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Little Donkey at AvondaleBricksGallery
Enjoy tapas from Little Donkey, Wine Tasting by Athens Imports, Art Exhibition Opening. $15. Friday, November 30, 5-9 p.m.
Visit us during the Avondale/Forest Park Holiday Crafts Bazaar at Avondale Bricks Gallery, 130 41st Street South in Avondale. Must be 21 for wine tasting.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or questions. Thank you for joining the Revolution in Avondale.
The Futurebirds and Lee Bains and the Glory Fires played Bottletree, Tuesday. The headliner, Dead Confederate, recently received some press regarding their new album, Sugar. After doing a leg of a tour with Dinosaur Jr., Dead Confederate teamed up with Dinosaur producer, John Angelo, for the new album. But I didn’t go to the Bottletree to see Dead Confederate. I went because of a buzz surrounding this band with a cool name—Futurebirds. Of course, it’s always great to see Lee Bains do his thing. In fact, Tuesday was the first time I’ve seen his new group, Lee Bains and the Glory Fires, and I was impressed.
Anyone who goes to see local, original bands has most likely seen Bains with his former project, Arkadelphia, or as one of the many guitarists the Dexateens have featured over the years. Bains is one the most exciting performers to see in Birmingham. He can rip the guitar, he sweats, he moves and he sings his ass off. In a way, he’s sort of like Rudy, except with a heap of talent. You know, he’s the guy giving it the most energy out there, but there’s no question of whether or not he makes the team. Tuesday night, he killed it. His new outfit, the Glory Fires, are overstaffed but competent.
Bains’ new tunes retain the southern qualities of his Arkadelphia days, but he seems to be leaning towards some soul influence. It sounds like he’s been listening to plenty of Muscle Shoals and Memphis soul recordings from the 60’s and 70’s. I told him his singing channeled Eddie Hinton, which is an incredible compliment as far as I’m concerned. His new songs have a groove absent in his previous output, and, personally, I think he should dive into this mode head first.
His rhythm section, Blake Williamson and Justin Colburn, possesses the ability to achieve vintage soul grooves, which is rare. They should, however, refuse to be called the Glory Fires. This paints a lewd picture in my head of a bathroom stall with a circular cut-out. The Glory Fires also have two sharp guitarists other than Bains, and, as good as they are, they are not needed. As I mentioned, Bains can sing and play guitar—I mean he can do it. Having three guitarists likens them to the Dexateens and other southern rock bands unnecessarily. It also makes them louder and less focused than they could be. I’m not saying cast away their southern roots, I’m just saying two guitarists with their kind of ability is plenty. Although, I would love to see them add someone on organ and keys sounds. Overall, they were great, and, as new as they are, they could become a local force.
All that being said, the highlight of the night was Futurebirds, another band from Athens, Ga. They were lighthearted and seemed to be having a great time. The entire set they were jumping around, enjoying themselves. They have six members, four of which are singers in the band. These four members also switched instruments, some or all of them playing electric and acoustic guitar, banjo and drums. The bassist and pedal-steel player stayed put. The band successfully played songs written by four different members and still retained a focused, defined sound. This is a unique achievement. Their genre on myspace is listed as, “bro-fi,”—fabulous.
Their reverberating sound was reminiscent of other indie bands heavily influenced by Americana and other roots music. Their harmonies weren’t as tight as the Fleet Foxes, and there guitar work was not as intricate as My Morning Jacket, but they have the enthusiasm and style to more than make up for there lack of technical ability. I like a loose band anyway. It shows that they’re living rather than rehearsing, which is so much better. Their quartet of singing was fantastic, creating huge refrains over a sea of pedal-steel and guitar saturated with reverb. The band is distinctly southern without being hokey and viable on the indie music scene without being pretentious.
I regret having missed Dead Confederate. They played after Futurebirds, and it was past my bedtime. I haven’t heard it yet, but check out their new release called, Sugar. Also, Futurebirds have an album out named, Hampton’s Lullaby. Lastly, I hear there will be a release, recorded by Tim Kerr, from Bains and them. When? I don’t know.
[Editor's note: Grey may have missed Dead Confederate, but for more info on them, see Birmingham Weekly music writer Brent Thompson's feature about them.]
[Editor's Note: Birmingham Weekly would like to welcome Grey Watson to it's ranks. Grey will be writing about local music and other topics under the banner of this new blog, Kinetoscope. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Grey plays with the band Through the Sparks, who he discusses below.]
BAAM!, Birmingham’s new-born festival, exceeded expectations last weekend. The weekend-long festival brought adequate crowds at many venues, but in some cases, eager listeners came out in droves. Of course, there were some shows with very little turnout, but this is to be expected for a freshman attempt at a festival with mostly local acts. The most exciting event of the weekend turned out to be the Skybucket Records Showcase at Rogue tavern, on Saturday evening.Four bands represented the Skybucket roster including: Vulture Whale, Through the Sparks, 13 Ghosts and, the most recent addition to the label, the Delicate Cutters. Each of the bands proved themselves capable of capturing the attention of the sizeable crowd that attended the showcase. Vulture Whale, especially, excited an audience ready for their rowdy, hilariously sardonic rock-n-roll. They combated independent music clichés with straight-rock riffs, riveting solos, a rock-solid rhythm section and songs that compelled singer/songwriter/guitar player, Wes McDonald, to sarcastically announce, “this is a song for all the cool people.”
There are many variables that make Vulture Whale so good. Perhaps the greatest is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they manage to sound as tight as any rock band around. They’re also down-to-earth, avoiding gimmicks or fleeting fads. They stick to kicking you in the eardrum with quality tunes. After their set, manager of Renaissance Records of Southside, Ramy Noureddini, said, “Lester Nuby (VW’s lead guitarist) almost made me pass out.”
Nuby’s guitar work was ambitious and nearly flawless. Bassist, Keelan Parrish, played aggressively without error. Jake Waitzman, the drummer, demonstrated technical ability without sacrificing character. Front man, Wes McDonald, excited the audience with his unique showmanship: throwing his hands up in the air, pointing to the audience, kicking the air, and even foregoing his guitar on a couple of tunes to further mobilize himself. Skybucket couldn’t ask for a better closer for their already distinguished group of acts.
Through the Sparks, the third band scheduled for the showcase, impressed the audience with their versatile, yet focused sound. The five-piece group had a well-developed show with an intrigued audience. The band has continuously made great recordings, recently putting out a single for free download, monthly. Their second full-length album arrives in November. Singer/guitarist, Jody Nelson, is a songwriter of rare ability. In the song, “Squares,” he sings, “I held her as close as the low-flying planes,” and later continues with, “you know love ain’t for the sane.”
The band pays more attention to arrangement than their label mates, which is important for a band with more instrumentation. James Brangle comfortably switches from organs, to electric pianos and guitars, offering a variety of melodies, embellishments and motive development. Greg Slamen and Shawn Avery, bassist and drummer, lock in tightly and fill space creatively. TTS provided a nice transition, playing betwixt the rock of 13Ghosts and Vulture Whale.
Skybucket veterans, 13Ghosts, came to play a rock show Saturday night, and they did not disappoint. According to their leader, Brad Armstrong, this was their first show in about a year. It’s possibly the best they’ve ever been. It was loose and raw with Armstrong as the sole guitarist, and Jason Lucia drumming in the pocket. Along with bassist, Sammy Boggan, and A. Vernon on auxiliary sounds and loops, 13Ghosts create modern indie rock sounds, grounded in folk and blues roots. The band exudes a blue-collar vibe without sacrificing a shred of artistry. They set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The newest addition to the Skybucket roster, Delicate Cutters, made their debut performance as Skybucket artists. Janet Simpson, a captivating singer and songwriter, switched between guitar and piano. Their violinist, Kevin Nicholson, offered a refined touch to simple arrangements. Their sound can reach out to a more mature audience, and they are a nice addition to Skybucket Records already stellar cast.
Overall, I count BAAM as a success with plenty of room to grow. It should serve as a learning experience and confidence booster for those who coordinated it. It needs more exposure, further in advance. The flow of the Skybucket Showcase at Rogue Tavern was fabulously executed, and the success was well-deserved. The bands fit well together, perhaps because they are on the same label, but the same cannot be said for all BAAM festival shows. Musicians should be placed with other acts more carefully so audiences can see shows that compliment each other. Also, it would be advantageous to bring in some slightly larger touring acts to draw bigger crowds. Regardless, Birmingham needed something new to happen for its local music scene, and it’s good someone has stepped up.
So this isn’t exactly a local story, but I think that the message hits home in a very real way. There are few things that are more important to people in the South than high school football and religion. Some would say that football becomes religion to many people. We attend weekly services – sometimes two or three times a week (kids in high school, college football a must, and pro football because there isn’t much else to do on Sunday, once church is over of course) - we say many prayers, and even throw up Hail Marys. I believe a wise man once said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I don’t know what the hell it means either, but I’m guessing it has something to do with where you spend your time and energy, that’s what you care about most. Seems simple.
Well, if most of us are being honest, football wins almost every round versus church. Church might win when we tell other people what’s most important, but how often do we decide not to go to church this week because we went out of town for the game, or it was on too late? I say this, not to have a sermon or tell you to go to church, but rather to put into perspective the power of passion and the hold that football has in our lives. We sacrifice a lot for the things we love, and football is no different.
Family vacations, school, youth group, all kinds of things are shuffled around for football. It is important. But God will always be king in the South. Perhaps for no other reason than we don’t want to admit otherwise. Easter and Christmas will always, always win out over any and everything. Church mission trips are viable excuses for getting out of most anything. “Sorry Coach, I’ve got to circumcise orphans in the Philippines” (cheers Timmy) can get you out of the hot sun and those dreaded two-a-days, no questions asked. Well, unless you’re coach is a heathen who only cares about football … and is willing to say it out loud. But what if it could work the other way? What if football could help you practice your faith? What if we didn’t have to choose?
Dearborn High School in Dearborn, Michigan, a predominantly Muslim Detroit suburb, has arranged its football practices around the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims. From sunrise to sunset, Muslims cannot eat or drink. Now I’m no doctor, but it seems like those two things would be kind of important for someone trying to play football, water especially. Never fear, there’s always a solution.
Dearborn High School is holding its practices from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Players are allowed to drink water to their hearts’ content, and grab a granola bar for a little snack. That is something they wouldn’t be able to do in just a few short hours. While practically they needed it for the still grueling practice, they need it for the day to come as well. Avoiding the August heat didn’t hurt either. Ramadan fell during two-a-days this season, something that would have been nearly impossible to achieve with the majority of its players unable to drink or eat.
Dearborn is a highly competitive in the Michigan football world, often competing for the state championship. The team is coming off of a one-loss season, falling just short of the state title. Head coach Fouad Zaban, a former player at Dearborn and a Muslim himself, came up with the idea to avoid sacrificing the two things that mattered most to himself, the players, and most of the community – faith and football.
In an incredible moment of symbiosis, a compromise that avoided sacrificing either actually turned out to strengthen both. Observe holy month? Check. Practice football? Check. Not pass out and die while doing either? Check.
Coach Zaban made it clear that he never forced anyone to fast or even raised the issue; rather it was a compromise born out of necessity – the 95% who do fast. And let’s face it, practicing late at night sure beats practicing in the middle of the Alabama heat. Give me a little sleep deprivation over heat exhaustion any day.
Two-a-days: where faith and football meet. Cheers!
[Editor's Note: This post was written on Aug. 12th, but do to an egregious oversight it and one other will be posted today instead.]
It seems more and more likely that Darrelle Revis, cornerback for the New York Jets, will extend his holdout into the season. Considered by many the top cover corner/shutdown corner (or at least as close to any such thing that exists in the NFL these days thanks to receiver-biased rules) in the league, Revis wants to be the highest paid cornerback in the league, seeking a deal to eclipse the 3-year $45.3 million contract given to Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. Revis is scheduled to make $1 million this season, which is part of the deal he held out for 3 years ago.
Reportedly, the Jets have laid out a deal in which Revis would make $120 million over 10 years. That sounds super great, right? Well not to Revis apparently. This would still leave Revis $40 million short of his desire to be paid more per year than Asomugha, who makes just over $15 million per year. Revis would only be making $12 million.
$12 million? Are you kidding me? And it’s a 10 year contract? Unless you are a stud franchise QB, that is unheard of in the NFL. I understand that you want to be compensated what you feel is fair. You think you are the best CB in the league, and widely considered by your peers to be such, but it just seems to me at some point you have to say, “Holy Schnikes that’s a lot of money!”
And you’ve got a chance to be playing for a Super Bowl. At what point does the desire to win and succeed eclipse the narcissistic need for self-worth and recognition? Maybe as a person who couldn’t be further removed from the talent and success of an elite professional athlete I can just never understand. I don’t know.
I guess I can respect the fact of a person trying to make the money they feel they deserve (and to be, what others think they deserve). That amount of money just overwhelms me and I just cease to function logically. But like one ESPN analyst said, if the situation was reversed and Revis was under-performing his contract, then he would just be cut. So it seems logical that he should seek fair compensation.
There is good news though. After Rex Ryan threw down the gauntlet telling both sides to just sit down together, talk it out, and make it happen, both sides did meet and agreed to keep things civil – and most importantly private. Maybe we won't have schmucks like me talking about it anymore. Here’s to hoping they get something worked out, because Revis is a lot of fun to watch.
The Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals are fighting for first place in the NL Central – literally. After a verbal exchanged between Reds’ 2B Brandon Phillips and Cards’ C Yadier Molina, the benches cleared and pandemonium ensued. It started out pretty tame with some general yelling and name calling, but eventually the mass of people, which started at home plate, moved to the netting behind home plate.
There Chris Carpenter, pitcher for St. Louis, got pushed into the net by Scott Rolen, a former teammate. Johnny Cueto, red hot pitcher for Cinci got pushed into the net as well, where he proceeded to kick any and everyone around him.
Baseball “brawls” are notorious for being drawn out, machismo-infused staring contests. Most of the time both benches clear, everyone runs out onto the field in a rush of uncontrollable anger, tempers flare, and the tension crescendos into a wild fire culminating in … looking (albeit intensely and pointedly).
Standard operating procedure dictates that you take these steps:
Let’s face it. Basically, you get staring, glaring, some yelling. And if you’re lucky, you get some pushing and shoving.
That being said, every once in a while, we get to witness magical moments in baseball bickering, which typically turn out more comical than ferocious. Here are some of my favs:
No, it’s not a new Star Wars character that has popped out of George Lucas’s brain. It’s the new promotion that ESPN and the ACC are unveiling for this fall. That’s right sports fans, now even you can watch your sports in the Third Dimension. It’s almost like you actually watching a game live, where the players appear real. And not just flat. And in color and everything. Holy schnikes. It’s the greatest thing since High-Definition. It’s been so long.
As of right now, ESPN is scheduled to show 4 ACC college football games (all out of conference) this fall in 3D. Boise State vs. Virginia Tech on September 6 will kick things off on a high note as early season Cinderella/favorite sleeper/underdog/Top 5 team Boise comes cross-country to visit the Hokies in Blacksburg.
September 11 brings together perennial powerhouses Ohio State and Miami in a non-conference barn-burner (thanks Keith). 2 teams that are preseason to win their conferences – Big Ten and ACC, respectively – meet at the Horseshoe in Columbus for some early season, Miami and Ohio State are looking to use this early pivotal game as a springboard towards loftier goals – a National Championship.
The Tigers meet the Tigers in an intraspecies clash on September 18 as Auburn plays host to Clemson in a rematch of the 2007 Chick-Fil-A (Peach) Bowl, which Auburn took 23-20 in OT.
In addition to these regular season games, the ACC Championship will be shown on ESPN 3D on December 4.
So what do you need to view these marquee match-ups in 3D? You need a 3D-ready TV (who doesn’t have one of those?), a pair of 3D glasses to go with your 3D-ready TV, plus a 3D-ready top box and 3D service from your service provider. That’s it. All you need to do is spend a crazy amount of money.
Or: you could just buy a ticket and watch one of them in person. It’s probably cheaper. And I promise it will still be in 3D at the stadium.
It was announced Thursday that the Astros had accepted the Phillies offer for P Roy Oswalt. However, the pitcher has a no-trade clause in his current contract and has to approve any trade. It was reported that Oswalt wanted to be traded to a contender, a team that would pick up his option, and specifically, he was interested in going to intradivision rival St. Louis Cardinals.
I guess he’ll have to settle for two-time defending National League Champion Phillies.
According to ESPN.com, Oswalt plans to accept the Phillies offer. Oh really? You mean he’s down with going from the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies? I am shocked. This will be the BIGGEST deal in baseball since…well, the Phillies went and got Halladay from the Blue Jays in the offseason. Oh, and when they got defending Cy Young champion Cliff Lee the season before.
Reportedly, the deal includes P J.A. Happ, and 2 Phillies prospects. In return to sending Oswalt to the City of Brotherly Love, the Astros will pay $11 million of the $23 million owed to Roy. Oswalt, now 32, has dropped his demand that a team pick up his option for 2012.
Thank goodness the Phillies shipped Lee off to the Mariners the day after they acquired Halladay. How would you like to face Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, then Hamels. No thanks. Hitting a 95 mph fastball is already impossible when it’s from a pitching machine that throws it right down the middle. I’d rather not face four guys in a row that are All-Stars, if not Cy Young winners.
So what does this mean for the hometown Braves? (Thanks Atlanta for loaning us your Major League Baseball team).
Well, the already smoking hot Phils, winners of 7 straight, have cut the Braves’ NL East lead to 3.5 games. Now, the pesky Phillies can send a 3-day rotation of Roy, Roy, and Cole. That’s a nasty 3-headed monster, especially if the Phillies make the postseason. I don’t imagine any team looks forward to facing Hallady, Oswalt, and then Hamels, probably only to then face the ‘Roys’ again should the series make it that far.
But the Braves are strong and the National League as a whole is on the weaker side. So keep the faith Bravos. The team is actually hitting this season and scoring runs. Hudson still looks solid and healthy. Oh, and Bobby Cox is still getting kicked out of games. Never underestimate the power of the Bobby.
Well, it seems to fit the Jeopardy! m.o—an answer in the form of a question. Many questions, actually. How do T.O. and Ochocinco co-exist? Where does the renewed Cedric Benson fit in (if he isnt suspended)? What about Antonio Bryant? Is T.O. actually good anymore? Can Carson Palmer cope with all the attitude and attention?
Only time will tell. If nothing else, there will certainly be a lot to tell. Shenanigans and hoop-la will be in high gear, of that I'm certain. The T.O. Ochocinco tandem will be exciting to watch, on and off the field.
The Bengals won the AFC North last year. Thats right sports fans, those Bengals. They beat out the defending-champion Steelers (who didnt even make the playoffs) and perennial division powerhouse Ravens to swipe one of the most hotly contested and competitive divisions in football. Its just not normally them competing. And not only did they compete they dominated, sweeping the division (6-0).
In a division always ruled by defense, the Bengals fit right in last season. They were ranked in the top ten against both the pass and the run 6th and 7th, respectively. And all of that was without some key players for most of the season. DE Antwan Odom (you might remember him from his days at Alabama) and LB Keith Rivers missed the majority of the season. DT Tank Williams was hampered by a foot injury all season. Safety Roy Williams was in and out of the lineup more times than he had tackles it seems. Nonetheless, they are a strong unit led by LB Dhani Jones in the middle. The 2010 version should be even better if it can stay healthy.
With a defense that kept the team in most ball games last year, consistently forcing turnovers in key situations, the Bengals showed a new side to the NFL and everyone else watching. They ran the ball and did it well. The hitherto underachieving Cedric Benson exploded for 1,251 yards, scoring 6 times. And he did it all in 13 games. Add in backup Benard Scott who is a speedy, explosive back that offers an excellent change-of-pace option, plus that solid defense, and you have a recipe for success.
The question was the passing attack. What had been the Bengals strong suit in the past, behind the arm of Carson Palmer and a flashy core of receivers, the Bengals ranked a kitten-like 26th in the NFL last season. Enter Terrell Owens.
He used to be a physically dominating presence on the field, a great deep threat that was strong enough to cross the middle of the field as well. While he is still physically impressive on the sidelines and in front of the camera, his numbers on the field are not. Catching only 55 passes for 829 yards last season, T.O. had the worst season of his NFL career since he was a rookie way back in 1996 (barring the injury shortened season of 2005 when he only played 7 games). But hey, perhaps that is due to the horrid QB situation in Buffalo. But T.O. seems to create terrible QB situations.
So why add a guy like that to the Bengals who are finally on the upswing? Well, they have almost no depth and experience at wide receiver for starters. Chad Eight-five is pretty much the only established receiver besides new signee Antonio Bryant, who didn't exactly light it up down in Tampa. Carsons got to have someone to throw the damn ball to, right?
And for some reason, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals are very adept at handling some of those over-the-top diva personalities (e.g. Cedric Benson, Chris Henry, and Ochocinco).
Maybe T.O. can be Batman to Ochocincos Robin (Chads choice). It should be exciting to watch anyway. Youre fall reality show is set.
Current Alabama and Auburn players on the Bengals roster include DT Pat Sims (Auburn), OL Andre Smith (Alabama), DE Antwan Odom (Alabama), and OL Evan Mathis (Alabama).
So what’s the answer?
But paying them isn’t the answer. Perhaps we could alter the definition of ‘paying them’ and increase stipends, or allow them to collect royalties of money made from the use of their likeness. There is certainly not a clear answer, but outright paying players can’t be the answer. It’s still college football. I hope it’s still about kids coming to play football, a game that they love, maybe get an education – a bit ambitious – and experience college and campus life. The atmosphere, the passion, the tradition. You can’t get those in pro football because the players are paid.
Is Nick Saban right? Should we monitor and police the agents? Should we attempt to persuade the NFL to discipline agents who are caught colluding and interfering with college players? Perhaps. It seems like a decent idea. If we can eliminate, or at least reduce, the temptation at its source, then it stands to reason that players wouldn’t fall into the trap. But realistically, we’d probably just create an atmosphere where agents would come up with new and cleverer ways of tampering. There’s just too much money at stake.
Also, I think that Saban (which is seems like a good strategy) is diverting the focus from himself and his team, as well as the responsibility of the colleges as a whole. While I agree with Saban that coaches can’t be everywhere, and they do a great job of monitoring their players to an extent, to assert (lookin’ at you Pete Carroll) that the head coach of a top-flight school doesn’t know where his players are and/or getting brand-new houses seems ludicrous. And if it is true, then that’s just unacceptable. You will be scrutinized harder than anyone. You must be aware of this. If I’m being optimistic to think that players still want to play college football for the experience, you are being optimistic to believe that your players are going to be on their best behavior. Keep tabs. Make your players check-in. I don’t care. Do whatever it takes.
So maybe it’s both. Maybe we police the agents. Maybe we do a better job of policing ourselves. Maybe we just do a more thorough job of screening to whom we give our scholarships.