Tim Boykin’s guitar playing and songwriting are ingrained in the history of the Birmingham Alabama music scene for the last 29 years. The average Joe on the street may not have any idea who he is, but, if you had stepped into The Nick some night and heard Carnival Season in the mid 80’s or went to see Topper Price & The Upsetters in the 90’s, you would have seen one of the Incredibles. A guitarists’ Guitarist. Birmingham’s “Alex Chilton”. A chameleon with a wide musical palette and the ability to execute any direction he wants to go.
Recently, with the release of Carnival Season “The Complete Recordings 1984-89”, he has now gone full circle. This was the beginning. I was able to find a copy at Charlemagne Records last weekend. The music was easy to access because it immediately reminded me of The Replacements. Carnival Season was one of the first Indie Rock acts to travel in the 80’s to the outside world from Birmingham going as far as the West Coast and showing that Alabama had its own thing brewing.
I met Tim at The Nick sometime early in 2005 at one of the reunion gigs for one of his bands and I mean just one of his bands, The Shame Idols. I was totally impressed with his delivery and the music (think Big Star, The Byrds, the Beatles, The Replacements). The conversation developed into what bands we liked and I found out there was a lot of stuff that we both liked. One of which was The Flamin’ Groovies, of which Tim had done a Japanese only release of “Shake Some Action” with another band he had called The Lolas.
This is one busy musician with a history I probably would not have stumbled onto had I not lived in Birmingham at the time. Danny Everitt, local musician and front of house engineer at The Nick said Tim was his favorite guitarist and I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see him play. This was a local legend and more importantly it was music with influences from bands in my own collection of The Replacements, Big Star, Raspberries, The Kinks, Flamin’ Groovies or The Sweet.
I was able to find a used copy of The Shame Idols, “I Got Time “at Charlemagne Records. Charlemagne Records in the Five Points area, Southside of Birmingham is a little independent store where you could find local music and also ask questions when you were looking for stuff by locals. Luckily, Tim’s music was there.
The Lolas “Something You Oughta Know” was also there and it was a new copy. Now this one really brought up the British Kinks thing. But, it was also its own thing. The music was stellar and the lyrics were written about anything you could imagine including “Tim’s Mom”, which I would take to be a tribute to his mother.
I finally saw a version of The Lolas play on pure accident. My band had a practice space at a place called “The HOTel” pronounced “The Hot-L” in Birmingham. In the main area of this old industrial building just north of UAB was a wooden stage and open room. Local bands in Birmingham have spaces of all sizes on two levels rented out to practice at full volume night and day without any hassle from the Police or nosey neighbors. The stage also allows bands to either practice for a gig coming up, record with a large room to get a decent rock and roll recording or put on a show for some friends or a private party.
It was place known by even fewer people, mainly musicians and a few of their friends. Here was Tim all set up for a Lolas gig. The only one I got to hear, on The HOTel stage after band practice. He launched into a full set with a 3 piece version of The Lolas with about 30 of us in attendance. Incredible music that should be on The Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Best Albums of All Time” as well as “200 Best Guitarist of All Time” and “200 Best Rock Songwriters of All Time”.
Tim’s writing never disappoints. Tim has MySpace pages for each of the bands and his own personal page of whatever he is brewing at his own studio. You can find Vinyl and CD’s of Carnival Season, The Shame Idols and The Lolas, but, it is not easy. I still need to find a copy of The Lolas “Silver Dollar Sunday”. I should have bought the copy at a now defunct CD Store in Homewood, Alabama while I had the chance.
The best starting point is Charlemagne Records in Birmingham, Alabama. Beyond that, you might find a used copy on Amazon.com, Grimey’s in Nashville, Tennessee or Criminal Records in Atlanta, Georgia if you are lucky.