IT’S TRUE, ROGUE HAS GREAT SANDWICHES: They really do. There’s the Ahi Tuna Burger, the Dagwood, the Mahi Burger, the Meatball Sub… man, just thinking about all those makes your mouth water. But I’m not writing here to talk about the incredible sandwiches on the Rogue Tavern menu. I’m here to talk about The Incredible Sandwich on the Rogue Tavern music calendar. The Athens, Georgia-based quartet is well known in its hometown, recently winning the 2010 Flagpole Award for Best Athens Jam Band. That’s kind of like winning an award for having the best deep-dish pizza in Chicago, or winning an award for having the best pot in Amsterdam. Actually, it’s a lot more like the latter. Matt McKinney, The Incredible Sandwich’s lead singer and guitarist, describes his band’s sound as “a psychedelic, spacey, progressive rock jam sound,” and that fits perfectly with the jam band groove. So if you like Phish, String Cheese Incident (you suck), Umphrey’s McGee, or perhaps other Athens-based jam bands like Mama’s Love or Perpetual Groove– both of which The Incredible Sandwich beat out to win the Best Athens Jam Band award–then go check the band out at Rogue. Cover is $5. For more information, call (205) 202-4151 or visit www.roguetavern.com.
THE KING OF COUNTRY-WESTERN TROUBADOURS: On the website of country music singer Unknown Hinson, the artist is described as looking “somewhat like Dracula’s nasty little brother who spent some hard years drinking and working as a carnival barker for a second-rate freak show.” That’s about the most damned accurate thing that’s ever been written. As for what Hinson sounds like, well, his guitar sounds like heaven. He can rip up Jimi Hendrix songs as if he wrote them. He can make you cry with his licks. His voice… Well…. His voice sounds like the most drunken redneck used car salesman you’ve ever heard. It’s just fantastic. In fact, if you watch the cartoon Squidbillies on Cartoon Network, you might recognize Unknown Hinson as the voice of Early Cuyler, the show’s main character. UH is just a one-of-a-kind sonof- a-bitch, and you should check him the f**k out! Head down to Zydeco at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. For more information call (205) 933- 1032 or visit www.zydecobirmingham.com.
IMPROV ALL DAY: For last week’s cover story, Birmingham Weekly contributing editor Jesse Chambers interviewed Lee Shook about the 2010 Improvisor Festival happening all this month at various venues around Birmingham and throughout the South. Shook described improvisation in this way: “You may fall flat on your face and have people running for the exits, or you may blow somebody’s mind who says, ‘I didn’t know you could do that with music, I never knew that was possible.’ When you see someone do something amazing, it’s one of the most uplifting things. Somebody just threw themselves into the cauldron to see if they sink or swim.” If you want to experience this festival, Saturday is a great day to do it. Just head down to Pepper Place at 9 a.m. for the Morning Improv Parade, which will introduce you to some of the festival’s fantastic performers. Bring your kids and stick around for the Stomp Kitchen Children’s Improv Workshop in the Listening Room at Pepper Place. This event features instruction from Reynolds Shook, Mary Foshee, Charlotte Leffel and Si Reasoning. Then head back to the Listening Room at Pepper Place for the Night of Mini-Performances featuring improvised acts from Craig Hultgren, Phantom Limb-Cardew and Tea Party with Jess Marie Boojack. For more information on these and other events—including the festival’s Magic City Meltdown at WorkPlay on August 6, featuring Grammy-winning guitarist Henry Kaiser—visit http://www.theimprovisorfestival.org/.
IMPROV, RED DOT STYLE: Maybe that’s racist. I’m not sure. But my brother-in-law is Indian, and he once started a (mostly conceptual) import-export business with a name that referenced the red dot, or bindi, worn just above the bridge of the nose by many Indians for decoration. So I feel I’ve got license. No? Okay, fine. I retract it. But I still want to encourage you to attend a session of the 2010 Improvisor Festival featuring the festival’s “distinguished international guest,” Raj Kumar Singh. A resident of the Siddha Ashram in Ujjian, India, Singh will teach Contemplative Music & Practice in the South Indian Tradition in the Listening Room at Pepper Place. The learning begins at 4 p.m. For details, check out http://www.theimprovisorfestival.org/.
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS IN ROUND ONE: What’s happening on a Monday night? You have two minutes to write down your answers and bring them to the front. Okay, the correct answer was Trivia Night with Reed. On to question numero dos! Where does Trivia Night take place? Two minutes. Alright, everybody’s answers are in, and the correct response was Innisfree Irish Pub. Innisfree has been hosting a trivia night for a good five years now. The popular event began when Reed Lochamy was asked by his brother, an Innisfree bartender, to help draw in some business on Monday nights. Lochamy told Birmingham News that his inspiration for the live trivia game came from an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force in which the animated fast-food containers/characters participated in a bar trivia game. In that episode, a snobby, all-powerful know-it-all named Wayne the Brain keeps beating the characters in the game. He’s really annoying. You’re probably exactly like him. I know I am. That’s why I don’t go to trivia night, because I’d ruin it for everyone else by being the only person on my team, and still getting every answer right. I’d take home all the sweet bar money Reed gives away. And you’d hate me. But you should go, because you’re weaker than me. Actually, I do play sometimes, and we’ve managed to not come in last almost every time. The questions start at around 8:30 pm. For more information, call 252-4255 or visit www.innisfreepub.com.
ALL VENUES SHOULD HAVE SUMMER RESIDENCIES: This summer, one of Birmingham’s best songwriters has taken up a residency at The Bottletree, playing there frequently and hosting the kinds of talented musicians he admires. That songwriter is, of course, Jon Black, who has shared the stage with the likes of Ani DiFranco and Alejandro Escovedo. He’s just released a new EP, The Wrecking Ball (Up From The Ground Vol. 2), which all are encouraged to check out. This up-and-coming songwriter and guitar player was born in Starkville, Mississippi, where he still plays frequently, but now lives here with us in the Magic City. And we’re lucky to have him, his delightful Americana music and his moving lyrics. He’ll be playing at Bottletree Tuesday and playing host to the Jon Black Summer Residency Blow-Out Party. This end-of-the-summer (or at least the end of Black’s residency) party will feature Black and all his friends. You can check it out for free at 9 p.m. For more information, call (205) 533-6288 or visit http://www.ticketbiscuit.com/bottletree/eventspotlight.aspx.
A BIG-ASS FREE IMPROV CONCERT: As has been mentioned frequently in this week’s Picks, and will likely be mentioned over and over and over again throughout August, the 2010 Improvisor Festival is happening all this month at various venues around Birmingham. We keep mentioning it because it’s awesome. Much like the Listening Room Concert in the Listening Room (who woulda’ thunk it?) at Pepper Place. This concert will feature the group “Street Lingo,” which features Charles Mason, Craig Hultgren and Lindsay Motlow. Doug Carroll’s San Francisco-based “Animal Sounds” will also perform, as will the St. Louis-based duo of Rich O’Donnell & Anna Lum. There will be a showing of Gino Robair’s creative/interactive opera “I-NORTON,” and a performance by LaDonna Smith, Andrea Centazzo, Andrew Raffo Dewar, Rich Curtis and their guests. The improv starts at 7 p.m. For more information, check out www.theimprovisorfestival.org.
HEAD SOUTH WITH TWO OR THREE OTHERS: If you’ve got gas money, gas up the car and head south to Tuscaloosa. But don’t ride alone. Carpool. I’m serious. If you don’t, you’ll feel like a hypocrite when you arrive at the Alabama Museum of Natural History on the campus of the University of Alabama and realize you’re spending An Evening with Tuscaloosa’s Waterkeepers. This free and awesome event will feature informational presentations and photography exhibits from the two waterkeepers protecting our West Alabama watersheds—Black Warrior Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke and Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen. From personal experience, I know that what Riverkeepers have to say is normally fascinating, and when there’s free admission, free food from Zoe’s Kitchen and Snow’s Bend Farm, free wine from JohnnyGreenSeeds and free beer from Sweetwater Brewing Co., well, frankly you’re an idiot if you don’t go. I mean that. So head to the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Smith Hall (the intersection of Sixth Ave. and Capstone Drive) at 5 p.m. To learn more, call (205) 458-0095.