Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Son of Sound at Iron City Bar & Grill

By Richard Y. Harris


I’ve known Mike Creager for 5 years and although I don't see him much, when I do see him, he is usually doing something related to sound technology. If you don't know who Mike Creager is, that's OK. Maybe you're not supposed to. He is the wizard behind the curtains for all things music production, so to speak. I decided to do this piece on Mike because he is a perfectionist that loves what he does and also an important part of the new venue, Iron City Bar & Grill. You may view Mike as a typical sound guy, but after digging into his background, it's obvious there is more to the man behind the board.


Back in 2008, Mike used to record my friends’ band.  I was always in attendance for no other reason than to burn time and maybe learn a thing or two. He worked out of a freshly remodeled studio on 55th Place in Woodlawn, always the no-nonsense type when at work, sometimes creating an awkward atmosphere for me. I sometimes felt I got in the way. He had some really interesting, vintage recording gear at the time which allowed him to use a technique of recording involving a conversion of analog taped tracks to a digital interface, thus sweetening up the final cut. It proved to be a great method of recording. I noticed that he took much pride in his collections and in his own method and theory of recording. That was then.

March 20th 2013: I walk into the beautiful entrance of Iron City Bar & Grill, it's about 7:25PM. I’m instantly greeted with a “Hi! How are you?” from the hostess. “Fine, thanks.” I reply and make my way to the music hall where I expect to find Mike either fiddling with cables or the sound board. To my surprise he is nowhere to be found. So I walk up to the bar inside the hall to find two bartenders chatting away with a man. I ask for a water, then ask for Mike’s whereabouts. “He should be on his way back by now.” Replied the bartender. “Shit.” I utter under my breath. So at this point I decide to take a closer look at the place and study the freshly erected venue. 

Walking into the hall, I felt a great sense of professionalism. You would have thought the place was just finished that day. You could almost smell the lacquer, probably still drying on the earthy red brick covering the entire front entrance floor. And the fresh carpet just screaming for a pint of beer to crash onto its surface. As perfect as the place looked, I felt it would take no time before the rallying of patrons for bands would do considerable damage to the place. Like a virgin going the distance- the night that Slayer comes to town to rock Iron City, and no one can stop the pure and utter consummation.

I see Mike walking across the stage as I’m entering information into my journal. “Mike!” I blurt out. “Yo!” He quickly replies. We see each other and meet halfway, landing near the bar. We have some small talk while I’m following him around as he prepares for the night. I later realize that there is no live music and the events taking place were no more than a music mixer for local bands. Mike says, “Tonight is just kinda of a gathering of musicians, local musicians who want to share their work.” It kind of reminds me of Bottletree’s vinyl night in some regard. The night will be chill. 

As we sit down exclusively behind the sound booth, some musicians peek over the wall and start probing Mike with questions about when they will get their chance to play their song for everyone. He takes care of them and we jump back into Mike’s background and history with sound.

We start off talking about the past and his recollection with the studio in Woodlawn, in particular the recording of Vera, that I held outstanding attendance to. The topic was short lived, but I feel that Mike holds his long forgotten studio in Woodlawn close to his heart. On the subject of why Mike's job at Iron City is a blessing to him, he explains it has exponential potential, and the indefinite capacity to being the greatest venue in Birmingham. “It’s this big baby beast.” He says. 

Iron City is so fresh into the game of being one of the greatest venues in Birmingham. Key players, like Mike, who work at Iron City will get press just as the venue will itself, because what’s important to a venue’s success is the people behind the scenes. “There is always more work to be done, and more hours to put in to get Iron City to top notch status” Mike mentions.

He talks about their collaborative efforts with Workplay and describes it as a neighborhood. Say Iron City needed to borrow a stick of butter for cookies. Workplay would oblige to help them out and vice versa. The relationship with Workplay is as content as it can be. I don’t sense much competitiveness as Mike talks about the other venue. 

 “Put the band in their element...” Mike starts off. “My job as production manager and chief sound engineer is to come in and ensure number one- that the group is able to do exactly what they need to do on stage and that means my first job is to make everybody in the performance that is creating signal, comfortable. Create a perfect platform for what is generating the signal. It's true right down to the tone that you use on an amp and how a player's “touch” on the instrument becomes... where it starts and where it generates.” 

“Do you match what the band brings to the stage-to the sound system?” I ask.

 “Sure. Say I’m trying to manufacture a band's sound that has a very well known signature about them. There is a significantly different art in that, than like me stepping up to the console and just working with the situation to make it the best I can. You use different tools, especially with the modern settings now. Things have gotten so closely related as far as the way we can produce a sound. It's why bands now travel with their own consoles more often and a lot of what I do as production manager for Iron City is accommodate their resource here.” 

"How do you work with bands whose setup is closely related to your setup here at Iron City?” 

“I let their devices power through my system. Most of these bands have show files so most times I am able to multi-sound check the band before they are ever even in our state. I’ll cue all the tracks on the console. So any sort of fine tuning of the sonic signature of the band we need to do, we can do quite quickly. The system Iron city has is very high end. It’s an audio network rigged with Cat5 wire and it works through a digital domain that is wired through the whole venue.”

Mike is 90% self taught in technical sound application. He was loosely involved in tech classes during college and made college a second priority to owning a studio. He did intern in music tech programs at SVSU in San Diego, and during his time there he knew his goal was to be well rounded and a professional on and off the stage. He wanted to be the person that knows exactly what their role is and know how to execute if given a task. Whether he is singing or playing, running the light board, console, every aspect of his technical career is to strive to be the best.

We finish up our interview and go outside to take a couple of photos. After the photo shoot, Mike does a tour for the patrons and I go back to my seat to collect my thoughts. I become content and go into a daze and start staring at the lukewarm Miller High Life that beams right back at me.

Mike returns. The music begins, and I record what I hear. Mike is a professional. People like him make it easier for bands and musicians get the best out of their performances. He's worked very hard to get where he is and deserves recognition. He understands music and the signature sounds that make bands unique, which is why I would trust him with my music.

Richard Harris: What is your title/your duties?

Mike Creager: Production Manager. Everything production from like events like tonight to advances on show to coordinating with the bands and venue. I cover all the technical systems in the building as well as all the lighting systems.

RH: What are your hopes for Iron City?

MC: To create a new standard within the live music industry. Not only in Birmingham but nationally. I think a venue this size can make its mark on the national scene. If we hold that standard I think we can succeed.

RH: Which bands do you like mixing for the most?

MC: Big bands with horns and lots of things going on to keep me on my toes. Local groups such as Fisher Green, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Grenadines. There are several other local groups U really enjoy mixing for.

RH: What do you listen to?

MC:I listen to old school soul like Johnny Taylor and stuff like that, ya' know. That's really what I find myself falling back to the most. I love new music. I love hearing new things, but everybody has their warm bed they like to lay in. Old dirty soul like Malaco and Stacks is really where I find myself laying down the most.

RH: In your opinion, how is the state of Birmingham’s music scene

MC: Growing, and I thinks its growing in a good way. I think there's is definitely scenes within the big scene itself. Everybody kind of has their cliques and niches which, ya' know, is cool. You get a lot of diversity with that. Birmingham is just one of those towns where I felt there was more talent than industry and its really hard to see the full potential of it in our city because we haven’t had the industry to support it. So, I think our local platform here at Iron City is huge and it gives us an opportunity to sell the locals on the separate stage to the nationals. Its gonna be a neat setup.

RH: What is the best thing about working for Iron City?

MC: My bosses. My general manager John Polini and Steven Medicis. They have faith in me. Before we brought John into the picture it was just Steven and I, and you could tell there was a connection between us. There was a confidence there and that gave me the confidence to do my job at a high professional level. For me, being given the tools and the opportunity to set the standard that I’m talking about, is a blessing.

Friday, March 22, 2013


A 10-minute preview of upcoming original beats by Omari Jazz.

Stream the music while looking at the pictures.
Experience Sonic Fidelity:

Explore the relationship between sight and sound, harmony and dissonance with Sonic Fidelity, a sneak peek of new music and art by Omari Jazz.

Download on SoundCloud:


Thursday, March 21, 2013

8th Annual SONIC BLOOM Festival Announced

Ticket sales are underway for the 8th annual SONIC BLOOM. The nation’s premier boutique electronic music festival is set to return to the majestic Shadows Ranch in Georgetown, CO, from June 13-16, 2013. Known for launching the careers of some of the nation’s hottest EDM Music the festival has already announced such luminary acts as Opiuo, Vibesquad, Random Rab, ZILLA, The Polish Ambassador, Minnesota, Bluetech, Gaudi, Orchard Lounge, Phutureprimitive, Andreilien and many more.

This year SONIC BLOOM will offer even more yoga, workshops and community learning events than previous years, featuring activities such as whitewater rafting, belly-dance classes and discussions of unified field theory.

Aside from the dance party of the century, SONIC BLOOM will offer all the amenities necessary on site for a seamless festival experience.  An eclectic range of food vendors will provide your taste buds with tantalizing selections from around the world while local artists will showcase their craft, many, offering hands-on workshops around the clock.  SONIC BLOOM will not only cater to your ears, but your entire body and mind through intentional community co-creation. The landscapes surrounding SONIC BLOOM will provide festival-goers with countless opportunities to enjoy the Colorado wilderness through hiking, biking, and whitewater rafting.

Nestled quietly between steep canyon walls of the Colorado Rockies, SONIC BLOOM is a one-of-a-kind music and arts experience surrounded by a lush tree lined and lakeside camping, a rushing river and surreal mountain vistas.  This majestic setting at Shadows Ranch has become a favored stomping-grounds for some of the world’s top performers.  Musicians, artists, visual performers, yogis, dancers, jugglers, vendors, and of course, die-hard music enthusiasts, will come together in celebration of life arts in all of its guises.

To spike your appetites, SONIC BLOOM has announced an official two-day Pre-Party at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, CO on May 3rd and 4th, 2013.  Presentations each night by Alex and Allyson Grey and a special joint presentation on the unified field / sacred geometry with Alex and Allyson Grey & Jamie Janover will be followed by music from Vibesquad, ZILLA, Orchard Lounge, Wick-it The Instagator, Kaminanda, KiloWatts, Janover & reSUNator and SunSquabi to name a few!

Catch some of today’s biggest names in electronic music under the majesty of the Rockies and engage in the ultimate, intimate, boutique festival experience that is SONIC BLOOM!  For artist lineup, ticketing, and visual performance information check out

Wakarusa Announces Hotel Packages and Range of Ticketing Options

The countdown has begun for this summer’s most exciting and anticipated festival, Wakarusa 2013. Wakarusa will again take place at its annual location at Mulberry Mountain in the Ozark National Forest, May 30-June 2. Celebrating its tenth year as the most musically diverse event in the country, Wakarusa has pulled out all the stops with a lineup of over 150 musical acts. Throw in an impressive selection of vendors, amusements, workshops and group seminars and you’ll realize that Wakarusa truly delivers the supreme festival experience for all attendees. Featured acts this year will include Widespread Panic, Dispatch, STS9, The Black Crowes, Amon Tobin, Snoop Lion, and Umphrey’s McGee among many more!
A brand new addition for 2013, Wakarusa will be offering hotel packages for those seeking a more pampered festival experience this year. Wake up in your own bed, enjoy a hot shower and a free breakfast, and jump on the Hotel Hopper shuttle to bring you to and from the festival grounds at beautiful Mulberry Mountain. All hotels are located a short drive away in Fayetteville, AR, and will be available in three tiers, offering a variety of quality, value, and affordability with packages for 4 or 5 night stays.

In between epic sets by the stars in this year’s lineup, festivalgoers can enjoy a wide array of activities in the Ozark National Forest. Hike or bike along hundreds of miles of trails, situated literally at the back door of the concert grounds. Visit one of the many spectacular waterfalls located a short hike from the main Wakarusa property. Fish one of the venue’s many stocked ponds. Visit the picturesque Mulberry River to test your fly fishing skills or enjoy the river via canoe, kayak, tube or raft. All floating adventures are provided by Wakarusa’s experienced outfitting partners. ATV, 4X4, and motorcycle excursions are also some of the many exciting activities available nearby to Wakarusa patrons.

Tickets are disappearing faster than ever but are still available in all three tiers: Full Event, Three Day, and Two Day. Want to get a little more from your experience? Grab a Full Event or Three Day VIP pass and enjoy early arrival privileges, meals, beverage service, and so much more! For all ticketing information visit the official website at:


Widespread Panic
The Black Crowes
Amon Tobin
Snoop Lion
Umphrey’s McGee
Yonder Mountain String Band
Gogol Bordello
Zeds Dead
Of Monsters and Men
Shpongle presents The Masquerade
Son Volt
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
Los Amigos Invisibles
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Del The Funky Homosapien
Allen Stone
Icona Pop
Felix Cartal
The Polish Ambassador
The Green
Red Baraat
Milo Greene
The Floozies
Zion I
The Werks
Delta Rae
Langhorne Slim
ZZ Ward
Moon Taxi
The Motet
Shovels & Rope
The Bright Light Social Hour
Deap Vally
New Monsoon
Lyrics Born
The Coup
Band of Heathens
RL Grime
Wick-it the Instigator
Andreilien (Heyoka)
The Whigs
Half Moon Run
Karsh Kale
Janover & reSUNator
Kidnap Kid
Lance Herbstrong
Lord T & Eloise
The Apache Relay
Rose's Pawn Shop
Mingo Fishtrap
Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band
Flow Tribe
The Brothers Comatose
Nic Cowan
Mountain Sprout
Tornado Rider
Nahko and Medicine for the People
Jon Wayne and The Pain
David Wax Museum
Spirit Family Reunion
The Last Bison
Mountain Standard Time
Old Shoe
The Magic Beans
Holy Ghost Tent Revival
Buffalo Killers
Dumptruck Butterlips
The Ben Miller Band
The 1 oz. Jig
Technicolor Tone Factory
Old Salt Union
Cornerstone Dub
Flipoff Pirates
Stephen Neeper Band
Captain Comfy
Buddha's Groove Shoes
Mighty Shady
Henry + The Invisibles
The Effinays
Agori Tribe
Shedding Watts
Lazy Locomotive

Thunder on the Mountain Releases Range of Ticketing/Lodging Options

Thunder on the Mountain, a country music festival, is set to launch it’s inaugural event this summer at one of the country’s best festival sites - Mulberry Mountain. The event will feature nearly 50 musical performers including headliners Toby Keith, Luke Bryan and the ‘bad boys of country’ Big & Rich. There will also be performances from some of country music’s brightest stars including Montgomery Gentry, Thompson Square, Justin Moore, Eason Corbin, Randy Houser, Colt Ford, Gretchen Wilson and many more. Thunder on the Mountain will also showcase a healthy helping of red dirt country artists including Josh Abbott Band, Randy Rogers Band, Casey Donahew Band, Pat Green and Stoney LaRue to name a few.

Scheduled to kick off June 6th, Thunder on the Mountain promises a premier festival experience. Situated on 650 acres of private land in the heart of the Ozark National Forest, the event features 4 stages, including a country roadhouse (Hideout Stage) complete with mechanical bull and karaoke. Activities will include a giant Ferris wheel and water slide along with a paint ball area. Mulberry Mountain also offers a myriad of nature activities including hiking, biking, fishing, river floats and waterfalls. There are also ATV, 4x4 and motorcycling opportunities nearby. Toss in an incredible selection of food and craft vendors, a few hours of tailgating and people watching each day, and Thunder on the Mountain promises to be the best damn party of the summer.

For those who prefer a more refined experience to camping, Thunder on the Mountain announces a limited number of hotel packages which can include free breakfast and rides on the Hotel Hopper Shuttle to bring you safely to and from the festival grounds each day. All hotels are located a short drive away in Van Buren, AR, and will be available in three tiers, offering a variety of lodging choices for 3 or 4 night stays.

Thunder on the Mountain offers a wide variety of ticketing packages which are available now on the event website. Patrons can chose from the full three-day event passes, to VIP packages, reserved seating packages and single day and weekend passes. Event organizers are expecting concert goers from all over the country for their first year event. For more information visit the official website at


Thunder On The Mountain 2013 Artist Line Up:
Toby Keith
Luke Bryan
Big & Rich
Montgomery Gentry
Thompson Square
Justin Moore
Gretchen Wilson
Easton Corbin
Colt Ford
Randy Houser
Pat Green
Randy Rogers Band
Kevin Fowler
Josh Abbott Band
Casey Donahew Band
Shooter Jennings
Reckless Kelly
Aaron Watson
Bucky Covington
Greg Bates
LoCash Cowboys
Stoney LaRue
Todd Snider
Roger Creager
The Lost Trailers
JT Hodges
Cody Canada & The Departed
Moonshine Bandits
The Cadillac Black
Clayton Anderson
Adam Craig Band
Morgan Frazier
Sturgill Simpson
Sunny Ledfurd
Bleu Edmondson
Brandon Jenkins
John D. Hale Band
Matt Stell
The Sarah Hughes Band
Lance Carpenter
Kelly Road
Trey Hawkins Band
Danielle Reed

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Candye Kane to play first Junkyard Juke of 2013

DATE:                       Saturday, March 30th 2013
TIME:                        2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION:              Daniel Day Gallery,
                                 3025 6th Avenue S, Birmingham, AL 35223
Admission:               $12, BYOB

Event sponsored by the Magic City Blues Society.

On Saturday March 30th, 2013 the Magic City Blues Society will hold the first of 2013’s three Junkyard Jukes. This Blues music series which started in 2007 has become a popular neighborhood event. Today it’s necessary to bring your chair and arrive early if you are going to secure a good seat for the afternoon’s music. This rain or shine event will be held outside on the patio or inside as the weather may dictate.

The Daniel Day Gallery host for the event will have a wide variety of painting, photographs and gift items by local artisans on display.

The Gallery doesn’t have a liquor license; however coolers are welcome at this event.

The headliner will be Blues diva Candye Kane. Opening will be local band Bourbon and Bleach.


Candye Kane

A colorful mixture of the traditional and the eclectic, Kane cut her musical teeth in the early 80's onstage with Hollywood musicians and friends, Social Distortion, Dwight Yoakum, Dave Alvin, The Blasters, X, Fear and Los Lobos, to name just a few. While raising two sons, this role model for the disenfranchised, championed large sized women, fought for the equal rights of sex workers and the GLBT community and inspired music lovers everywhere. Her fans are a mixture of true outsiders: bikers, blues fans, punk rockers, drag queens, fat girls, queers, burlesque dancers, porn fans, sex workers, rockabilly and swing dancers, grey haired hippies, sex positive feminists and everyday folk of all ages, flock to see Candye and hear her musical messages of love, hope and empowerment.

Kanes' live shows are the stuff of legend. She honors the bold blues women of the past with both feet firmly planted in the present. She belts - growls - shouts - croons and moans from a lifetime of suffering and overcoming obstacles. She uses music as therapy and often writes and chooses material with positive affirmations that leave the audience feeling healed and exhilarated. A show that is part humor, revival meeting and sexuality celebration, she'll deliver a barrelhouse-tongue in-cheek blues tune or a gospel ballad like Jesus and Mohammed, encouraging audiences to leave behind religious intolerance. She'll slay the crowd with her balls out rendition of Whole Lotta Love or glorify the virtues of zaftig women with 200 pounds of fun. She often says she is a "fat black drag queen trapped in a white woman's body" and she dresses the part. Bedecked in bright colored feathers, sequins and rhinestones, Kane's performance is Mississippi by way of Las Vegas with a quick stopover in San Francisco.

A Blues Diva of the 20th century who can liven up any party without shedding a stitch - People Magazine
A true celebrity diva- New Yorker Magazine

This tough cookie wails with a rousing confidence and affirmation of identity and the courage of her convictions - Downbeat Magazine

A serious and seriously powerful singer who lays it all on the line - The Philadelphia Inquirer

A voice that is a natural wonder - like the Grand Canyon. - The Washington Post

Candye Kane has that big, brassy voice that has authority and sass; the kind of thing men like because it’s seductive and women like because it’s powerful - BB King to the San Diego Reader

Additional information also available on these web sites:

The Magic City Blues Society is a non-profit (501-C) organization founded on January 10, 1993.
The purposes of the society are:
(1) to encourage the performances of the Blues; (2) to encourage the preservation of the Blues; (3) to develop an appreciation of the Blues within the community; and (4) such other charitable civic, literary or cultural activities within the community consistent with the purposes stated above.
The Blues is very much a part of Southern life and history, deserving recognition as a valid and historical folk art form.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Grey Haven Newsletter

Grey Haven Community

Dear Grey Haven Community,
The next Grey Haven will be on SATURDAY, APRIL 13th at The UCF House (3001 U.S. 280, Birmingham, AL 35243).

One thing has changed...
The mandatory run-through will be on Monday, April 1st at 7:00pm at The UCF House -- 2 weeks before the performance.
The run-through is 1 week after the songwriters are picked. At this run-through, the songwriters will have an opportunity to add more musicians if needed.

If you'd like to perform as a songwriter, email us to let us know by Saturday, March 23rd. You'll be responsible for organizing a band and performing TWO songs. Once the songwriter requests are in, we'll pick 10 to perform at the upcoming event and email everyone with the lineup. If you need help finding musicians, look at

If you'd like to make your musical talents available to the songwriters who will be performing, email us by Saturday, March 23rd and we'll pass that info along to the songwriters. If you're having trouble finding a songwriter to play with, show up to the run-through on April 1st and get to know the songwriters for this show. It's likely some of them can use your services.

Keep an eye on this email list or on for more info on the scheduled performers and other Grey Haven related events.

Grey Haven is about community and collaboration between musical artists in the Birmingham area. To this end there are some guidelines for participation in Grey Haven events:
Each songwriter is responsible for performing two songs unless otherwise noted.
Every song must include musicians outside of the songwriters usual band. This is to promote collaboration and keep Grey Haven from becoming a showcase of bands.
Every song must also include more than one performer. At least three performers are recommended for each song performance. This is to keep Grey Haven from becoming a showcase of solo singer/songwriters. Caveats:
New songwriters must perform with an existing Grey Haven member. If you have performed as a songwriter or musician in the past, then you are a Grey Haven member.

Almost every performance is recorded and posted on the website. By signing up to perform, you give permission to record and post your portion of the performance.

There will be a run-through on the Monday evening prior to the show. Songwriters and musicians who will be performing are expected to be there. This is a great time to polish up a song or find a musician to add last minute. Dates:

Saturday, March 23rd at midnight - signups due.
Monday, April 1st at 7pm - run through
Saturday, April 13 at 7pm - show