Firehouse Block Party

The Firehouse Community Arts Center is excited to announce the first annual Firehouse Block Party!  Not only does this event coincide with the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic calendar, it also marks the unveiling of our new interactive teaching space on the building’s second floor!

In December of 2020, we came to you, our community, with a big ask:  Help us build The Firehouse.  You all responded in a big way, and we raised nearly sixty thousand dollars.  Now, we present to you the first fruit of this labor:  A fully functional, ready-to-use teaching space complete with three one-on-one classrooms, and two band practice areas where young musicians can accessibly come together and create.

Thus far in 2021, we’ve been hard at work not just building our space, but working with our current students and neighbors to develop partnerships and trust throughout the communities of North Avondale, East Avondale, and South Avondale/Forest Park.  As we grow, so does the number of students whose lives we hope to impact in a big way.

Join us from 3 – 9 PM for a totally outdoor event featuring an eclectic array of local artists including Dommel Mosel, The Boquets, Brint Story, Heather and Hay, Sarah Lee Langford, and more.  The legendary Shaheed and DJ Supreme will kick things off at 3 with their educational hip hop program ‘Knowledge, Rhythm & Understanding’—a program we offer biweekly on Sundays here at the Firehouse.

Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Simply Sonequa Pound Cakes, and Ono Ice will be on hand, and our Friends Cahaba Brewing will supply the beer.  Tours of the space led by Eric and other board members will be ongoing throughout the day.  Don’t miss this opportunity to help us celebrate the year to date and the future to come as we continue to build the Firehouse Community in Avondale!

Advance tickets are available at for $10, and will also be available at the event.

This event is free to all Firehouse students and their families!


In January of 2020, Colt walked into the Firehouse for the first time with his friend Fintan, a talented drummer and student of Eric’s.  Colt grabbed a guitar for the first time, and in the year-and-a-half since, he has gone from beginner-guitarist to writing, recording, and producing his first original song.

“I honestly never thought I’d enjoy playing music this much, but I just love it,” Colt reflects. 

“I already enjoyed listening to music, but being able to play it and do it myself is awesome.”

Colt quickly took to the guitar, learning riffs from Yes to AC/DC in no time.  Soon enough, he branched out and began learning drums.  “The Firehouse has everything in here, so I was looking at the drums and thought to myself, ‘hey, what if I just tried this?’ And sure enough, it was just as much fun as playing guitar.”  Eric and Colt began splitting their lesson time between both instruments, and even spent some time with the bass.

Combining his natural creativity with his newfound talent with the big three rock instruments, Colt set out to write his first song.  “The songwriting process was completely new to me.  Being able to workshop my sounds and ideas with {Eric} supporting me really helped.”  The result is Colt’s first single Matador, a grungy rock tune with a simple message: stay true to yourself, and work hard despite the outside world’s attempts at taking you down.

When asked what he plans to do in the future as a musician, Colt’s dreams and vision are equally big:  “I want to shoot for the moon.  Right now I’m a jack of all trades—I want to be able to get good at everything.  I feel like the sky is the limit.”

Colt’s band is called JACKELS, and his first single Matador is available here:

Check it out!


For the past decade, thousands of people in Birmingham, Alabama and beyond have spent countless hours watching, performing, and learning music at the Firehouse in South Avondale. It is a community hub where people connect and create together. Eric Wallace purchased the building ten years ago and has lived, worked, and performed music there since day one. Now, Eric and a collective of Birmingham musicians are reimagining the building as a creative learning space and nonprofit organization named the Firehouse Community Arts Center.

We are excited to announce that the Firehouse Community Arts Center will officially launch in February 2021. The Firehouse’s vision is a diverse and connected music community where artists of all ages use their creative voices to shape the future. At the Firehouse, young people who live in the nearby neighborhoods will have access to one-on-one, interest-based music lessons that focus on guitar, bass, drums, piano, production, and songwriting. Also, students will have access to fully equipped practice spaces and, eventually, a recording studio.

The Firehouse will employ professional musicians from the Birmingham area, and the organization will ensure everyone is paid a fair wage and treated with respect.

So far, Eric and his team have financed everything out of their own pockets, so we’re coming to the Birmingham community with a big ask: Help us Build The Firehouse. Through the Build The Firehouse campaign, we aim to raise $70,000 so we can purchase equipment for the practice spaces, offer scholarships to kids in the Avondale neighborhoods, hire a couple team members, and help offset the cost of the renovations. You can help us make this happen! If you value music education, and you believe that writing and performing songs with other people is a powerful experience that can strengthen social connections, then join us! Show your support for a space that will change lives, serve as a good neighbor to the residents of Greater Avondale, and fairly employ working musicians who may not be able to tour for the foreseeable future. This is a chance to truly build something from the ground up, and we hope you’ll join us.

Check out the video above and visit our website to learn more to see what is on the horizon.


A gift of appreciated securities like stocks, bonds and mutual funds can be a great way to support our mission.

When you transfer ownership of securities to the Firehouse Community Arts Center, you will receive a charitable deduction for the full market value and incur no capital gains tax subject to IRS deductible limitations. The process is simple. Simply provide your financial adviser or brokerage firm with the following information:

Electronic delivery through Depository Trust Company (DTC)
DTC# 0188 TD Ameritrade
Our account: 279295746
Contact: Billy Shaw, TD Ameritrade 205-995-2547

Stuart Norman

Header Photo by: Darrell Nance

“For me, playing music has mostly been about hanging out with my best buds, bouncing ideas off each other, and creating something that we can all be proud of–keep it simple, don’t overthink it, and have fun!”

Stuart’s Bio: I was born in Kentucky, but my family moved a lot for my dad’s work as a Cracker Barrel manager–we lived in Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia, and in a few small towns up and down I-65 here in Alabama. I went to college at the University of Montevallo and stayed a few years after earning my degree in English to play in bands and book shows at Eclipse before moving first to New Orleans and then Birmingham where I met my wife Margaret. I play guitar in Holy Youth & Dommel Mosel, and I play bass in Bad Hops.

Stuart’s First Music Memory: My dad is a big music fan, and he tried to turn me onto some of his favorites when I was young—some of it like the Beatles stuck then and some of it like Lucinda Williams I only got when I was older. Also one of the guitar teachers in the town where I went to high school turned me onto Pavement totally transforming my music tastes.

Stuart’s Primary Instruments: Guitar and occasionally bass guitar.

Stuart’s Favorite Musicians: David Berman of Purple Mountains & Silver Jews, Big Star, Prince, Yo La Tengo, Michael Hurley, Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams, Kate Bush, Replacements, X, Wire, Pavement, Jonathan Richman, The Clean, Galaxie 500, Pretenders, Cate le Bon, Townes Van Zandt, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Paycheck

Check Out Stuart’s Music: