CITY OF BESSEMER, ALABAMA
City Life, Public Safety, Upcoming Event
The city of Bessemer Police Department will host the annual National Night Out in Bessemer on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at the Bessemer Recreation Center, 100 14th Street South.

The event will take place between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. There will be free food, drinks and popcorn. School supplies will also be given away.

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

For more information on the event in Bessemer, contact Police Sgt. Alexia Bruister at 205-417-3900.

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Arts & Entertainment, City Life

Published with permission of The Cutoff News.

Volunteers from the Bessemer Historic Society showed up to help begin the cleanup and restoration of the Lincoln Theater in downtown Bessemer on Saturday, July 13th.

The Bessemer Historic Society volunteers removed almost a complete dumpster full of garbage from the once majestic theater. They swept the floors and removed a lot of dust that has built up over the years.

Benjamin and Connie Hancox of Standard Furniture provided lunch from Bob Sykes for the volunteers. Glenny Brock of the Alabama / Lyric Theater was on hand to guide in the cleanup efforts. Ann Griffin of Hueytown also dedicated to helping with the cleanup.

The Lincoln Theater was built and opened in 1948, with seating provided in orchestra and balcony levels. It catered to African-American audiences. It was closed in the late-1970’s.

The theater was purchased in 2017 by award-winning actor and Bessemer native Andre Holland and is being restored by his non-profit Holland Project, established in 2018.

“On behalf of The Lincoln-Holland Project we would like to extend our deepest appreciation and gratitude to all the volunteers who contributed with the Lincoln Theatre clean up. The support that we’ve received has been remarkable, and we sincerely thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts,” says Mary Holland of the Lincoln-Holland Project.

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Arts & Entertainment, City Life
More than 5,000 people converged on Historic Downtown Bessemer on June 1, 2019 to take part in the 2019 Caribbean Food and Music Festival at DeBardeleben park.

The festival, organized each year by the Central Alabama Caribbean American Organization, was held for the first time this year in Bessemer.

The organization had held the event in downtown Birmingham the previous seven years of its existence.

The festival featured Caribbean-themed music , dancing and food as more than 45 vendors packed DeBardeleben Park. A parade was held earlier in the day. Sponsors for the event included Alabama Power, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, iBeria Bank, McDonald’s, 98.7 Kiss FM, Roxxy Rocks and the city of Bessemer. Admission to the festival was free.

Festival organizers said they enjoyed sharing Caribbean culture with the residents of Bessemer and surrounding communities.

Mayor Kenneth Gulley greeted the crowd and thanked the organization, as well as city staff, for working diligently to make the festival a success in Bessemer. Gulley said the organization approached the city a little over two months ago to host the event in Bessemer after the organization determined the cost of hosting the event in Birmingham would be too great.

“What an awesome crowd and what an awesome day to have a Caribbean Festival in the city of Bessemer,” Gulley said. “The beauty of this is we put this together in less than two months.”

Festival-goers said they enjoyed the shade provided by the tree canopy at DeBardeleben Park and the myriad of activities associated with the festival. In addition to numerous food vendors serving everything from Jamaican to Cuban dishes, there was line dancing, salsa performances and a performance by the Revolution Reggae Band.

Visitors came from as far away as Ohio and California to partake in the festivities. Also on hand were Artra Armbrister-Rolle, Counsul General for the Bahamas Consulate in Atlanta and officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands Tourism Office.

Pauline Ford-Caesar, festival organizer, said the organization plans to bring the festival back to Bessemer on June 13, 2020 and is already making plans to do so.
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Arts & Entertainment, City Life, Upcoming Event

Vendors along Second Avenue North in Historic Downtown Bessemer are preparing for a day of fun in the sun with an Old School Summer Block Party scheduled for Saturday, June 8.

The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and last until 8 p.m. The event will be sponsored by The Paisley Pig, LLC. The event will feature food trucks and street vendors. There will also be storewide specials at the Paisley Pig and at United Textiles.  Admission is free to the event.

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Arts & Entertainment, City Life

An award-winning lineup is set for the 10th Annual Bob Sykes Barbecue and Blues Festival, scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at DeBardeleben Park in Historic Downtown Bessemer. The annual event, so-sponsored by Bob Sykes BBQ and the city of Bessemer, will combine the best of blues music and food. The event is from 12 to 8 p.m., rain or shine. Gates will open at 11 a.m. Visitors can bring a chair or blanket and set-up your spot for the day. Since 2010, the event has been filled with thousands of festival goers, including international visitors. Attendees of the festival range from youth to adults.  The festival has been chosen for numerous years as one of the top food festivals in Alabama. “Each year the festival grows and we couldn’t do it without our sponsors and the support of the community,” said Van Sykes, Bob Sykes BBQ’s second generation owner. “The Bob Sykes BBQ and Blues Festival has been a great event for the city of Bessemer,” said Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley. “It brings visitors to our city from across the state, southeast and even internationally. We’re proud that this festival will continue to be held in Bessemer and we’re looking forward to many more great years of barbecue and blues music in downtown Bessemer.” There is something to do for the entire family including a large kids corner with activities and games. Children twelve and under are free with a ticketed adult. Besides great music and barebecue the festival offers a variety of booths including arts and crafts, outdoor exhibits, and a diverse selection of vendors selling tempting offers. General admission tickets can be purchased at www.bobsykesblues.com or visit Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant. The festival will give a portion of the proceeds to Red Mountain Grace that provides apartments to patients receiving long term medical care at hospitals throughout the city of Birmingham. Since 2010, the festival has provided funding for local charities including Children’s of Alabama, Bessemer Education Enhancement Foundation, Clay House, Hands On Birmingham, Ady’s Army and Latch and Live Foundation. 2019 Music Line-Up 12:00pm National Anthem performed by Aretta Woodruff Aretta has been singing and performing since the age of 7 beginning in her family church. She has opened and performed with several names such as Denise LaSalle, The Love Doctor, Jeffery Osborne, Floyd Taylor, the late Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Rush and a host of others. Aretta has performed at several major festivals including Birmingham’s City Stages as well as concerts and charitable events. Some of her influences are Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle and Yolanda Adams. The silky and smooth sounds of Ms. Aretta have dazzled audiences all over the southeast U.S. for about 20 years. The song “Give Me Your Love” was the title of her 2007 CD. Aretta performs regularly with her own band, the Revue Band. In 2018 she was inducted into the Alabama Blues Hall of Fame. 12:15-1:15pm 2Blu with Bruce and George https://2blumusic.com 2BLU “duo” is George Dudley on guitars and Bruce Andrews on vocals and harp. George honed his guitar chops in the 70’s in New England while Bruce worked out his musical style in the Deep South. The two met in 1994 and found the Blues to be common ground and they’ve been playing and writing ever since. When asked to describe their original music Bruce says “We sure love Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy, but we don’t try to imitate them. We just do what we do and hope to pay homage to those icons in our performance.” Our original music reflects our faith, our sense of humor and our personal struggles; lyrically, we just try to be honest and transparent. Musically, we are solidly rooted in American music with emphasis on the blues. 2BLU has been to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis four times as a duo and twice as a full band. They were duo IBC FINALISTS in 2008 and 2018. 1:30pm-2:30pm The Roadhouse Blues Band https://w.facebook.com/michael.carpenter.7545/videos/vb. 1275539047/10217540281480318/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab Roadhouse Blues Band was founded by guitarist Johnny (Bondo) keyboard player Henry (Main) and the late Michael Handley vocals in the early 1990’s. Scott Purser was added on vocals and harmonica and they became Mr. Gips house band. Michael Carpenter would jam with the house band when he was in town and when he wasn’t playing with his own band or performing solo. The band had disbanded, no longer playing at Gip’s Place. in 2016 Michael wanted the Band to start up again playing the real Blues. He asked his friend Norman Johnson his Bass player for the past 15 years to join the band. Norman had played with Dwight Houston’s Jazz Band On Purpose and with Michael for several years in and out of the studio so he agreed to come on board. Johnny found the last key element of the band, a young drummer Candarious (CD) an extremely gifted percussionist who loved the Blues. After 9 months of rehearsal they hit the road traveling South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi and Georgia’s Atlanta area and here in Alabama. they are as they say Blues Outcasts because they don’t do R&B they do BLUES and Hill Country 2:45-3:45pm The Lucky Losers www.Theluckylosers.com They simply can’t lose with their take on down. home, joyful, blues drenched, blues rocking. BLUES MUSIC MAGAZINE, TOM CLARKE, OCTOBER 2018 Described as “the finest light skinned female blues vocalist in the U.S” (Real Blues/2010), fiery Dallas born entertainer, Cathy Lemons has a velvet voice with a gritty edge and the rebel conviction of a woman risen from the ashes. New Jersey native, Phil Berkowitz, “has earned renown as one of the West Coast’s most distinctive harp players, as well as for his sharp, resonant tenor” (Living Blues/ 2018). In July of 2014, Cathy and Phil combined their talents to become The Lucky Losers. Based In San Francisco and accompanied by a dynamic three piece ensemble, they deliver a truly signature sound, marrying vintage soul, swing, and blues together with a splash of Americana. In the span of four years, The Lucky Losers have produced three chart topping albums with world renowned producer, Kid Andersen. Their first album, “A Winning Hand,” was nominated for “Best Traditional Blues Album” by Blues 411 and made The Roots Music Report’s “Top Blues Albums of 2015”. Their second album, “In Any Town,” was nominated for a total of SEVEN awards. Their third album, “Blind Spot,” released in May of 2018, is comprised solely of original material. Critics from around the world gave the album five star reviews. Downbeat, Making a Scene, and The Roots Music Report, all included “Blind Spot” in their notable year end lists. To honor their outstanding work, The Independent Blues Awards nominated The Lucky Losers for “Best Independent Blues/Soul Artist,” “Best Independent Blues/Soul CD,” and “Best Independent Blues/Soul Song” in 2018. 4:00pm-5:00pm Dexter Allen www.DexterAllen.com Dexter Allen, born in Crystal Springs, MS. the son of musical Pastors Lee and Ruthie Allen, was raised on a farm and grew up understanding that life can still be wholesome with only the bare necessities. Dexter began playing the bass guitar at the age of 12 for his father’s gospel group traveling around the central Mississippi area. His sweet blend of Blues, R&B, Soul and Funk landed him a deal in 1995 when he teamed up with Airtight Records, a local independent label, to share his musical and writing talents. He caught the eye of living blues legend Bobby Rush who made him the lead guitarist in his worldwide touring band. Dexter’s unique style landed him the 2008 Jackson, Mississippi Music Award for Male Vocalist of the year. Earlier in 2008, he put out his first CD where he plays guitar, bass, keyboards and sings.In 2009 he won the Mississippi Music Awards Entertainer of the Year honor. In 2011 Dexter released his 2nd CD titled “Bluezin for Life”, going back to his roots with a host of deep Mississippi blues originals. In 2013 Dexter was cast in the James Brown movie “Get On Up” where he played one of Mr. Brown’s musicians. Over the years Dexter has developed a passionate, driving guitar style in the vein of Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. In 2014 Dexter was signed to Deep Rush Records, the label of icon Bobby Rush, where he released the CD titled “Bluez Of My Soul” that made many chart appearances worldwide. In 2015 Dexter released another CD on the Deep Rush label titled “Trilogy Of My Blues” which continues to sell worldwide and delight fans all across the globe. His live show at the Ground Zero Blues Club takes a page out of a classic old blues show, carrying on a custom that traces back to 1920s Delta pioneer Charley Patton: good, old fashioned showmanship that makes people want to be in Dexter’s presence. 5:15-6:30pm Ghost Town Blues Band www.GhostTownBluesBand.com Recently headlining the blues stage at The Montreal Jazz Festival, Beale Street’s latest success story, 5-time Blues Blast Music Award Nominee and International Blues Challenge Runner-up is Ghost Town Blues Band. Not your grandpa’s blues band, their live show has been captivating audiences in the U.S., Canada and Europe with their “second-line horn entrance,” cigar box guitars and electric push brooms to Allman Brothers style jams and even a hip-hop trombone player. The band’s stage show and energy is unparalleled and has been called the best new live blues show in the world. Horns, harmonies and homegrown instruments combined with an energetic and roots rich festival set makes Ghost Town Blues Band one of the “must see live bands on the festival scene today.” Both Andrew McNeill behind the drums and Matt Karner on the bass guitar are a punishing rhythm section behind multi-instrumentalist/frontman Matt Isbell with raunchy cigar box guitar licks and raspy “Dr. John-like, whiskey and gravel- soaked vocals.” With the addition of Trombonist Suavo Jones, Cedric Taylor on B3 and Taylor Orr on lead guitar, the grooves go from fresh to funky as the band gains more notoriety in the blues festival and jam circuit. Ghost Town Blues Band has performed all across US and Canada at over 100+ festivals and will perform more than a half-dozen international tours in Canada and Europe in 2019. “GTBB shows what can happen when the past is distilled through young sensibilities, voices, and instruments. This is 21st century blues at its best.”                        -Living Blues Magazine
  • 2019 B.B. King International Entertainer of the Year Nominee – Maple Blues
Awards (Canada)
  • 2018- #4 Billboard Blues Album Chart
  • 2018 Tennessee Music Award Winner “Best Blues Band”
  • 2018 3-Time Blues Blast Music Award Nominee
6:45-8pm The Keeshea Pratt Band www.keeshapratt.com The Houston based, award winning Keeshea Pratt Band possesses the skill and artistry reminiscent of old school Motown; a rarity among bands of any genre today. The 8-piece musical collective, lends its energy and passion to traditional blues, contemporary blues and offers a preview to the future of blues. The musical artistry and dexterity of The Keeshea Pratt Band allows it to journey unapologetically across the genres of classical, jazz, Southern rock, soul, gospel, and country and back again. Keeshea Pratt is the siren featured on the microphone with soaring and soulful lead Mississippi inspired vocals. She is supported by a talented and diverse group of singers and musicians representing 5 states (Texas, California, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi) and Japan. The female Japanese trumpeter is nestled in the 3 piece horn section that produces thrilling chorded in sync rhythms that rival those of big bands. The makeup of this phenomenal band is Music Director, Bassist and Vocals, Shawn Allen, Brian Sowell (Lead Guitar & Vocals), Dan Carpenter (Saxophone), Misaki Nishidate (Trumpet), James Williams III (Trumpet), and Nick Fishman (Drums) In January 2018, The Keeshea Pratt Band secured first place in the Band Division for the 34th Annual International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, Tennessee. The polished professional soul stirring toe tapping performances assured the judges that The Keeshea Pratt is primed to headline major festivals and concert stages as a noteworthy authority on the blues scene, nationally and internationally
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Arts & Entertainment, City Life

 

Get your tickets now to experience a “taste” of Bessemer’s finest restaurants and businesses.

The Fifth Annual Taste of Bessemer and Business Expo returns to the Bessemer Civic Center on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Doors will open at 4 p.m.  The event will last until 8 p.m.

The event is organized each year by the Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce to spotlight Bessemer’s business scene. The Taste of Bessemer features live entertainment, food and business display vendors. Several local restaurants provide free samples and cooking demonstrations.

Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce president Latasha Williams said the Taste of Bessemer allows restaurants and other businesses in the city an opportunity to showcase their products to potential customers.

“This event gives attendees an opportunity to come and see some of the businesses that make Bessemer great,” Williams said.

Over 100 vendors participated in the event in 2018, marking four straight years of vendor and attendance growth at the Taste of Bessemer.

The deadline for sponsors and vendors to register is Thursday, April 4. Advanced tickets can be picked up through April 9.

For more information, contact the Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce at 205-425-3253 or see the flyer information below.

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City Life, Economic Development
Please join volunteers from throughout the Birmingham-Hoover metro area for the 2019 Biannual Valley Creek Clean-up, slated for Saturday, March 16. The event will start at 8:30 a.m. Efforts in Bessemer will kickoff at McNeil Park, 1931 13th Street North. Other locations in the metro area for the Clean-up will include the Five Points West Library in Birmingham at 4812 Avenue West; Lipscomb City Hall at 5512 Avenue H and Oak Grove Memorial Park at 9180 Lock 17 Road. The Valley Creek Clean-up will focus on public awareness and trash removal along roadways and from waterways throughout the Valley Creek Watershed. Valley Creek has been a valuable natural resource for cities in west Jefferson County  throughout their history. Valley Creek begins under downtown Birmingham (close to UAB Hospital) and flows west to the Black Warrior River. The watershed for Valley Creek is a part of Bessemer, Birmingham, Brighton, Fairfield, Hueytown, Lipscomb, Midfield, North Johns, Pleasant Grove, and Sylvan Springs and covers about 257 square miles. Valley Creek provides aquatic habitat to numerous animals and continues to improve, but it needs your help. For more information on how you can be involved in the Bessemer event, contact Mr. Freddie Freeman at 205-565-9697.  
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City Life

The city of Bessemer’s crime rate has continued its downward trend, dropping for a seventh consecutive year in 2018. The city experienced a six percent drop in violent crimes from 2017 to 2018, including a 33 percent drop in homicides (eight in 2018 compared to 12 in 2017), according to Bessemer Police Department statistics. The city experienced three percent drops in burglaries and felony assaults. Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the results show crime-fighting initiatives in the city are working, but he added, there is still room for improvement. “Unfortunately, there is still much to be done in the area of law enforcement not only in Bessemer but throughout America,” Gulley said. “Going forward we will direct more focus on property crimes such as burglaries, vehicle theft and vehicle break-ins.  Many of these crimes are crimes of opportunity.” There were modest increases in some property crimes. There were 120 reported robberies in 2018 compared to 112 in 2017 and five more cases of unlawful breaking and entering of vehicles in 2018 as compared to 2017. The 12 homicides in 2017 marked the first time since 2011 (11) that there were double-digit homicides in the city. Between 2012 and 2016, the city averaged five homicides a year, down from double-digit averages the previous five years. A homicide is classified as the death of one person at the hands of another and can include police-related incidents and cases later ruled justifiable. Gulley said the police department will continue to create programs aimed at prevention, especially among youth. The Bessemer Police Department sponsored a Teen Summit earlier this month as part of its efforts to steer youth away from crime. Gulley urged the community to stay involved in efforts to address crime in the city. “Our police department will continue with our city-wide programs aimed at engaging our youth concerning conflict resolution,” he said. “I am appealing to our faith based community, non-profit organizations, schools and parents to assist me in this battle against violence in our city. We have to find strategies to deter our citizens from crime.”
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City Life, Public Safety
The Bessemer Police Department is hosting its first annual “Teen Summit” on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at the Bessemer Civic Center. The event will last from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is free to those 13 and over. Isis  Jones will serve as host. The event will focus on issues ranging from bullying to dating violence, suicide, safe sex and other issues relevant to teens. There will also be free food and door prizes.
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