2009 City Stages

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The 2009 City Stages was the 21st and final annual edition of "Birmingham's World-Class Music Festival". The festival took place on nine stages around Linn Park and 5th Avenue North on June 19-June 21, 2009.

Advance 3-day passes were sold for $37.50 through Ticketmaster and Legacy Community Credit Union. One day passes were $28, with children 12 and under free. AEG Live/The Messina Group was contracted as the festival's booking agency, replacing Knoxville, Tennesee's AC Entertainment.

The 2009 event marked the loss of City Stages' "Homegrown Stage" featuring local music acts. In reaction, bham.fm organized a Secret Stages event at Speakeasy with several local bands.

The Birmingham News published observations from festival-goers and vendors that the crowds seemed much smaller than in years past. Spokesman Jim Taylor told the News on Sunday that despite continued shaky finances, that the 2009 event would not be the last City Stages. A few days later a statement from the Birmingham Cultural and Heritage Foundation acknowledged that the festival was "irretrievably insolvent" and stated its intention to cease doing business.





  • Alice in Thunderland
  • Pio Fusco
  • Turbo Fruits
  • Justin Holt
  • The Progressive Choir
  • Pat Abbott & Rick Alfano
  • Flat Cat
  • Royal Bangs
  • The Pine Hill Haints
  • Patton James & the Synchromatics
  • Isla Duo
  • Enemy Lovers
  • Hill Country Revue
  • Dogs Barking at Dogs
  • Electric Touch
  • Sursum Corda
  • Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys
  • Leon Chavis & the Zydeco Flames
  • The Whigs
  • Cahaba Saxophone Quartet
  • Ryan Kinder Band
  • Phi De I
  • Courtney Jaye
  • Latin Rhythms Band
  • Guster
  • Overfloe
  • Eduardo Rojas
  • Doobie Brothers
  • Young Jeezy
  • Needtobreathe
  • Red Mountain Chamber Orchestra
  • En Vogue
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
(Jane's Addiction had been booked for the festival, but cancelled.)


As of January 2009, City Stages was reportedly carrying $400,000 in debt, of which $168,000 represented the deficit from the 2008 City Stages. The figure for accumulated debt from previous years was reported again in June as $550,000.

The 2009 festival budget was $2.3 million. Sponsorships covered $450,000 of the total and, along with public funding and food and beverage sales, left $800,000 to be made up in ticket sales. Corporate advance ticket sales, however, dropped to $240,000, well short of the $400,000 expected, prompting the festival to petition the Birmingham City Council to increase its appropriation from $300,000 to $550,000 to make up the shortfall. In exchange, the festival provided free admission to people over age 60.

In requesting the additional public support, the festival claimed that "each dollar invested... means 10 to 20 dollars for the city." That claim was based on economic impact reports from 1999-2001 prepared by the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On the Tuesday following the festival, organizers reported that sales of day passes were the lowest in the history of the event.


A total of 34 arrests were made during the festival, mostly by undercover vice and narcotics detectives working to prevent underage drinking. 24 of the arrests were minors charged with possessing alcohol, 6 were for furnishing alcohol to a minor, and one was for selling alcohol to a minor. Two other arrests were for unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, and one was for disorderly c onduct. The total was down sharply from 74 arrests made at the 2008 City Stages. Sergeant Johnny Williams, Jr characterized the crowd as "well-behaved".

Warrants for festival founder George McMillan and executive director Denise Koch were issued after some vendors received bad checks in the aftermath of the festival.

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


  • Colurso, Mary (January 23, 2009) "Birmingham's City Stages $168,000 in the red for 2008, about $400,000 total." Birmingham News
  • Kwon, Wade (March 30, 2009) "City Stages 2009: The lineup". Wade on Birmingham
  • Kwon, Wade (June 18, 2009) "City Stages 2009: Less money, mo problems". Wade on Birmingham
  • Kemp, Kathy (June 21, 2009) "No swan song for City Stages, organizers say." Birmingham News
  • Robinson, Carol (June 23, 2009) "Arrests down at City Stages." Birmingham News
  • Colurso, Mary (June 23, 2009) "City Stages 2009 day ticket sales drop to all-time low." Birmingham News

External links