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

Music Column: Invest in your regional venues

Alexander Kellner

In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Julie Byrne, the Central Park central ranger who doubles as an enchantingly ethereal folk singer-songwriter, donned a simple sequined dress and no shoes to perform a delicately intimate acoustic set. Byrne’s soft and impeccably haunting voice ricocheted off stained glass windows, pulsed through the high ceiling and webbed its way into each pew of Park Church Co-Op. 

Greenpoint’s Park Church Co-Op ensures the perpetuation of an artistic community for the local Brooklyn neighborhood, located on one side of the Msgr. McGolrick Park rectangle, across from P.S. 110 elementary school. As you wait on the sidewalk to enter the thoroughly striking venue for an even more distinctive exhibition of artistry, the community encircles you as parents bustle children home with boxes of pizza in tow, friends laugh with arms entangled and commuters shoot past with Whole Foods bags in one hand and an angry phone call in the other.

The venue is a full-fledged member of this community. As a Lutheran ministry, the church space offers intimate and inclusive worship services, but operates as an all-encompassing venue for experimental artists for the public as well. On any day of the week, Park Church Co-Op offers after-school children’s programs, provides shelter for the homeless, hosts a local farmer’s market, houses some of the Brooklyn Library collection and provides a covert setting for those musicians that thrive in this kind of interpersonal environment. 

The venue continues to operate solely because of donations and grant funding, but there is no price too high for an enchanting experience such as those presented at Park Church Co-Op.

Park Church Co-Op is not an anomaly in its creation and championing of community. Every music venue, or artistic space, that is still open, despite possible struggles to remain relevant to a wider audience, is a member and cultivator of community. In Tuscaloosa, we are supremely fortunate to have venues like Druid City Brewing Company, Egan’s, Alcove and Green Bar. While we have other music venues, Druid City Music Hall and Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, that bring in outstanding national performers and bands, the previously mentioned, albeit smaller, venues offer the most local and powerful feeling of community.

Green Bar continues to fluctuate with a vast pool of genres, pulling local and regional acts that appeal to an even more heterogeneous culmination of individuals. The vast wealth of musical knowledge and talent that fills Green Bar’s dimly lit but entirely comfortable space on any given night is something of legends. While I enjoy the almost secretive nature of Green Bar and its host of characters, the UA community is remiss to pass up on the Brooklyn dive bar with a Southern flair atmosphere that is Green Bar.

As you zoom out a little bit further, you may realize an exciting feature that is wholly unutilized, which is that Birmingham, and its many successful and eccentric music venues, are only a single (!!) hour away. The three essential venues, in my humble non-Birmingham-native opinion, Saturn, Iron City and Alabama Theatre, provide a space for three different sectors, or layers, of the music scene. 

Saturn has the one-of-a-kind atmosphere, creating the perfect space for up-and-coming and on-the-cusp indie artists spanning a variety of genres, which has allowed for impeccable performances from bands such as local Alabamian Waxahatchee, Athens psychedelic rock troupe Futurebirds and the stylistic instrumentation and ever applicable lyricism of Chicago-based Whitney. The venue’s upcoming schedule is full of highly-regarded innovative artists creating a space for new sounds and stylings. These artists include Hinds, Japanese Breakfast, Kevin Morby, Sheer Mag, Hop Along, Dirty Projectors and Pond (maybe I only see them as highly-regarded because I thoroughly enjoy each group mentioned, but I like being objective, so there). 

Iron City is outstanding in its ability to book well-known and established artists, but the venue allows for experimental performances. Recently, the venue saw an otherworldly performance by The Flaming Lips and a perfect display of skill by The War On Drugs last year. Upcoming shows include An Evening with Trey Anastasio Band, The Breeders, Spoon, Dr. Dog and the new take on the boy band, Brockhampton. 

Finally, we have Alabama Theatre, the only venue fit for a two-night run by Jason Isbell. The venue’s regal feel never fails to impress and provides acts for all ages. It was built in 1927 for the sole purpose of showing Paramount Films, and hosting Miss Alabama pageants. After the venue went bankrupt in 1987, the building was purchased and converted into the Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts, allowing for the Birmingham community to see exciting acts like Greg Allman, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Wilco and Willie Nelson.

All that being said, there are many other sublime venues in Birmingham, like The Nick, Zydeco, Workplay, Avondale Brewing Company and the BJCC. No matter where you go, attending a show in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa allows for direct participation and encouragement of a community of music makers and music supporters. You can see the people that love music and experience why they hold it so close. Courtney Barnett said it best in her recent short documentary with Kurt Vile, surrounding, you guessed it, the historic Loew’s Jersey Theatre: “That’s why I go to to see music, ‘cause it kind of refills you with, like, hope in a hopeless world. So it’s nice to kind of see people supporting it.”

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