SIP AND SPIN: Tired of sitting solo with your single-speaker record cabinet on a Thursday night, that old familiar brew can cradled in your cold hand? High Fidelity on the table, pages watermarked, worn and familiar. Click of a needle. White noise. “Flip it,” you tell the dreaming dog, who, like always, ignores you with twitching paws and a yip. “You don’t get Loretta anyway,” you say. Lonely listener, you, your ears and beers have friends a’waiting. Don’t spend another blue night in Birmingham with your tunes. Grab a milk crate, stack your wax and mosey down to Crestwood Coffee Company to relax. Crestwood’s neighborhood eat-and-drink spot, tucked over the hill from Avondale, hosts Open Vinyl Night. Let the baristas do the spinning and flipping. No 12” gets disrespect in this shop, which calls itself “a place for everyone.” Let it be the place for the record store geek in all of us. Let it be part of your weekly routine, or at least, let Loretta out for a night. Locally roasted coffee is on tap. Beers are in the cooler. A variety of fresh soups, sandwiches and baked goods are behind the counter. And somewhere, maybe in the corner booth with a rose in a Nick Hornby novel, is the one you’ve been waiting for, the one who’ll sit beside you and listen. Thursdays. 7-10 p.m. Check it out: (205) 595-0300.
OUR FAIR STATE: The “Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” was first held in London in 1851. Later called The World Expo and then the World Fair, the event sparked electric excitement in its hosting cities. For the Fair was a place where the great traded in inventions and adventure. A place for brighteyed farm girls and billionaires, artists and architects, foodies and freaks. The telephone made its debut at the World Fair. So did the Ferris wheel. The Fair was a place where art, science and technology came together to politely shake hands, admire what was beautiful and amazing, critique what was antiquated and useless, and return home with blueprints for what was to come of our world. Surely it was a spectacular spectacle. What, you ask, does Alabama’s State Fair offer? Monkeys riding dogs. (This is, of course, not a fair comparison. Everyone knows monkeys top telephones.) Held at The Verizon Wireless Music Center, this year’s fair boasts Vegas-style shows, bottlefeeding baby animals, an exotic petting zoo and an interactive roaming circus. All the fairground regulars will be there, too—gut-sick-inducing rides, goat poop, pink cotton candy and girls pretending to women. This may not be the World Expo. No, the invention to mark our time won’t be unveiled in the shadow of Oak Mountain. Face it: we don’t want the World Expo. We want a belly full of funnel cake. This is the Alabama State Fair. Friday night, let the lawn see another dawn without a mow. Put the kids or your friends in the station wagon. Hit the highway to Amphitheater Drive. It’s fair time. August 26-September 5. For tickets and times, check out: alstatefair.com.
DITCH THE SIDEWALK CHALK: The pictures are moving. You should, too. Move off that couch, move off the sticky seat in your neighborhood cinema and settle into a comfy chair provided by one of the nine metro venues participating in the 13th Annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. The festival, presented by the Alabama Moving Image Association and held in Birmingham’s Historic Theatre District, is August 26-28. (For a full schedule, map and recommended pictures, see the helpful, handy pull-out in the very issue of Weekly that’s excitedly shivering in your eager hands.) Since 1999, Sidewalk has showcased independent flicks from up the block and around the globe. Spend your Saturday in the blue glow of the big screen, entranced in independent film. Take a break from the entertainment and engage your brain in one of Saturday’s “Sidetakes.” Pick from panels where you can learn how to make a movie on less than $5,000 or how to document a life on film. Whether you spend your Saturday in a picture, at a panel or partying, spend it with Sidewalk. Who knows? September may find you with a pocket full of dollars and an autobiographical documentary film in the making. Tickets $20-275. Check it out: sidewalkfest.com.
INDIGO BOY: One time, at the Alys Stephens Center, I saw the Indigo Girls play. I’m not ashamed. Let’s say it was a Sunday night. Let’s say there were people all over the city in another kind of place, praying. Let’s say they were listening to music, too. Sitting in the dress circle, stage left, I witnessed that thing, that great, unspeakable thing that music does to us: I witnessed a spiritual revival. The ASC’s theater holds a little over 2,000, a nice number, a right number to get a rolling roar of applause and “woos” and “my gods.” The theater is seated, but that night, the crowd couldn’t stay off its feet. The soundboard operator abandoned her floor post in the rear of the theater and marched the aisles, frenzied, as if she’d been struck with the spirit, stamping her boots, thrusting her fists toward the glowing spotlights and bellowing hallelujah. Music, for some us, is a kind of religion. Matthew Paul Miller is Matisyahu. Born in New York and having spent time on both coasts—following Phish, experimenting with hallucinogens and studying Judaism— Matthew Miller became Matisyahu when he combined traditional Jewish themes with reggae music. Scientists claim indigo isn’t visible. You can see Matisyahu under the glowing spotlights of the Alys Stephens Center. Trevor Hall opens. Pre-party sponsored by Yellow Bicycle (the mobile Fish Club)—including a drum circle!—begins at 5:30. Show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 for the public, $20 for students. Check it out: alysstephens.uab.edu.
SUMMER’S END: Before you shed your summer skin, before the long days of summer end, before fall begins and brown is in, the sun turns to tin and Alabama wins, drop in for something less grim at the Four Corners Gallery for “Sights of Summer.” The exhibit features works inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of our liveliest of seasons—seashells and bare feet. Honeysuckles slipping up the side of a rusted aluminum fence. Dragonflies flying low over daffodils and drowsy dogs. Creek water falling over rocks. The hum of the a/c. Sweat. Your neighbors drinking on their front porch, their radio rattling till dawn. Kids in and under trees. The gallery is holding a contest for a chance to win $500 in custom framing. Guess the number of frame samples in the showroom to win. What better way to begin your week than to say goodbye to summer? 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Free. Check it out: 205.980.2600.
END DRAUGHT DROUGHT: Drought: an extended period of time during which there is an absence. (As in, we haven’t had whoopee pies in months—it’s a whoop’ drought!) Draught: beer poured from a pressurized keg, cask or barrel. (As is, the keg’s tapped—we’re out of draught!) Don’t let draught drought happen to you. The Alabama Social Media Association hosts the ALsocme Backyard Party at the J. Clyde. Join the J. for half off draught beer (less than 6-percent abv), a dollar off all drinks, and a chance to win a $100 tab. (Check out the site for details on entering to win the tab—pre-registration required. This isn’t Cash Cab. You can’t simply wander in.) Also, give Good People Brewing Company’s special cask of Mumbai Rye IPA a try. Procrastinators beware: you must sign up in advance. The backyard isn’t big enough everyone so get your tickets soon. 5-7:30 p.m. Free. 5 ticket limit. Check it out: (205) 611-1102. Sign up now at alsocme.com.
BANJO-ING IN THE BATHROOM: Who wouldn’t prefer a melodious experience to an odious one in the bathroom?
Alynda Lee at 18 was a traveling street musician, home-recording (and hopefully not multi-tasking) on her banjo in a bathroom in Brooklyn. The sweet, tinny cling of the 5-string with Lee’s often mellow, slow voice is pleasant and worth a listen. When Lee hooked up with Walter McClements of the New Orleans’ band Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship, the two formed Hurray for the Riff Raff. (Possible rejected band names: Fanfare for the Common Folk and Yeah Yeah Yeah Serfs!) Performing from their debut LP, It Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You, Hurray returns to Bottletree Café. The Tumbleweeds and The Shakes to play, too. 9 p.m. $7. Check it out: thebottletree.com.
HARD TO HANDLE: Once the front man for The Black Crowes, Chris Robinson is infamously blowing smoke. Kicked off his first tour with ZZ Top for bad mouthing corporate sponsors and industry greed, and making public declarations for his love of the other green, Robinson is known for being hard to handle. At 44, the Southern rocker from Georgia has yet to go hoarse. He’s formed a band of merry musicians, and the boys are hitting American venues with a vengeance. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood promises to steal from the bad vibes and give to the good at WorkPlay. Put on your grooving shoes and start September swaying. 8 p.m. $15. Check it out: workplay.com.