There’s No Place Like Vestavia Hills

Vestavia Hills boasts many simple and natural attractions that will keep both your mind and body active.

Library in the Forest
Wall-scaling windows and colorful leaves invite visitors to take a seat and stay awhile. Located on Highway 31, the Library in the Forest is an urban oasis where anyone can get lost in their imagination or relive history. The public library has thousands of books for visitors to choose from as well as multiple events throughout the week for people of all ages to attend, including 3D printing classes, children’s story times and family yoga.

Klingler’s Café
It’s almost like you’ve jumped the pond and been transported to the world’s oldest region as soon as you enter Klingler’s Café. This local breakfast and lunch restaurant carries European bakery items in addition to their full menu that offers a twist on classic breakfast items. From big breakfast platters and buttery grits bowls to fluffy pancakes and omelets, the small business is packed every time you walk in.

Wald Park
Beautiful afternoons beckon for you, family, and friends to enjoy your time outside, and Wald Park’s facilities allow for all types of activities: playgrounds, baseball fields, a swimming pool and a giant walking loop. With something for everyone to do, it’s easy to get out and get active together.

Shades Crest Road
The best views (and sunsets!) of Birmingham are seen while driving along the top of Red Mountain on Shades Crest Road. In addition to seeing the bustling life below in the valley, you can see the Birmingham terrain go on for miles as the hills roll on out of sight. If you want somewhere to stop and admire the view, try Vestavia Hills Baptist Church to embrace the full ambience.

Keeping the Creativity

Madison Whitehead, founder of Keeping the Creativity

Have you ever felt like your creative freedom is stifled by your work environment? That you have no time for creativity in your work because you are constantly managing and maintaining your business?

One emerging business owner successfully crafted a solution.

Madison Whiteneck is the mastermind behind Keeping the Creativity, a business that manages busy work for companies so business owners can get work on what matters. They can get back to creativity.

Whiteneck graduated from Samford University in 2016 with a degree in journalism and mass communication and has turned her combined passions for creativity and organization into a business.

Her vision is to provide local creatives with services such as social media, product launch, inbox management and large-scale writing pieces.   She achieves this through virtual assistant services, or management of the “little things,” which normally occupy the visionary’s brainpower and time.

Keeping the Creativity also provides freelance services including InDesign work and editing. The services range from daily assistance to passion projects.

When Whiteneck is not busy planning her own life, she is at work planning the lives of others.  Her new website launched this month, and her network of creatives continues to grow.

In Whiteneck’s business venture, it pays to be creative. Here is a conversation with Whiteneck about how her ambitious idea helped launch Keeping the Creativity.

 

Where did the idea for Keeping the Creativity originate?

Keeping the Creativity originally started out as a blog. My 9 to 5 job right out of college was pretty limiting to my personal creativity and I wanted to “keep the creativity” alive, so I started blogging. I wrote about everything from DIY’s to local coffee shops and my latest favorite outfits. I offered freelance services at the time so I started to feature more of my projects on my website as well. When I left my first career job, interest in my blog turned business grew a lot so I started taking on full time clients and more freelance projects.  

 

What is the most challenging part of starting your own business?

Finding and landing new and exciting clients. Having a local creative network has helped me a ton in gaining projects that I am excited to work on, but I always want to keep extending that network as much as possible. It takes a lot of work to reach out to others and turn it into business. Most of the time when I reach out to other creative, it just starts as a mutual interest in a project or idea and then it turns into a collaboration or working together, which I love.

 

 What is a valuable lesson you have learned since starting Keeping the Creativity?

Don’t let other people’s negative opinions discredit your hard work. I have put in a lot of time and effort into building my business and I understand there can be a lot of competition out there, but I have to just be myself and do the best with what I’ve got.

 

What is your advice to someone dreaming up a large-scale business idea?

Take a serious look at the time you can devote to your idea. Also, look at your finances because you have to invest a lot in the beginning. This past year, I invested almost half of what I made into my business, but it has paid off. In the first two months of 2017, my income has already equaled all of what I made last year with Keeping the Creativity.

 

What is your vision for the future of Keeping the Creativity?

I would love to work with more creatives to help them execute their big brand ideas. It would be great if Keeping the Creativity could evolve into a creative consulting agency. Who knows?! I am keeping the door open on those aspects for the future.

Birmingham Urban Planning

Urban Planning is a technical and political process concerned with the development and use of land, planning permission, protection, and use of the environment, public welfare, and the design of the urban environment. People also define it as the process of deciding how land will be used, both in the present and over the long term. It needs to take into account not only structures, but also the people and the community impacted by the space. The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPC) provides planning series, economic development services and multiple initiatives for 6 counties and 84 communities throughout central Alabama.

Live. Play. Work. Community. The RPC is an example of impacting urban planning in Birmingham for the past 50 years. Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby and Walker are the 6 counties apart of RPC. The goal is, “improve the lives of people in our region.” They do this by focusing their projects on transportation,  medicaid waiver, community planning, they try to remove traffic congestion, and economic development for small businesses. This is the team that helps local municipalities secure state and federal resources to be successful.

The Birmingham-Hoover area has seen population increases with its growth in urban development. North of town is the most prime for development which is the main reason there is so much room to grow in the Birmingham neighborhoods. The revitalization of the downtown areas will continue to see significant growth in the immediate future for Birmingham. According to AL.com, “Birmingham is no longer the sleepy little Southern city it once was.” There are very large institutions hiring extremely technical folks, companies like BBVA Compass Bank, Protective Life, Regions, and with the addition of plenty of company start-ups that have chosen Birmingham as their homes.

According to AL.com, “Companies are tasked with keeping young professionals here while also marketing our fine city to could-be young professionals in competing cities such as Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville, Jacksonville, and Huntsville.”

A young professional might like the idea of working in urban planning if they want to be involved in their community and develop an area in that community into a better, livable space. An urban planning job varies based on the area. Rural vs. urban area will have different needs, however, the role is focused on planning how space will be used, and what pages will be allowed. Birmingham is the perfect revitalization city that has been attracting young talent in areas such as urban planning.

There’s No Place Like Homewood

Have you ever heard of some of the suburbs of Birmingham and wanted to visit, but weren’t sure what to do there? We here at The Local will take time over the next four weeks to take you to the most popular neighborhoods of Birmingham and highlight the best things to do there.

Homewood is a thriving suburb south of Birmingham that balances the world of commercial retail and local joints, making this city a unique place to spend the day touring.

When you first arrive in Homewood, shop around and get something to eat on the iconic 18th Street in downtown Homewood. The strip of diverse stores and restaurants will bring the small-town feeling to life as you pop in and out of the locally run shops.

18th Street in downtown Homewood.

Next, drive less than a mile over to Do It Yourself Crafts to immerse yourself in a creative and relaxing environment. From making pottery and painting to glass fusing and decorating ornaments, there are a wide variety of crafts you and your friends can make together. Classes are offered throughout the week and spaces are available for parties and group events.

Urban Air is the next stop, especially if you have kids with you. Let them get all their energy out at the indoor trampoline park as they jump on wall-to-wall trampolines, dunk

Homewood antique store in the Edgewood neighborhood.

basketballs in super tall baskets, play dodgeball and flip into the huge foam pits. The family-friendly trampoline park hosts birthday parties for all ages.

 

When it’s time for dinner, the Edgewood neighborhood of Homewood will satisfy your hunger. With all types of cuisines, it’ll be hard to choose what to eat.

Once you’ve finished up your meal (and ice cream from the local creamery) stroll down to Homewood Park, where you can play ball or watch the sunset.

 

Homewood Park

Let us know how your day in Homewood was in the comments below.

 

My Magic City Success: Heidi Elnora

This is the third installment of a three-part series that explores the nature of successful businessmen and women in Birmingham.

________

“Pray about [starting a business]. Pray for God’s guidance and diligence.”

Heidi Elnora came to be one of Birmingham’s most well- known bridal gown designers by accident.
Literally.

Soon after she was eliminated from Lifetime’s Project Runway series, Elnora was in a car accident. She was living in Atlanta at the time and moved to Alabama to recover and be close to her mother. While she was here, she met the man who would become her husband.

The couple settled down in Birmingham and a new realm of work opportunity opened up for her. “How can I take what I love to do and make it special for someone else? And what’s more special than a wedding dress?” she said.

Design has always been a passion for the Morris Ave. business owner. As her bridal store, hiedi elnora Atelier, continues to grow, she is driven every day to give the boutique a welcoming atmosphere. “The best part about the job is the brides.” Elnora said. “It’s about how good they feel in their dress, and I want them to feel con dent in what they are wearing.”

While business plans and loans can be intimidating, look for organizations that can assist you in making these rst crucial steps. Elnora used a local business-training organization that helped her get her feet on the ground. “They helped me write my business plan, and I was also able to get my very rst loan at 25,” she said.

Eagerness to engage with customers and diligence to create the best product can evolve into incomparable opportunities. With Elnora’s success in the Magic City, she has been involved in numerous projects including starring in her own television show on TLC, Bride by Design. “I loved doing it because I really got to showcase my work,” she said.

Passion can be contagious, especially when you have a celebrated product. In Elnora’s case, her craft’s in uence is not con ned to the borders of the United States. “I’ve had people as far as Dubai y in,” she said.

While business owners are always looking for ways to expand and grow, milestones are convenient points when you can regroup and look ahead to the future. Elnora continues to look to the future, as this year marks the boutique’s 10th anniversary. “We are moving to e-commerce and have just opened up our new 8,000 square-foot shop,” she said. But this expansion will not push away her end goal. “I want to live a happy life. No amount of fame or notoriety will fulfill me.”

My Magic Sity Success: Brandon Cain

This is the second installment of a three-part series that explores the nature of successful businessmen and women in Birmingham.

________

“Find a mentor. Learn from their mistakes and successes. Then, find someone to pour into and ‘make a deposit in their emotional bank account.'”

As the chef and co-owner of Post Office Pies, Saw’s Soul Kitchen and Roots & Revelry, Brandon Cain has gone through the trials and triumphs of running a successful business. With elite culinary training, Cain worked under some of Birmingham’s nest chefs and learned as much as he could before stepping out into the industry on his own in 2009. He recalled sleepless nights and countless hours of creating, refining and polishing plans that have evolved into restaurants filled with culture that keeps customers coming back for more.

Cain and best friend John Hall dreamed up Post Office Pies, and when Hall returned to Birmingham from working at New York City pizza restuarants, they began putting their plan into action.

“We are just gourmet chefs that want to make an honest pizza,” Cain said. And with the dream in mind, Cain has followed some fundamental guidelines that have helped him build successful restaurants over the years.

Developing a business plan can be overwhelming and daunting. But whether it’s finding a template online or creating one from scratch, the business plan will be the most important material you can have when going to the bank, Cain said. Using this plan, demonstrate to the bank that you are a trustworthy client that is prepared to take the next step. Businesses can succeed or fail, and banks are a deciding factor in the beginning phase, so maintain a good relationship with your bank.

As you get farther along into the process, you will also have to seriously realize the cost.

“Once you get funded, it becomes fun and stressful at the same time,” Cain said. Sometimes he wasn’t able to afford the whole dream all at once, and he was OK with that. As you work out what is within your means, you can start physically structuring and maneuvering parts of the business to create your vision.

Especially if you’re in the food industry (or looking to get into it) inspections are a big hurdle that business owners have to get over before the doors open. Therefore, you need to go to the city officials early. Sending in paperwork and making sure everything is up to code early prevents mishaps from occurring later in the process.

“If you can have the city on your side, then you’re 50 percent of the way there,” Cain said. He also noted that while the first time you go through this process it feels personal, it’s not, and the officials are doing their best to create a safe environment.

Once a business is up and running, staying close to the core of the project can be tricky. In some instances, Cain has had to fight his corporate business sense in order to keep the culture of the restaurant in tact, even if it means spending an extra hour peeling the skins off tomatoes or making pizza dough from scratch. These basic measures preserve the authenticity so that when customers walk into the restaurant, they feel like they’re in a neighborhood pizza place.

“The culture is what everyone’s buying into,” he said. “All people care about is a good time and a good quality product that is consistent.”

Establishing a reliable atmosphere will comfort customers, who know they will have a better experience each time they come back. “Trust is the biggest thing in growing our brand,” Cain said. He strives to push Post Office Pies as well as his other restaurants to improve their technique and efficiency each day they serve the community.

My Magic City Success: Will Pearson

This is the first installment of a three-part series that explores the nature of successful businessmen and women in Birmingham.

Success is a difficult term to define, and it can be hard to pinpoint where you draw the line between successful and unsuccessful. Some Birmingham entrepreneurs have found that success is never quite achieved. As a result, they keep pushing themselves and their companies to innovate and create engaging products that promote culture and creativity in the Magic City.

________
“A lot of people hesitate to start something if they feel like it won’t be great from day one. There is something to be said about being willing to just get out there even before you know it’s going to be a premium product.”

Passion drives some people to set goals and to work to make them happen. Will Pearson concocted the magazine Mental Floss through conversations with college friends who had the desire to be intellectually stimulated and help others learn about areas outside of their realm of study.

“From day one, we were waking up every day and thinking, ‘How do we take Mental Floss a step forward?’” Pearson said.

Hard work stems from passion and is essential to a start-up, and “non-stop focus” made Pearson’s dream a reality. From working summer jobs to asking campus departments for donations, there is nothing Pearson wouldn’t do to get his magazine started. “The term ‘irrational commitment’ is something we talk about quite frequently that it has taken to make this work,” Pearson said.

Mental Floss has taken off since its initial conception in Pearson’s Duke University dorm room, with more than 160,000 magazines in circulation per issue and 20 million unique visitors to its website every month. The growth only fuels his eagerness for the brand. “We were just as excited about it when it was 5,000 people as we are now,” Pearson said.

Although Pearson sold the company to Dennis Publishing in 2011, he is still active in finding the most reliable and relatable avenues for the magazine and digital components to give information to its consumers.

Connections inside the industry push careers and business ideas to the next level. Passionate conversations about your goals can open doors, leading to more doors, that will eventually bring you to the audience you want in front of you. Pearson communicated his ideas to anyone that would listen. Even through telling a friend’s mom in New York City about the magazine’s plans connected him to a future publisher.

“It’s about getting something out there and saying ‘we’re going to do this,’” Pearson said. “It’s not where it needs to be, but have people look at it, understand where we want it to go and see it evolve over time.”

In a successful business, you must always think about the audience you are trying to reach. Pearson has had to adapt with Mental Floss over the years in order to best engage his audience in a world of communication that is constantly changing and shifting. In fact, Mental Floss is moving away from the magazine altogether at the end of 2016 and will move to a completely digital world.

But Pearson continues to be open to ideas that allow him to invest in new areas where the company can engage its audience. He is experimenting with new methods to communicate with consumers while also using effective digital platforms such as YouTube and Twitter to provide enough information that they are able to stand alone from their print counterpart. “Part of why it worked was because we didn’t have a rule book saying if you launch a magazine you must do these things exactly. I think we brought a fresh perspective to it,” said Pearson.

Research about your industry will also move your career plans forward. Keep learning and stay updated on the latest news in your field because it will unfailingly fuel your passion. Pearson owes a lot of the magazine’s success to studying what was happening in the media world around him. “Learning as much as we possibly could about the industry and about anything we could do was such a huge part of this and then communicating that with as many people as we could,” he said, as Mental Floss continues to blend the ever-changing world of intellect and culture.

Seeds of Change

Jerick Hamilton is a student farmer that finds the farm behind his school to be a quiet respite from the chaos of the city. He starts his afternoon with a careful plant inspection. Moving row to row, Hamilton bends down to pull away stray, dead leaves to ensure the livelihood of the crops.

Hamilton loses track of time as he moves deeper into the sunflowers, or gets lower to the earth’s soil with the radishes and turnips. His eyes light up as he is asked to differentiate an array of brightly colored produce—produce that he helped grow.

“Amazing. Jaw-dropping. Fun.” These are the words Jerick Hamilton, a junior at Woodlawn High School used to describe the school’s recent partnership with Jones Valley.

Jones Valley Teaching Farm empowers students to grow, sell and eat their own produce. By inviting students at Woodlawn High School to participate in the farming process, Jones Valley is equipping change makers.

Each weekday, Hamilton can be found carefully weeding one of the 10 beds of vegetables in Woodlawn High School’s Urban Farm.

Among the sunflowers, turnips, radishes, mustard greens, chard, broccoli, cauliflower and kale, are the fingerprints of student farmers who stay behind after school and diligently tend to this plentiful garden.

He is eager to share his new passion for gardening with others.

“Ever since I’ve started doing it, I feel like I can take it anywhere I go, it can even help me in the long run,” he said. “Maybe one day I will want to have my own farm in my backyard, or a garden.”

For Hamilton, this opportunity has presented more than just a new hobby—it has given him vision for the future.

“I want to be a little bit of everything. I feel like you can’t just choose one thing and stick to it, you are gonna always change. Change is good. But if I could pick one thing, it would be industrial engineer.”

Hamilton is one of the students at Woodlawn participating in an early college program established through Jones Valley. This partnership allows him to work for payment while also receiving school credit for his three-hour afternoon shift at the farm.

Woodlawn High School Urban Farm sits just behind the school and is equipped with two farming acres, a greenhouse and an outdoor teaching area.  This is where Scotty Feltman, the school’s environmental science teacher who doubles as the farm program director, brings his classes to expose students to healthy foods.

Feltman’s hands-on approach to teaching aligns with Jones Valley’s mission to “connect discoveries in the classroom to action in the community.”

Jones Valley originated as an urban farm in downtown Birmingham to provide better access to fresh produce. It has since evolved into a teaching farm through the implementation of a specialized curriculum model, Good School Food, in several Birmingham city schools.

In that program, students experiment in Farm Labs designed to provide learning environments that engage the senses.

With seven teaching farms across Birmingham, Jones Valley exposes students to nutrition as they interact with fresh food daily.  This creates a greater awareness of where food comes from and emphasizes the value of healthy lifestyle choices.

The leap to Woodlawn High School happened last year in an effort to create a K-12 learning experience where children participate in the growing process in different stages throughout their education.  The program culminates in Feltman’s high school environmental science class, where the urban farm is used as a tool for engagement.

Feltman was a fifth grade science teacher at Avondale Elementary when the idea for the urban farm began to formulate. He committed to the role of farm program director after realizing it would be a great opportunity to impact a lot of students.

Feltman impresses upon his students the fact that they can help others through farming. His ultimate goal is that students leave the farm experience with a confidence in who they are and what they can accomplish.

“I want students to be able to graduate knowing, ‘If I grew 200 pounds of radishes and I was able to feed my neighborhood, I can do a lot of stuff. Maybe college isn’t so scary,’” said Feltman.  

Senior Taylor Witt felt that empowerment. Witt uses her time on the farm to evaluate her lifestyle. “Maybe I can change my ways of eating and influence my friends and family members. I want to influence my nephews the most because they are young, the oldest is 7 and the youngest is 5,” she said.

Witt got involved with Jones Valley after her ninth grade biology teacher encouraged her to attend an interest meeting. That meeting introduced the urban farm concept to the Woodlawn community.

Witt worked with a group of students to brainstorm, provide input and contribute to the planning process as this idea materialized. The farm came to life last year, and it taught Witt a great deal about patience.

“It’s a learning process. It’s building up your skills. I feel like each day I am out here is a day I am learning something new,” said Witt.

Like Witt, the student farmers at Woodlawn have played an integral role in the process of building the garden from the ground up.  Starting work in August, the team works in a student-driven manner where everyone’s voice is heard.

Feltman, who oversees the co-op, is in a position to hear those distinct voices, as he develops personal relationship with the students involved.  One of these voices belongs to Hamilton, who met Feltman as a student in his fifth grade class.  His message to Feltman is one of profound gratitude, “Thank you, thank you for hiring me. Thank you for believing in me and showing me there is more to life,” said Hamilton.

Clearly the art of farming transcends health to benefit students in areas of attitude, success in school, family life and relationships. Jones Valley uses fresh food as a powerful tool to apply disciplines of patience, responsibility and teamwork to real-life situations.

Through the process of farming at Woodlawn High School Urban Farm students find vision, purpose and an outlet for personal growth.  The influence of the program extends far beyond growing plants, to the change taking root within the lives of students.

 

The Timid Sons: The juggling act begins

Trip Wood, Tre Mason, Frank Robertson and Preston Little relax after a long day of work, school and band practice. Photo by Kate Sullivan.

Story by Hannah Garrett and Caleb Jones

The band lounged around on the couch after a late night practice session, visibly exhausted but genuinely in love with the opportunity they have to make music.

However, The Timid Sons, comprised of Trip Wood, Frank Robertson, Tré Mason and Luke Brown, only get to make this music after their full days of work and school. They come together late at night to practice and develop new songs, and wake up the next day to do it all over again.

The band’s only studio-recorded album to date, a self-titled work, includes its most popular single, Cocaine Lips. This up and coming band loves to play shows in the Birmingham area, but also likes to travel as well.

“It all started when Frank walked up to me in the food court and said he had a song idea,” Wood said. “We weren’t in a band yet, but he proceeded to pull out a napkin with the words ‘cocaine lips and a hurricane smile.’ I was expecting a chorus or something at least, but all I got was a phrase.”

“That ended up being all I needed though; I took the napkin back to my apartment, sat down and wrote the whole song that day. In that moment The Timid Sons were born,” said Wood.

The band’s name, The Timid Sons, came about when Robertson was reading a book called “I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son” by Kent Russell. The book itself is based off a famous Davy Crockett quote.

With a band name and one song under his belt, Wood was ready to churn out music at a rapid rate.

“This book really resonated with us,” Wood said, “The idea that a father would really rail their son and be that openly disappointed with him made the realization that we are all born into expectations. People naturally have expectations of us. While you are born into a world of disappointment, that doesn’t mean that you are a disappointment. While we are imperfect, and while we aren’t necessarily a band with full time musicians, we accept it, move on and make music we want to hear.”

Wood said he had a handful of ideas already in his head from the previous few years. At the time he didn’t think he would actually use them. Some of the lyrics he had were from experiences that happened that month and others were just things he thought about and wrote down.

Following their first song, “Cocaine Lips,” the band spent about a month recording eight songs at Mountain Brook Community Church. The album came together so quickly because Wood would spend days on end recording music, often times sleeping in the studio to maximize histime.

“Back when we were recording, a few days would pass,” Robertson said, “and I wouldn’t have seen Trip, so I would stop by the studio. I found him there multiple times, tucked away by himself, with lots of cups of coffee, some fresh, and some not so fresh. Trip would have this twitchy, kind of crazed look about him, but he was producing our songs at a ridiculously fast rate. Sometimes you just let the man work and appreciate the results.”

At this time, the band was moving quickly and Wood was rushing the entire thing because he wanted to have a couple of singles to release right away. Because of this, only three of the band members actually recorded on the album. It was challenging for their old drummer from Atlanta to drive to Birmingham every so often to record so they began to reach out to find a new drummer.

The Timid Sons faced several challenges in its early days, such as finding a permanent drummer in the Birmingham area, recording for the first time and singing in front of an audience for the first time. Wood said he was unsure of how to carry himself in front of others and found the experience of playing live nerve racking at first.

They are currently working on two new songs including one Trip wrote about a blind man called Jim James. The song, he explained, is about how easily we can get wrapped up in our own frustrations while much worse things happen in the world.

“I was driving back from my Spanish test and was obsessing about how bad I had done. I was drinking my Starbucks, listening to my favorite music, and just being super self-indulgent,” Wood said, “I was going down Lakeshore Drive and reached the part where there isn’t anything for about a mile and that’s when I saw this guy at the bus stop. He was blind, and he was sitting out there on the bench, in the sun, during the hottest part of the day, in the middle of the summer.”

“In that moment it became really obvious how self-indulgent I was being. Some of the lyrics I wrote were completely bashing myself and I had to refrain from keeping them in the song. How could I be so self-obsessed? This man is probably going to work right now, and probably not to his first job, more than likely, to his second one and he is blind. There was just a lot of things going through my mind at that moment and I was able to get it out on paper.”

Trip Wood:

What does music mean to you?

It’s meant a lot of different things to me, especially in the last few years. If I’ve learned one thing about music, it’d be this: Music can be a stress reliever, a medium to express yourself and so much more. However, once you start expecting something from it, you start to lose it.

How does your music reflect who you are as a person/musician?

Sometimes I worry that it reflects who I am a bit too much: fast, irrational, and not thought through.

Describe a typical day for you.

My average day changes frequently. Right now, the only things that are constant are how much I eat and that I write two songs’ worth of lyrics a day.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What role does your music play in that plan?

Hopefully I’ll still be pursuing music as a career. Like I’ve said before, the men and women that do this full time are incredible. It takes a lot of guts to decide to make your living off of something so inconsistent.

Frank Robertson:

What do you play in the band? How long have you been playing?

I play guitar and have been playing since about 7th grade

What do you do when you are not playing with The Timid Sons?

I work part time and am trying to figure out if I want to go back to school this coming year or pursue full time work.

Is it hard to balance music and work?

The biggest challenge is to feel like I’m being responsible in my pursuit of both. It seems like practices can only happen later at night, but I have to be up by 6 a.m. in order to start my morning for work.

What is your best memory with the band?

One of our first shows back from the summer at a venue called the High Note. It was one of our first shows at a legitimate venue with a real sound guy and PA system, and this stage that was so tall but not very wide. It was one of the first moments that “we’re a real band” clicked in my head.

What is your goal for the band?

To go as far as we can.

Banditos in search of BIG break

Photo courtesy of David McClister

Guitarist Corey Parsons sits down with The Local to discuss the band’s goals, influences and accomplishments.

The Banditos are natives of the Birmingham area, but currently live in Nashville as they pursue their music career fulltime. The band is comprised of six friends who describe themselves as more of a “gang” than a musical group. This rag-tag gang has been making music together for more than five years now. They started out playing in bars and out on the streets around downtown Birmingham. Now, they have put out a full-length, self-titled, album with a second album on the way. Guitarist Corey Parsons recently discussed the band’s journey with The Local.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have overcome as a band?

Being able to make a living by playing music is a challenge within itself.

How does the music you play relate back to your everyday lives?

Definitely, most everything we write has came from personal experience. And if not, it certainly does now.

What other artists (past or present) inspire you? 

Too many to name, but I’ll name a few that come to mind for the sake of the interview. Chuck Berry, Etta James, Gram Parsons, Ramones, Lightnin’ Hopkins, 13th Floor Elevators, Sly and the Family Stone, Dr Hook, Bob Seger, The Banana Splits, etc.

What are the band’s long term goals? 

To do our best to smooth the rough edges of life for anyone needing so.

What would you want your fans to know about the band that they might not?

We’re genuinely appreciative of them.

What inspires the lyrics for y’all’s songs?

It’s different every time, but we all take from personal experiences in some way or another.

What has been y’all’s biggest accomplishment so far? 

We just finished recording our second album. We’re pretty proud of it.