The Magic of Muscle Shoals

When you think of the music headquarters in the South, Nashville is sure to come to mind – but don’t think that’s the only place good music comes from! A quaint little area of North Alabama is home to FAME Studios, thought by many to serve as the center of jazz, and the focus of the 2013 documentary Muscle Shoals: The Incredible True Story of a Small Town with a Big Sound.     With testimonials from icons like Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, and Alicia Keys (to name just a few), Muscle [... more]

Painting in the Magic City

Mary Grace Wolnski is a multi-faceted artist born and raised in the Magic City (Birmingham, Alabama). “Just the combination of industrial with nature that’s everywhere here has always inspired me,” Wolnski said. “… like the linear and geometric against the natural.” Beginning at the age of 2, Wolnski danced competitively for 16 years, but the pressure of technical scrutiny encouraged her to try other art forms. Eventually, she found painting – and has been doing it ever since. “I don’t want to sound so up in the clouds,” Wolnski said. “It’s kind of expressing movement, and [... more]

Great Bear: Great Candles

If you’ve ever walked into a room and felt like you’ve been punched in the nose, then perhaps you understand the reasoning behind Jake Carnley’s subtly scented candles. Tired of the “highly scented room dominators” commonly found with mass producers, Carnley’s Great Bear Wax Co. prefers to take the small batch approach: every scent is carefully and repeatedly tested, perfecting a balance of notes that won’t assault the senses. Unlike the typical paraffin variety, each candle is made with locally-sourced, natural beeswax or American-grown soy wax. Fragrances like Tobacco Bay, Patchouli Jasmine, and [... more]

A Better Way to Wallet

Few men give serious consideration to the front-pocket wallet, but when the cards and receipts and all those Benjamins start stacking up, sitting down can be uncomfortable and cause you to be lopsided, which leads to back pain. The front-pocket wallet takes care of all of those problems by simplifying the piece and moving it to the front. While working to create the perfect billfold, leather craftsman Michael Stricklin from Opelika, Alabama, designed the Loyal Stricklin Front Pocket Wallet ($89) using tan Chromexcel horsehide, tan stitching, and [... more]

Magic City Music

Though open just one year, Iron City Birmingham Bar & Grill has already become one of the Magic City’s hottest spots for nightlife. Capable of comfortably holding more than 1,000 people, Iron City plays host to many up-and-coming musical artists, as well as established musicians of all genres such as Kid Ink, Buckcherry, and Earl Sweatshirt. Located in the heart of downtown, the modern venue features not only two full-service bars and live music, but also an impressive eatery that strives to produce “a white tablecloth experience [... more]

Iron-Clad History

The hauntingly beautiful Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, perfectly blends the past and the present. Currently being preserved and interpreted as a historical industrial site, Sloss is the only 20th-century blast furnace in the United States. The sculptural web of buildings, pipes, and smokestacks provides an excellent classroom for anyone interested in the industrial past of the Magic City. A National Historic Landmark, the inactive iron-ore furnace also serves as a modern-day event center in the heart of the city. Tours, music festivals, and even weddings offer [... more]

Always Find Your Pants

It’s been our experience that passionate home brewers make the best craft brewers. That’s exactly how the people behind Madison, Alabama’s Blue Pants Brewery and Taproom started. They spent years in their kitchens, basements, and garages playing around with ingredients and flavors to find the best-tasting beers. That combined experience comes in handy at Blue Pants, where they brew a large variety of “unreasonably good” (as their slogan claims) beers—from an American red ale to a strawberry saison. Open six nights a week and on Friday and [... more]

Banjo Ballads

Not many bands can claim that they single-handedly created their own genre of music, but that’s exactly what Grace & Tony did. Formed in Florence, Alabama, the now-married couple combined their two styles to create the “Punkgrass” sound they perform today. Says frontman Tony White (brother of John Paul White of the Civil Wars), “Punkgrass is simply a natural fusion of my punk-rock background and Grace’s Southern gospel and bluegrass upbringing.” No other term could so accurately describe their loose, upbeat, and narrative first full-length album, November, [... more]

Sweet Home Alabama

Since 2000, Natalie Chanin has helped revitalize her hometown of Florence, Alabama, through Alabama Chanin, her lifestyle company that creates and curates handcrafted clothing, accessories, and home goods. In 2013, Chanin opened a café at The Factory, her shop in Florence. The small menu is as cultured as their products, changing day by day featuring soups, salads, quiches, and desserts for lunch and housemade granola or scones with bacon jam for breakfast. Like her commitment to sourcing local ingredients, Chanin also sources local women—retired factory workers, teachers, [... more]

Fore the Family

Many believe that golf is one of the best skills a business professional can develop; however, getting out of the house to spend time on the golf course can take some finesse. Try this approach: While you work on your game out on the course, bring the entire family along for a stay at the luxurious Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Birmingham, Alabama. You won’t hear any complaints from the spouse or kids because everyone will be too busy planning their day at [... more]

A Family Affair

Woodworker Randy Cochran has been building furniture for more than 40 years. From his first commissioned piece in 1972 to the signature rocking chairs produced at his Wood Studio in Arley, Alabama, Randy’s work exemplifies the best of fine woodworking. He opened the studio in 1986 after spending some 15 years designing and building furniture as a hobby. Working with individuals and professionals alike, Wood Studio builds high-quality furnishings for both residential and commercial projects. Randy’s sons, Keith and Dylan, graduated from Auburn University and help operate [... more]

Let’s Hangout!

Early summertime has become synonymous with Music Festival Season for many avid concertgoers. One of the emerging festivals of the South, Hangout Music Festival (also known as “Hangout Fest”) takes place on the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Expected to draw 35,000 attendees, this year’s event (May 16-18) will feature several popular musical acts including Wiz Khalifa, Outkast, The Killers, Pretty Lights, and Chance the Rapper, among many others. Ticket prices vary from around $200 to upwards of $1,500 depending on the kind of experience you [... more]

Everything But Overalls

The Overall Company is certainly both a local favorite and a beloved tourist attraction for those who pass through Opelika, Alabama, on their way to an Auburn University football game. Named for a pre-Civil War overall maker that once occupied the building, the artisan pop factory/coffee bar/restaurant/live music venue keeps people coming back with its unique and eclectic offerings. The restaurant resembles a large renovated barn with its rustic, down-home feel. The simple menu features only a few delicious specialties, but anything you order won’t disappoint. After [... more]

It’s Still Leather Weather

In the day, fashion designers restricted leather to jackets, purses, shoes, and the tight pants synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll legends, so the past couple of seasons we’ve been excited to see this traditional winter material transition into lighter looks. This spring, ditch the heavy dark jackets and boots and incorporate softer colors of leather (even pastels!) into your wardrobe. Feeling unsure about how to wear leather for daytime? Billy Reid’s Sadie Skirt in Apricot ($995) makes it easy to pull off the look thanks to its neutral shade and feminine A–line shape.  

Have Bag, Will Travel

I rarely go anywhere without a backpack—for me, it’s a way of life. One of my favorite bags, Billy Reid’s Distressed Backpack, has seen me through some tough times over the years. Unlike many other packs I’ve tried, this one features comfortable shoulder straps that don’t stain my clothes, even in the hottest environment. Handmade in Tennessee of ultra-soft sheepskin, the bag looks vintage and pretty much goes with whatever I wear, always a huge plus.