String Theory—Birmingham Local Music

Is a string quartet the new rock and roll?

A musician guides his bow across the strings of a cello. He is tucked away behind a conductor stand, embracing the cello as if it is a beloved friend. Just a few measures into the song, he thrusts the bow with vigor. The instrument delivers a melody reminiscent of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen’s chart-topping, pop-rock anthem. Have your ears deceived you, or is a conservatoire-trained musician performing rock ‘n’ roll hits on a cello?

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Three Inexpensive Nights Out In Birmingham

You deserve a night out. If you are a college student like me, you are probably juggling six or more classes, an internship for academic credit and a paid full-time job just to pay your rent. Because of all these things, you have the right to treat yourself every once and a while. The issue often tends to be that, though you may want a night out, you cannot afford to spend a lot of money. That is where I come in. Having lived in the city of Birmingham my whole life, I knew quite a few spots that can help you save a few bucks while enjoying what the city has to offer. Here is a short list of three different locations in Birmingham on the cheap. You can find directions to each location by clicking on the venue name in the list.

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The Multis Project Performs at Samford

On Friday, April 10, The Multis Project performed at a concert and cookout hosted by Samford Residence Life and the Office of Admissions. The band put together a set list covering a variety of popular songs. The concert only lasted for an hour, but the band’s charisma captured everyone’s attention, and as The Multis Project tried to leave the stage, they were met with chants and requests for an encore. After performing both the regular set and an encore, the group met fans and sold merchandise. Check out this video clip of the group performing a cover of “Sugar” by Maroon 5.

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The Multis Project: Meet the band

The Multis Project is an up-and-coming Birmingham band whose goal is to create a space where many can become one. Part of what makes the group special is that each member’s musical and cultural backgrounds are unique . I got to sit down with Trenton, vocalist and piano player for the group. He told me a little bit about each of the seven members of the project:

Copy of IMG_6429Jesus is from Peru and plays bass for Multis. He brings cultural history to the group while also keeping it relaxed with his “chill, soothing personality,” says Trenton. He plays rugby and is both athletic and hard-working. The other band members appreciate him for his smile that lights up a room and describe him as both approachable and a great listener.



Copy of IMG_6438Michaela is the sassy, creative, classy vocalist of the group. She’s got a soulful voice, and as an actress, she can bring the drama and stage presence needed when performing. Her band members appreciate her detail-oriented nature as well as her big, bubbly personality. “She loves to laugh and is always smiling,” says Trenton.



Copy of IMG_6433Geoffrey plays drums for the group. He is a hard worker and is always striving to grow as a musician. He invests himself completely in what he is  doing and will do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Trenton and Toussaint Louie, band members, met Geoffrey in Tennessee, and it wasn’t until they heard him play that they decided to begin putting a band together.



Copy of IMG_6411Zac is like the little brother of the group. Though he is the youngest member, he has plenty of potential and is ready to take on the world. He serves as the band’s DJ (“DJ Current”) and accessory percussionist when needed. He is energetic and “all over the place,” but he also has an excellent ear for hearing and creating art, according to Trenton.



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Hunter is the perfect mix between a hipster and a good ol’ country boy. He is from South Carolina and both plays guitar and sings for the group. He loves hunting and all things outdoors, but he is also known by the group for his sense of style. In addition to his role in the band, he works as the college and young adult minister at Christ City Church.



Copy of IMG_6413Toussaint Louie is Haitian-American and is the “big picture guy” for Multis as he helps cast visions by inspiring a strategic mindset. He also brings a hip-hop element to the group with his rapping skills. He acts as the big brother for the group and keeps rehearsals light-hearted with his sense of humor. He is passionate about what he does and is fiercely loyal. He knows that family and relationships are everything, so he maintains that whoever is in his circle while he is struggling are the people that will be there when he makes it.


Copy of IMG_6422Trenton’s motto is that “details make a beautiful or a horrible masterpiece.” He is optimistic and considers big ideas and pitching visions, while also being an asset to the group because of how business-minded he is. He works on the band’s schedule, communications and professionalism, and he also facilitates rehearsals and arranges songs. He plays keyboard and is a vocalist for the group.



The Multis Project will perform on April 9 at the Beeson Divinity School Barbecue at Samford University and on April 10 for the Samford Residence Life spring concert. Check out the Multis Project on Twitter and Instagram: @multisproject.

Taylor Swift 2.0

As Oct. 27 approached, faithful T-Swift fans anxiously awaited the songstress’ new album. Fans and non-fans alike anticipated a new bundle of heartbreak, revenge, and cryptic lyrics delivered Taylor Swift style. We heard a small taste of “1989” with two pre-released tracks, “Out of the Woods” and “Shake It Off.” But on Oct. 27 we got the whole album and it was a delightful surprise.

As usual, “1989” is a glimpse into Swift’s diary and failed relationships. After the opening song, “Welcome To New York,” an ode to Swift’s new home and her love affair with the Big Apple, the album takes listeners on a journey through the past two years of the seven-time Grammy winner’s life. Sure, “Shake It Off” is a fun, get-up-and-dance song but Swift truly shines in heartfelt songs like “Style,” “Wildest Dreams,” and “Clean.” “Clean” is the perfect end note to an album about past mistakes and relationships. In “Clean,” Swift admits that heartbreak hurts but she has moved on. It provides closure for the failed relationships mentioned in the tracks earlier in the album.

Swift’s new tracks demonstrate her ability to call out what many people have criticized her for: her varied dating past. It’s as if she decided to admit the truth and expose her past mistakes rather than the mistakes of those she dated. In “Blank Space” she sings “Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/’Cause you know I love the players/And you love the game,” and “I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.”

Although “1989” includes several songs about her exes, as should be expected from Swift, they are not blatantly negative about her former flames. The songs also come in a refreshing sound that is distinctly pop. Previously, Swift still considered herself as part of the country genre. But we all know she left her country sound behind with the teardrops on her guitar. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Swift admits that her last album, “Red,” “straddled the line between country and pop.” For “1989” Swift made a deliberate decision to make an album that would be strictly categorized as pop.

“1989” is available on iTunes.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Taylor Hicks: a Southern sound

Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks started singing before he could walk.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Hicks bought himself a harmonica at a local flea market when he was 16 years old and taught himself to play. He then taught himself guitar, then the organ and eventually began writing songs.

“Music is the common thread for me being an entertainer,” Hicks said.

His love for music and entertaining took him to Las Vegas in October of 2005 to audition for “American Idol.” With his enormous talent and the support of his hometown, as well as the entire nation, he went on to win the fifth season of “American Idol.”

“A lot of people love watching their hometown folks do well,” Hicks said. “When you get that opportunity you try to make the most of it and I’m very lucky to have that kind of support from my hometown.”

His childhood in Birmingham played an important role in the development of Hicks’ musical abilities. “I think growing up in Birmingham and being in the heart of Dixie, you pick up a lot of musical styles,” he said. With the influence of delta blues, gospel and country, Hicks had the opportunity to explore and learn about several genres. He also had the support of his family and friends. “Growing up in Birmingham, there were so many people who were supportive of me and my music,” Hicks said.

Even while making huge jumps in his entertainment career, Hicks still finds time to stay involved with the community of Birmingham. “I try to see my hometown people as much as I can,” he said.

Hicks is also the owner of Saw’s Juke Joint, an establishment that brings together great music and tasty BBQ. Saw’s Juke Joint is located in Mountain Brook and often features live music.

“I’m very thrilled to be a part of Saw’s Juke Joint,” Hicks said. “It’s a really neat thing to be a part of, because I think I’m hungry all the time.” Hicks enjoys throwing around culinary ideas for Saw’s and strives to stay involved with the musical end.

Hicks’s recommends that every newcomer to Birmingham catch a Baron’s game at the new field, get a beer and eat a hotdog. “Eat and watch baseball: the American pastime,” he said.

He also encourages visitors and natives alike to take advantage of the amazing food and atmosphere Birmingham has to offer. “We’ve come so far, as far as industry, the culinary arts and entertainment,” Hicks said.

Hicks’ personal favorite food spot: Sexton’s Seafood. “My family loves to go over to Sexton’s and get fresh fish so we can grill it,” he said. “Their crab dip is really good, too.”

In the end, it all comes down to faith for Hicks. “You have to have your ducks in a row upstairs as much as you have to have them in a row downstairs for you to gain a big break,” Hicks said. “I think God has carved out a path for me to be an entertainer.”

Hicks never hesitates to share where he came from. “I’m very blessed to be an Alabamian and even more blessed to be from Birmingham.”

By Abby Colella

Kara Young: a singer who doesn’t want to be famous


Kara Young poses for her new CD cover.

She has been singing for years and recently debuted her new CD, yet Kara Young has no desire to become famous.

Growing up in a family that sings together as a hobby, Young has always considered music to be part of her life. “I always tell people I started singing in the womb, but I really don’t remember the exact time I started singing,” Young said.

She began taking guitar lessons in eighth grade and was soon asked to lead worship for an event in her hometown of Tupelo, Miss. “I definitely loved the Lord and I loved music, so it made sense, but I didn’t really know what I was doing at first,” Young said.

However, that changed the summer before her tenth grade year of high school when she was asked to lead worship regularly for her church youth group. “I felt very inadequate,” she said. Recognizing that it was much more than simply singing, she thought other people had more talents than she did and would be better equipped.

“Knowing how to follow the Spirit and lead a congregation is so much more than performing a concert,” Young said. Even with all of these doubts, she felt called to lead and told her youth pastor, “I don’t want to, but I will.” Since then, multiple doors have opened and Young has been given the opportunity to sing for thousands of people.

During her senior year of high school she debuted an EP called “Take A Stand” with five original songs and one hymn. In the fall of 2013 she released her first full-length album titled “Familiarity”, which she describes as chapter two of her story. The songs on her new album follow her journey as she leaves home, begins life as a student at Samford University, struggles with picking a major and each new season that comes along the way.

Although she now has two CDs out and leads worship regularly, her goal has remained the same through the entire process.

“Ultimately, my goal is not to be a famous Christian singer,” Young said. “My goal is not to be well-known.” Instead, her “main goal is to open my heart and use the light of Jesus and allow myself to be a vessel for Him to reach others and lead others to a state of worship through the gifts He has given me.”

As she continues to take opportunities to sing, her mind-set remains that her talent is a gift. “It’s not about performing and it’s not about the songs and the vocals. He gave me a heart and a passion for leading the Body of Christ in a state of worship through the gift of music.”

Young currently works at a church in Birmingham by leading retreats and worship services on the weekend. She founded Let It Shine Ministries and continues to write and sing music while working through her ministry.

Kara Young’s music is available on iTunes and CDBaby. To keep up with her, visit her Facebook page.

By Kaitlyn Bouchillon

Photography by Elizabeth Bacon

Cardinal: EP release concert

Crowds flooded the University Christian Fellowship House on Highway 280 to see local band Cardinal premiere their EP.

Cardinal is a young band with three eager artists: Ethan Asters, Contemporary Worship Leader at Brookwood Baptist Church, Samford University student Brent Beachtel and University of Alabama at Birmingham student Kyle Carpenter. Cardinal produced their first EP through a Kickstarter campaign.

“Kickstarter is a way for people to fund their idea for a product by getting people to pay for the product in advance. We are so fortunate to have friends and family who helped us.” Brent Beachtel said.

In an intimate concert setting, Cardinal’s music brought together many supporters and established a strong connection with its audience. “We don’t want to just communicate to our audience, but we want them to feel emotion with us,” Beachtel said.

The group formed a little over two years ago when Asters called Beachtel with the idea to start a band. Beachtel was excited from the beginning and later recruited Carpenter as their drummer. Beachtel couldn’t pinpoint why the name Cardinal stuck but said Ethan had always been a big Cardinals baseball fan.

Juggling college, work, church life and music is not an easy feat, yet the members of Cardinal expressed their desire to prioritize rehearsal time and the call to pursue music.

Beachtel believes that they are unlike any other band in Birmingham. They want to add something unique to the Birmingham music scene. Their desire is to “stand out” and hopefully produce a full-length album sometime soon.

“We are in it for the long haul,” Beachtel said.

Cardinal’s music is available on iTunes, Spotify and CDBaby. To keep up with the band, visit the Cardinal Facebook page.

By Eleanor Stenner
Photography by Eleanor Stenner

Jeremy Moore: Up and Coming

The passion, piercing lyrics and haunting melodies coming from Jeremy Moore make Birmingham proud to claim him as a native. Moore, a recent Samford graduate, grew up in Birmingham as a worship pastor’s kid—a “PK” as some call it.

Moore led worship for church services and Disciple Now weekends for years, honing his skills on drums, guitar and piano. Although he never anticipated a solo career, Moore went to Samford for classical music training to serve as a basis for his musicianship. Moore believes, “If you don’t know where you come from musically, you don’t know where you can go musically.”

With an ever-developing style that delights the ears, Moore’s music ranges from rock to blues, yet his lyrics primarily revolve around relationships. “I want people listening to my music to have something they can fall back on to that connects to their emotion at that moment and helps them realize either a greater truth or a deeper meaning. If someone listens to one of my breakup song after a break up, I see that as the highest compliment.”

jeremy! jeremy1! jeremy2!

The main priority in Moore’s life is his faith. As the Music Associate at Briarwood Presbyterian Church, he is able to use his musical gifts on a weekly basis. Moore experiences the tension between the Christian and secular music industry as many others do, however, Moore thinks that faith and music are intended to intertwine. “I think they can play a vital part in the struggle and in the content you write about. You’re asking hard questions but at the end of the day you come back to the realization that God is sovereign and He’s always going to be something you can rely on no matter what.”

Jeremy Moore is an aspiring Birmingham-renowned musician. After releasing his Perfect Mold EP in May 2013, Moore started to play at open mic nights and music competitions around Birmingham. He recently won Moonlight on the Mountain, which led to a radio spot on Birmingham Mountain Radio and the production of an upcoming EP with Higher Ground Studios.

You can download Moore’s Perfect Mold EP on iTunes or support him by “liking”

By Eleanor Stenner
Photography by Eleanor Stenner

Parachute’s Nate McFarland talks tours, albums and…rap?

The band Parachute is slowly but surely making its way up in the music industry. Starting with competitions like Battle of the Bands and moving up to touring with artists such as Kelly Clarkson and NEEDTOBREATHE, the band has an amazing story of success, and they’re only getting bigger. Exodus got to talk with guitarist Nate McFarland and pick his brain about tours, albums, rap and a little bit in between.


Exodus: Have you played at WorkPlay before?
Nate: We have, love WorkPlay, love the mini-arena cage-fight feel of it with the balconies.

E: How far are you on the album that “Hearts Go Crazy” [your latest single] is going to be on?
N: We have tracked 14 songs so we’re all done recording, now we’re in the process of mixing and maybe teasing a few that might become bonus tracks and not make it on the regular version.

E: What’s your favorite headlining tour you’ve done?
N: It’s oftentimes the most recent one; whatever was the most recent one that has the biggest crowds and the best venues. So I think this past fall was the best one. As far as opening tours go it’s a tie between Kelly Clarkson and NEEDTOBREATHE.

E: Did you all [the band] go to school together?
N: We’re all from Virginia and everybody except for me went to middle school and high school together, that’s when they formed the band. And then Will and I went to college together and that’s where I got plugged in with the rest of the guys. There have been other guitar players before me; I’m the only unoriginal member.

E: I saw somewhere that you used to be called Sparky’s Flaw. What’s the story behind that?
N: The band formed their sophomore year of high school for Battle of the Bands, so it was just a joke name. They have lots of different funny little alibis that they like to tell but you can’t get a straight answer out of any of them.

E: When y’all are touring it’s just every day you’re traveling, playing, traveling, playing…does that ever get tiring for you or is this just what you love doing?
N: Yes and no. It’s an amazing lifestyle, it’s awesome, but it does get old at times for sure. Living out of a suitcase or washing your hair in a hotel lobby sink at 2 a.m. or something definitely gets old, but at the same time every job has its down sides and this one has some pretty bangin’ perks.

E: So I heard there’s a possibility of a Monster Squad rap album…is that true?
N: It is hard to tell. Truth is it’s kind of like a joke side project but we all love rap, honestly. So we’re not mocking rap, we’re laughing at ourselves and our inability to be good at rap. But we do have some songs, they’re too explicit to release so we’re not really sure what to do but we enjoy getting to pretend like we’re rappers. There are actually some songs that are bangin’ so maybe if we can clean them up a little bit…we think the likelihood of a digital mixed tape being released sometime in the future is highly likely because we just like having fun too much to keep it under wraps.

E: If you wanted to say one thing to people about this new album coming out, what would be one thing you’d want them to know about it?
N: These are good, well-written songs. I think that’s their biggest strength. There’s no concept to this album, no overarching themes that we’ve intentionally put in. The guiding criteria are just great songs. They maybe simpler than some of our past songs have been, because oftentimes some of the best pop songs are just simple, unforgettable melodies.

Parachute will be playing at WorkPlay April 25th at 8 p.m. For tickets and other information visit

Photo courtesy of