Take a drive in downtown Birmingham and you will experience a vibrant city full of hard-working individuals. There is growth on every corner, like the newly renovated Pizitz building that consists of over 15 food compartments, Sidewalk Film Festival and several shopping options as well as condominium living upstairs.
While there is growth, there is also tradition like the “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham” sign outside John’s City Diner.
Take a walk down any street in the Historical District and you’ll find a new appreciation for this city with every step you take. With the old, there is also new. Take the new home of the Birmingham Barons, Region Field.
Summer mornings are spent doing yoga at Railroad Park, afternoons hiking at Red Mountain Park and nights are spent at Regions Field cheering on the Birmingham Barons.
Whether young or old, this city has something for everyone at every walk of life.
Look out because Birmingham is quickly growing into a must-see destination!
From “Selma” to “Sweet Home Alabama,” there’s a wealth of movies that Alabamians can boast were filmed in their home state. However, some viewer favorites were filmed closer than you think, and you might not even know it. Check out these three blockbusters that you might not have realized were filmed in Alabama.
The Final Destination or Final Destination 4 : The opening crash sequence of this horror movie was filmed at Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, Alabama.
42: The 2013 release starred Chadwick Boseman, who gave a powerful portrayal of Jackie Robinson. This movie was partially filmed at Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
Friday the 13th Part VII: This 1988 horror film starred Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhies. It used Byrne’s Lake in Stockton to film.
Soccer has become an increasingly popular sport since the early 2000s. According to a 2014 ESPN poll, 18 percent of 12-to-17-year-olds were avid MLS fans compared to only 10 percent in 2004.
Kids are not only watching soccer, but also playing it. More than 3 million players are registered under US Youth Soccer while clubs across the country continue to see an increase in participation. Almost 16,000 youth players are registered in Alabama and over 30 had committed to play at the collegiate level last year.
President of the Birmingham Hammers Morgan Copes recognized the growing attraction of soccer in 2013 and set out to bring the sport in a major context to Birmingham.
“Just because there’s a lack of professional sports in Alabama doesn’t mean that there’s not a want for them,” the club’s president said. The Birmingham Hammers’ 2015 exhibition season brought in big crowds, proving to Copes that Alabama would embrace the world’s most popular sport.
The 2016 season was the Hammer’s first season in the National Premier Soccer League, playing teams across the South including teams from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans. Copes and his staff have taken thorough steps to make the club successful, and will continue to do so in order to improve the organization.
“We’re making sure that we do the little things right so we can keep getting better,” Copes said.
Copes and the Hammers have also used their social media presence to garner fans, with over 6,500 likes on Facebook and 2,000 followers on Twitter.
“Fans have been responsive to our social media platforms and we’re excited about the reaction,” he said.
The Hammers will play their first home game of the season on May 13 at Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex against Inter Nashville FC.
Blue Water Park
Blue Water Park is an escape from the heat of central Alabama on a sunny afternoon without driving hours to the coast. The company that used to be Dive Alabama offers scuba diving training as well as rentals for kayaks and paddleboards. Classes are offered throughout the year for all skill levels, ranging from beginners to experienced divers.
Oak Mountain State Park
Oak Mountain State Park provides a range of activities for people of all ages and activity levels to enjoy. Hiking and mountain biking trails are the most popular ventures in the park, where you can find waterfalls and scenic views. There are also spaces for camping, fishing and picnics. The state park also offers a cable water playground where you can show off wakeboard tricks as you weave through obstacles in the water.
Pelham Civic Center
During the winter, the Pelham Civic Complex is a favorite gathering place for ice skating. If you’re not skating-inclined, then the ice arena also offers broomball, a cross between quidditch and hockey. The arena is open year-round for these activities as well as training classes, hockey, and figure skating.
Oak Mountain Emporium
If you’re looking for a less active afternoon, stop by Oak Mountain Emporium. The antique and collectibles shop features items from 40 area dealers, varying from décor and glassware to chandeliers and porcelain. And just for fun- see how many bird items you can count!
As baseball teams kick off spring training, improvements to Regions Field are scheduled for the new season.
The Barons announced on Wednesday that there will be new additions built on 14th street, the same side of the stadium that the famous metal Birmingham sign is located.
SwitchYard on 14th, the addition’s title, will include refreshments and games for the whole family. Two vintage airstream trailers will house food and beverages respectively.
The food featured will have something for everyone in the family but focus on traditional ballpark food. The beverages airstream will feature local Birmingham selections as well as the expected mainstay drinks.
Outdoor games are also going to be included in the new space including a regulation-sized bocce ball court and ping pong tables.
The Barons’ season doesn’t begin until April 6 and they don’t begin home play until April 12, but the new addition should be ready to usher in the first fans for the 2017 season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Let us know how your day in Homewood was in the comments below.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
The degrees are dropping and pumpkin spice everything fills the air. It’s time for a new playlist to accompany all your fall favorites and The Local has the perfect one for you! Enjoy the classics as well as a mix of new soothing tunes. It will be sure to keep your feet tapping.