50 Years of The Upsidedown Plaza

On Saturday, December 1st Model Citizen will join in celebration of half a century of one of the south’s finest dive bars. I first descended the stairwell back in the summer of 1999 and almost immediately made a friend in longtime bar tender, Chris Thomas. I whiled away a lot of hours talking about rock n roll bands like the Quadrajets, Federation X, New York Dolls and the Ramones with Chris before finally working up the courage to ask if my band might play there sometime.

Although not surprised, my request was not met with an immediate yes. But, after some time Chris was able to talk owner, Jimbo Flemming, into giving us a chance. In the coming weeks we covered the joint with flyers and handbills and hoped for the best.

Finally one evening in the summer of 2000 we hauled our gear to town and schemed our way inside the parking garage for load in. This is the moment we were all to meet Mr. John “J.D.” Dill. J.D. didn’t seem too thrilled with our coming in and making all of that racket and I don’t blame him. He expressed that he had paying customers who, “don’t want to hear that shit!”, and asked that we at least, “Turn down the drums!” Although the feeling was unlikely mutual, Mr. Dill became endeared to our band. I enjoyed J.D.’s plain talk and dry humor greatly over the course of the years to follow.

Sometime before the show started we all met “Kim The Famous Bar Tender”. Kim was our host for the evening. Kim treated us to some stories about his days playing rock n roll and before the night was finished we became familiar with the phrase, “Give it up for the jukebox! It sounds just like a band!!!” I think I still have a few of his business cards lying around somewhere!

We formally invite everyone to come celebrate 50 years of the Plaza this weekend. The bar is hosting music both Friday and Saturday nights. The shows will include familiar Birmingham acts like Dirty Lungs and Banditos as well as some of our best up-and-comers like Grandaddy Ghost Legs. We’ll raise a glass to Mr. Flemming and remember J.D., Gordon and others that have gone before us. Hope to see you there!!


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