BOOKS + MUSIC + ART + CREATIVITY + COMMUNITY
A diversity of arts, traditions, talents, and ideas
in an intimate, inclusive space
Last September, we appealed to friends, family, neighbors and strangers, looking for help with a little experiment in community, creativity and the arts — a project we were calling “The Jaybird.” Our goal was to create an inclusive and engaging community space with books and zines, monthly concerts, bimonthly art openings, and occasional other offerings. From the get go, the response has been amazing. First, a generous community of members formed to support the endeavor, contributing to this dream up front and sharing our enthusiasm for what might be possible. And somehow the word got out: our opening last September was hugely attended, way beyond our most ambitious daydreams, and every event since then has brought together warm, diverse, enthusiastic crowds.
When we decided last summer to give this thing a shot, we had a fairly simple goal: we didn’t mean to create any kind of permanent institution, but to foster instead what we called amongst ourselves “a beautiful moment”— a season of deliberate, meaningful, carefully crafted events. We were from the outset defiantly not a business: our goal hasn’t been to make a profit, but simply to raise enough funds to cover our rent and utilities, and to support the artists who’ve come into our space. Our interest was in the immediate moment, and what we could make out of it. We couldn’t be happier with what The Jaybird has become — or with what’s happening next between these walls, as we conclude this yearlong endeavor and transition into what’s next.
We will be officially wrapping up our Jaybird “moment” after our membership year ends at the end of this month, but we’re glad to say there are great things ahead for this space we’ve come to love. Beginning in October, the spot will become headquarters for our friends and creative partners at Real Life Poets, a truly inspiring community service and mentoring organization rooted in the spoken word. Some of our original Jaybird crew will still be organizing events in the space going forward, as well, and it will remain a grassroots gathering spot for all sorts of creative projects and collaborations. You’ll still find the Alabama Zine Library here, too, serving as ever-growing archive, resource, and source of inspiration and ideas.
From the beginning we aimed to facilitate a space that would be a creative crossroads of many unique visions, performances and events; we hoped, too, that the place would serve as incubator for new artistic works created from the cross-fertilization. These goals will remain at the heart of what goes on here; so please stay tuned as we unroll some more details, soon.
Meanwhile, we hope you’ll help us celebrate both the conclusion of our Jaybird year and the beginning of something new, with a couple of upcoming events. On Saturday, September 22, The Jaybird is hosting a “blues potluck” from 5 - 10 PM; we invite you to bring a dish to share and enjoy music by a line-up of the state’s best blues musicians. Then, on Friday, October 12, join us for a big “turnover” party, as we officially mark the transition of the space: this is our chance both to send off The Jaybird and to welcome in the next era of programming and events in this space. We hope you’ll put both these events on your calendar, now. More details to follow.
For now, we want to extend a huge thanks to everyone who’s been part of this experiment for the last year. This place has become something truly remarkable, thanks to our members, and the artists, and the volunteers -- and every single person who has come through these doors. Let’s see what else we can make happen. See you September 22.
HOW IT STARTED:
The Jaybird is a brand new, homegrown community arts and performance space on 5th Avenue South in the Crestwood neighborhood of Birmingham. Since our opening in September 2017, The Jaybird has been home to multiple, overlapping purposes:
+ MUSIC: Once a month, we offer live music — blues, jazz, low-fi hip-hop, gospel, bluegrass, and more. We hope to create a platform for a lot of the great music that doesn’t get enough spotlight in Birmingham, and to bring a great diversity of sounds and traditions to our stage, especially to spotlight those musics with deep Alabama roots.
+ ART: Every other month, we present a new visual art show in our gallery space, championing local and regional artists, both familiar and unheralded.
+ BOOKS AND ZINES: We’re also a store! The Jaybird sells a wide and colorful range of zines (handmade and independent publications), in addition to an ever-growing collection of interesting used books. We’re also the new home of the Alabama Zine Library, an archive and reading room with thousands(!) of titles you won’t find anywhere else.
+ MORE: Along with these regular features, we’ll have a variety of other offerings scattered throughout the year — readings, performances, a monthly old-time music jam, and more. We’ve got some great things in the works, and some more great things still undreamed — so please stay tuned as we continue to develop.
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Here’s the thing: we need your help! This whole idea is rooted in the idealistic notion that other people in Birmingham will be excited about our vision and will commit to helping sustain and grow it.
To this end, we hope you’ll consider getting a yearlong membership to contribute actively to the life and culture of our space. The Jaybird will be an inclusive environment with weekly hours and public events available to anyone — but memberships from a core stable of supporters will help ensure that we can keep our offerings going strong all year long. We hope the memberships will also help create a sense of investment, ownership, and community for those who join.
Please check out our Membership page to find out the benefits of membership, and to join. If you can't commit to a membership right now but still want to offer some support, you will also find a "donate" button on the Membership page.
While we are not set up as a nonprofit at this stage, we are very much considering this a community-based venture. Your membership or donation will go toward keeping our doors open and making sure our artists are paid for their work. This is a labor of love, not a profit-making enterprise.
Our vision is to create a space that is low-key, all-inviting, and accessible; that encourages creativity and community; that is rooted in a sense of place and tradition but encourages also innovation, experiment, and cross-pollination. We hope to bring together all walks of life from all over Birmingham, to be Alabama at its best and most diverse—and we want you to be part of that.
We hope to see you very soon.