Listen To The Music: Sloss Fest 2015
"Don't throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again"
-Peter Allen, 1974, Everything Old Is New Again
A trendy music festival held on a historic industrial site over a hundred years old. Yes, everything old was new again at the Inagural Sloss Music & Arts Festival in Birmingham, Alabama. We were lucky enough to go to the festival that had more than 30 bands on 3 stages in 2 days. The festival also highlighted local craft beer, food, and artists. The location, a National Historic Landmark founded in the 1880's, gives unique perspective on this city. "The Iron City" got its name from the massive iron production of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Sloss Furnances was founded in the 1880s and produced 24,000 tons of iron it its first year of production. It became a national landmark in 1983 and has recently been converted to an event facility, hosting concerts and now the Sloss Festival.
A site that once represented the industrial revolution in America and the rise of Birmingham's economy, it is now a site preserving the history of the city while also showcasing its bright future. In the last few years Birmingham has experienced a massive renaissance, populating the desserted downtown with parks, restaurants, and living spaces. While many folks only ventured downtown to work from 9-5 Monday through Friday, you can now feel the area teeming with creativity and innovation.
Yes, what's old is new indeed. The classic grocery store for small towns, Piggly Wiggly, sponsored a craft beer tent featuring local breweries.
The Shed Stage was one of three stages that hosted musical acts from all over the place. Rock, rap, folk, EDM, you name it. This stage was always full of energy from a wide variety of bands and festival-goers.
No festival in The South is complete without BBQ. Jim 'N Nicks not only had a food truck selling pork and chicken sandwiches, but had an exclusive culinary showcase in the VIP area with award-winning chefs from across the country.
The band "Muddy Magnolias" was a late addition to the festival and a relatively unknown act. Kallie (left) cut her teeth on Delta blues, living the rural life along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi river. Jessy (right), on the other hand, grew up hearing the clackety-clack of subway trains and the diverse sounds of Brooklyn, New York. The two met in Nasvhille and the result is electric. You can hear the individual influences in their music but it blends together beautifully. They are the epitome of the new Southern sound and we can't wait to see them rise to fame.
A beautiful sunset highlighted the backdrop of musical stages, historic furnances, and thousands of people.
Perhaps our favorite show of the weekend was from St. Paul & The Broken Bones. Hailing from Birmingham, their soulful, retro-tinged music can make anyone get up and dance. They've experienced a relatively quick rise to fame with the release of their first album thanks to festivals like Bonnaroo and opening for some very well known musical acts. "I'm going to say what I say when we play in Paris, France or when we open for a little band called the Rolling Stones, we are St. Paul & The Broken Bones all the way from Birmingham, Alabama!" shouts Paul Janeway as the band launches into their biggest hit, Call Me. The crowd erupts in a roar of excitement and we can't help but feel pride for them. We have no attachment to Birmingham, but still feel a comaraderie in their journey. They are a city with amazing music and culture and they're working hard to beautify the cityscape. They want the world to recognize what their city has to offer, and that's something we can all relate to.
It's not just Birmigham on the tipping point of finding itself, it is The South as a whole. In a time when The South is once again struggling to find its identity, we can't think of a better place to reflect on where we've been, where we're going, and who we are than in music.