Birmingham is rife with subcultures that fly under the radar of most people. In this series, the Birmingham Free Press pulls the lid off this underground world and lets you take a peek inside.
The Celtic Music Scene
|Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band|
photo by E.T. Brown
The last Sunday of every month, you can find Morrison among a large group of other Celtic musicians at Black Market Bar in Five Points. This is the Celtic Session, an open jam session where Irish and Scottish musicians gather together to play traditional songs. “People come from Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Auburn,” Morrison says. “And there are also sessions in those cities that we all go to.” He says there is a certain protocol to how the session goes, but new people catch on quickly. Members of popular local Celtic music groups like Jasper Coal and Henry’s Notions often come to participate in the sessions. Musicians at every level are welcome, and many people show up just to watch and listen.
Both the pipe band and the Celtic session are sponsored in part by the Caledonian Society of Alabama, a group that is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Gaelic culture in the state, largely through music. Ian Sturrock, the namesake of Morrison’s pipe band, was one of the founding members of the organization. The Caledonian Society also hosts four events every year, the biggest of which is their Burns Supper in January, celebrating the Scottish poet Robert Burns. At this event, the pipe band performs and members eat traditional Scottish food while reading selections from Burns’ poetry, including his “Address to a Haggis.”
Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band:
Celtic Sessions in Birmingham:
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