Next Week Today is a selection of our picks from the upcoming week’s events, published every Sunday at 11 a.m. We’ll give you juuuuuust enough detail to whet your whistle, and then let you do the digging. In other words, these are the events we recommend giving a second, perhaps even third glance as you wend your way along the path to entertainment.
This week marks the kickoff of the 24th annual Sidewalk Film Festival, one of Birmingham’s most beloved cultural institutions, and one that has garnered Birmingham national attention as a premiere film festival known for its boundless hospitality and filmmaker-friendly atmosphere. We’ll be highlighting many aspects of the festival here and elsewhere on BHMSTR, but we recommend you take a peek at their full schedule, and also check out our complete playlist of available trailers at the bottom of this post.
Also, holy heck y’all, this Saturday is craaaaaaazy. There is more going on this Saturday alone than there is in some entire weeks. I can’t possibly feature everything I’d like to or I’d be writing this way past publish time. Just take my word for it and head to the main calendar and check it all out.
Alabama Spotlight Night: Shorts (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, 7 p.m.) — The first night of Sidewalk week is Alabama Spotlight Night, featuring a series of six shorts. The Alabama Spotlight track at the festival features “films that were either shot in Alabama, were made by an Alabama-based filmmaker, or utilize Alabama cast and crew— sometimes all three.” Supporting the creative folk from around the corner seems like a great way to start things off, and if you show up between 5-7 p.m. you can treat yourself to a cocktail at the Alabama Spotlight Happy Hour. Win-win!
TVs Of Terror: Sleepaway Camp (1983) (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, 9:30 p.m.) — If you’re already at the cinema for the Alabama Spotlight shorts (or even if you’re not), TVs Of Terror’s showing of the 1983 slasher film Sleepaway Camp will be a wonderfully creepy and (ahem) campy way to end your Monday evening. The film also contains trans themes and is considered a trans-positive film by some, for reasons I’ll leave out to avoid spoilers.
Romain Virgo / Culture Dread (Saturn, 8 p.m.) — Reggae artist Romain Virgo has come a long way since he won the Digicel Rising Stars competition at only 17 years old, which gave him the launchpad he needed to start his career. The Jamaican-born performer has since released four albums (and like many artists in these pandemic days, a slew of recent singles), all with his smooth lovers rock style.
Life + Liberty Spotlight Night: Battleground (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, 7 p.m.) — Filmed partially in Alabama, and featuring two women from the state, Sidewalk’s Life and Liberty Spotlight for tonight is a documentary that explores the conflict between anti-abortion crusaders and the women’s rights activists battling to keep abortion access available. There’s also a happy hour preceding the film that begins at 5 p.m., so get there early if you want to soften the impact a little.
SHOUT Spotlight Night: A Run For More (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, 7 p.m.) — This evening’s SHOUT Spotlight film is a documentary chronicling the campaign and political career of Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe, the first openly transgender person to seek elective office in the state of Texas, just as Texas is ramping up it’s anti-trans legislation. Once again, there is a pre-film happy hour starting at 5 p.m.
Classical Indian Music Concert (Birmingham Museum of Art, 6:30 p.m.) — Grammy Award-winning musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is known for inventing the mohan veena, a modified archtop Hawaiian guitar that he plays in a slide-guitar style mixed with classic Indian techniques. He will be accompanied by percussionist Subhen Chatterjee on tablā.
Black Lens Spotlight Night: Jasmine Is A Star (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, 7 p.m.) — Jasmine is a Star tells the story of one Jasmine Star, a teenager who has albinism, and whose mission in life is to be a model in Minneapolis, but who otherwise would rather remain invisible. As you may have guessed by now, there is a 5 p.m. happy hour before the film, but this one has music by The Kickback!
Colleen Orender (The Nick, 9 p.m.) — Sultry and bluesy, Nashville-based Colleen Orender is back for a headlining stint at The Nick after opening for Handsome Jack back in May of this year (which we featured in the very first NWT ever). Her brassy voice has echoes of Amy Winehouse in its tone and inflection, and her delivery drips with such conviction that you are transported.
Land Aid ft. Greensky Bluegrass and Sam Bush Band (Avondale Brewing Company, 6 p.m.) — This year’s edition of Land Aid, an event presented by and supporting the Freshwater Land Trust, features performances by Greensky Bluegrass and the grandaddy of progressive bluegrass himself, Sam Bush. Freshwater Land Trust is an organization that works to “conserve land and build trails so that Alabama’s communities are healthier and happier.”
Sidewalk Film Festival Opening Night Film: Butterfly in the Sky (Alabama Theatre, 7 p.m.) — Sidewalk’s Opening Night Film and the surrounding festivities are always a must-attend event, if you can swing it. The film itself, a documentary that explores Reading Rainbow, the widely-loved television show from the ’80s hosted by Levar Burton, is sandwiched between two block parties (at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively) that take over the street out in front of the Alabama Theatre, with food trucks, a cash and VIP bar and more.
Snail Mail / Momma / Hotline TNT (Saturn, 8 p.m.) — Indie-rock artist Snail Mail (a.k.a. Lindsey Jordan) played Birmingham’s now-defunct Secret Stages Music Discovery Festival back in 2017 before she’d even released an album, and I think it’s safe to say that she’s pretty well discovered at this point. Her sophomore album Valentine came out in November of last year, and she shows no signs of stopping.
Lee Bains & The Glory Fires / Loamlands (The Nick, 9 p.m.) — Lee Bains and the Glory Fires are one of Alabama’s great rock success stories, and they’ve just released their fourth album, Old-Time Folks, so come see them rock out at their old stomping ground with a bunch of new tracks in tow.
Sidewalk Film Festival (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema and other Downtown Venues, 10 a.m.) — Suffice it to say for the purpose of this column that it’s Day One of the Sidewalk Film Festival. There are films all over the place today, there are over 50 separate items listed on the schedule. We’ll have a preview of some favorites later in the week, so stay tuned!
Birmingham Folk Fest (Avondale Park, 10:30 a.m.) — The Birmingham Folk Festival is back at the Avondale Park Amphitheater with a day stuffed to the gills with folk music. The lineup includes Clarence “Bluesman” Davis and Jock Webb, The Mountain Grass Unit, Sarah Lee Langford, Ruth Black and the Harmonettes, José Carr’s Jazz Jam Session, FOOTMAD, Sahi On Ko Djony, Crestwood Community Band & The Whistlebees.
Taste of 4th Ave Jazz Fest (Historic 4th Ave. Business District, 12 p.m.) — It’s been a few years since the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Fest was able to get up off the ground, what with COVID and all, so it’s wonderful to see that the Historic 4th Ave. Business District will once again have its streets filled with eager listeners. This edition will feature performances from Chelsey Green, Logan the Entertainer, Deirdre Gaddis, The Official Clutch Band and Vann Burchfield, and will be hosted by Isis M Jones.
MGB Culture and Community Fest (Sloss Furnaces, 12 p.m.) — The second annual Culture and Community Fest hosted by the Modern Greenbook Foundation is a family-friendly event featuring shopping, food and a classic cars exhibition, all in the name of supporting Black-owned businesses. All proceeds from the festival go to fund the MGB’s “Small Black Business Grant.”
Sidewalk’s Saturday Night Roller Disco (City Walk BHAM, 9 p.m.) — Sidewalk’s Saturday Night Parties are always a cut above, but this one looks like it might take the cake. It’s a ’70s-themed roller disco at the brand new City Walk BHAM rink. There will be drinks. There will be thrills and spills. There will be fun folks dressed in their best polyester bellbottoms. Weeeeee!
Sidewalk Film Festival (Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema and other Downtown Venues, 10 a.m.) — Sunday brings Day Two of the film fest, and once again there are a heck-ton of films for you to enjoy, this time just under 50 items on the schedule to peruse. Don’t forget to stick around for the awards show at the end of the day, and make sure to check back periodically for what the encore showings are going to be. Stay tuned for our soon-to-be-published highlights and picks post.