Sloss Music & Arts Festival, a two-day music and lifestyle event, takes place at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham on Sat. July 15 and Sun. July 16.
Sloss Fest is 40 bands on four stages plus arts & crafts, live iron pouring demonstrations, and a celebration of the culture that makes Birmingham unique. The Festival features a lineup of renowned headliners and emerging artists.
Here are three, including two with Birmingham ties:
BYRON THE AQUARIUS
By Michael Sznajderman
Where: Byron the Aquarius will perform on the Seasick Records stage Saturday, July 15 from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Type of music: House, Jungle, Hip Hop, R&B
Born in Birmingham and trained as a jazz pianist, the former Byron Blaylock got his early musical schooling from Frank “Doc” Adams, a clarinetist and saxophonist who played with jazz greats Duke Ellington and Sun Ra and
taught music in the Birmingham City Schools for decades.
Blaylock went on to study jazz at Jacksonville State University but began to evolve his own style of electronic dance
music while plying the clubs and party scene in Atlanta, where he was embraced by musician Kai Alce.
In 2007, Blaylock collaborated with French Beats producer Onra on the EP “The Big Payback,” which led to work with Los Angeles artist Flying Lotus. He also has dabbled in Detroit hip hop, ultimately releasing his own brand of contagious house music on the Detroit-based labels Sound Signature, Wild Oats and on the French label Sampling as an Art.
As Blaylock’s reputation grows, so has the geographical ground he’s covered.
Last year he completed his first tours of Europe and Australia. But as he heads back home for a performance at the Sloss Music and Arts Festival, he credits his jazz upbringing in the Magic City, exposure to the Atlanta scene and to Detroit House influences for where his music is moving today.
“If it wasn’t for Doc Adams … for how he was teaching me and teaching me scales and chords, I wouldn’t know how to apply (that) to arranging the music,” he told Mixmag magazine in a February interview, “and the same with Kai. If he hadn’t showed me, dealing with the house, as far as the house programming and how house music is supposed to sound, and just give me the samples — it’s like a bird: you’re a baby at first, you’re in the nest. But it gives you a point where you can fly by yourself.”
Discography: “The Big Payback” (with Onra), “Euphoria,” “Gone Today Here Tomorrow,” “High Life,” “1988 EP.” You might have heard: “Aquarian Voyage,” a spacey, danceable groove that blends electronic jazz piano, churning percusssion and laser-evoking sound effects. Or, “Moments in Life,” that harks to ’70s soul with cymbals, bells and Moog-like harmonic rhythms.
By Michael Sznajderman
Where: C1UB: A.M. will perform on the Seasick stage Saturday, July 15, from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Type of music: Hip-hop
Three individual talents — Love N Sin, WhoSaine Jett, and ChriStyle – comprise the Birmingham-based hip-hop collective C1UB: A.M. (pronounced “Club A.M.”). Formed in 2011, the male trio is building a loyal following off their high-energy performances, which have helped them secure opening gigs for a number popular rappers and musicians, among them Mod Sun, Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T., Hopsin and Bubba Sparxxx. Beyond the clubs, the group has played to enthusiastic crowds at events and festivals, including Birmingham’s own Secret Stages. Their onstage rapport, clever sampling and lyricism will spur you to get up and shake it.
Discography: Too many single tracks, available online, to name, but Birmingham audiences might gravitate to one titled in tribute to a hometown icon: “The Vulcan.” Or check out “Antique,” their 2015 digital album, self-described as “…the sound of self-value, morals and spirit to name a few.”
You might have heard: “Circus,” which samples from the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or “Heavy Weights,” which launches from a sample of Three Dog Night’s “One is the Loneliest Number.”
SHAHEED AND DJ SUPREME
By Erica Wright
Where: Shaheed and DJ Supreme will perform on the Seasick Records stage Sunday, July 16, from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Type of music: Hip Hop
Communicating Vessels’ recording artists Shaheed and DJ Supreme are one of hip hop’s most consistent groups. Hailing from Birmingham, Shaheed and DJ Supreme don’t fit the mold of most typical Dirty South artists as they are practitioners of traditional boom-bap hip hop. They’ve already released two critically acclaimed LPs — “Health ealth & Knowledge of Self ” and “Scholar Warrior (The Remix Album)” — which showcase Shaheed’s sharp lyrical prowess and DJ Supreme’s soulful production. As a group, Shaheed and DJ Supreme has shared stages with Raekwon, DJ Shiftee, The Bodega Brovas and Stalley, as well as label mates The Green Seed. The group’s albums boast guest appearances from artists such as Akil the MC (of Jurassic 5), Amir Sulaiman, and W. Ellington Felton.
In February, Shaheed and DJ Supreme released “The Art of Throwing Darts – The Prequel,” which it calls a “mixtape”
and gives fans “a taste of what’s coming next,” according to the Communicating Vessels website.