Ten Reasons Not To Miss SlossFest March 20, 2017 01:55
Words by Jordan Kirkland: Live & Listen
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These is no question that the music scene in Birmingham, AL is currently thriving as much as any city in the country. With longstanding venues such as Oak Mountain Amphitheater, Alabama Theatre, Sloss Furnace, WorkPlay, and Zydeco, you wouldn't think there would be much need for more. The continuous growth across the city has more than warranted new venues such as Iron City and Saturn, as well as the restoration of the historic Lyric Theatre. On top of the existing presence of live music on any given night, Birmingham is also the home of one of the newest major music events in the country, Sloss Music & Arts Festival.
Without spoiling all of the details, Sloss Music & Arts Festival is a two-day music and lifestyle event that takes place at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, July 15th and Sunday, July 16th, 2017. The complete lineup can be found on the graphic listed below. As we prepare for what is sure to be an epic weekend, we've decided to outline the top ten reasons why you absolutely do not want to miss out on SlossFest 2017.
As part of our SlossFest preview coverage, we're giving away two General Admission Weekend Passes to one lucky winner. To enter this contest, you must share this post directly from the Live & Listen Facebook page and tag two friends in the comments section of the post. Make sure that your Facebook privacy settings are designated to 'public', so we can see that you shared the post on our end A winner will be announced on Monday, April 27th.
10 Reasons Not To Miss Birmingham's SlossFest
1. A Celebration of Birmingham's Culture
SlossFest is a celebration of the unique, creative culture that makes life in Birmingham so unique. In just three short years, SlossFest has established itself as a major national event, which features many of the biggest names on the music festival circuit, while also providing a tremendous opportunity for so many promising up-and-coming acts. 40 bands on 4 stages in one centralized Birmingham location. What more could you ask for?
2. Widespread Panic
Veteran Georgia jam band Widespread Panic may be slowing down its touring schedule in 2017, SlossFest will serve as what seems to be the band's annual stop in The Magic City. While the band has announced a handful of major festivals for 2017 (SlossFest, SweetWater 420 Fest, Wanee, The Peach Festival, etc.), the only confirmed headlining "Panic shows" thus far are scheduled for Red Rocks Amphitheatre on June 23rd-25th. Unless you plan on following the 2017 WSP festival tour, this could be one of the only opportunities to catch the boys in Alabama in 2017. Considering Panic's long-standing history and unforgettable past performances in Birmingham, something tells us that this one will be special.
Watch Widespread Panic perform "You Can't Always Get What You Want" with Tedeschi Trucks Band in Birmingham (2016) here:
3. Alabama Shakes
While the Alabama natives, Alabama Shakes, have become one of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll in recent years, its not every day that you have a chance to catch these guys (and gals) in their home state. The performance at SlossFest is one of only six scheduled dates on the band's current tour page, with the only other southeastern date scheduled for JazzFest. Alabama Shakes is an American blues rock band formed in Athens, Alabama in 2009. The band began their career touring and performing at bars and clubs around the Southeast for two years while honing their sound and writing music. They recorded their debut album, Boys & Girls, while still unsigned. Online acclaim led ATO Records to sign the band, which released Boys & Girls in 2012 to acclaim. The album had a hit single, "Hold On," and was nominated for three Grammy Awards.
After a long touring cycle, the band recorded their second record, Sound & Color, which was released in 2015 and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and won four Grammy Awards. Lead singer Brittany Howard is often compared to the lakes of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin, while she claims much inspiration from Bon Scott of AC/DC in her vocal style, praising his "soulful" way of singing. Long story short, this will be one of the most dynamic performances of 2017 in Birmingham.
Watch Alabama Shakes perform "Don't Wanna Fight" on Saturday Night Live here:
4. Sturgill Simpson
One would be hard pressed to find an artist or band of any genre who experienced the success of Sturgill Simpson in the past two years. Sturgill is an American country music and roots rock singer-songwriter. To date, he has released three albums as a solo artist. He released two albums independently, High Top Mountain in 2013 and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music in 2014. His second album is notable for being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, being listed 18th on Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2014," and also being named among "NPR's 50 Favorite Albums of 2014."
His third studio album, A Sailor's Guide to Earth, was released on Atlantic Records and was Simpson's first major-label release, later earning him Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy Awards while also being nominated for Album of the Year. Simpson is often compared to Waylon Jennings and the Outlaw Country genre of country music. Simpson himself counts Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Keith Whitley, and Marty Robbins as much bigger influences on his sound than Waylon Jennings. Sturgill's recent performance of "Call To Arms" on Saturday Night Live has been widely considered one of the shows most dynamic performances in recent years and can be watched in full HD below.
Watch Sturgill Simpson perform "Call To Arms" on Saturday Night Live here:
5. A Healthy Serving of Electronic, Hip Hop, and Funk
While much of the hype surrounding many other festivals of this nature points toward the jam rock, folk, indy, and alternative acts, SlossFest will feature a healthy serving of major names from the electronic and hip hop scenes. The Seattle-based duo Odesza sits atop this year's lineup as a major headliner, while New York-duo Phantogram, electronic-indie duo Cherub, and producers Tycho, Cashmere Cat, and Francis & The Lights will also be found drawing large, wildly enthusiastic crowds. Sloss's hip hop acts will include well-established national acts such as Waka Flocka Flame, K-Flay, and Kaidyo, amongst others. And while he certainly isnt a hip hop artist, legendary American funk/soul/R&B singer Charles Bradley (& His Extraordinaires) will undoubtedly make for one of the weekend's most unique and entertaining sets. Bradley's performances and recording style celebrate the feel of funk and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s. One review stated that Bradley "echoes the evocative delivery of Otis Redding."
Listen to Odesza's "How Did I Get Here (Extended Version)" here:
6. Many of Alabama's Most Promising Young Acts
Every major festival must have the major national names from across the musical spectrum to anchor its lineup, but filling those open daytime spots with the right acts is just as important. You never know what point in the day might be your most ideal moment, where you find yourself watching a new band who becomes the best surprise of the weekend. SlossFest has done a tremendous job of filling out this lineup with a wide variety of local(ish) acts, all of whom have strong Alabama ties. We couldn't have been more pleased with the recent addition of CBDB, a Tuscaloosa-born funk/jam band who is in the midst of a monster year ahead. Additional bands with Alabama roots include Wray, Nerves Baddington, Holy Youth, Riverbend, C1ub: AM, New Devils, Nowhere Squares, Shaheed & DJ Supreme, Vulture Whale, and Byron The Aquarius.
Watch CBDB perform "She's Mobile" at Aisle 5 in Atlanta on January 14th, 2017 here:
7. The Overall Experience of Sloss Furnaces
Sloss Furnaces is a National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. It operated as a pig iron-producing blast furnace from 1882 to 1971. After closing it became one of the first industrial sites (and the only blast furnace) in the U.S. to be preserved and restored for public use. In 1981 the furnaces were designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.
The site currently serves as an interpretive museum of industry and hosts a nationally recognized metal arts program. It also serves as a concert and festival venue. Construction is also under way on a new $10 million visitors' center. The furnace site, along a wide strip of land reserved in Birmingham's original city plan for railroads and industry, is also part of a proposed linear park through downtown Birmingham. An annual Halloween haunted attraction called "Sloss Fright Furnace" is held at the site.
8. It's Not Just About The Music, But The Arts
While there will be more than enough music to keep you entertained, you can't forget that SlossFest is a true music and arts festival. Many of Birmingham's most vibrant live painters, visual artists, and specialists from all elements of the local artist community will be on site showcasing their work and helping create the festival scene.
9. Unique Vendors, Starr Hill Craft Works, Piggly Wiggly Craftly Beerly Garden, The Beveled Edge
Whether you're looking for a certain food truck, a funky clothing boutique, or even special handmade jewelry, SlossFest will feature a massive roster of vendors from across Alabama and beyond. The vendors and overall community which surrounds any great music and arts festival plays as vital of a role as any in creating a unique atmosphere. As this festival continues to grow, the list of vendors has increased and one could spend much of the weekend simply shopping and supporting the various traveling businesses if they had enough time. One of our favorite local vendors, The Beveled Edge, will be selling a variety of posters from different shows, while also providing on-site framing for official SlossFest posters.
Starr Hill Brewery will be on site with their Craft Works area this year. Located directly next to the beer garden, Starr Hill will be showcasing beers exclusively available in the All Access area. As one of the most award-winning craft breweries on the East Coast, Starr Hill Beer was made for live music.
The Piggly Wiggly Craftly Beerly Garden will showcase a variety of the finest craft breweries from the great State of Alabama, as well as the Southeast! Whether you're a fan of the malt or the hops, this beer garden will have something for everyone. Entry to the tent is free for all guests ages 21 and older, and each brewery represented will be available for purchase at participating Piggly Wiggly stores.
10. Live Iron Pouring Demonstrations
The Sloss Metal Arts Program serves a national community of professional artists who work in cast iron and other metals. At the same time it also reaches a growing number of academics, novices, and children in the Greater Birmingham area through educational and outreach programs. The Program is one of only a few such programs in the South specialized specifically to cast iron. It is also home of the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art & Practices hosting hundreds of students and professors around the nation for a week of panel discussions, iron pours, workshops, performances, demonstrations, and exhibitions. The live iron pouring demonstrations will allow patrons to interact and purchase a one-of-a-kind iron souvenir.
Check out the official highlights from SlossFest 2016 here: