Barry “Rusty” Russell is the kind of guy who brings people together. Here’s an example. Here I am on the University of Alabama-Birmingham Green. It’s the place on campus where people gather to toss a Frisbee. There’s some softball players exercising across the way. Some other students are having a pleasant picnic further down towards University Boulevard. It’s a lovely day for people to be outside, enjoying this slightly overcast-yet-wonderful day.
Then there’s the Sundaze crowd.
Amongst us are a visiting DJ from Atlanta, a transplant from Brooklyn, an awesome chef of Colombian decent, an energetic Otaku Brony, an aspiring entrepreneur, a certified party rocker, an up-and-coming production team, a couple of old-school friends and this old Walker County boy right here (or properly pronounced rah c’hayere.)
It’s all organized by Rusty, our favorite Cajun heritaged, yoga practicing musically inclined electrician zen master. The original Sundaze happened several years ago, when Rusty and then local DJ AJ Shelly decided to play some music in a local Birmingham park. It went over well, so plans were made for a future Sundaze at another park. On the occasion of visiting adopted Birminghammer “Phatboy” Tim Foster, Sundaze part two was scheduled. As 2012 progressed, Sundaze became a monthly thing during nice weather. Eventually, yoga classes were added as Rusty provided a most melodic soundtrack for the dozens who made the trek to Highland Avenue’s parks for this special event.
Eventually, pushback occured from the residential areas around the parks. Despite the fact that numerous festivals and concerts happen every year in Birmingham’s Highland Avenue parks, resistance from the local home owners associations in 2013 threatened to end Sundaze. For most of the summer of 2013, Sundaze either lay dormant or was forced to exist in relative flash mobbish fashion. Rusty visited the Birmingham City Counil during a session to inquire about how to make the event happen again, but was met by general disinterest from an already slothlike council.
Enter Daniel Morriss.
Creator of Birmingham’s staple EDM series M-Rave, entrepreneurial owner of Morriss Productions, UAB Student and all around good guy, Daniel Morriss decided to see what he could do to revive the series. After forming a student group known as “UAB Flow” for glowstick and visual arts enthusiasts, Daniel now had structure needed to host events on the UAB campus. After reaching out to Rusty about the situation, the two decided to work together and bring Sundaze back to Birmingham. UAB Green was settled on as the venue, and Sundaze was back in business.
That’s how we got where we are today. As I stand here, joined by an eclectic group of individuals, it makes me think of what the meaning of University really is; taking from all to combine into one. The DJs playing are the perfect example of this. be it Pixel’s smooth liquid Drum n Bass, funk bombs provided by Ulises, the certified party rocking styles of Superpro, next level Dubstep of Tuck Chesta or Philp’s signaure blend of groove and bass, there’s something for everyone here. Sundaze isn’t as much about what’s being played as it is the overall experience. Attitudes aren’t welcome here. Sundaze is all about the experience of enjoying a nice day with friendly people. Lock the ego and the fronts in the car when you arrive. Bring a blanket to sit on and prepare to meet the most awesome group of people you’ll ever listen to EDM with.
Sundaze is literally for everyone. It’s an event where people bring their families. All sorts of people come out to relax with some quality music. If you’re around Birmingham, I suggest keeping an ear close to those in the know. Make it a point to go enjoy the next Sundaze.