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 →
The pandemic has inspired plenty of art, but it’s also given a lot of artists time to pause. Maybe that has been an excuse to release some old live recordings. Some have created entire new projects that would have otherwise never existed. And some have dug into the archives and found things that we should have heard all along.
For Fiddleworms, the latter gave Russell Mefford and company an opportunity to release the band’s first studio album in eight years. The record has eight tracks, with a bonus track on the download card, “Don’t Shoot the Prophet,” a tune that Mefford wrote with Scott Boyer.
As this collection has come from various recording sessions over the past decade or more, almost every member of the Fiddleworms family makes an appearance: there’s Mefford, Rob Malone [formerly of Drive-By Truckers] and Mitch Mann on vocals and guitars, David MacKay on bass (with an appearance by Matt Ross), John Tombyll and Scott Kennedy on drums, Tombyll and Jimmy Nutt on percussion, Clint Bailey and NC Thurman on piano and organ and a horn section comprised of Brad Guin on tenor sax, Daniel Western on baritone sax, Ken Watters, Shane Porter and Chris Gordon on trumpet and Chad Fisher [St. Paul and the Broken Bones] on trombone. There are also guest background vocal appearances from Donna Jean Godchaux [formerly of Grateful Dead] and Rob Aldridge. Continue reading →
Alecia Elliott was country music’s answer to the female teen pop wave of the late 90s. It sucks that you have to begin every story about her with that, but it’s an elephant in the room that absolutely can’t be ignored. Not that she’s ignoring it. She embraces it. That just isn’t the person that Alecia is now.
“I’m Diggin’ It” was the catchy, MCA Nashville country answer to Britney Spears. She had a short-lived teen comedy on NBC. Then, she was gone. She and I talked much more in depth about all of that in my first book, The Muscle Shoals Legacy of FAME.
Alecia is the rare soul that is actually from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, not the “idea” of Muscle Shoals. Not the surrounding communities that identify as “Muscle Shoals” because that’s the thing that resonates with people. Alecia went to Muscle Shoals, that is, until Tony Brown of MCA (you know, the guy that signed George Strait, Reba McEntire and half of the 80s and 90s country canon) found her. Continue reading →
Kevin Nealon spends much more time in Nashville than you realize. His wife is from the Music City, and he’s been a regular here for nearly two decades. Currently, Nealon can be seen on the CBS sitcom Man with a Plan alongside Matt LeBlanc, but maybe you remember him from the Showtime series Weeds. Or maybe you remember him from any number of his film appearances, many of which were alongside his friend Adam Sandler, like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Little Nicky, Blended and Sandy Wexler, to name a few.Continue reading →