Home Local Entertainment People, Places, and Things by Gwen DeRu

People, Places, and Things by Gwen DeRu

Gwen DeRu

MUSIC IS IN THE AIR!!  IF you are looking to get in the groove of the holidays, don’t miss some of the great music……

TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY TAYLOR – “Mr. Showout” T.J. HOOKER TAYLOR (Johnny Taylor’s son) and TONY PAIGE will perform December 5, at the Tide and Tiger, 409 Graymont Avenue. Doors open at 7 p.m.  Call (205) 503-3880 for more.

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON – Opera Birmingham will bring in the holiday season with the Sounds of the Season on December 10 and December 12, 7:30 p.m. at Samford University’s Brock Recital Hall.  Selections will include “Snow” from White Christmas, “Santa Baby,” “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway, “Christmas Time is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas, “O Holy Night,” “A Five Pound Box of Money” by Pearl Bailey, and more!  The rising star performers are soprano Alicia Gianni, mezzo-soprano Grace Newberry, tenor Jack Swanson, and baritone Shea Owens as Opera Birmingham celebrates the holiday season.  They will be accompanied by music director and pianist Joseph Li.

2015 ALABAMA JAZZ HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY featuring jazz piano prodigy JOEY ALEXANDER in Concert, December 12, 5:30 p.m., Cocktail Reception and 7 p.m. Inductee Ceremony and Joey Alexander Concert at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, 1631 Fourth Avenue North, Birmingham 35203.

This is Alexander’s first visit to Alabama and only performance in the Southeast this year.  For more call (205) 327-9424 Ext. 21.

ERIC ESSIX AND 5MEN ON A STOOL – Back by popular demand HOLIDAY SOUL , December 13 at the Alys Stephens Center will feature UAB Artist-in-Residence Eric Essix along with Atlanta Supergroup 5 Men on a Stool.  Eric will once again perform his hand-picked collection of soulful “songs of the season” with bandmates HANK STEWART, ANTONIO ALLEN, MELVIN MILLER and LEONARD JULIEN III.  These gentlemen will treat you fo a handful of favorites from the group’s time-tested, listener-approved set list.  Holiday soul is a unique musical experience guaranteed to fill the whole family with joyful, soulful holiday spirit.


Just a few things to do this …and in the coming weeks….

CURTISS GLENN NEW RELEASE – Many of you know him as Birmingham’s own son, Curtiss Glenn! Most people don’t know, Curtiss also has a group titled, Curtiss Glenn & Freedom Movement!  They released their first single titled, “Come Through”.  Stop what you are doing right now and check out the music video: http://youtu.be/XzYPyK4cAvo.


60th ANNIVERSARY MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT – The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University has a few more things going on as they host “I Was There: Oral History Interviews with Participants of the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott.” LECTURE SERIES – Ralph D. Abernathy Civil Rights Lecture Series: “The Mass Meetings of the Montgomery Bus Boycott -The Lessons and the Legacy”.  Monday, December 7, at First Baptist Church, 347 N. Ripley Street at 6 p.m.  The keynote speaker for the program is Rev. Dr. William Barber, II.  Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II serves as president of the North Carolina NAACP and convener of the Forward Together Moral Movement, an alliance of more than 200 progressive organizations in North Carolina. Barber and this coalition have been at the forefront of justice work in the state and have inspired organizing on a national level.


There are always plenty of things to do around the southeast.  Here are a few things going on in town…sooner or later….IN DECEMBER….

ZOOLIGHT SAFARI AND SKATING ON THE ICE RINK – The Birmingham Zoo’s annual holiday event, will begin this weekend, December 4-6, 5-9 p.m. and will continue throughout the month of December on December 11-13, 17-23 and 26-31.  The Presenting Sponsor of this event is Wells Fargo. New this year, glide on the all-new Glacier Glide Ice Rink! Skate past your friends and family on this festive ice skating rink located in Trails of Africa. Visitors can take a ride on the Yuletide Slide, an exhilarating inner tube ride on the over 100-foot slide near the Primate Building. Guests are invited to enjoy musical light show displays and take a stroll through over one million lights as the Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland.

The Zoo will host a nightly tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. in the Zoo’s signature Trails of Africa with an illuminating tree reaching nearly 30 feet tall. Every night, ZooLight Safari presented by Wells Fargo offers the chance for visitors to take a spin on the Jingle Bell Carousel, ride the Candy Cane Train, Santa’s Roller Racers and much more holiday fun. Photos with Santa will be available each night of ZooLight Safari presented by Wells Fargo until December 23. Admission is free every night of the event for Birmingham Zoo Members and $8 (plus tax) for non-members. The Zoo will close at 4 p.m. on each day of ZooLight Safari presented by Wells Fargo.

*Some attractions require tickets. Individual attraction tickets are $3.50 (plus tax), or visitors can take advantage of the Zoo’s best value by purchasing an Unlimited Attraction Wristband for $12 (plus tax). The Ice Skating Rink is made of synthetic ice. Skating is an additional $1.50 (plus tax) for ice skate rental, or guests can bring their own skates. Animal exhibits will be closed during ZooLight Safari presented by Wells Fargo.  For more information, go to www.birminghamzoo.com.


Yoga with Lindsay – Join instructor Lindsey Barclift at the Gardens on Thursday in our new adult yoga class. Twenty-five years of classical ballet training, plus many years of cardio, weight and group training has allowed Lindsey to understand one’s limitations as well as specific training designed to maximize results while avoiding injuries. She understands the importance of knowing one’s limits and backing away to avoid pain and injury. Trained through Yogafit, Lindsey’s goal is to introduce you to yoga and to assist you in developing a safe daily practice. Breathe, strengthen, stretch and relax. Thursdays. 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 11:30-12:30 p.m.

American Girl: Girls Just Like Me – Festival of Trees – Celebrate the beauty of the season in The Gardens with American Girl fun! Enjoy crafting with fragrant plant material such as evergreen and cinnamon, a short hike, holiday story, and delicious treats while learning how your favorite American Girl characters celebrate the holidays. December 3. 3:30-5 p.m.

Photography: What’s This Button Do – This class is designed for those who have just gotten their first digital camera, or for those who have had one for a while but never really felt comfortable shooting in any mode other than full auto – point and shoot.  December 5. 9-noon.

American Girl: Girls Just Like Me – Festival of Trees – Celebrate the beauty of the season in The Gardens with American Girl fun! Enjoy crafting with fragrant plant material such as evergreen and cinnamon, a short hike, holiday story, and delicious treats while learning how your favorite American Girl characters celebrate the holidays. December 6. 3:30-5 p.m

Salvage Gardens – Upcycling is far from new but there has recently been a resurgence thanks to Pinterest. It is the process of turning what most would call waste, useless, unwanted, or trash into a new item or product of better quality with more environmental value. Beginning in October and continuing every 2nd Tuesday, this class will learn how to salvage or upcycle everything from wine bottles and corks to Botanicals found in your back yard. December 8. Free, but registration is required.

Photography: Flora Photography – This class is designed to teach the student how to capture images of the plants – shrubs, flowers, and trees – specific to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  December 19. 9-noon.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Photo Talk – This group is not a class; it is a casual but informative venue for amateur to expert level photographers to come together to share their ideas, tips, advice, tricks and knowledge with each other. This group is highly recommended for those who are planning to take or who have already taken digital photography classes offered at the Gardens or other local teaching venues. For more information and to register online, visit www.bbgardens.org/classes. December 20. 3 – 5 p.m. Free, $5 Suggested donation.

BRYAN STEVENSON SPEAKS IN BIRMINGHAM – Bryan Stevenson, will speak at Highlands United Methodist Church Sunday night December 6th, 6:30 p.m. as part of their Faith + Action = Justice Series, an outreach ministry seeking to put faith into action. Stevenson is a lawyer, social justice activist, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (www.eji.org), professor at NYU School of Law and best-selling author.  Past speakers in this series have included Sister Helen Prejean, the nation’s leading advocate against the death penalty as portrayed in the movie, Dead Man Walking, Jim Winkler, President of the National Council of Churches and Fred Gray, renowned Civil Rights attorney.  FREE. Open to the public.  For more call (205) 427-2724.


WEDNESDAY, 10 a.m. – Southeastern Outings Weekday Dayhike at the Cahaba Lily Park in Helena, Alabama – Details: Come with us on our sixth, newly established weekday hike.  Enjoy an easy 4-mile hike on a trail in Montevallo.  Enjoy a short walk on trails through the Cahaba Lily Park.

The walk will be easy—on trails with no long or steep hills.  So that you will not feel deceived, please note that in spite of its name this park is NOT on the Cahaba River, and there are NO Cahaba Lilies in the park.  Please meet at the Cahaba Lily Park parking lot ready to start walking promptly at 10 a.m., bring plenty of water and wear good walking shoes or boots. Dress appropriately for the weather.

Directions to the Park: From the I-459 interchange with U.S. 31 just north of the Riverchase Galleria Mall take I-459 South, towards Bessemer and Tuscaloosa.  Drive 7.2 miles on I-459 from U.S. 31 to exit #6, Morgan Road, marked to Helena and Bessemer.

-At the end of the exit ramp turn LEFT onto Morgan Road Southeast/County Road 52 heading towards Helena.  Drive a total of 5.7 miles on County Road 52.  Along the way you will cross the Cahaba River.       

-After you cross the bridge over the Cahaba River you will come to the first and second entrances (properly signed) to Old Cahaba Subdivision on your right.  The first drive on the right after the SECOND entrance to the Old Cahaba Subdivision is signed Cahaba Lily Park.  Turn right on that drive and drive 1/10 miles to the parking lot for the park and park there.

-If you are coming from Helena, Pelham or Alabaster, please drive to the traffic light at intersection of AL 261, Shelby County 17 and Shelby County 52 close to the Publix Super Market in Helena.  Then drive 1.5 miles on County 52 towards the Cahaba River and Bessemer.  Turn left at the park entrance and drive 1/10 miles to the parking lot.  After the walk there will be an optional lunch at a restaurant in the area.

Admission to Park: Free.  For more information on the Hike: Call Acyenith Alexander, (205) 529-2253.


Magic City Smooth Jazz rings in the New Year with one of the hottest composers and keyboardists in Smooth Jazz, BRIAN SIMPSON, plus special guest, record-breaking, charting saxman VANN BURCHFIELD!

Who:  Brian Simpson and Vann Burchfield

What:  Magic City Smooth Jazz New Year’s Eve Celebration

When: Thursday, December 31, 8 p.m.

Where: Red Mountain Theatre Company Cabaret Theatre

Cost: $60 singles/$100 couple

This fun and exciting Celebration happens on Thursday, December 31, at the Red Mountain Theatre Company Cabaret in Birmingham, Alabama.  Doors open at 8 p.m., includes dinner from Cafe Iz.  Hailing from Gurnee, Illinois, Brian Simpson always knew music would play center stage in his life. This inspired keyboardist, composer, prolific studio musician and producer is a master of all he purveys. His eloquent approach to playing, sophisticated harmonics sense, bluesy overtones, R&B flavor and keen sense on how to craft a song that stands the test of time have made him the go-to man for many. Through the years Simpson has been revered for his unparalleled ability to compose unforgettable melodies and irresistible grooves.  Having already wowed some 5 – 6 years ago with his smooth jazz debut release Blue Eyed Soul, saxman Vann Burchfield who’s best noted as the man who beat Kenny G’s world record in 2000 for holding the longest note on a wind instrument (47 minutes, 6 seconds) returns to us with an exciting and exotic new direction for him as he delves into the beauty of Latin music with Rhythms in Rio, a suave, cool collection of mostly original material entirely produced by him.

NOW…on to the rest of the happenings…. THIS WEEKEND….A FEW THINGS IN BIRMINGHAM!

CHECK OUT….the TIDE AND TIGER every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday on Graymont Avenue.



HOLIDAY SOIREE AT WINELOFT – The A-List is partnering with Children’s Hospital of Alabama, to present a Holiday Soirée!  A mixer and fundraiser to benefit Children’s Hospital of Alabama Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The event will be hosted by Jeh Jeh Pruitt, Fox 6 News Reporter, at The Wine Loft, December 3rd, 6- 10 p.m. The evening will include food, drinks, door prizes and a live performance by Logan the Entertainer.

FIRST THURSDAY AT BMA – Enjoy the Festive Time at the Birmingham Museum of Art starting at 11 a.m. with the Visions of the Black Belt talk and book signing with author Robin McDonald, at NOON with the  Mountain Brook Junior High Choir performing, from 5-9 p.m.. First Thursday’s festivities, at 6 p.m. the Birmingham Beer Talk and book signing with author Carla Hean Whitley and then at 6:30 p.m. there will be Emblisshments handbell choir performing holiday favorites.  Enjoy the season!


TIDE AND TIGER LOUNGE, 8 p.m. on Graymont Avenue across the street from Legion Field.  Open Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.

FRIDAY AFTER WORK – For those that want ‘a break’ before the weekend ‘Friday after Work’ has food and more, 5 – 10 p.m. Call (205) 572-1295 for more.  Get your palates ready!



TIDE AND TIGER LOUNGE, 8 p.m. on Graymont Avenue across the street from Legion Field.  Open Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.



BLUE MATCHES, HYPATIAN, CHELSEY WHILD, HOT GIN, 8 p.m. at the Nick.  No cover.




TIDE AND TIGER LOUNGE, 8 p.m. on Graymont Avenue across the street from Legion Field.  Open Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.




AT THE STARDOME… this weekend, SOMMORE….Known as The Diva of Contemporary Comedy. She tells her message the only way she knows how…straight up! With a sharp wit and cutting sarcasm, Sommore speaks about the things that most women only think about, but never say. You’ve seen her tear it up on BET, Showtime and HBO – come show the love for Sommore.

COMING SOON… LUCA BOHN – December 8-13, SINBAD – December 18-20, EARTHQUAKE – December 31 – January 2 and GARY OWEN – January 15-17.  Call (205) 444-0008 for more.

COMING SOON…in and around the southeast….

JANUARY 18 – 30th ANNUAL DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. UNITY BREAKFAST, 7:30 – 9 a.m. at the BJCC North Meeting Hall.  Call (205) 324-8797 for more.

JANUARY 29- 31 – WINTER WEEKEND GETAWAY in Gatlinburg with World Famous DJ Kid Capri.   For more: www.urbanprofessionals.com/wintergetaway.

FEBRUARY 6 – MILES COLLEGE 2ND ANNUAL UNITY FASHION SHOW, 11 a.m. at the Fairfield Civic Center featuring the Miles College alumni and student models with CHRIS COLEMAN, DORIS J. BLUE and world renowned musical artist JAMES MERRIWEATHIER.  Call (205) 901-4973 for more.



Well, that’s it.  Tell you more ‘next’ time.

(People, Places and Things by Gwen DeRu is a weekly column. Send comments to my emails: thelewisgroup@birminghamtimes.com or gwenderu@yahoo.com.