Function in the Junction
The Function in the Junction is a daylong music festival organized by the Ensley Community. The festival started in 1985 as a tribute to the jazz heritage of Ensley's Tuxedo Junction, and in particular that of Erskine Hawkins. The festival is held annually in Erskine Hawkins Park on the fourth Saturday in July to honor Hawkins' July 26 birthday. Hawkins attended the festival himself through 1993, the year of his death.
The Function in the Junction, which draws about 4,000 people each year, features primarily jazz and gospel acts on stage and numerous booths and vendors around the park.
The 23rd annual festival was held July 26, beginning with the traditional parade which ends at Erskine Hawkins Park. Live music was performed by Kalu, Leon McMullen, Birmingham Heritage Band, Eric Johnson and Seasoned to Please. Several gospel groups also performed, including The Golden Hummingbirds and Christian Heart. Cooper Green Mercy Hospital held a health fair with screenings for sickle cell anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions.
The 22nd annual all-day festival began on July 28 with a parade down 19th Street to Erskine Hawkins Park. The Bush Middle School and Jackson-Olin High School bands, as well as the Phi De I drum line highlighted the parade, which was dedicated to former Sherman Heights neighborhood president Charlie James. Festival performers included The Pillars, Christian Heart Gospel Group, Kumba Praise, Marlin Spears, the Donna Todd Dancers, a funk band, Birmingham Heritage Band, a reggae band, Force Five, The Grain, the Umdabu Dance Group, the Kalu Band, Bob Steel and the Steel Water Band and the former Stax Records house band, the Barkays.
The 1993 festival was the last one that Hawkins attended in person. He died in November of that year.
- Ruisi, Anne (July 21, 2006) "Function in the Junction festival set for Saturday". Birmingham News
- Natta, André (July 27, 2007) "The Junction Will Be Jumping This Saturday". The Terminal
- Nance, Rahkia (July 29, 2007) "'Function' grows as heritage celebration." Birmingham News
- Ruisi, Anne (July 24, 2008) "Ensley gearing up for annual Function in the Junction festival." Birmingham News
- Ruisi, Anne (July 23, 2009) "Annual Function in the Junction jazz fest is Saturday in Ensley." Birmingham News