It was a time when popular live music took mostly one form in Central Alabama— loud, electrified, drum-driven rock bands were the prevailing standard at the end of the 1990’s… and Birmingham had no designated place for itinerant singer/songwriters to ply their quiet trade. Intrigued by the folk clubs and coffeehouses he’d visited in larger cities up the East Coast, Keith Harrelson set himself to the task of building a stopover, a stage, and an appreciative audience for the many traveling troubadours he knew were bypassing his hometown when they toured nearby. As first established in a start-up suburban location, then repositioned on a dramatic cliffside south of the city, Moonlight Music earned a nationwide reputation as one of the Southeast’s premier artist-centered listening rooms, regularly hosting major talents from all over the country and the world. Today, more than a dozen years later, The Moonlight continues in the support and preservation of original acoustic Americana music, presented in its simplest and most honest form.
"Moonlight: Music On A Mountain" is a compendium of over three hundred weekly newsletters emailed to the fans and supporters of an original acoustic music venue in Birmingham Alabama. Part diary, part blog, and part encyclopedia, this collection presents the proprietor’s voice, views, and visions regarding a unique miniature concert hall, creating a narrative of its uncertain yet glorious persistence, in a time of radical change for the makers of contemporary folk, roots, country, and blues songcraft. Celebrating the inherent musicality of the English lexicon, these promotional missives feature arcane descriptions of The Moonlight’s scheduled performers, leavened with reflective and waggish commentary on cultural trends and current events. Covering a time frame from 2010 to 2016, this book archives a rich chronological text that invites either binge reading or random sampling, as a reader may be so inclined.
About the author
A former advertising copywriter and photographer, and a Beatles-era boomer to begin with, Keith Harrelson abandoned any realistic approach to professional achievement in 2003, when he opened the Moonlight Music Cafe, a hybrid coffeehouse-music hall in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama— a time-lagged metropolis not known for its embrace of acoustic folk music. Keith’s lifelong proximity to working tunesmiths, and regular involvement in staging live music festivals across the Southeast, convinced him that the essence of America’s canon of original song craft, and the appreciation of its earnest practitioners, could best be abetted on the smallest of scales— from the short risers of a petite indoor stage, in a carpeted room holding perhaps a hundred respectful souls in thrall to a performer’s unique talents.
For thirteen years, paddling upstream in a twice-failed economy, Harrelson managed somehow to maintain a refuge for local and traveling troubadours, most of whom remember the room as a mini-concert hall where the artists and their work were given an honored priority, by the presenter and the audiences he worked so hard to assemble for them. With his retirement in 2017, Keith watches with approval as The Moonlight extends its legacy under new ownership, and enjoys the freedom of a much less structured weekly schedule, in the company of an acre of mature Southern hardwoods, and two and a half ankle-banging cats.