The holiday shopping season is in full swing. Many large retailers report stronger sales than last year. But another part of the retail economy has seen a big jump: craft fairs. Here in Birmingham, the 5th annual Avondale Craft Bazaar is this weekend. WBHM's Bradley George spoke with one of the crafters taking part. She says she's had success, even in a gloomy economy.
The trivia magazine Mental Floss is almost 10 years old. It was born of a simple idea to blur the line between education and entertainment. Birmingham's Will Pearson is one of the brains behind the venture.
We recognize that people want to feel smart, but people don't want to spend a lifetime reading textbooks. So we try to find a way to deliver that educational material, almost be like their liberal arts education, delivered in bi-monthly installments.
Bi-monthly installments...or, if you prefer, a new board game called Split Decision. WBHM's Tanya Ott has this preview...
The man who perhaps knew Birmingham the best - has died. WBHM's Allison Shackelford has this remembrance of Marvin Whiting..
Few Birmingham natives cast a more recognizable shadow than writer and actress Fannie Flagg. In the 1960s, she was co-host of the Morning Show on Channel 6. Later, she was a regular on Candid Camera and other TV shows. She's appeared in movies and on Broadway. But writing has always been her first love. Flagg's novels include Fried Green Tomatoes and Coming Attractions. Her latest book, I Still Dream About You, features a cast of strong female characters including an aging former Miss Alabama turned real estate agent who's planning her own suicide. Fannie Flagg knows a thing or two about beauty queens and real estate.
Birmingham musician Andy Spain grew up in Jasper and went to college in Tuscaloosa. But he says he always found inspiration in the Magic City.
Before I ever lived here, I hung out here. I used to spend afternoons at Charlemagne Records and just flip through albums all day long and gey my musical education. There's a lot of soul here so it kinda fueled me to get going. It was just like a rebirth...I kinda found my voice here, I feel like.
So what is that "voice"? Spain describes his music as "Sci-Folk" - an exploration of the how humans fit into the world of technology. This is the tune Alien, off his new album Love in the Age of Circuitry. (AUDIO MONTAGE)
Barbershop quartet involves four harmonies. So, what do you get when you have 30 voices harmonizing? A barbershop chorus, of course! The Voices of the South Barbershop Chorus is getting ready for their Christmas concert. They rehearse on Tuesday nights at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Vestavia Hills. The group is mostly middle aged men with lots of experience singing barbershop, but recently two guys in their 20s decided to join in the fun.
Adam Murphy and Jackson Pender are members of the Voices of the South Barbershop Chorus. The group's Christmas concert is December 11 at Hoover High School. WBHM's Bradley George produced our audio postcard. And while he was there, Voices of the South director Ed Wharton roped Bradley into singing. (AUDIO MONTAGE)
Okay, so Bradley and barbershop don't mix. Black Gospel music and Jewish liturgy might not seem like a natural match, either. But Joshua Nelson is a proud African-American-Jew. And he makes beautiful music combining the soul sounds he loved as a boy with the sometimes dreary songs of his life-long religion. Producer Alex Goldmark has Nelson's story.
For many people, Christmas isn't Christmas without the sounds of carols and holiday music. There are the classics - Silent Night or O Come all ye Faithful. And contemporary offerings such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Jingle Bell Rock. When Birmingham band Andy's Tea Party dipped into the Christmas catalogue, what emerged was far from the typical heartwarming song. It starts with bandleader Seth Persons. A couple of years ago he was invited to perform a cover of his favorite Christmas song at a local show...
Knowing we had a holiday show coming up, WBHM's Michael Krall went diving into his music library for some holiday songs. We've heard a couple this hour, but as we near the end of our show, we couldn't resist adding a few more...
Music heard on the program:
Jethro Tull: Ring Out Solstice Bells
The Lovell Sisters: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Act of Congress: Carol of the Bells
Vince Guaraldi: Skating
Shirim Klezmer Orchestra: Dance of the Latkes Queens
Simple Gifts performed by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma
Tapestry is produced by Bradley George and Michael Krall. We had help this month from Alex Goldmark, Kevin Lehner, Tanya Ott, Allison Shackleford, and Andrew Yeager. I'm Greg Bass, from all of us at WBHM, have a happy holiday season. We'll see you in the new year.