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After two years of widespread lockdowns and quarantines, 2021 slowly brought a bit of normalcy back to the Azalea City. Though the Omicron variant is starting to rear its ugly head, with New Year’s Eve just days away, Mobile and the surrounding areas are still preparing to welcome 2022 in with a number of celebrations.
As always, the best ingredient to a legendary New Year’s Eve party on the Gulf Coast is music. Those wanting to traverse the area and sample from a New Year’s Eve buffet of sonic goodness should look no further than this column.
The biggest New Year’s Eve celebration on the Alabama Gulf Coast will take place in the streets of downtown Mobile. MoonPie Over Mobile is back. At 8 p.m., two of Mobile’s premier brass bands will set the mood at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza hotel’s courtyard. Port City Secondliners and Jukebox Brass Band will fill the air with Mardi Gras brass tunes. After the crowds get a sample of the “World’s Largest MoonPie,” the bands will lead an epic second line to the main stage of the MoonPie Over Mobile celebration, where the music will continue.
For this year’s MoonPie Over Mobile, the crowds will witness the birth of a furious musical monster ready to overwhelm listeners with relentless jams. Supergroup Mobzilla will be accenting the evening with an all-star lineup of music scene notables. Vocalist/guitarist Lee Yankie (Honey Island Swamp Band, Lee Yankie & the Hellz Yeah) brings an edge of fiery swamp rock to Mobzilla. Keyboardist Chris Spies (N.E.R.F. the World, Honey Island Swamp Band) is sure to bring a grooving mix of funk and soul to the masses. Bassist Owen Finley’s (Honey Island Swamp Band, Ryan Balthrop & Friends) throaty rhythms should mingle well with the drumwork of John Milham (N.E.R.F. the World, Johnny Sansone). Guitarist/vocalist Brooks Hubbert’s (N.E.R.F. the World, Col. Bruce Hampton) tendency for improv jams should be a perfect accent to this musical cocktail. Southern rock diva Donna Hall (Wet Willie, Marshall Tucker Band) will seduce the crowd with her vocal beauty. Phillip Baggins Jr. (Yeah, Probably) will bring an impressive tandem of drums. A double-shot of horns featuring saxophonist Ian Bowman (The Revivalists, Ellis Marsalis) and Harry Morter Jr. (J & the Causeways, Samantha Fish) will complete this enigmatic sonic creature known as Mobzilla.
After Mobzilla attacks the public, MoonPie Over Mobile will bring a modern-day icon from the New Orleans music scene. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue is returning to Mobile to groove the masses into 2022. Bandleader Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has spent his entire life surrounded by the sounds of New Orleans. After establishing Orleans Avenue, Andrews innovated the Big Easy brass sound through an infusion of funk, soul and hip-hop. This fresh sound has propelled him from the New Orleans streets to the worldwide stage. Every Trombone Shorty performance is a party, which makes his addition to MoonPie Over Mobile a natural choice. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue are guaranteed to keep the crowd on its feet and dancing until a glorious, electrified MoonPie descends upon downtown Mobile at midnight.
Several downtown establishments will be accenting the MoonPie Over Mobile experience with live music of their own. Cedar Street Social Club will be welcoming the Red Clay Strays to its stage for the “New Year’s Eve Get Down.” Over the years, the Red Clay Strays have developed a reputation for delivering charismatic country and Southern rock in the live setting. Very few newcomers to the Red Clay Strays leave a show without becoming a fan. With the celebratory atmosphere of New Year’s Eve a factor, the band’s “New Year’s Eve Get Down” show promises to be an electrifying performance filled with original cuts and crowd favorites. In addition to the music, mixologist Tyler Sayers has curated a Red Clay Strays-themed cocktail menu, featuring drinks such as the “Old Fashionably Late,” “The HBYCO,” “The Straylette” and “John W. Hall.” Free Champagne will burst forth at 11 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 the day of, available through the Red Clay Strays’ website (redclaystrays.band). Ticket holders who buy early will be invited to an exclusive cocktail party with the band.
Sometimes, the past must be revisited to face the future. Alchemy Tavern will spend New Year’s Eve doing just that with the “Super Fantastic Plus Ultra Fanny-Shaking New Year’s Throwdown Spectacular.” After doors open upstairs at 9 p.m., an enigmatic band known only as WLBR (pronounced “Wilbur”) will be entertaining the crowd until the midnight hour. This group’s lineup features Hank Senior Sr. (vocals), Jethro Electro (guitar), Ol’ Pickens (bass) and Maxx Rampage (drums). According to the promo material, WLBR will be dishing out “a high energy variety of songs you know the way you never knew you wanted to hear them.” One piece of footage shows WLBR doing a rocked-out version of the Shania Twain classic “Any Man of Mine.” After midnight, Yesterday Tomorrow reemerges from the ashes of the emo-rock era. This group will run through a setlist filled with “sad boy” rock anthems from emo rock’s most popular bands.
After Mobzilla thrills the MoonPie Over Mobile crowd, members of this supergroup will retreat to Brickyard Dauphin Street for the rest of the evening. N.E.R.F. the World will use improv jams to keep the party at a high momentum. With each show being a unique experience, this regular performer at Brickyard Dauphin Street takes some of jam’s greatest tunes into the next dimension. For N.E.R.F. the World’s New Year’s Eve set, Albert Simpson will be throwing his talents into the mix. This regular visitor to the Gulf Coast is sure to complement the band’s already memorable live show.
Near the epicenter of MoonPie Over Mobile, a Nappie Award-winning band will be helping the Veet’s crowd welcome 2022. Fat Lincoln took home the 2021 Nappie Award for “Best Cover Band.” This group used its stellar mix of crowd favorites to earn this award. With its dedicated following, Fat Lincoln will be providing a musical oasis for those looking to take a break from the street party. Newcomers to Fat Lincoln will not be disappointed in the band’s mix of covers.
Obviously, downtown Mobile will be making up for the lost time created by the pandemic. From rock to funk to country, MoonPie Over Mobile and venues across the downtown area will have the perfect soundtrack for New Year’s Eve. The best advice would be for both visitors and locals to sample all the sounds of the Azalea City. Ultimately, all should venture down to Royal Street as midnight draws close to witness one of the most unique New Year’s Eve harbingers — the MoonPie Drop.
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