BIRMINGHAM O’CLOCK: Operation New Birmingham is a “non-profit, public private partnership between the City of Birmingham and the private business community”. Their goal, essentially, is to bring more businesses, and therefore more citizens, to the Birmingham city center. It’s a worthy cause, because in order for Birmingham to prosper, people have to live in Birmingham. Those who are familiar with downtown know that it has needed a revamping for some time now. One would hope those same people know that change takes a lot of time and a lot of work. And hopefully they see ONB’s recurring meeting, “CityCenter 5:05,” as a step in the right direction. The event is an opportunity to bring yourself up to speed with the goings on downtown and in surrounding areas. If you’re passionate about Birmingham, you’re sure to find plenty of others willing to talk with you, hear out some ideas and just revel in the sense of community the event provides. This time, it will take place at the City Federal Condominiums. Good People Brewing Company and Ted’s Restaurant will be on hand serving up food and drinks, and there will be three condos available for viewing with attached giveaways. The net proceeds will go to United Way tornado relief. It all starts at 5:05 p.m., and tickets are $5.05 in advance ($10 the day of). For more information, call (205) 324-8797 or visit www.yourcitycenter.com.
A CLASSIC SUMMER: The Alabama Symphony Orchestra always seems to be starting a new music series. This week, they begin something called “Summer Serenades.” While that might not give you much indication about what music you’ll be hearing, I think the title is meant to underline the location change. While most of ASO’s performances occur at the Alys Stephens Center, this series will be in Brock Recital Hall at Samford University. The first show of this week, on Friday, will feature members of the ASO wind section performing pieces by Mozart and Dvorak. The second show, on Thursday, June 2, will feature members of the string section, performing more by Mozart and Dvorak, but also one by Tchaikovsky. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $25. For more information, call (205) 726-2851 or visit www.alabamasymphony.org.
BRING ON THE BALLET: The Birmingham Ballet Repertory Company will bring their most recent show, entitled “Hues: Vibrant Shades of Dance, Art and Live Music,” to the BJCC this week. The series performance will include works from the company’s Heritage Collection. Most have been choreographed by prominent director Alfonso Figueroa, but there will be one new piece by a director Cindy Free set to the music of live band Montana Skies. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $21. For more information, call (205) 458-8400 or visit www.bjcc.org.
JAVA LESSONS: Anyone who’s a coffee fan (and I know there’s no shortage of you out there) would do well to seek out “Coffee Tastings @ the Plaza” at the Hoover Public Library. The events have been running for months and months now, always on Sundays. They are organized by the independently owned and operated Coffee-ol-ogy Coffee Café, who has locations in both Hoover and Florence. Staff members are on hand to discuss the many flourishes and techniques that go into making that perfectly blended brew. You’ll not soon forget these informative discussions on the art of making French press coffee. Events start at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free. For more information, call (205) 444-7821 or visit www.hooverlibrary.org.
JAZZ IS SO RELIEVING: We’ve told you about “Jazz in the Park” before. Over the last summer, Magic City Smooth Jazz presented a series of concerts in six different Birmingham area parks, all showcasing popular jazz artists. While those shows offered a relaxing afternoon, some chilled out tunes and a few refreshments, the event this week is really worth your attention. “Jazz in the Park” will take place in Railroad Park, a location prime for great event viewing. The line-up will contain many of the artists who’ve played in the summer series—Vann Burchfield, Heritage Band, Neo Jazz Collective, Overfloe, Keith Williams and, Left Field, On Purpose with Dwight Houston, Laser’s Edge, Kenneth Williams and N’Fusion with James Crumb Jr. But most of all, this week’s Memorial Day celebration concert, “Pickn’ Up the Pieces” has been organized to provide relief for those affected by the tornados on April 27. Proceeds will be donated to The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. The event will start at 10 a.m., and go all the way to 9 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are obviously suggested. For more information, call (205) 616-1735.
KEEP ‘EM IN STITCHES: Every week we keep listings for the Birmingham Museum of Art’s “Artbreaks.” The 30-minute gallery talks are the Museum’s most consistent events, taking place each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. The discussions usually come from employees at the Museum, who take a specific artistic period or movement and expound on it for participants. Past lecturers have included curatorial fellow Nicole Jordan, assistant curators of education Kristen Greenwood, Samantha Kelly and Suzy Harris, as well as a few special guests like Shariff Simmons. This week’s “Artbreak” should be especially interesting, given that it’s the first to showcase their current exhibition, “A Stitch in Time: Southern Quilts in the African-American Tradition.” The Museum has one of the largest quilting displays in the country, and director Gail Andrews will delve deep into that collection, giving her insight into how the pieces were acquired, what it took to make them and the history they keep alive. Again, the event starts at noon. As usual, it is free. Take some time afterwards if you feel like it to have lunch at the in-Museum restaurant, Oscar’s. For more information, call (205) 254-2565 or visit www.artsbma.org.
HERBIE’S HERE! Between the Jazz in the Park series on Monday and the performance by The Birmingham Seven on Thursday, this has turned out be a big week for jazz in Birmingham. What might be the biggest show, though, is Herbie Hancock’s performance at the Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center, even though his style is one that strays from traditional jazz more often than not. This, incidentally, is why I enjoy Hancock so much. Maybe it’s just my propensity for rhythm and a catchier sound, but the way he incorporates funk and R&B into his jazz stylings makes for more interesting and unpredictable experience. The show will take place in the Jemison Concert Hall, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are between $32 and $64. Students can get in for $20. For more information, call (205) 975-2787 or visit www.alysstephens.uab.edu.
GARDENS OF GIVING: While the aforementioned “Jazz in the Park ‘Pickn’ Up the Pieces’ Tornado Relief Concert” is one of this week’s standout fundraising event, don’t forget about Aldridge Botanical Gardens’ efforts to do their part. Last week, I covered their own Blue Galaxy String Project benefit concert for tornado victims. This week, they’ve organized a new show for the same cause. The city of Hoover employees again show a refreshing sense of awareness by inviting jazz septet The Birmingham Seven to play, with proceeds benefiting a number of different relief efforts. The show starts at 7 p.m., and is free with a donation. For more information, call (205) 682-8019 or visit www.aldridgegardens.com.