Tuscaloosa holds free music nights in June

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Live at the Plaza takes place from 6-8pm on Fridays at the Government Plaza.

Laura Testino

The idea for “Live at the Plaza,” a series that began the first Friday in June and will continue weekly until the end of the month, was discussed last April by the Tuscaloosa City Council, particularly by Tuscaloosa District 4 Councilman Matt Calderone.

“We’ll continue to do activities like this in the downtown so long as the community supports it,” Calderone said. “This has been put on with minimal to really no cost to the city. We have a couple support staff out there to help monitor the trash and some officers out there walking around for safety reasons, but every bit of this was paid for through private donations by Tuscaloosa businesses, which is a really great thing.”

Calderone announced over 10 sponsors at the event, and some of those included were: Carpe Vino, Soulgrown Tuscaloosa, JNJ Apparel and Green Bar. Instead of detracting business away from downtown, Calderone believes the event will bring the community to the downtown area. On the first Friday, June 5, over 400 patrons came to the plaza to see the Lamont 
Landers Band.

In addition to the yellow boxes of Hungry Howie’s pizza sitting atop the blankets on the lawn, audience members could also bring in alcoholic beverages. An open container permit was approved for the plaza area as part of the “Live at the 
Plaza” series.

A couple officers patrolled the area on Friday, just in front of the City of Tuscaloosa Downtown Precinct and Municipal Court on the 6th Street border of the plaza. They never had to move too far from their posts, which was true of the previous Friday as well, Calderone said.

Sharing a bottle of white wine and sitting on a bench on the outskirts of the plaza were Nathan Cordle and Casey Johnson, both residents of the city. Cordle, a May 2015 graduate of UA Law School, has enjoyed the city’s growth and frequents many of the downtown restaurants; his wine was purchased from Carpe Vino.

“It’s fantastic that they have [‘Live at the Plaza’] here on Friday nights in June,” Cordle said.

Bill Lloyd, the owner of Green Bar and Wilhagan’s, has been in the downtown area for nearly 14 years. Throughout his time, Lloyd has remained involved with downtown events, and spoke with Calderone about sponsoring “Live at the Plaza.”

“I’m a big proponent of downtown events, and I thought [‘Live at the Plaza’] was something that we needed to have,” Lloyd said. “To Green Bar, as a music venue – and we do pretty much all original music there – it’s just a natural tie-in for us to try and support a live music event 
in downtown.”

Green Bar hosted Lamont Landers last weekend after the band played the opening night of “Live at the Plaza.” Angela and the Able Brothers were at the event last Friday. Band member Angela Hamiter said she enjoyed playing at the concert tremendously, and said she would like to return as an audience member.

“It was nice to see people relax and have a good time,” she said.

The band was one of more than 60 applicants to play at the series, which speaks volumes about the local music scene, Calderone said. When choosing the bands, Calderone said he tried to select local musicians with easy-going music for all ages. Angela and the Able Brothers opened with a cover of the Indigo Girls’ “Closer I Am to Fine” and played a mix of artists both new and old, ending with “Dixieland Delight.”

Calderone said he hopes to continue some kind of live music series in the fall or other months and that he welcomes 
all ideas.

“Hopefully we grow it. I’d love to carry it on into July, so long as people want to,” he said. “We may take a month off and come back in August, or come back in September with something.”

“Live at the Plaza” is free of charge. Plato Jones is scheduled to play on June 19, followed by Sweet Kicks on June 26. The event will be rescheduled in the 
event of rain.