Press Release - Detail
Revised and Updated 9/6/2013
For immediate release on Friday, September 6, 2013.
CONTACT: Angela Fisher Hall                                  
Associate Director                                              
Birmingham Public Library System                                  
Phone: (205) 226-3614                                         
Library Adds More Acts to America’s Music Program Series
Birmingham, Alabama—If you missed the first three weeks of popular music performances, lectures and films, you still have time to join in. The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) System has been awarded a $2,500 grant to host a twelve-week program series featuring documentary film screenings, scholar-led discussions and performances of twentieth-century American popular music. The “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” series has already enlightened audiences about uniquely American musical genres including blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, rock n’ roll, mambo, and hip hop. With several more weeks of outstanding programming planned, upcoming performers include Cleve Eaton, Act of Congress, Cottonmouth Creek Trio, and Dr. Frank Adams.
“America’s Music” is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. “America’s Music” has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.  Programming for the series began Saturday, August 10 and runs through September 26, 2013. All programs are free, open to the public and take place at various library locations in the City. For program details or to obtain copies of program materials, please visit or contact Sandi Lee at (205) 226-3742 or by e-mail at
“America’s Music,” designed for a general audience, will introduce genres of twentieth-century American popular music that are deeply connected to the history, culture, and geography of the United States. Older and younger Americans alike will have the chance to recognize how the cultural landscape that they take for granted today has been influenced by the development of the popular musical forms discussed in this series.
The onset of the twentieth century brought pervasive changes to American society. During the early part of the century, these social changes combined with new technologies to create a mass market for popular music that evolved over the next hundred years. The “America’s Music” series is not meant to offer an all-inclusive treatment of twentieth-century American popular music. Instead, each screening and discussion session will examine an important American musical genre in the context of key social and historical developments, with events in American music history acting as a catalyst for that examination.
The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment.  This system—with nineteen locations and serving the community for 126 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast.  For additional information, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  
America’s Music:
A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway
Red, Hot and Blue:  Spotlight on Alabama Blues Women
Five Points West Regional Branch Library, 4812 Avenue W., Birmingham, AL  35208
September 9, 2013 – October 4, 2013 (Available during regular hours of operation)
This exhibition is a collection of oversized posters. In 2005 the Alabama Blues Project launched a traveling exhibition on Alabama blues women called Red, Hot and Blue: A Spotlight on Alabama Blues Women. The exhibition includes beautiful text panels featuring Dinah Washington, Big Mama Thornton, Lucille Bogan, Coot Grant, Odetta, Lil Greenwood, and Vera Hall.  The Alabama Blues Project’s mission is to preserve and promote Alabama blues.
Swing Jazz: Film/Discussion Series
Springville Road Regional Branch Library, 1224 Old Springville Road, Birmingham, AL  35215
Saturday, September 7, 2013                          2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Steve Roberts will serve as the discussion facilitator.  Jazz reached the height of its popularity with the American public during the swing era, beginning in the dark days of the Depression and continuing through the victorious end of World War II.  Also known as the Big Band sound, swing jazz was characterized by its strong rhythmic drive and by an orchestral ‘call and response’ between different sections of the ensemble.  By performing their music with increasingly complex arrangements for ever larger orchestras, Swing musicians helped erode the wall between our definitions of popular music and the art music generally labeled “classical.” 
An Evening of Jazzy Blues                 ****NEW PROGRAM****
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, 2501 31st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35207
Tuesday, September 10, 2013                        6:00 p.m.
Legendary jazz great, Cleve Eaton has invited several friends to join him for an evening of jazzy blues. 
Hear Elnora Spencer, Diane McNaron and Ray Reach as they bring us an exceptional evening of music and song. 
Broadway Review                              ****NEW PROGRAM****
West End Branch Library, 1348 Tuscaloosa Ave. SW, 35211
Tuesday, September 10, 2013                        6:00 p.m.
Enjoy all your favorite numbers from the Broadway stage from such shows such as the Sound of Music, Porgy and Bess, the Wiz, South Pacific and many more.  Royce Brown and special guest Nfrwi will share
an introduction to Broadway that you will never forget!
Tuxedo Junction: Alabama’s Contribution to American Jazz—A Discussion
Smithfield Branch Library, #1 Eighth Avenue West, Birmingham, AL  35204
Thursday, September 12, 2013                       10:00 a.m.
Karen Utz, Curator at Sloss Furnaces, will serve as the discussion facilitator. Albert Murray, a native of Alabama and a professor of English at Tuskegee Institute, wrote the following while preparing a lecture on the emotional appeal of jazz:
“Jazz is a music played by Americans to get rid of the blues….when
You see a jazz musician playing, you’re looking at a pioneer, and
You’re looking at an explorer; you’re looking at an experimenter,
You’re looking at a  scientist; you’re looking at all those things
Because it’s the creative process come to life.”
And many of the jazz musicians responsible for bringing this creative process to life often played at Birmingham’s own Tuxedo Junction.  For almost thirty years Tuxedo Junction’s strip served as the social and entertainment Mecca for African-Americans in the Birmingham area.  In 1930, Erskine Hawkins, Birmingham native and renowned trumpet player and big band leader, wrote the song “Tuxedo Junction” which celebrated and eventually immortalized his childhood community.  Jazz pieces performed by the Alabama great will be played throughout the presentation.
Doc: The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man—Talk, Performance and Book Signing
Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL  35203
Tuesday, September 10, 2013                        6:30 p.m.
Doc:  The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man—Talk, Performance and Book Signing
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, 2501 31st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL  35207
Tuesday, September 17, 2013                        6:30 p.m.
Dr. Frank Adams and co-author Burgin Mathews will lead this performance and discussion. Doc is the autobiography of jazz elder statesman Frank “Doc” Adams, highlighting his role in Birmingham, Alabama’s historic jazz scene and tracing his personal adventure that parallels, in many ways, the story and spirit of jazz itself. Doc tells the story of an accomplished jazz master, from his musical apprenticeship under John T. “Fess” Whatley and his time touring with Sun Ra and Duke Ellington to his own inspiring work as an educator and bandleader. Central to this narrative is the often-overlooked story of Birmingham’s unique jazz tradition and community. From the very beginnings of jazz, Birmingham was home to an active network of jazz practitioners and a remarkable system of jazz apprenticeship rooted in the city’s segregated schools. Birmingham musicians spread across the country to populate the sidelines of the nation’s best known bands. Local musicians, like Erskine Hawkins and members of his celebrated orchestra, returned home heroes. Frank “Doc” Adams explores, through first-hand experience, the history of this community, introducing readers to a large and colorful cast of characters— including “Fess” Whatley, the legendary “maker of musicians” who trained legions of Birmingham players and made a significant mark on the larger history of jazz. Adams’s interactions with the young Sun Ra, meanwhile, reveals life-changing lessons from one of American music’s most innovative personalities.
 Act of Congress: In Concert—Bluegrass/Newgrass    ****NEW DATE*****
Atrium of the Central Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL  35203
Friday, September 20, 2013                            6:30 p.m.

“A few weeks ago, I was browsing around on Noisetrade (see Noisetrade- A Useful Tool For Bluegrass Artists), and stumbled upon a band called Act Of Congress. The name caught my eye, and the music captured my attention. While this Alabama group doesn’t play straight bluegrass, their music does incorporate many elements of what we love about Big Mon’s legacy. I had the pleasure of talking with founding member and guitarist, Chris Griffin, about the group Dave Higgs of Nashville Public Radio calls “one of the freshest sounding, exuberant bands in all of the known acoustic universe.”  I definitely recommend this new acoustic group. The extreme talent exhibited by these young adults cannot be overstated. Their original music is uniquely their own, and features elements of various forms of music, including bluegrass.”
Country and Blue Grass:  Film/Discussion Series
Avondale Regional Branch Library, 509 South 40th Street, Birmingham, AL  35222
Saturday, September 21, 2013                        2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Steven Roberts will serve as the discussion facilitator. Bluegrass is generally considered a sub-genre of country music that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Although for purposes of radio airplay, bluegrass songs were programmed on country music stations beginning in the late 1940s, bluegrass as a musical form did not develop directly out of the generation of recorded commercial country music that preceded it. Rather, the two forms share the same roots in the traditional music of the Appalachian region and the Irish and Scottish ballads that informed it. 
Let Freedom Ring—Family Concert with Sparky and Rhonda Rucker  ***NEW PROGRAM***
Springville Road Regional Branch Library, 1224 Old Springville Road, Birmingham, AL  35203
Monday, September 23, 2013             6:00 p.m.
A concert by Sparky and Rhonda Rucker is a gimmick-free, old-style American folk and blues presentation and a testament to the ongoing struggle for liberty in the United States.  Their program, which showcases their newest CD entitled “Let Freedom Ring,” includes songs and stories that trace the nation’s history from slavery and the Underground Railroad, through women’s suffrage and the founding of the UMWA, to the civil rights movement.  They accompany themselves with finger picking and bottleneck blues guitar, blues harmonica, old-time banjo, spoons, and bones.
Cottonmouth Creek Trio                   ****NEW PROGRAM****
Springville Road Regional Library, 1224 Old Springville Road, Birmingham, AL  35215
Tuesday, October 1, 2013                               6:30 p.m.
The Cottonmouth Creek Trio is a subset of the Cottonmouth Creek Bluegrass Band—Kevin Atkins on banjo and guitar, Kelly Fowler on bass, and Steve Tourtellotte on mandolin and guitar. Kevin and Steve have been playing together for 35 years and Kelly has been in the mix for the past 20 years. Switching instrumentation as needed to suit the song; they play a mix of traditional and contemporary bluegrass, original material, and bluegrass adaptations of various other musical genres, and emphasize vocal harmonies as well as hot instrumental licks.  Join us for a great evening of music and fun!
Rock:  Film/Discussion Series
Five Points West Regional Branch Library, 4812 Avenue W., Birmingham, AL  35208
Saturday, October 5, 2013                              2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Steven Roberts will serve as the discussion facilitator. The music we know as rock and roll emerged
in the mid-1950s, although its advent had been on the horizon for at least a decade.  A quarter of the
American population moved during World War II, and that brought southern, rural, sacred and secular
traditions into new contact with urban based music and audiences. The product of many regional musical
scenes and independent record labels, rock and roll emerged in Memphis, Los Angeles, Shreveport,
New York, Detroit, Baltimore, and dozens of other cities.  It was, in historian Charlie Gillett’s words, the
Sound of the City.  
Fiddlers, Banjo Players and Strawbeaters: Alabama’s First Pop Musicians   ****NEW PROGRAM****
Springville Road Regional Branch Library, 1224 Old Springville Road, Birmingham, AL  35215
Tuesday, October 8, 2013                               6:30 P.M.
Join us for this interactive presentation by Joyce and Jim Cauthen as we learn about the early fiddles of Alabama, the musicians who played them and the popularity of this music in their communities.  African-Americans and their pivotal role in developing the music will be featured during the talk.  Jim Cauthen will demonstrate fiddle tunes that have been specifically mentioned in historical writings, slave narratives and early newspapers of Alabama.  The audience will hear musical styles and tunes that are seldom heard today.  Join us for a very informative and entertaining evening!
Tuxedo Junction:  Right Back Where I Belong        ****NEW PROGRAM****
Author Talk and Book Signing
Smithfield Library, 1 Eighth Avenue West, Birmingham, AL 35204
Thursday, October 10, 2013                           10:00 A.M.
Carol P. Ealons gives a fascinating account of Birmingham’s jazz contributions in the 1920s through the 1940s as viewed through the eyes of the African-American populace of Birmingham, Alabama.  Carol has done a wonderful job in describing the background, the history, and most importantly, the players who made it happen. Dr. Robert O'Mealey, director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University had this to say about Carol and Tuxedo Junction:
“Tuxedo Junction: Right Back Where I Belong is an extremely fine book, an obvious labor of deep love that took months and years to put together. I read every word, and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was most gratifying to see how significant a role Birmingham has played in American musical history and the role of Fess Whatley should be known all over the world! Carol has done the world a mighty service, and I for one am exceedingly grateful.”  -- Dr. Robert G. O’Meally (Ph.D. - Harvard 1975), Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Director for the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University
Carol is a marvelous writer and has the support of the families of several famous jazz musicians for her book.  She painstakingly interviewed many, including some of the living musicians, and received mounds of photos that record the history of this important part of Alabama's culture, a part often forgot when discussing African-American Alabamians contributions to our state's history.
Latin Rhythm from Mambo to Hip Hop:  Film/Discussion Series
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, 2501 31st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL  35207
Saturday, October 19, 2013                            2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Dr. Steven Roberts will serve as the discussion facilitator. The historic arc from mambo to hip hop describes a Diaspora-cultural dynamic that shows remarkable resilience in the face of multiple pressures to abandon native and historical traditions and go American mainstream. At the same time, the intricate and vastly creative interaction between Cuban, Puerto Rican and other “Latin” traditions with African American music in its many stylistic expressions, a fusion that shows no sign of abating in the new millennium, has graced contemporary listeners with decade after decade of inspired musical invention.

MEDIA:  Media coverage of all events is welcomed.  For additional information about programming, or to obtain additional photographs, please contact Sandi Lee at (205) 226-3742 or Angela Fisher Hall at (205) 226-3614.
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