It’s not unusual for things to get a little steamy during the summer in Birmingham, Alabama. If the giant Vulcan statue that stands watch over Birmingham could talk he’d probably put in a request for a very large glass of ice-cold lemonade. But even before the season officially begins the city affectionately known as “The Ham” starts cookin’ with the annual City Stages Festival. Held in mid-June, City Stages is a weekend-long celebration of music that takes place in downtown Birmingham.
Birmingham has a special fondness for music and the city’s residents are particularly proud of their homegrown talent including legends like soul singer Eddie Kendricks and eccentric jazz pianist Sun Ra. American Idol big shots Ruben Studdard, Bo Bice and Taylor Hicks are all from Birmingham. Buck Johnson, singer for country breakout act Whiskey Falls is a Birmingham native and the band honors that connection with their song “Days of Birmingham.”
It’s no wonder that the quartet drew one of the biggest crowds at City Stages in 2007 as they tore through covers like “Seven Bridges Road” and “Drivin’ My Life Away” along with originals “Last Train Runnin'” and their theme song, “Let the Whiskey Fall.” One very cool thing about City Stages is that most of the stages are set up so that fans can access the talent after their performance and members of Whiskey Falls obligingly posed for pictures and signed autographs after they completed their raucous set. In all the festival features an amazingly diverse roster that plays on nine different stages spreading out in every direction from the city’s Linn Park.
There’s a stage devoted to homegrown music where acts like hard rockers Leaderdog worked the crowd into a frenzy and there’s also a stage that features gospel music. There’s a tent equipped with a huge dance floor to accommodate fans of swingin’ groups like Mitch Woods & His Rocket 88s and there’s a Festival of Rhythm area where you can participate in a drum circle.