1989 City Stages

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Poster for the 1989 City Stages

The 1989 City Stages was the inaugural edition of City Stages: "Birmingham's World-Class Music Festival". The entire festival took place on five stages within Linn Park on June 16-18 with about 70 acts. The event was organized by the Birmingham Cultural and Heritage Foundation, and incorporated the annual Alabama Folklife Festival as a component of the larger production.

Festival director George McMillan raised $160,000 in sponsorships and public funding, including $25,000 each from the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County. Major corporate sponsors included Coca-Cola, Food World, and AmSouth Bank. Several large contributions to the event were made by individuals.

Advance weekend passes were available for sale at Food-World, Highland Bank and several AmSouth branches for $5, or for $5.50 by telephone through Fastix. Daily tickets were sold on site for $3 per day for adults and $1 for children under 12. Beer was served in re-usable yellow plastic mugs, though vendors were unable to keep up with long lines in the evenings.

The weekend included a City Stages Jazz Camp with Ellis Marsalis, held on Friday and Saturday at UAB's Cudworth Hall. A "poetry room", moderated by Rob Collins, was located in the Woodward Room at the Tutwiler Hotel.

In addition to the Children's Stage, the Birmingham Museum of Art coordinated hands-on activities, a clown troupe, "Surprize Party", roamed the site, and a book walk was sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library. A "street strut" parade with giant puppets opened the festivities on Saturday.

The event was blessed with clear, mild weather. Visitors enjoyed the newly-renovated city park, deemed an "oasis" in contrast to its former "seedy reputation". Organizers anticipated that the weekend would draw around 30,000, and later estimated that 38,000 actually attended. McMillan later reported that the inaugural City Stages cost about $300,000 to produce, and netted $215 in profits.

Chuck Berry performing on Saturday evening at Linn Park. Photo by Joe Songer for The Birmingham News

Line up


  • Heritage Stage:
    • Tom DeWitt and the Bounty Hunters (7:00)
    • John Prine (7:40)
    • Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks (8:50)
    • The Georgia Satellits (10:00)



City Stages
Site: Linn Park and Downtown Birmingham
By year: 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998
1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009
Miscellaneous: Gallery of City Stages posters


  • Troup, Randy (June 10, 1989) "Music takes Stage in B'ham." Anniston Star, p. 7–8
  • Troup, Randy (June 9, 1990) "City Stages— 36 hours of fun for $5." Anniston Star, p. 7-8
  • Carlton, Bob (June 12, 1998) "City Stages retrospective." The Birmingham News