Alvin Garrett is a Birmingham fixture. You may be most familiar with his work with Just a Few Cats, a group that he co-founded with Ruben Studdard. Now, Garrett isn’t just “a part” of Just a Few Cats; he is Just a Few Cats. The 43-year-old Tuscaloosa native has been the group’s only continuous member since its’ inception. A 1996 graduate of Central High School of Tuscaloosa, he continued his education at Samford University, and he has remained in Birmingham since making the move.
He grew up in the church; his father was a minister, and he fell in love with gospel music at an early age. But when he first dove in, it wasn’t singing that attracted him; it was bass guitar. His father gifted his first bass when he was just 11-years-old, an age when Garrett jokes that his hands were too small to play.
Since, he’s written songs for Noel Gourdin, Joe and Kelly Rowland.
For most of us, there hasn’t been much to do for a year. Touring was put on hold. Travel was put on hold. Life was put on hold.
But Will Stewart figured out things to do. He made records with half of the musicians in Birmingham and now he’s releasing a new one at what seems like a weekly rate. He played on Janet Simpson’s debut solo effort, Safe Distance, which was released in March. He recorded an EP with Slack Times. And now at long last, the full length debut from The Blips has arrived. If ever there was a Birmingham supergroup, The Blips is it.
Carver Commodore began at the dissolution of The Bear and the Bride. Lead singer and guitarist Payton Pruitt and guitarist Phil Blevins had performed together in the latter as its members swapped spaced between Florence and Nashville. Around 2017, Pruitt and Blevins decided to chase the thing they had always wanted: “just being a rock and roll band.”
Janet Simpson is a Birmingham legend. She was part of Delicate Cutters, Teen Getaway and Wooden Wand. She’s collaborated on projects like Timber. She’s been a part of Birmingham’s DIY rock scene for 30 years.
Lindsay Ell’s 2020 release heart theory explores the stages of grief. For it, she called on a lot of her friends to help craft 12 fantastic pop songs; folks like Tyler Hubbard or Florida-Georgia Line, Kane Brown, Adam Hambrick and Brandy Clark. “wAnt me back” was the collaboration with Brown (along with Matt McGinn and Lindsay Rimes), and it became her second number one song on country charts in her native Canada. Continue reading →
Courtney Jaye is a longtime friend of Birmingham. Since her days in Nashville, she’s regularly performed in the Magic City and gotten frequent airplay from Scott Register at Birmingham Mountain Radio.
She has an amazing new record on the way. It’s a bit of a spiritual journey, and one that she began writing years ago–nearly a decade now. I feel certain that even by year’s end, it will be one of the best things that I heard in 2021.
Courtney and I spoke about her own spirituality and how that has been shaped by the state of the world around us and the places across America that she has lived during that time. We talked about mental health and the battle many–especially musicians–have had with it over the course of a pandemic. Since May of 2019, she has called Hawaii home, and that has given her the same kind of peace that her new record gives me. Maybe that was the secret. Continue reading →
On Sunday, Tuscaloosa native Alvin Garrett will perform his poignant and powerful, self-penned song “It Starts In The Heart,” as the opening to the 56th annual Selma Bridge Crossing at 2 p.m.The ceremony will happen virtually this year, and you can register to watch for free by visiting SelmaJubilee.com. Continue reading →
Dave Chappelle and John Mulaney are the two best active standup comedians. I realize Rock is still doing it; Jerry is still doing it. But we’re not overthinking it here. Chappelle and Mulaney are the two best active standup comedians.
Chris Knight released Almost Daylight in 2019, his ninth studio album and his first in seven years. It’s an album that featured guest appearances by Lee Ann Womack and the late John Prine. And he’s been itching to play these songs for folks, but…2020 happened. Continue reading →
In a year filled with surprise releases, one of the more pleasant among them has been Buckle Bunny, an accidental creation of Birmingham’s Kaydee Mulvehill that sounds like nothing that has come from Birmingham in quite some time.
The six-track EP, Pet Speak, is reminiscent of the female-led indie rock that has dominated rock over the past couple of years. It’s aggressive and it’s raw. It can’t remotely fit under the umbrella of “Americana” that has been where most Birmingham and Alabama artists have sheltered for years; the loosely-drawn “genre” title that has grown to make everyone cringe, one that Mulvehill’s own solo project would be lumped into. No, this happy accident of Mulvehill’s “pandemic art” period is rock and roll. Continue reading →