Birmingham residents who

want to honor their lost friends and family. Though the festival has survived, the gallery that created it did not — at least not in its original state. In 2009, Jarvis started the process of transitioning Bare Hands Gallery into Bare Hands Inc., a nonprofit that does two major projects each year: the Day of the Dead festival and an art camp for kids moving from homelessness to transitional housing through the YWCA of Central Alabama. The festival is still run almost entirely by about 150 to 200 volunteers who help with everything from sugar skull and puppet making to selling items in the Mercado and prepping public altar spaces. This past year, Jarvis stepped down as the Dia de los Muertos executive director and passed the role to Robert Hernandez, who previously served as the festival’s marketing director. With the shift in leadership at the end of 2015 came another big change for the festival. The completion of the Rotary Trail meant the festival could no longer be in its home on First Avenue South. Hernandez

Though the festival has grown to be much bigger than Jarvis could have imagined, she said she’s proud that it has remained true to its original purpose. “At its core, it is a daughter’s love for her father, so that origin story is moving and relatable to most people,” she said. “To see that touched so many people, and so profoundly in some cases, to have been even a tiny part of that, is such an honor.” Over the years, Jarvis has seen Dia de los Muertos help the community both cope with loss and celebrate culture. She was there when Ferah Tatum came to her first festival in 2007 with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Grant. That year she shared an ofrenda with Grant, but in the years to come, she would construct an entirely different type of ofrenda. Each year, Tatum erects an ofrenda in the form of a baby’s crib in order to honor the lives of the two children she lost due to miscarriages. “I never had a place for my miscarriages,” she said. “All you’re left with is empty arms, and I never had anywhere I could celebrate their lives, so this provided a place and a space to acknowledge their existence and say I love them.” For the festival’s former director, Jarvis, and new director, Hernandez, stories like Tatum’s, where she is able to provide some comfort for others in spite of death, are what Dia de los Muertos has always been about. “Everyone is going to die eventually, but it’s a beautiful thing to know that we’re all sharing the same moment,” Hernandez said.


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STREETS

Birmingham Ghost Walk a path of dark tales around city’s (haunted?) downtown fixtures

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By SYDNEY CROMWELL alloween isn’t really my holiday. I hate horror movies; I don’t believe in ghosts, and I don’t trust people who like candy corn. But when ghost tourguide Edward Wolfgang Poe said, “twoand-a-half hours of murder, suicide and hookers” awaited me — well, my interest was piqued. Poe started the Birmingham Ghost Walk five years ago. He couldn’t find a job fitting his executive chef background, and he realized no ghost tours existed in Birmingham. After six months of research and buying an oil lantern to set the right mood, he started offering tours every night of the year. Hundreds of tours later, the South East Lake resident said the job is still one he loves. “My name is Wolfgang Poe, so I’m going to cook and write horror novels,” he joked. The Ghost Walk starts across the street from the Tutwiler Hotel. In the early years of Birmingham’s history, it was a wilder place. Poe noted in his introductory speech that at one point in the 1800s, the city had 111 bars, 89 brothels and more than a few gunfights. From there, the walk loops around about a mile of downtown Birmingham and touches on architecture, history and politics alongside the ghosts that may — or may not — haunt the city. Some of the ghosts I have heard of before, such as the little girl in the Tutwiler Hotel and the Sloss Furnaces ghost. Others, such as the East Lake Park Mermaid, were new to me. As Poe and his lantern led my tour group

through nearly empty streets, he told us about ghosts occupying churches, hotels, jails and — surprisingly — more than one parking lot. It became a recurring theme through the night that many of the buildings where tragedies had once spawned local legends were now replaced by flat pavement. The original Tutwiler Hotel, which Poe saw demolished as a child in the 1970s, is among those long-gone buildings. Poe’s tours draw local residents and tourists alike, as well as paranormal researchers toting bags of gear from site to site. A few people on the tour have caught what appear to be ghostly figures and “orbs” on camera, and Poe said paranormal researchers have found electromagnetic fluctuations and recorded voices. Poe himself has encountered what he believes to be the ghost of Linn Henley Research Library, and has sat in the lobby of the Tutwiler and listened to guests complain about supernatural activity on the “haunted” floors. Though most of the tour feels like Poe is speaking off the cuff, it’s clear he knows his stuff as he rattles off details about deaths both brutal and heartbreaking. He’s also a natural performer, at one point using a parking garage to give his voice an ominous echo as he talked about the city’s previous nickname of the “Murder City.” No matter the crowd, Poe said there’s always one point on the tour that brings gasps of disbelief: when he pulls a small vial from his pocket containing a human tooth. The tooth is said to belong to a murdered woman found in the demolition of the Mabson Hotel at Third Avenue North and 22nd Street. Based on local legend, Poe said he believes

Edward Wolfgang Poe leads ghost tours through downtown Birmingham almost every night of the year. Poe’s blend of history, scandal and scares has made his ghost tours popular among Birmingham locals and tourists. Photos by Sydney Cromwell.

the woman was the unlucky mistress of J.M. Thomson, who built the hotel in 1895. She was killed by his jealous wife. I didn’t hear any unearthly voices or find orbs in my pictures beyond a lens flare from a streetlight. However, two hours of talk of death and hauntings had their effect on me. When we paused in a dark alley for a story near the end of the tour, Poe remarked that previous tour participants had seen shadows move through the alley without bodies connected to them. I watched the tour members nervously check the ground for runaway shadows — then looked to make sure my own shadow was still attached to my feet. The Ghost Walk is what has given Poe his local notoriety, but his enjoyment of history and the “wonderful, dark stories” of hauntings extend beyond his night job. Poe said he is in the middle of restoring his Victorian home in East Lake, which currently has no electricity and only recently got updated plumbing. Preserving Birmingham’s history was just one

of the reasons that he got started. “I wanted to show the locals that downtown is not the hellhole that the media makes it out to be,” Poe said of his initial motivation in 2011. Halloween is undoubtedly the busy season for ghost tours. Poe is already ramping up to two tours per night, and this year he is looking at having two different ghost tours with new stories and paths through the city. Since he recently accepted a new chef job, Poe is also training a couple of new tour guides to help with the fall busy season. Poe said he doesn’t mind supernatural skeptics like myself on the tour, though he asserted that enough time spent in the more haunted portions of Birmingham could convince any nonbeliever. And everyone, he said, secretly enjoys getting scared. “Everybody likes to get their little heebie-jeebies on,” Poe said. Learn more about the walk at bham history.com/the-birmingham-ghost-walk.


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Bus transportation system discussed at public meeting

By TARA MASSOULEH In late August, community members had multiple meetings to discuss and learn more about the proposed Birmingham Bus Rapid Transit Project. The meetings were hosted throughout the city by Strada Professional Services, an engineering and consulting firm working on the planned project. At the meeting, residents were met with a packet of information summarizing the basics of the proposed $42 million dollar plan, which would create a 12.5-mile corridor connecting the city between Woodlawn and Five Points West through a bus rapid transit system. The new system would work in tandem with the existing MAX bus system, which also is slated to receive an overhaul with new, more efficient bus routes and possible changes to the way riders pay for and catch buses. The proposed BRT system is part of a larger Transit Development Plan put forward by the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority. The plan is set for adoption in spring 2017 and will include a variety of short and long-term transit changes coordinated with the city of Birmingham. Part of the plan requires a complete

Community members discuss the proposed bus rapid transit system with representatives from Strada Professional Services, an engineering and consulting firm. Photo by Tara Massouleh.

restructuring of current bus services to make routes more direct, increase service frequency, provide more services in the evenings and on weekends, and create better coordinated bus schedules. Darrell Howell, one of Strada’s project managers, said this restructuring will lead to some changes in current bus routes. Howell said because the existing bus system will soon be working with the new BRT system, not all buses will continue to travel through downtown. Instead, buses

would deliver passengers to one of two transit stations on either end of the city. From these transit stations, those wishing to travel downtown would transfer to a BRT bus. He said these changes would allow city buses to serve more communities on the outskirts of town and travel more efficient routes. Changes are expected to begin in the 2018 fiscal year, and could include changes to routes and how riders catch the buses, as well as the possibility of paying with Apple

or Android Pay and tracking bus locations on riders’ phones. The rapid transit system’s East-West corridor will connect 25 Birmingham neighborhoods with 36 compact, open-air bus stops and be sandwiched on either end by a transit station in Woodlawn along First Avenue North between 56th and 57th Streets and a transit station at the CrossPlex facility in Five Points West. Ten new buses, each accommodating 40-60 passengers, will operate as part of the BRT system. Five additional buses will be added to the current Birmingham MAX bus circuit. The BRT buses would use a mixture of busonly and regular traffic lanes to move quickly through the city, possibly using traffic light preemption to give buses priority at intersections. Strada estimates a 15-minute ride from one end of the BRT line to the other during peak travel times. “There’s a number benefits in terms of moving people around, getting congestion off the roads and reducing pollution from all the cars on the road,” he said. The project is expected to reach completion in time for the 2021 World Games hosted in Birmingham. See full notes from the BRT public meeting at ironcity.ink.

PARKSIDE

Birmingham children’s literacy agency moves downtown from West Homewood By TARA MASSOULEH After serving Birmingham for 23 years, Better Basics has finally joined the downtown community. The children’s literacy agency made the move from West Homewood to a location right outside of Regions Field and Railroad Park on Second Avenue South in July. “We’ve felt a part of the community downtown for 23 years, but this is the first time we’ve been located near the kids we serve,” said Executive Director Ammie Akin. “This is the first time we’ve been physically present in the city, and that’s what we’ve always wanted.” Better Basics serves almost 14,000 students from pre-K to eighth grade in 28 Birmingham city schools, including all Birmingham city elementary schools. In addition to schools, its programs are offered at Birmingham city YMCAs and

the Norwood Resource Center. Though the agency is based in central Alabama, it also serves parts of Jefferson, Talladega, Clay and Hale counties, as well as Fairfield and Midfield, reaching almost 26,000 students each year. Better Basics is run through nine different intervention and enrichment programs meant to help struggling readers and instill a lifelong love for reading in students. Part of the enrichment programming involves bringing fine arts and other non-reading opportunities into schools. “It’s basically when a field trip comes to the school,” Akin said. So far, Better Basics has brought the Harlem GlobeTrotter character education program for a visit, and each spring, Red Mountain Theatre Company presents a play at elementary schools. The program coordinates more than 1,000 volunteers, who will now attend training in

Ammie Akin is the executive director of Better Basics, a children’s literacy agency based in Birmingham. Photo by Tara Massouleh.

the agency’s new location. The 8,300-squarefoot Shannon Waltchak space also will serve as the storage unit for the thousands of books Better Basics collects and purchases to give to students. Last year, 79,000 books were given to students. “It’s about the same size as our other space, but it feels a lot bigger because it was designed to be more efficient,” Akin said.

“Besides the fact that it’s beautiful, it’s so incredibly functional and meets our needs.” Now that Better Basics has gotten settled downtown, Akin said they will be able to better serve their students. “We wanted to move to this location because of the synergy here,” she said. “We’re all about improving the community, and this is where the entire community comes together.”


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Habitat’s Builder Blitz finishes 13 homes in a week By LEXI COON One week may not seem like enough time to complete construction on one brand-new house — let alone a baker’s dozen. But during the annual Birmingham Habitat Home Builders Blitz, companies and volunteers built 13 homes in East Lake. From Aug. 25 to Sept. 1, 12 construction companies, together with about 1,500 volunteers, worked to create a community on 19 acres on the site of what used to be Cascade Plunge. At the end of the week, applicants approved by Habitat for Humanity were handed the keys to their new homes. The applicants, who completed homeowner-education workshops and devoted 300 volunteer hours to Habitat, were able to purchase their homes with no interest.

FIVE POINTS

Vulcan AfterTunes wraps up Oct. 23 Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.

“These builders and the event supporters have planned for weeks and months to make their participation in the Home Builders Blitz possible because they believe it will make a lasting impact for the families and the greater East Lake neighborhood,” said Charles Moore, president and CEO of the Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham. With each home costing about $81,000, this one-week project alone is an investment of more than $1 million in hard costs in the East Lake neighborhood in addition to thousands of volunteer hours. In the next three to five years, if the neighborhood is outfitted with up to 40 homes, Cascade Park will be a $6 million investment in the East Lake area. To help with future projects, go to habitatbirmingham.org/volunteer.

By JESSE CHAMBERS Great live music featuring local acts. Good local beer. A spectacular setting on Red Mountain overlooking the Birmingham skyline. Those are the elements that have made Vulcan AfterTunes, an annual music series at Vulcan Park & Museum, so popular. The events are a chance to “chill out in Birmingham’s backyard with your lawn chairs and blankets and bring the whole family out to enjoy some of the country’s best new entertainers,” said Morgan Berney, Vulcan’s director of marketing and public relations. Best of all, AfterTunes has two more concerts in October before the series ends: ► Oct. 9: Big Sam’s Funky Nation with Tragic City. The headliner, Funky Nation, has been playing a high-energy, New Orleans-influenced music called “Noladelic

PowerFunk” for a decade. Tragic City is from Birmingham. Tragic City begins at 2:30 p.m. Big Sam’s Funky Nation begins at 4 p.m. Avondale Brewing Company is the featured local brewer. ► Oct. 23: Amanda Shires with Jesse Payne. Shires, who has three solo albums, began her career as a teen playing fiddle with the Texas Playboys. She has toured and recorded with John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope and her husband, Jason Isbell. Jesse Payne, a well-regarded Birmingham singer-songwriter, will play at 2:30 p.m. Shires begins at 4 p.m. Good People Brewing Company will provide the local beer. The AfterTunes series has been successful because it’s affordable and fun for the family, Berney said. “We work really hard to bring performers that appeal to a wide range of musical interests,” she said. For all shows, gates open at 1 p.m., and tickets and seating are first-come, firstserved. Light snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks will be available. General admission is $15. Admission for Vulcan Park members and children is $8. Children ages 4 and younger are free. For more information, call 933-1409 or go to visitvulcan.com.


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Secondhand bike shop, earn-a-bike program opens

By SYDNEY CROMWELL That dusty, neglected bicycle sitting in the garage isn’t done being useful yet. Doug Brown wants to collect those unused bikes and match them with a brand new owner at the Recyclery, which opened in August near Old Car Heaven. Brown, a Vestavia Hills resident, started Trips for Kids in summer 2013, a program that loans bikes to Birmingham children and takes them on regular rides at Oak Mountain State Park. Last year he had 147 kids participate in the rides. Trips for Kids is a local chapter of a national program, and Brown said he heard about other chapters opening bike refurbishing shops and earn-a-bike programs for kids. He began collecting bike donations in hopes of creating a similar shop, and a neighbor found him warehouse space at 3625 First Ave. S. The location is ideal not only to be close to the children he serves in Trips for Kids, but also because it’s next to the planned route for the Jones Valley Trail. “My vision is that kids in East Lake, Avondale, Woodlawn, Irondale, inner city can come down here and earn a bike and then … they’d be able to ride to Ruffner from their

CENTRAL CITY

DISCOVER

Doug Brown has created the Recyclery to fund his bicycling charity, Trips for Kids, and the earn-abike program. Photo by Sydney Cromwell.

house,” Brown said. The Recyclery, which opened Aug. 22, hosts racks of donated bikes, including street and mountain bikes for children and adults. The store will sell parts, helmets, clothes, racks and other gear that is donated. Brown said the goal is to have the Recyclery pay for Trips for Kids, the earn-a-bike program and eventually a salary for the person running the program.

Brown’s earn-a-bike program will provide Birmingham kids with donated bicycles for free after they complete a program learning how to take care of their bike and use it safely. With the Christian Service Mission right next door, Brown said he plans to have community service hours be a component of the program. “So when they leave, they know to wear a helmet, how to fix a flat tire and hopefully

they’ve got enough sweat equity in it that they’ll lock it up and secure it. And they’ll know how to do some small repairs. And we also want to give the kids a place where they can sort of come and hang out,” Brown said The program will start with a couple children, ages 10 to 15, who are involved in the organizations participating in Trips for Kids, including the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Once a few have earned their bikes, Brown said he thinks the word will spread quickly and bring more future bike owners to his workshop. “We don’t want to make it too laborious, but at the same time, we want them to feel like they’ve earned it,” Brown said. Brown said he plans to collect “dusty, not rusty” bicycles from individuals and from bike drives at businesses, schools and churches. The Recyclery will be open several afternoons per week. Brown said he and other volunteers will have more hours for the next few weeks until they determine their busiest times, then will adjust their schedule to around three days per week. To donate a bike or learn more about the program, contact Brown at 908-0564 or info@tripsforkidsbham.org.

Ronald McDonald House to undergo major expansion

By TARA MASSOULEH The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama recently announced a $7.5 million charity campaign to expand the Birmingham campus by adding a 28,543-square-foot wing that will almost double occupancy. Thus far, the Healing Together Campaign has raised a little more than $6 million in large donations, but the rest is up to the public, said campaign Co-Chairman Jeff Logan of the Birmingham Barons. Co-Founder of RMHCA Max Cooper will match donations for the cause up to $500,000 until the $7.5 million goal is reached, Logan said. The main plan for expansion involves adding 33 single-family guest suites to the existing 41 suites. In addition, many new facilities will be added, including a new family center with a larger dining room, a game room, a volunteer kitchen, a laundry room on each floor, a meeting/activity center, a meditation room, a toy store, a fitness room, a new meeting and storage room and increased donation storage. The project also will increase the size of family rooms on each floor and add two new

The proposed expansion of the Birmingham Ronald McDonald House. Rendering courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama.

family rooms to the main floor. The expansion comes in response to Children’s of Alabama’s 2012 expansion that has led to more families traveling to Birmingham.

The House typically has a waiting list of about 12 families each night, and during the summer of 2015, there were as many as 55 families waiting. An average family stay lasts

14 to 20 days. RMHCA CEO Katherine Estes Billmeier said she’s excited for the opportunity to serve more families by providing them with not only a place to stay, but also a place to receive comfort and counseling from other families with similar experiences. “It’s not so much that they have a place to sleep, but what they get from each other is just so important to the healing process,” she said. “Research shows that when families stay together, they heal faster, so our goal is to keep families close.” Since it opened in 2007, the Birmingham RMH has provided lodging and at least one free meal per day to the families of children being cared for at either Children’s of Alabama or University Hospital. Both are only one block away. Groundbreaking for the project is set to start in early 2017, and the expansion is projected to take 10 months to complete. Williams Blackstock Architects is designing the expansion, and Brasfield & Gorrie is the general manager for the construction. To donate or learn more about the Healing Together Campaign, go to rmhca.org/expand or contact Kathy Robson at Kathy.robson@ rmhca.org or 638-7258.


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Junior League’s Shop Save & Share fundraiser returns

For the 11th year in a row, the Junior League of Birmingham will hold its Shop Save & Share fundraiser in late October. This initiative supports the League’s more than 30 community projects, while at the same time driving customers to local retailers and restaurants. When you purchase a Shop Save & Share card for $40, you receive a 20 percent discount on merchandise and food at the fundraiser’s more than 500 participating stores and restaurants. Since its inception, Shop Save & Share has put more than $475,000 back into the community. Also, through the Junior League of Birmingham a Shop Save and Share donation does the following: ► Provides eight meals through Meals on Wheels in Jefferson County; ► Provides one week of snacks, magazines and books to mothers restricted to bed rest in the UAB NICU; ► Provides one child who is suffering from “under nutrition” to have food provided to them for the weekends for an entire school year through the Backpack Buddies program; ► Provides 1.5 children one book per month for five years through Better Basics & JLB Imagination Library.

Allison Brown of Yellowhammer Creative, as well as Jared Nadler and Todd Denaburg of Levy’s Fine Jewelry, are among the many downtown Birmingham area merchants participating in the Junior League of Birmingham’s Shop Save & Share fundraiser. Photo courtesy of the Junior League of Birmingham.

This year’s Shop Save & Share program will run from Oct. 19-30, and the Junior League of Birmingham is thrilled to have Birmingham’s best retailers and restaurants on board for 2016, including several located in downtown Birmingham. This year, Shop Save & Share is partnering for the first time with many stores and attractions such as Rogue Tavern, the Filling Station and the Southern Museum of Flight in downtown Birmingham.

Levy’s Fine Jewelry is returning as a Shop Save & Share participant this year. “Levy’s Fine Jewelry is committed to supporting nonprofits in our area we are excited to participate in Shop Save & Share again this year,” said Jared Nadler, manager of Levy’s Fine Jewelry. “It is the perfect time of year to make a jewelry purchase, especially while also supporting a great cause.” Restaurants are always an important part of the Shop Save & Share event, and this year is

no different. Slice, Sky Castle, Sol’s Deli and Bistro Two Eighteen are just a few downtown restaurants that are participating this year. It is also a great time for to get in some shopping for holiday gifts and accessories at locations such as Yellowhammer Creative. “This is a way we can give our shoppers a great discount on unique clothing, posters and more, while also supporting community projects across the city of Birmingham,” said Allison Brown, retail manager of Yellowhammer Creative. Some other downtown-area retailers that will be participating in the 2016 Shop Save & Share event include Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market and the McWane Science Center, just to name a few. Visit shopsaveandshare.net for a complete retailer listing, to purchase a card and for more information. Additional information about the fundraiser can be found on social media on Facebook: Shop Save & Share, Instagram: @jlbshopsaveshare, or on Twitter: @JLBirmingham (#jlbshopsaveshare). – Submitted by Junior League of Birmingham.


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special section

INDEX

home & garden

Homewood Antiques & Marketplace ........31 Presentations, Etc. Studio .......................31 Bedzzz Express ...................................... 32 Urban Home Market ............................... 34 EZ Roof .................................................. 36

Jeff Richardson - Brik Realty ................. 37 Phoenix Builders .................................... 38 Stock & Trade Design Co. ........................ 39 Avondale Antiques..................................40 Brandino Brass .......................................40

October is the time to take on a project or two. Whether you are looking to redesign a room, revamp your garden or prepare your home for winter, we’ve got you covered. Browse through our fall home and garden guide for advice, tips and resources for every aspect of home improvement.

East 59 Vintage and CafĂŠ ........................41 Estate Liquidators ...................................41 Sozo Trading Co. ..................................... 42 Urban Suburban ..................................... 42


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home & garden

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PRESENTATIONS, ETC. STUDIO

One-stop shop for home décor

Quality printing, framing for your art

Homewood Antiques & Marketplace is filled with eclectic pieces for every taste and budget from furniture and home décor to jewelry and boutique clothing. Owner Chris Collins is passionate about filling her store with unique old and new items from a variety of vendors so that it is always fresh and inviting. “We are very selective,” said Collins. “We have such a fast turnover, and the merchandise changes quickly. I am always looking for different items to add to the store. We have a very diverse customer base — everyone from college kids to families and decorators that stop by regularly to see what we have. “We want this to be a one-stop shop,” Collins said. “Not only do we carry a variety of merchandise for all budgets, but we can provide many services, too. We have an upholsterer in the back, a fine art studio that does printing as well as framing and staff

When the photography profession went digital, Abbie Wiersma began searching for the technology that would have the same beauty and quality in digital printmaking as the darkroom. “I found it in fine art papers and pigmented inks, which added color and tonal value to prints I couldn’t find at commercial printers,” Wiersma said. In 2009, her next goal was to make this quality printing accessible to photographers and artists in this area. “This way, a photographer could display their work professionally without breaking the bank,” she said. Presentations started with fine art printmaking, then added custom framing, then a gallery of Birmingham and Alabama fine art prints was added. Art reproduction is another service offered at Presentations. When a locally and nationally acclaimed artist asked, “Which

that can help with your decorating needs as well as furniture painting. We offer numerous gift items and gift certificates for the undecided, all with complimentary wrapping. The store is open every day, so please come by and check us out!” The store has a Red Balloon Sale one Saturday a month. Customers can sign up for email blasts and watch the store’s Facebook page to stay on top of the latest finds and sales. For more information, call 205-414-9945 or visit homewoodantiques.com.

one is my original?” Wiersma knew all the attention to quality, color and detail was worth the time spent in perfecting this art and craft of digital fine art printmaking. Presentations is located inside Homewood Antiques, 930 Oxmoor Road, Homewood. For more information, call 205-540-7211 or email presentationsetc@gmail.com.


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OCTOBER 2016

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home & garden

BEDZZZ EXPRESS

Improve your sleep quality

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ecause you’ll spend approximately one third of your life in your bed, ensuring it’s comfortable should be a top priority at purchase. And you may be debating right now as to whether you need a new mattress, going through the struggle of, “Oh, it’s still okay,” and, “I’ll just flip it again.” But if it’s often a topic of discussion in your home, chances are you know you need an upgrade. It’s an investment worth making because better sleep can positively impact you in many ways. With more than 20 years in the industry and loyal to our slogan, “Where Dreams Begin,” Bedzzz Express strives to successfully assist our customers in making the ideal mattress selection from the many brands and types we offer. Each team member is experienced and knowledgeable about identifying sleep habits and guiding families and individuals through selecting the perfect mattress for their lifestyle. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right mattress for you.

WHEN?

All mattresses should be replaced every 7-10 years. Other signs you need to replace your mattress are: ► Visible sagging, indentions or lumps ► Squeaking upon movement ► Waking up with aches and pains ► You and your partner roll in toward the middle throughout the night

WHAT SIZE?

When shopping for a mattress, make sure to measure the area it’s going to go. Also take into consideration the size and number of people who will be needing the bed. Mattresses should be longer than the tallest person using it and wide enough to allow you to fold your arms behind your head without going off the mattress or touching your partner. The Bedzzz Express Mattress Size Guide will help determine which mattress is best for your specific needs.

WHAT COMFORT TYPE?

Our mattresses come in a variety of comfort types to fit any preference. While some types are known to be better for back pain and sleeping positions, it ultimately comes down to your preference. Make sure to try out many different mattresses for 10-15 minutes before

making a purchase.

WHAT LEVEL OF QUALITY?

One of the biggest factors affecting your sleep experience is the quality of your mattress. Higher quality mattresses last longer and will provide better overnight support for your back and neck.

We only offer quality top brands that offer great products. Buying a mattress is not only a necessary purchase but also an investment in your mental and physical health.

WHAT BRAND?

At Bedzzz Express, we only offer quality

mattresses from top brands. Our sleep experts are knowledgeable in our inventory and the different products available from different companies. We currently sell products by: ► I Comfort ► Tempur-pedic ► Beautyrest ► Serta ► Sealy ► Stearns & Foster ► King Koil Founded in Birmingham in 1995, Bedzzz Express now has 46 stores in four states and takes great pride in a top-brand inventory of best mattresses at the best prices. All premium mattresses come with a Triple Z Guarantee that includes a 90 day Simple Zzz’s guarantee, giving you the assurance that you will sleep soundly for 90 days or simply return it for a full store credit. Plus, the 90-day Lowest Price Promise means you got the very best price ― if you find your mattress cheaper within 90 days of purchase we will simply refund 115% of the difference. For more information, visit any Bedzzz Express location or bedzzzexpress.com.


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URBAN HOME MARKET

Urban Home Market: Where style, design, passion collide

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he Birmingham retailer is well known for the vibrant, 17,000-square-foot emporium of a fresh mix of goods from home furnishings, lighting, architectural pieces, gifts and home design services. At Urban Home Market we not only know our customers, we embody them. Every season, the space is filled with the latest assortment of unique design products intended to make UHM more than just a furniture store — it is a lifestyle store. Our merchandise is always changing and we sell items right off the floor if desired. We want to immerse our customers in a complete experience appealing to all of the senses. Our aesthetic is authentic and approachable. While Urban Home Market is often mistaken as an upscale retail chain, we are a family-owned business that was spun out of a home and family grown passion. Therefore, we offer personalized service

Our customers are our friends, and what we do is never, ever about selling to them.

and products that big corporations and big box retailers cannot. There is no national sales plan provided by a corporate office in another state; it is simply Kathy McMahon and her vision. Being local allows us to focus on the “family community” and serve each customer as a friend and neighbor. These friendships tie creativity and design with authenticity because of our knowledge of our customers. “Our customers are our friends, and what we do is never, ever about selling to them,” McMahon said. Urban Home Market’s core philosophy is guided by style, design and the passion

KATHY MCMAHON

to inspire imagination throughout our store. We have a dynamic, energetic team of designers and visual merchandisers that are responsible for every aspect of the store’s look and feel. “Storytelling” is a key focus for our showroom. Each vignette serves as a series of different inspirations created to be inviting and stimulating. Our merchandising does not highlight product so much as set a mood and create a starting point to direct the customer on their own path. Every season, our team of buyers travel across the country to attend major national furniture and accessory markets to find

the latest product and design trends. This combined with our interests and the needs of our local customers determines our inventory. Our merchandising mix is very dynamic, layered and dense. We have many humble, recycled and natural materials. Many of the store’s most striking visual effects have been crafted out of mundane materials. This adds a rich layer of artistry and visual wit to the store experience. This fall, we combine classic elegance with a sense of easygoing urban sophistication through the use of soft and mixed textures and warmer tones to give an earthier feel. To learn more about the coming trends for 2017 please be sure to connect to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our social media shows how to take trends and make them unique through our product shots and style tips for customers on the go. For more information, call 205-9804663 or visit urbanhomemarket.com.


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home & garden

EZ ROOF

Nominate a deserving family for a free roof You have come to know EZ Roof as your neighborhood roofing company, your friend in the roofing industry, who is going to treat you like family and act with integrity. We pride ourselves on our reputation and our local roots. As a family-owned business with deep community ties, we know just how important it is to support our friends and neighbors. And we know that by helping those who need a hand, we will only make our community stronger. While we’ve been doing that on a small scale, we want to do something bigger. If there is one thing we’ve learned over the years, it is that everyone needs a roof, but not everyone can afford the unexpected expense it brings. We want to fix that, one roof at a time. We are launching a new tradition at EZ Roof: The EZ Roof Giveaway, in which we will donate a free roof replacement to a

deserving family in our community. It is with great passion that we begin this new endeavor, and we could not have done it without your support! We invite you to nominate a family in need (or even yourself) for this unique opportunity. Visit our website, ez-roofer.com, and submit your nomination — including name, a brief explanation of why you think your nomination deserves a new roof, and a photo of the roof if available. You may also mail in nominations to our office at 2677-B Valleydale Road, Birmingham, AL 35244. Please make sure we have any necessary information to contact you or your nomination. The submission deadline is Dec. 1, 2016, and the winner will be selected Dec. 5. EZ Roof staff will select the winner in-house, but reserves the right to use social media such as Facebook as a means

of narrowing down final selections or for choosing a winner from in-house selections. For official rules, visit ez-roofer.com.

For more information about our services, call 205-968-1034 or visit our website ez-roofer.com.


special section

home & garden

OCTOBER 2016

IRON CITY INK

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JEFF RICHARDSON - BRIK REALTY

A reputation that speaks for itself Jeff Richardson and his group at Brik Realty want to help home sellers and buyers be ready for the fall. “There are definitely some neat little things people can do to make their home more marketable for the fall,” said Jeff Richardson, leader of the Brik Realty Group. Richardson says keeping your home looking up to date and marketable is a must in the fall because of the type of buyer that comes with the season. He also had some recommendations on how to enhance one’s curb appeal. “Don’t forget to spruce up your yards,” Richardson said. “This time of year can be a challenge for curb appeal. Don’t ignore leaves and dead flower beds. Pick some autumn plantings that complement your home, along with fresh mulch and pine straw to keep your home looking fresh and inviting.”

Autumn and winter buyers are typically more serious shoppers, Richardson said, because they typically are either relocating or need to move. These positive first impressions are very crucial with buyers this time of year. Richardson began practicing real estate in 2006 when he was encouraged by his friends who were Realtors to make the jump. “I started my career in 2006 after a couple Realtor friends told me, ‘You have the natural gift of sales,’” Richardson said. “At that time I managed and sold cars at a small dealership when I decided, with a leap of faith, to give it a try. I quit my job, enrolled in real estate school and three months later I was licensed and had my first sale in 60 days and I’ve never looked back.” Since 2006, Richardson has had roughly 500 transactions and received numerous awards and accolades for his success in the

Birmingham area. He was named Rookie of the Year by the Birmingham Association of Realtors in 2007, and most recently he was named Birmingham’s Favorite Realtor by Birmingham Parent Magazine in July. Richardson is also proud of and holds close the relationships he has made throughout his career. “I am proud to say I have a great working relationship with fellow Realtors all over the

37 metro area,” Richardson said. “My reputation with my past clients also speaks for itself as they are constantly sending me business. In fact, one client has given me three new referrals this year already.” Richardson has been with Brik realty since February of 2015 and said he is excited about the potential that comes with starting a new group. “I joined Brik almost immediately after we opened in February of 2015,” Richardson said. “It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I love working with such an awesome group of people. We truly are a BrikFam, as we like to call ourselves.” Richardson started his own group at Brik Realty in June and is certain they will be as successful a team as he has been as an individual. “I created my group in June 2016,” Richardson said. “I have four awesome agents working in different areas of expertise. I am really enjoying the mentor aspect of my new role and am excited to watch other Realtors succeed.” For more information, call 205470-1307 or visit brikrealty.com/ agents/59577-Jeff-Richardson.


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PHOENIX BUILDERS

Experience, expertise our backbone Stephen Boehme, owner of Phoenix Builders Group LLC, has over 20 years of residential homebuilding experience. “It’s all I’ve ever done,” he said. In 2015, after working for other people for so many years, Boehme decided to become his own boss. Boehme, an Alabama licensed home builder, founded Phoenix Builders on June 1, 2015. “After numerous years of working for other people, I finally decided it was my turn to reap the rewards,” Boehme said. “The time was now to make it happen.” Phoenix Builders is a home renovation and construction company that specializes in additions, renovations and construction of new or existing residential properties. Boehme is most proud of the company’s experience and knowledge. “There’s nothing we haven’t seen — nothing is a surprise,” he said. “We have clear expectations and great communication.” From the beginning of working with customers, Boehme likes to be precise and set the tone from the start of the working relationship. “We make it very clear, black and

white,” he said. “We set expectations on the front end. With our experience, it’s very specific what we are going to do.” Boehme often sees homeowners get too many bids. It can be the biggest mistake that he sees homeowners make. “It clouds everybody’s judgment and

doesn’t give a fair representation of any of the numbers,” he said. He said while homeowners are encouraged to price the process out, three bids should be the maximum. “Six to eight bids is not efficient for you or your builder,” Boehme said.

He suggests having an initial meeting and proceeding from there. He also said homeowners should take into account the type of builder they want to enter into a working relationship with, and to remember how much togetherness is required in the process. “Who can you spend the next three to six months side by side with?” Boehme said. “We are in their house — they wake up with us in their house, they cook dinner with us in their house. You have to be comfortable [with your builder], and they have to be personable and trustworthy.” Both of which the team at Phoenix Builders is. Boehme loves the customer interaction he has and that his work brings him a different challenge every day. “No two houses are the same, and no two challenges are the same on any house,” he said. “I enjoy creating a livable space for a family and seeing the finished product.” For more information, call 205-966-0543, email stephen@phoenixgroups.net or visit phoenixgroups.net.


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OCTOBER 2016

IRON CITY INK

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STOCK & TRADE DESIGN CO.

Let’s achieve your ideal home Furnishing or redesigning a living space can be a challenging task. That’s where Stock & Trade Design Co. comes in: a full service interior design firm with two home furnishings showrooms featuring custom upholstery, furniture, lighting, accessories, rugs and art. Stock & Trade has a diverse team with more than 30 years of interior design and home furnishings experience. With each design consultant having their own personal style, the team is able to cater to various client needs. Yet, these styles blend and work well together when collaborating on larger projects. “One of our main priorities is building relationships with clients to achieve a clear understanding of their lifestyle and needs, and working with them to successfully define and fulfill their vision, thus creating a long-term partnership for their future design

needs” said Creative Director Christopher Rankin. “We work with clients with various needs ... people just starting out and looking to furnish their first home, those looking to freshen up their existing spaces and others doing whole house remodels or new construction who need everything. Every project, no matter how big or small, is treated with equal importance, because it’s important to the client who will be living in the space.” Stock & Trade is dedicated to providing a product mix that emphasizes both quality and value. Since its inception in 2012, the company has assembled a vast resource list, giving them access to hundreds of vendors for a wide range of style options. This allows them to shop the “look” that’s on trend while, at the same time, providing a product selection that suits the varied budget needs of all their clients.

Providing some design tips for clients furnishing a new space or redesigning an existing one, the company’s Special Projects Team offered this advice. “First, don’t feel compelled to choose everything at one time,” said Lead Designer Christopher Magidson. Shoppers may become anxious at the idea of having to find furniture and accessories for an entire house, or even an entire room, rather than focusing on individual items or spaces. The team suggests, “Pick a starting point, whether that be a color palette, a favorite piece of art, or a family heirloom.” Next, Rankin recommends patience:

“Choose pieces you love and be willing to wait if those pieces have to be ordered,” he said. “Getting what you truly love versus what’s available immediately will pay off in the long run.” These pieces will be in your home for many years, so the client should not settle for something he or she does not really love. “Your home will be a true reflection of who you are and your own personal style,” Rankin said. When asked what’s the best thing about being in the interior design business, the team agreed with Magidson when he said, “It’s the satisfaction of helping clients achieve their ideal of home.”


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AVONDALE ANTIQUES

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home & garden

BRANDINO BRASS

Unique finds for unique spaces Avondale Antiques is ready to help the people of Birmingham fill their homes with unique items, just like the store’s slogan says. “Our slogan is ‘Unique Finds for Unique Spaces,’” said Fred Dyess, owner of Avondale Antiques. “Meaning your home, your office, your lake house, your cabin in the mountains or even your fall decorative transition. We have something for every space.” The store carries unique items from all over the state, and Dyess said he hopes to help people decorate their homes this fall with the wide range of styles, eras and inventory to choose from. “We have a vast selection,” Dyess said, “but mainly focus on ‘mid-century retro’ and lighting and lamps; we have a variety of styles across the board.” Dyess opened Avondale Antiques in March of 2015 and has been a staple in the neighborhood since. Dyess has enjoyed seeing the neighborhood evolve and become

OCTOBER 2016

the thriving community that it is, and he is proud to be a part of it. Although Avondale is known for its food and drink destinations, Dyess’ favorite part of the community is the people. “We love meeting new customers and seeing our regulars,” Dyess said. Dyess said they are planning at least two events this fall, including their annual holiday open house, which will be in late November or early December (the date has yet to be determined). For more information, visit Avondale Antiques’ Facebook page or avondaleantiques.com.

Try gas fireballs for cool nights The mercury in thermometers is slowly dropping. Soon, leaves will be turning golden and red and people will want to make hot chocolate and curl in front of a fireplace. If you are ready to change or update your existing fireplace, Brandino Brass can help you install a functional and stylish gas fireball for your fireplace. Brandino sells traditional fireplace logs and recently teamed up with Rasmussen Gas Logs and Grills, a family-owned company headquartered in California, to offer gas fireballs to warm up those upcoming cold nights. Laurie Fulkerson, a designer with Twin Interiors, said she frequently recommends gas fireballs over log fireplaces. “It has a different look than a traditional log,” she said. “It’s sleeker. They just have a great look about them.” She said that the gas fireballs have a “modern” look that complement any type of house, whether it is traditional, transitional or modern. Gas fireballs come in both dark and light colors. Personally, Fulkerson prefers the

darker shade because the lighter options eventually get char marks. “The colors are neutral and easy to work with,” she said. “I love them.” Brandino Brass is a hardware store offering selections of items such as cabinetry, doors, hardware, light fixtures and specialty items. For more information, stop by their store at 2824 Central Ave. in Homewood, call 978-8900 or visit brandinobrass.com.


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OCTOBER 2016

IRON CITY INK

EAST 59 VINTAGE & CAFÉ

Coffee, food, home décor and more! East 59 Vintage & Café was established in 2013 and began as a REV Birmingham Pop Up Shop. The one-week “test run” of our business concept — confirmed by our families — showed that a cafe and vintage store were things the residents of East Lake wanted to support, and we signed the lease for our current space two weeks later. Our combination of food, coffee drinks and home decor items may not seem like likely pairings. However, we have found that customers love that they are able to sip their favorite latte or wait on their lunch to be prepared while perusing the items in the vintage shop. We sell a combination of new home décor pieces and furniture as well as vintage/antique pieces. Our store is about 50 percent old and 50 percent new items. We focus on quality items at reasonable prices. Our motto when buying items to put into the store is, “Where would I put this in my house?” If none of us can picture it in

our own homes, we don’t carry the item. You can also get décor ideas from posts on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. We sell a variety of jewelry, unique greeting cards, local handmade gifts and a chalk paint line called Farmhouse Paints. We also have a variety of options for hosting events in our NEW event center, as well as full-service catering and decorating. Located at 7619 First Ave. N., in East Lake, our store hours are Monday-Saturday: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, call 205-8380559 or visit east59.net.

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ESTATE LIQUIDATORS

Unique trip in antiques hunting The minute you step foot in Estate Liquidators in East Lake, you’ll know this is no ordinary antique mall. With more than 6,000 square feet of open retail space, it is evolving into one of the most unique antiques, vintage and collectibles venues in the Birmingham area and beyond. With the capacity of over 50 vendors, each “booth” is not just a line on the floor, but has been built into individual spaces that are a representation of a different architectural style, each with their own personality. With a variety of sizes and amenities to choose from, every space offers its own individually controlled lighting and electrical outlets. The booths are constructed almost entirely of salvaged materials from around the area which creates the authentic look of the style it represents. Some include the English Tudor, the Beach Hut, the “A” Frame, the Farmhouse and the Arbor.

Coming soon will be the Gingerbread House and the French Chalet. In addition, a large area of the store is currently being transformed into an auction house, also created with a comfortable and unique style, so bidders can look forward to a fun auction experience. Located at 7611 First Ave. N. in East Lake, Estate Liquidators is open Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 205-833-0143.


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SOZO TRADING CO.

OCTOBER 2016

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URBAN SUBURBAN

Spend your money on a good cause

Eclectic décor to fit any budget

Knowing the money you’re spending is going to a good cause can be a great shopping experience and one that awaits customers at Sozo Trading Co. The Avondale store, located at 4 41st St. S., is an upscale thrift marketplace designed to create sustainable income for Sozo Children, a nonprofit ministry caring for at-risk or vulnerable children in Uganda, Africa. The 18,000-square-foot store contains 24 booth spaces operated by local vendors and sells a large assortment of thrift items plus merchandise from Ugandan markets. On May 13, 2010, Sozo Children was born out of an immediate need to take 17 children from suffering circumstances. Two missionaries, along with some in the United States, found children neglected and hungry. When they discovered rats were biting the children’s feet as they slept in their current living conditions, they knew something

Urban Suburban wants to be a part of your fall plans and decor this year. “It is a neighborhood store that everybody loves because it has got a cool vibe,” said owner Chris Feagin. “Most people can relate to it because it’s not expensive, it’s not high end, it’s just really fun and eclectic and fits into most people’s budget.” The store has a vast selection of home furnishings from a chest and chairs to the ever popular “Ham Sweet Home” wall and door hangers. Around 50 different antique vendors fill the space at Urban Suburban, and each is a reflection of trends in style and decor happening in Birmingham. Urban Suburban is located in the budding Crestwood neighborhood of Birmingham and could not be happier with their location. “We have so many people here who are enjoying and discovering Avondale — which is just up the street — and we have a fantastic park that is a part of our neighborhood,”

had to change. Today, Sozo Children operates multiple children’s homes that provide care for more than 120 children. Sozo Children’s aim is growing children in Christ by providing their basic and growth needs through sponsorship and partnership programs. Customers of Sozo Trading Co. help accomplish Sozo Children’s mission simply by patronizing the store, which is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 205-703-0553 or visit sozotrading.org.

Feagin said. “We have so many young people who are moving to Crestwood who want to get out and walk. They enjoy our store, the coffee shop and the restaurants near us. It’s just a whole different vibe that has come around in the last couple of years that we have not always had. This neighborhood is always dynamic, and there is something new and cool going here all the time, and I am so happy we are a part of that.” For more information, visit Urban Suburban’s Facebook page or their website, urbansuburbanantiques.com.


OCTOBER 2016

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

PUT THESE IN OCTOBER’S BEST BETS

AUTUMN AT MOSS ROCK PRESERVE Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hoover

Presented by Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This field trip allows participants to enjoy Moss Rock, a fascinating natural area in Hoover, amid the rich fall colors. BBG members $45; nonmembers $50. For information, call 414-3950 or go to bbgardens.org.

IRON CITY INK

FACES

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

INK

LEON BRIDGES

Oct. 5, 8 p.m., Alabama Theatre

The popular young soul singer is a Texas native and Columbia recording artist. Lianne La Havas will open. Tickets $25.50 and $33. For information, go to alabamatheatre.com.

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KOMEN NORTH CENTRAL ALABAMA RACE FOR THE CURE Oct. 15, 8 a.m., Linn Park

This 5K or 1-mile run and walk will raise funds for the North Central Alabama affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is dedicated to combating breast cancer at every front. For details, call 2631700 or go to komenncalabama.org.

DISCOVER

ICI

MUST SEE

See this? It means we think you ought to go!

MAGIC CITY CLASSIC

Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m., Legion Field

This is the 75th annual Classic, featuring the football teams from Alabama State and Alabama A&M. General admission $25; reserved seats $30. For tickets, call 877332-7804 or go to themagiccityclassic.com.

OFFICIAL BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

Affairs Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E.

Zoning Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, Conference Room A.

Oct 25: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor.

Oct 3: Birmingham City Council Public Safety, Transportation Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, council chambers.

Oct 11: Birmingham City Council Public Improvements and Beautification Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, Conference Room A.

Oct 25: Birmingham City Council Education Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E.

Oct 4: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor.

Oct 11: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor.

Oct 10: Birmingham City Council Economic Development, Budget and Finance Committee. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E.

Oct 17: Birmingham City Council Public Safety, Transportation Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, council chambers.

Oct 17: Citizen Advisory Board. 7 p.m. City Council Chambers, Birmingham City Hall, third floor. The Citizen Participation Program is designed to achieve improved communication, understanding, and cooperation between Birmingham citizens and city officials through increased personal contact between City Hall and neighborhoods and communities throughout the city. The public is welcome to attend.

Oct 10: Birmingham City Council Governmental

Oct 17: Birmingham City Council Planning and

Oct 18: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor.

Oct 25: Birmingham City Council Utilities Committee. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Oct 26: Birmingham City Council Committee of the Whole. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Oct 28: Birmingham City Council


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SIPS & BITES

Administration/Technology Committee. 1 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E.

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION MEETINGS Oct 4: Forest Park/South Avondale Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Avondale Library, 509 40th St. S. Visit forestparksouthavondale.com for more information. Oct 10: Woodlawn Neighborhood Association meeting. 5709 1st Ave N. Call President Brenda Pettaway at 593-4487 for more information. Oct 11: Highland Park Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. Upstairs meeting room of the Highland Park Golf Course clubhouse. Meeting notices are sent out to recipients of the Highland Park email list. If you wish to be included on this list, email President Alison Glascock at alisonglascock@gmail.com. Oct 13: Roebuck Springs Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. South Roebuck Baptist/Community Church. Call President Frank

HAPPENINGS

IRON CITY INK

SIGHTS

FACES

Did we miss something? If you would like to have your neighborhood association meeting mentioned in next month’s calendar, email the meeting info to kwilliams@starnespublishing.com.

Hamby at 222-2319 for more information. Oct 18: Central City Neighborhood Association meeting: 6-7 p.m. Linn-Henley Library, Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium. Neighborhood social to follow at Tavern on 1st, 2320 1st Ave. N. Oct 24: Crestwood South Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. 1220 50th St. S. Oct 24: Crestwood North Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Girls Inc. of Alabama. Oct 24: Huffman Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. Cornerstone School, 959 Huffman Road. Oct 24: Five Points South Neighborhood Association meeting. 6-7:15 p.m. Southside

OCTOBER 2016

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

Library, 1814 11th Ave. S. Visit fivepointsbham. com for more information.

COMMUNITY Oct. 1: Fiesta Birmingham. Linn Park downtown. The goal of Alabama’s largest celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage is to educate the public — using art, music, food and dance — about the many different Hispanic countries and cultures. Noon-8 p.m. Admission is $8 in advance and $10 at the gate. Children 12 years and under are admitted free. Visit fiestabirmingham.com. Oct. 2: Cahaba River FryDown. Railroad Park downtown. The event, a competitive MUST catfish cook-off, raises money SEE for the work of the Cahaba River Society. The event also features a beer garden with local craft brewers, live music and games for kids and adults. Noon4 p.m. Admission for adults is a $20 donation, and they can eat all the fish they want. Kids 12 and under are admitted free. For more information, go to frydown.com.

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Oct. 3: BAO Bingo. Birmingham AIDS Outreach,

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205 32nd Street South. 7-9 p.m. This popular monthly BAO event features bingo with cash and door prizes. $15 for 5 games; $1 for final bonus game. Call 322-4197 ext. 107 or visit birminghamaidsoutreach.org. Oct. 6-9: Antiques at The Gardens. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. The annual show is held Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission $15; Free for BBG members. For information, call 414-3950 or go to bbgardens.org. Oct. 8: Bambelela Drum Circle. A4One, 450 10th Ave. S. Attend this fundraiser and you’ll learn that we all have rhythm. Proceeds go to the Global Ministry partners of the Grace Klein Ministry. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission $5. Food vendors on site. For information, email natalie@gracekleincommunity.com. Oct. 8-9: Alabama Gun Collectors Association Fall Show. BJCC Exhibition Halls. This show features high-quality modern and antique firearms for sale or trade, including rare rifles, pistols and custom shotguns. In addition, several members will have special collections of Western and cowboy firearms and will offer

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DISCOVER memorabilia for sale. Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults; kids ages 12 and under admitted free. For information, call 334-272-1193 or go to algca.org. Oct. 10: Holocaust lectures. Levite Jewish Community Center, 3960 Montclair Road. This will be the last in the series. 10:30 a.m.-noon. At each session, a speaker from the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center covers a specific topic about this tragic time. For information, call 348-6482 or go to training.ua.edu/olli/index.php. Oct. 15: National Eating Disorders Awareness Walk. Presented by National Eating Disorders Association at Avondale Park, 4101 Fifth Ave. South. NEDA Walks help educate affected individuals and their families while raising money to fight eating disorders. Check-in, 9 a.m.; opening ceremony, 9:30 a.m.; walk is completed by 11 a.m. Registration is $25. 5520417 ext, 510. nedawalk.org/birmingham2016. Oct. 16: Aga Khan Foundation Walk/Run. Railroad Park, downtown. This event’s proceeds benefit the Aga Khan Foundation, which works to address poverty, education and health issues in Africa and Asia. Aside from the run and walk, the event will include music, entertainment, exhibits and activities, a kids zone and a silent auction. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The 1K run starts at 10 a.m., the 100-yard dash at 10:30 a.m. and the walk begins at noon. Visit support.akfusa.org/birminghamwalkrun. Oct. 16: Fall History Festival. Oak Hill Cemetery, 1120 North 19th St. The Magic City’s MUST most famous (and infamous) SEE pioneers will lead you through the events that formed our unique past in the most memorable way. Food and musical entertainment. Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for ages 5 through 12; children under the age of 5 are admitted free. Noon-4 p.m. For information, call 251-6532.

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Oct. 22: Walk with Compassion. Railroad Park, downtown. This event — a short, familyfriendly walk for all ages — is called the walk to end child poverty. The event will celebrate recent fundraising efforts. Participants will also journey through a true story of hope and redemption, learning about the real-life obstacles children in poverty face. 9 a.m.-noon. For information about participating,call 800336-7676 or go to walkwithcompassion.com. Oct. 22-23: Fall Plant Sale. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission free. For information, call 205-414-3950 or go to bbgardens.org.

Oct. 29: Dirt Dash 5K Fun Run and Family Walk. Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. Race day registration begins at 6:30 a.m., race begins at 8 a.m. Registration: BBG members, $25; nonmembers, $30; ages 7-17: $15. Children under 7 admitted free. For information, call 414-3950 or go to bbgardens. org.

MUSIC Oct. 1: Legends of Southern Hip Hop. BJCC Concert Hall. Featuring performances from Mystikal, Juvenile, 8 Ball & MJG, Trick Daddy, Bun B and Pastor Troy (subject to change.) Tickets $44, $57 and $101. Call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org. Oct. 6: Tiempo Libre. Alys Stephens Center, UAB campus. 1200 10th Ave. South. The seven classically trained musicians in Tiempo Libre are internationally renowned for their Grammynominated Latin-fused music, They will play special outdoor dance party on the ASC’s Engel Plaza. 7 p.m. Admission is free. There will be food trucks on site. For tickets or information, call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org. Oct. 7-8: Alabama Symphony Orchestra EBSCO Masterworks Series. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. ASO conductor Carlos Izcaray will lead the ASO in Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Charlie Albright will play piano. Fri. and Sat., 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25$74. For information, call 975-2787 or go to alabamasymphony.org. Oct. 9 and 23: Vulcan AfterTunes. Vulcan Park and Museum. 1701 Valley View Drive. This musical series features good music, craft brews and great views of the city and Vulcan. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Oct 9: Tragic City, 2 p.m.; Big Sam’s Funky Nation, 4 p.m. Oct. 23: Jesse Payne, 2:30 p.m.; Amanda Shires, 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults; $8 for Vulcan Park members; $8 for children; kids ages 4 and under are admitted free. For tickets and other information, call 933-1409 or go to visitvulcan.com. Oct. 14: Black Jacket Symphony performing The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Alys Stephens Center, UAB campus, 1200 10th Ave. South Known for their recreations of classic rock albums, Black Jacket Symphony will bring David Bowie’s seminal concept album to life. 8 p.m. $45.50. For tickets or information, call 9752787 or go to alysstephens.org. Oct. 14: Elephant Revival. Workplay, 500 23rd St. South. This Colorado band plays what a critic called “transcendental folk,” with elements of many genres, including folk, rock, reggae and


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hip-hop. All members of the band are multiinstrumentalists, sing and write songs. 7 p.m. $15. For tickets, go to workplay.com. Oct. 21-22: Alabama Symphony Orchestra EBSCO Masterworks Series. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. ASO conductor Carlos Izcaray will lead the ASO in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with pianist Gabriela Montero. Fri. and Sat., 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25-$74. For information, call 975-2787 or go to alabamasymphony.org. Oct. 28: Del McCoury Band with David Grisman. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. McCoury and Grisman are legendary bluegrass players and have been friends for more than 50 years. 8 p.m. Tickets $48-67. To order or for more information, call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org. Oct. 28: Live at the Lyric: Taylor Hicks performing the Hits of Van Morrison. Lyric Theatre, 1800 Third Ave. North. The Birmingham native and American Idol winner pays tribute to the great Irish rocker. 7:30 p.m. Tickets $27.50, $32.50 and $39.50. For tickets, call 252-2262 or go to lyricbham.com/events.

ARTS Through Oct. 1: Broadway Night at the Cabaret. Presented by Red Mountain Theatre Company at RMTC Cabaret Theatre, 301 19th St. N. Broadway performers DeMarius Copes, Morgan Smith and Caitlin Kinnunen sing some popular show tunes, as well as new songs from their latest project, the Broadway-bound Prom. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. For information, call 324-2424 or go to redmountaintheatre.org. Through Oct. 1: “Daddy’s Dyin’ ... Who’s Got The Will?” Terrific New Theatre, 2821 Second Ave. S. In this play written by Del Shores, a family matriarch in Texas asks her grandchildren to come back to the family farm to see their dying daddy. Directed by Kathleen Crawford Jensen. Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Admission $25. For tickets, call 328-0868 or go to terrificnewtheatre.com. Through Oct. 2: Monty Python’s Spamalot. Virginia Samford Theatre, 1116 26th MUST St. S. Lovingly ripped off SEE from the classic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot retells the legend of King Arthur. The Broadway production won three Tony Awards. Thursdays through Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $30-$35; students $15. For information, call 251-1206 or go to

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virginiasamfordtheatre.org. Through Oct. 31: Atrox Factory. 8404 Parkway Drive, Leeds. Atrox Factory bills itself as is the largest indoor haunted attraction in the Southeast, with 50,000 square and about 1/4 mile of hallways and surprises. Fridays and Saturdays 6:30 p.m.-midnight; Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Admission $20; additional $5 cover for celebrity appearances. Cash only. For information, go to atroxfactory.com. Through Oct. 31: Sloss Fright Furnace. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, 20 32nd St. North. A trip into the deepest, darkest parts of the old industrial facility, which has been listed as one of the top 100 places in the world for paranormal activity. Thur.-Sun. 6 p.m.midnight. Admission Sundays and Thursdays, $20; Friday-Saturday and Halloween, $24. Group tickets $18-$21. For information or tickets go to frightfurnace.com. Oct. 1: Kevin Spencer. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. A world-renowned Illusionist, Spencer is also an authority on the therapeutic use of magic tricks in special education and rehabilitation. This family-friendly show is also a sensory-friendly performance designed to accommodate people with autism. 1 p.m. Admission free. For information, call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org. Oct. 7: Bards & Brews Open Mic. Presented by Birmingham Public Library Central Branch, 2100 Park Place. This spoken-word performance and beer tasting event is hosted by BPL on the first Friday of each month. Attendees must be 18 or over to attend, and 21 or over to drink. 6:30 p.m. For information, call 226-3671 or go to facebook.com/ events/1043207029085749. Oct. 7-29: Calavera Prelude: An Art Celebration of Bare Hands’ 14th Day of the Dead Festival in Birmingham. A portion of show sales will benefit the Day of the Dead organization. Naked Art Gallery, 3831 Clairmont Ave. Opening receptions on Friday, 5-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission free. For details, call 5953553 or go to nakedartusa.com. Oct. 12: Amy Schumer. BJCC Legacy Arena. The actress and comedian is in the midst of a 50city international tour. 8 p.m. Tickets and $41 and $111. Call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org. Oct. 15: truTV Impractical Jokers Starring The Tenderloins. BJCC Concert Hall. The Tenderloins are a New York comedy troupe and the creators of the truTV hit series. 7 p.m. Regular admission, $53; VIP. $153.50-$253.50. Call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org.

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Oct. 16: Love Jones The Musical. BJCC Concert Hall. A stage adaptation of the popular urban films, written and directed by Theodore Witcher. 3 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $48.75-$78.75. To order, call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org. Oct.16: Nick Swardson. Alabama Theatre, 1817 Third Ave. N. A comic, actor and writer/ producer, Swardson is known for his work in TV and movies. 7 p.m. Tickets $35-$50. Call 504-684-5557 or go to alabamatheatre.com or huka.com/event/1194641-nick-swardsonbirmingham.

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Oct. 29-30: Close Encounters of the Storytelling Kind. Red Mountain Theatre Company (RMTC) Cabaret Theatre. 301 19th St. North. Actress and story performer, Dolores Hydock, takes audiences on a journey through some of her “close encounters,” including Kathryn Tucker Windham and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. Tickets start at $15. 324-2424 or go to redmountaintheatre.org.

SPORTS

Oct. 20: Trailer Park Boys. Alabama Theatre. 1917 Third Ave. North. The Boys’ “The Still Drunk, High & Unemployed Tour” continues. The show is recommended for mature audiences. Advance tickets $27.50, $35.00 and $45.00; there is a $5 increase on the day of show. 7:30 p.m. For tickets, go to alabamatheatre.com.

UAB Soccer. BBVA Compass Field, 900 11th St. S. Tickets $5 for adults; $3 for kids ages 6-17; kids ages 5 and under and UAB students with valid ID are admitted free. For details, call 9758221or go to uabsports.com.

Oct. 20-23: Disney on Ice: Dream Big. BJCC Legacy Arena. Adventure awaits as Tinker Bell, through enchanted pixie-dust, leads attendees on a journey of beloved Disney tales. Tickets range from $15-$80. for details, including group rates and showtimes, call 800-7453000 or go to bjcc.org or disneyonice.com/ dream-big.

► Oct. 4: Santa Clara, 7 p.m. ► Oct: 8: Kentucky, 7 p.m. ► Oct. 26: New Mexico, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22: Postmodern Jukebox. Alabama Theatre. 1817 Third Ave. N. This ongoing musical project is headed by pianist and arranger Scott Bradlee, who takes contemporary pop and rock tunes and does new arrangements for them using musical styles from the past. 8 p.m. Tickets $50.50, $73 and $103. For tickets and information, go to alabamatheatre.com/events.

Birmingham-Southern College Football. Krulak Stadium, Birmingham-Southern College, 900 Arkadelphia Road. Admission $10; kids under 18 admitted free; BSC students, faculty and staff are admitted free with ID. For information, call 226-4935 or go to bscsports.net. ► Oct. 8: Hendrix, 1 p.m. ► Oct. 22: Rhodes, 2 p.m. ► Oct. 29: Centre, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23: David Sedaris. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. A National Public Radio humorist and bestselling author, Sedaris returns to the Stephens Center with his wit and social critiques. 7 p.m. Tickets $48 & $68. Call 9752787 or go to alysstephens.org. Oct. 27-29: Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Live! BJCC Forum Theater, 950 22nd St. North. The Off-Broadway hit comedy based on the popular book by John Gray. Thur.Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 p.m. Tickets $52. The show is recommended for mature audiences. Call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org. Oct. 28-30: Bonnie & Clyde. Dorothy Jemison Day Theater, Alabama School of Fine Arts, 1800 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. The Alabama Ballet will present this world-premiere ballet about the doomed crime couple, choreographed by Roger Van Fleteren, Tickets $25-$45. Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. For information, call 322-4300 or go to alabamaballet.org.

MEN’S TEAM

WOMEN’S TEAM

► Oct. 2: Florida Atlantic, 1 p.m. ► Oct. 14: North Texas, 7 p.m. ► Oct. 16: UTSA, 1 p.m.

Oct. 7-9: 12th annual Barber Vintage Festival. Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds. This festival features food, entertainment, a swap meet with hundreds of vendors, the Wall of Death, the Globe of Death. Fri.-Sun., 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are available at barbermotorsports.com. Oct. 8: Miles College Football vs. Central State University. Miles College, 5500 Myron Massey Blvd., Fairfield. 1 p.m. Advance tickets $25; day of game $30. For information, call 929-1615 or go to milesgoldenbears.com. Oct. 26-27: Alabama High School Athletic Association State Volleyball Tournament. Bill Harris Arena, Birmingham Crossplex, 2331 Bessemer Road. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be played Wednesday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; finals will be played Thursday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission $10 per day. Call 279-8900 or go to ahsaa.com.


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Iron City Ink October 2016  
Iron City Ink October 2016