ROCK THE EVE: Bottletree’s “Christmas Eve Eve” show this week just about runs the gamut of what American indie rock usually accomplishes. It features four groups: Monarchs, a three-piece soul and folk band; Ben Owens, an artist that goes for straight-up rock ‘n’ roll; Banditos, who approach something more like Americana with a banjo, slide guitar, and upright bass; and The Magic Math, whose songs, though folky, are far more entrenched in pop sensibilities. Sure, independent rock music can and has gone to fathomless depths to craft something new out of the same old genre. But if you’re someone who appreciates something done right the old-fashioned way (as if you could even call rock music old-fashioned) then head out this Thursday. All of the acts, except for Owens, are local, and good examples of the music scene being cultivated in Birmingham. There won’t be a Bottletree show on the actual Christmas Eve, so if you were hoping to get out one more time before the holidays, this might be your chance. The show is for ages 18 and up, and it starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7. For more information, call (205) 533-6288 or visit www.thebottletree.com.
FREE CHRISTMAS FARE: The Christmas season, among many other things, is about tradition. It’s about forgoing our usual routines for a few days and embracing the holiday lifestyle. This means that almost everything shuts down, at least 2801 here 7th in Avenue the South. If somewhere isn’t closed the entire week of Christmas, they’re lunch: probably 11am-2pm, closed dinner: at least a 5pm-11pm few days. This year, Rojo will be one of the few places open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not only that, they’ll be giving away free food too. Unlike their regular weekly hours, they will be closed on Friday and Saturday until 6 p.m., but after that, their bar will open for the remainder of the night. On Christmas Eve, they will treat their customers to some free pizza, and on Christmas Day, they’ll be giving away homemade meat ‘n’ veggies chili. So if you’re not one for traditions, or maybe you just don’t like staying cooped up during the holidays, you can go out, grab yourself a drink and some free food, and enjoy the Christmas spirit another way. Rojo will also be using this time to accept donations on behalf of charities in our area. To learn more information, call (205) 328-4731 or visit www.rojobirmingham.com.
QUICK, BE FUNNY: About a month ago, I told you about “Project Codename: Vulcan’s Underpants,” a show performed by members of the Extemporaneous Theatre Company. The ETC is a member company of the Birmingham Area Theatre Alliance, but they are probably the only ones to stick strictly to improvisation. Their goals as an organization include providing the “community with quality improvised theatre” and offering “quality improvisational training workshops to students, the community, and corporations.” I told you in November how much I value improv as a form of comedy, because of the way comedians tend to overwrite their jokes. And with the amount of these shows the Birmingham Festival Theatre has been able to put on, I’m clearly not the only one who enjoys the medium. This week, the ETC will be performing much the same show, with a few minor adjustments—such as the title: “Project Codename: Santa’s Underpants.” The skits and humor will still be reminiscent of the improv show Whose Line is it Anyway? but I’m venturing to guess the Christmas theme will give a little more organization to the show than usual, as they’ve extended this one to two full hours of comedy. The program will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 if you order them in advance, or $10 if you buy them at the door. For more information, call (205) 687-5233 or visit www.extemporaneoustheatre.com.
OUTSTANDING OUTING: Southeastern Outings is a nonprofit organization here in town that likes to assemble outdoor trips. These trips can be anything from day-hikes, bicycle rides and waterfall walks to tube floats, canoe trips and whatever else camping-related you can think of. Many of the trips end with an optional dinner where participants can enjoy the social aspect of the trip as much as the physical benefits. Most of what they organize tend to be hikes in places that are out of town. That makes it hard to recommend them in this section because I know most people are here to look for local options. So whenever Southeastern Outings decides to organize an event in Birmingham, I like to let people know about it. This week, SEO’s “Easy Afternoon Hike” will be at Vulcan Trail, an area I live near. I have even more reason to discuss this event because of the many people who aren’t aware of what the Vulcan Trail is. Anyone who thinks that Southside immediately turns from Glen Iris to Homewood is wrong. There is a four-mile (back and forth) walk that extends through an entire portion of Red Mountain, and it’s certainly worth exploring. There’s nothing particularly fascinating about it, but its placement, hidden amongst the houses and apartments of Southside, makes it a cool spot for anyone looking to get outdoors without going too far. To participate in SEO’s hike, meet at 2 p.m. in the parking lot on the west side of 20th Street South where it crosses the crest of Red Mountain. From there, you’ll be taken up to the trail, where you’ll walk the full length. For more information, call (205) 631-4680.
ART ON THE GO: Birmingham’s art scene probably wouldn’t be something you’d call “bustling,” but it’s also not something you’d look down upon. There is a definite community at work in the city, and they work hard to produce a number of exhibitions, many of which end up fantastic—the kind of work you’d expect from a higher-profile city. But if I had to make any suggestion to our local art galleries, it would probably be for them to just have more shows. I understand that there’s a process to everything and that it takes time and money to produce exhibition after exhibition. But maybe other galleries could look at Artists Incorporated. The Vestavia Hills location is currently displaying the “Artists Incorporated Holiday Show,” and it is their third show in three months. The difference between them and the others? Once one of their exhibitions close, another one opens immediately, with more of their member artists waiting in the wings for the next month. Perhaps I’m being too simplistic, but if galleries are open more, more people will go to them, no? The “Holiday Show” features works from Al Sella and all of the gallery’s member artists. It will be on display until December 31. For more information, call (205) 979-8990 or visit www.solarbean.com/ainc.
KWANZAA BONANZA: For most people, Kwanzaa is that holiday that people sometimes list after they say Christmas and Hanukkah. It’s been around a fraction of the time the other two have, and celebrates a cultural heritage as opposed to a religious one, but this secondary inclusion probably stems from the idea that to celebrate Kwanzaa is to choose Kwanzaa over another holiday. Obviously, this isn’t the case, and the celebration has just as much right to exist as anything else, much like African- Americans, or any other minority. So it’s good to see that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is holding their Kwanzaa celebration this Tuesday to highlight the importance of the holiday. They’ll be using traditional African dance and song to enrich the experience, and there will be a candle lighting ceremony near the end of the night. The event starts at 5 p.m., with a hands-on-children’s workshop, but the real festivities don’t begin until 6 p.m. It will go until 8 p.m. The event is free. For more information, call (205) 328-9696 or visit www.bcri.org.
THAT’S JUST WINE-TASTIC! We like to tell you about a lot of wine events around town every week, and there’s definitely no shortage of them. Most of the time, they’re tastings, though. This week, I’m recommending you visit the restaurant 26 for their “Wine-Tastic Wednesday.” The events have been running weekly for a long time now. 26 invites a different wine vendor each week, and they look through the house wines and decide their favorites from the list. These are served in the restaurant from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you want to drink some really good wine, or learn more about it, this is the weekly event for you. For more information, call (205) 918-0726 or visit www.birminghammenus.com/26.
MCWONDERLAND: McWane Science Center likes to pull out all the stops for the holidays, but this week will be your last chance to take the kids and see what they’ve got. The “Winter Wonderland” features a snow room, ice fishing, sock skating and a giant slide that runs through the museum. This will be open until January 2. There’s also the “Magic of Model Trains” exhibit, a returning McWane exhibit that includes over 12 individual model train displays. This will also be open until January 2. After that, there will be nothing new to see until the 18th. For more information about times and prices, call (205) 714-8414 or visit www.mcwane.org.