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Bottletree celebrates the big six
If a fifty year anniversary means golden, and twenty five means silver. a six year anniversary must mean hoedown. It is just the most logical assumption, yes? Well, it is in Bottletree’s case. The city’s most beloved cafe/bar/music venue is still going strong since beginning business in November of 2006. To celebrate, Bottletree held a faux redneck/educated hillbilly party with the local Banditos and Chapel Hill legends Southern Culture on the Skids. In addition to the musical part of the show, Bottletree also held a ticket raffle with the wonderful prizes of free shows for a year and free shows for life.
Staff and some audience members were dressed in plaid shirts tucked into dark jeans, cowboy shirts but sadly no nudie suits. A bandana banner spelling out “Bottletree” was hung up on stage and old country music played softly before the show officially started. Banditos kicked off the hootenanny with a high energy blend of honky tonk and rock. All six members were dressed quite appropriately in plaid shirts and cowboy boots for the men, and a red fringed dress for the lady. With an upright bass, banjo, and Telecaster with a whammy bar, Banditos fit right into the setting and were incredibly entertaining and fun. They are quite indeed worthy of the praise they have garnered both locally and outside of the Magic City. Special guest Bluesman Gip Gipson was even escorted to the side of the stage to watch the talented locals.
Before Southern Culture on the Skids played, Bottletree co-owner Brian Teasley came up to the stage to announce the winners of the free show prizes. Names were drawn from a blue pumpkin bucket, and all three winners happened to be women. The lucky ladies were called on stage and awarded bandanas with their prizes pinned on in the shape of a sheriff’s star. Teasley said that these prizes pretty much meant living at Bottletree. And honestly, who in Birmingham hasn’t thought about that, at least once?
Then it was time for Southern Culture on the Skids. Rick Miller, Mary Huff, and Dave Hartman were back to their trio roots; half the size of Banditos, but just the same amount of sound. “Pig Pickin,” the most rollicking single from 2010. “The Kudzu Ranch” was the first of many songs to be played that night. “Pig pickin’” is actually a Mandarin orange cake, though it sounds more like an activity rather than a dessert. References to Deep South cuisine is just the tip of the ice burg lettuce at a SCOTS show. The band members are always in costume on stage, each depicting a playful satire of stereotypical southern figures: Guitarist Miller wore denim overalls cut off at the knee and a torn up straw hat. With his grey goatee and sweet grin, he looks like he’d be just as at home in a rocking chair out on the porch.
Bassist Mary Huff is always the big haired hybrid of beauty queen and country music starlet and took lead vocals on a cover of Wanda Jackson’s “Funnel of Love.” Drummer Mr. Hartman looked like the laid back assistant manager of an auto parts store. Well, maybe not so laid back since he never once sat down to play the drums like one normally would. The band keeps with the more positive southern characteristics including hospitality by encouraging audience participation. Two girls were invited to come up and dance, and at some parts , sing “House of Bamboo” with Miss Huff. One girl even had the privilege of brushing Mary’s beehive wig mid-performance.
Mr. Miller would occasionally explain the meanings behind his songs. The funny “Put Your Teeth on the Windowsill” is a love song dedicated to his grandparents who would “sneak off for an hour every Sunday afternoon, leaving their dentures soaking in a tumbler of ginger ale by the window.” Or “King of the Mountain” about a business man he met in Tennessee who wanted to open up a chain of tanning salons. Good storytellin’, yet another positive trait associated with the Deep South.
Fan favorite “Camel Walk” was saved for later in the set. A female audience member wearing an official SCOTS Hillbilly shirt brought a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, the subject of the song. It is tradition for audience members to dance onstage and throw the packaged snack pies into the crowd, and to stay on stage to toss out fried chicken for the next song “8 Piece Box.” Popeye’s Chicken was brought onstage earlier in the set, but a few eager fans apparently brought in their own fried chicken to actually throw at the band. Because of the potential poultry hazards, Rick explained proper chicken throwing and the velocity at which it travels. Either way, chicken was tossed and heads were covered in fear. But it is a very fun scared feeling.
“Banana Puddin” closed out the main set, coming full circle with the dessert theme. The band returned for a four song encore including “My Neighbor Burns Trash,” which Mr. Miller claimed was based on another true story. A much rockin’ version of “The Great Atomic Power” ended the night. Mary Huff thanked the audience for coming out and wished Bottletree a happy sixth anniversary.
The floor, sticky with beer and greasy with fried chicken, was cleaned up in a matter of minutes thanks to the quick staff. Tabs were closed while drinks were still served by the multitasking baristas. Fans congregated outside on the porch and inside the building, talking about the awesome show they had just seen. Just another successful night at the best music venue in town. The Bottletree Sixth Year Anniversary Hoedown was a blast, a triumph of their show organization abilities, and a fantastic mix of hospitality and humor.
Here’s to Banditos making it big, SCOTS never stop making music, and Bottletree for many years to come.
Senior Staff Writer