Birmingham, Alabama was founded in 1871 during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. It was named for the city of Birmingham, England, and settled by many southerners who possessed English ancestry. From its beginnings through the end of the 1960s, it was a major industrial center of the South. It was a leader in iron and steel production, as well as rail and railroad car manufacturing.
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Today, Birmingham is still one of the Southeast’s most important business centers. It is the state’s cultural and entertainment capital, as well, and is considered one of the country's most livable cities, providing a variety of homes, architectural styles, neighborhoods, and a high ratio of green space per capita. Birmingham spans about 150 square miles and is divided into about two dozen communities. In the 1970s and ‘80s, its economy was further bolstered by investments in biotechnology and medical research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the area’s largest employer.
Historically, Alabama has played a dominant role in the development of both blues and country music, with Appalachian folk, bluegrass, gospel, jazz, and classical music all having their own rich histories. For example, the century-old Tuskegee Choir is an internationally renowned institution, and jazz greats Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins, and Nat King Cole all came from Alabama. Closer to home, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, which gave its first formal concert in 1933, performs these days at the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham. And the historic Carver Theatre in Birmingham is the home of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Historical areas such as Tuxedo Junction and the Fourth Avenue Historic District played an important role in the evolution of jazz, not only in Birmingham, but also in the rest of the country.
Today, Birmingham boasts several active big bands, including the SuperJazz Big Band, the Joe Giattina Orchestra, the Night Flight Big Band and the Magic City Jazz Orchestra. Scores of the city’s bars, lounges, clubs, and restaurants feature lesser known jazz bands. Other music venues, featuring a variety of genres from rock, to Indie, to electronic dance music, include: Iron City, Workplay, the Alabama Theatre, The Nick, Sound & Page, the BJCC Concert Hall, the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Moonlight on the Mountain, Zydeco, Escape Birmingham, The Syndicate Lounge, Gip’s Place, Saturn, and The Coal Yard.
The Magic City also hosts several popular music festivals. The Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival, presented at the end of August each year, features national and local jazz acts. The Secret Stages Music Festival is celebrating its fifth year and features seven stages and more than 60 bands. The Sloss Music and Arts Festival takes place at the historic Sloss Furnaces, the only twentieth-century blast furnace in the U.S. being preserved as a historic industrial site. It hosts three stages of music -- the Steam Stage, the Blast Stage, and the Shed Stage - with a lineup of more than 30 acts that emphasize Indie, alternative rock, Americana, folk, hip-hop, and electronica. Country fans gather each year at the Rock the South Festival, held at Heritage Park in Cullman, about 50 miles north of Birmingham.
In days past, it was very difficult for small, local bands to get their music heard. They had to have a contract with a producer or record label that was willing to make a financial investment in the band’s potential success. These days, however, musical groups can more easily afford to self-record, and then have their master CDs reproduced and packaged by a company like us – Bison Disc. We’re the folks who duplicate and replicate music CDs so that groups large and small, known and unknown, can get their music heard.
Film lovers abound in Birmingham. The Annual Sidewalk Film Festival is entering its 17th year. It showcases the best in new, independent films, documentaries, features, and shorts, with a special spotlight on Alabama filmmakers. There are dozens of production companies in the Birmingham area, and the city hosts the Birmingham Film School, a branch of the Los Angeles-based Film Connection group of schools.
Numerous major and independent films are shot each year in the area, as well as commercials and TV shows. Some of the better-known movies that have been filmed in Birmingham and surrounding areas include The River, Under the Sidewalk Moon, Cobb, and Main Street. Additionally, many movies have been shot in Alabama not far from Birmingham, including such films as Talladega Nights, The Insider, Failure to Launch, and Final Destination 4. Major film companies such as Warner Brothers, Disney, and New Line regularly shoot films in this area, making it an excellent connection point for both film students and filmmaking professionals.
Bison Disc is also an excellent “connection point” for those in the film and music industries. We make the customized Cases, Jackets, Sleeves, Wallets, and Digipaks that package the DVDs and CDs that film and music are recorded and copied on. We also make attractive and long-lasting box and collector sets that house and protect DVDs and Blu-ray discs for years to come. For all of their film and music projects, artists have been connecting with Bison Disc for 20 years - here in Alabama and across the country.
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