Birmingham has had renaissance over the last 20 years, says Gutowski, spurred largely by the food and music scenes. “I lived in Birmingham in the early ‘90s and the scene was pretty much dead, as far as music goes,” he told us. “We had this one bombshelter of a club, no windows, brick on the inside brick on the outside, cinderblock building–The Nick, and it’s still here. Every indie band that came through used to play there and we’d get, maybe one decent band a month. And now, we’ve got these great venues scattered all over town.”
Check out his picks for the top venues in this friendly town of neighborhoods and you might just catch one of Birmingham’s best homegrown bands, acts like Through the Sparks (that’s them in the video), 13ghosts, Orenda Fink, Maria Taylor and Taylor Hollingsworth.
The Nick (2514 10th Ave. South, Birmingham, Alabama; 205-252-3831)
This old-school venue used to be the only option in town, but even now, The Nick’s still a great place for shows, says Gutowski.
Bottletree Cafe (3719 Third Ave. South, Birmingham, Alabama; 205-533-6288)
Local art share top billing with bands at this eclectic café. “Bands love to play because their greenroom is actually an Airstream trailer. The people that own it are wonderful, really community-minded people.”
WorkPlay Theatre (500 23rd St. South, Birmingham, Alabama; 205-380-4082)
An award-winning theater with two stages and great sound. What more could you ask for?
With so much music to see, you’re probably going to work up an appetite. And thankfully, Birmingham’s culinary scene is growing as quickly as its music movement. Check out Gutowski’s picks and you’ll see, there’s much more than BBQ in Birmingham.
Hot and Hot Fish Club (2180 11th Court South, Birmingham, Alabama; 205-933-5474)
It’s all about freshness at Hot and Hot Fish Club, a restaurant run by husband-and-wife team of Christopher and Idie Hastings on Birmingham’s happening Southside.
Highlands Bar & Grill ( 2011 11th Ave. South, Birmingham, Alabama; 205-939-1400)
This is the restaurant raised the bar in Birmingham thanks to Chef Frank Stitt; now the city is considered one of the culinary stars of the South. When in town, be sure to try the French cuisine at the James Beard Award-nominated Highlands or one of Stitt’s other two eateries — the Italian Bottega or laid-back bistro Chez Fonfon.
Travel Tip: If you head to Birmingham be sure to pick up the local weeklies — Birmingham Weekly and Black & White — for extensive show listings. Or head to bham.fm for news from the locals scene.