Birmingham music scene on verge of national recognition

Geno Pearson, Program Director & Co-Owner of Birmingham Mountain Radio
Geno Pearson, Program Director & Co-Owner of Birmingham Mountain Radio

ComebackTown is published by David Sher for a more prosperous greater Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is  Geno Pearson.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

Birmingham has earned a national reputation for great food.

Now Birmingham’s earning a national reputation for great music!

When I first moved to Birmingham in 2000 there wasn’t much of a local music scene, but within the past 10 years it has gone through a major transformation.

There’s great support from the business community for local musicians in Birmingham that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

Seasick Records is a perfect example of the support provided to the local music scene. Seasick often does “in- stores,” which is a live performance on a stage set up inside the store when local bands release new music. And Seasick is always a big supporter of local musical festivals giving our local bands great exposure to big audiences.

Iconic venues like The Nick, Zydeco, and Marty’s, as well as newer venues like Saturn, Avondale Brewery, and Workplay give local bands a great platform to display their musical abilities.

And let’s not forget Iron City, the music venue that keeps growing and  has helped put us on the map. Iron City does a lot of Black Jacket Symphony shows, encourages a lot of national bands to come to town, and has bolstered our live music efforts.

Birmingham Mountain Radio believes in supporting the local scene.

The specialty show “Local Mash” airs local music Sunday nights from 7pm-9pm; prior to that, the Seale brothers hosted “Southbound Radio” and created Southbound Music Fest at Avondale Brewery.

I remember in 2012 when St. Paul and the Broken Bones played Southbound. It was about 95 degrees and 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I heard that big, soulful voice and I had to check out who was playing. I remember seeing a guy in a wool suit, rolling around the stage in the heat in front of about 30 people–but you would have thought he was playing for 3000 people. Everything about the show was incredible. I met Paul for the first time that day, asking if they had anything recorded. They didn’t and he promised to get me something as soon as they did. I found out only a couple of years ago that was their first performance.

Another great supporter of local music is Secret Stages. This local music festival started in 2011 in downtown Birmingham. Secret Stages happens every August and features over 60 bands with over half from the Birmingham area. Last year it was moved to the Avondale area where it will be held again this year.

Birmingham is fortunate to have great local music studios and record labels like Communicating Vessels and Cornelius Chapel Records. Their support of local musicians is crucial to making their music available to a national audience.

Local artists like Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Preston Lovinggood, Matthew Mayfield, and of course St. Paul and the Broken Bones have all enjoyed success on the national scene.

A couple of months ago I was asked by one of our breweries to give them a list of local bands we have played on BMR. I was taken aback to realize we have played around 50 local bands in regular rotation.

The local music scene is alive and well in Birmingham and we’re well on our way to be known on the national level.

Cheers to that success and let’s work to continue to support our thriving music community.

Geno Pearson is Program Director and Co-Owner of 107.3 Birmingham Mountain Radio. You can contact Geno at geno@bhammountainradio.com.

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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com

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6 thoughts on “Birmingham music scene on verge of national recognition”

  1. We should do what Huntsville just did and hire Sound Diplomacy out of London to certify us as a music destination. Very Cool and Highly effective process! Huntsville may well pass BHM in population, but our music scene has been around much longer than Huntsville. One more example of another City in Alabama getting the jump on BHM.

  2. The local music scene really took off in the mid 90’s with Dave Rossi of WRAX. That station brought to everyone’s attention Scott Register’s talent in finding great indie music. WRAX, because they were a leader nationally (when is the last time you heard that about anything in the ham), would often debut new bands or records that wouldn’t make it to the larger markets or mainstream radio for 6-12 months.

    It was that time period that laid the ground work for local kids to pick up their instruments and start jamming again.

    1. Every city’s got them and they’re not industry movers. It’s like me saying I’m a mechanic because I changed my oil once.

  3. Geno Pearson has been very influential in developing music in Birmingham. Scott Register defined modern music for my family became part of the mortar that binds us together. They understand that music matters. We love other genres of music as well but their intelligent, independent approach, and ability to identify today’s best artists, spans generations. Our most sincere thanks!

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