Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Druid City Arts Festival brings best of Tuscaloosa’s music, art

On Saturday night, nobody under the age of 19 will be allowed at Brown’s Corner except for Elle Claytor, the bar’s first musical guest of the night.

At 15 years old, Claytor, a student at Haleyville High School, will perform alongside Callooh! Callay!, Baak Gwai and other standbys of Tuscaloosa’s music scene in the after party of the first Druid City Arts Festival. The event begins at 2 p.m. Saturday at the CityFest lot with the after parties taking place in bars across the Strip and downtown Tuscaloosa.

Andi Johnson, one of the lead Creative Campus interns organizing DCAF, said her team selected the festival’s 21 musical acts from more than 50 applicants.

“We made a selection we thought best represented all genres,” Johnson said. “We have everything from singer-songwriters to hip-hop. I think about half of the acts that are performing are UA student groups, but it’s not just student groups. We have people from Auburn, Mississippi, Louisiana and Atlanta. It’s just a very eclectic mix of what’s in the region as far as music.”

Claytor said a lot of her talent came from her upbringing. She has three brothers currently in different bands.

“I grew up in a church where my parents were in a worship band,” Claytor said. “I just picked up the guitar about a year and a half ago, and I’ve been singing since I was five. I guess it’s just in my blood.”

Claytor said Creative Campus had done well at advertising the event and giving her a venue to reach out to Tuscaloosa. She said she heard about the event from a fellow musician and friend at UAB.

“He told me they were looking for a band with original music,” Claytor said. “I will be playing mostly my original songs. Usually I perform acoustic, kind of easy or southern rock. I guess you would call them acoustic folk. I don’t know how you would explain it.”

Defying genre conventions is a running theme among the artists playing at DCAF. Heath Underwood, founder, lead singer and guitarist for El Cantador, said the band had made a transition from a folk sound to more rock and roll, but beyond that, he said the band’s sound was hard to define. Influences he cited included Broken Social Scene, Squirrelhouse and recent releases from Wilco.

Underwood said he found out about DCAF from Squirrelhouse’s French horn player, and while El Cantador has been to Tuscaloosa before to perform at the Mellow Mushroom and Egan’s, he said he was not as familiar with Tuscaloosa’s music scene as with other cities he has performed in.

“Obviously, Tuscaloosa isn’t Atlanta or Mobile,” Underwood said. “But I think it’s good that you have a school there, where students can bang away on the drums. We always enjoy our time here.”

Raising awareness about Tuscaloosa’s music scene and helping it grow is one of the major goals of DCAF, Johnson said. She said since Tuscaloosa stopped holding CityFest years ago, the city has not truly showcased its music scene.

“I would definitely think we’re filling a void,” Johnson said. “I think students should really take this opportunity to show their support for something like this. The more support that city officials see for a need for this, I really think there will be more opportunities. We’re already talking about DCAF for next year.”

Johnson said the after party was especially geared toward students, because they can pay a $5 cover charge to see bands in five different bars, where cover charges at each bar would cost $5 on other nights.

“We’ve booked CrimsonRide for the day, so there will be buses to take students to and from the event and back to campus,” Johnson said.

The event will also feature food vendors such as Moe’s, children’s activities such as a moonwalk, and several art vendors. One of those vendors is Dee Casterline of Dee Art Place, who said in an e-mail she would bring glass art, candles and aroma oils.

“All of these items are handmade in my retail studio,” Casterline said. “The glass art includes stained glass, fused glass, and etched glass. Fused glass is made by heating glass in a glass kiln to temperatures up to 1450 degrees.”

Another artist appearing at DCAF is Mary Hagerman, a senior majoring in advertising and studio art. She said in an e-mail that most of her items at the festival would be hand-painted household items.

“What makes my art unique is the fact that most of the pieces are made from recycled materials or are up-cycled thrift store finds,” Hagerman said. “I am always looking for ways to recycle different objects, which will sometimes turn up in paintings or be transformed into something else, such as my light bulb ornaments.”

Students are also among the musical guests. Ryan Davis, in addition to leading the DCAF project with Andi Johnson, is also Kadesh of Kadesh and the Perfect Strangers. Like other artists in the festival, Davis said his music blended genres.

“‘Kadesh’ is my hip-hop alias, because I also do hip-hop solo,” Davis said. “But I also play trombone. It gives the band a pretty unique twist that catches a lot of people off-guard. ‘Kadesh and the Perfect Strangers’ takes ‘Kadesh’ and combines it with hip-hop jazz rock and roll. We do a lot of things where we jump between genres. even within the same song. We blur the lines a lot.”

Davis said students coming to DCAF could look forward to something for everybody, and he said the wristbands for the downtown-wide after party would also contribute to the Tuscaloosa entertainment and arts scene’s future.

“The proceeds from the wristbands are going to the Tuscaloosa Arts Council,” Davis said. “They’re contributing to the community and the future.”

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