We recently visited the “Love Park” in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru. Couples and families there gather to relax in the grass and view the ocean beneath El Beso – a giant statue of two lovers embracing. 

The experience got me thinking about love… how we yearn to express it and embrace it, despite the consequences. In other parts of the world, people seem to embrace love more openly than we do here. 

My daughter has gone to the same camp five years now. In the words of my practical CPA husband, the expense is “ridiculous.” This year, we said, “Pick anywhere instead of camp, and we will take a trip.”

She chose Seattle, Washington – the farthest in the U.S. from Alabama she could pick.  

Although some of us wish summer vacations could last forever, they don’t. It’s September now, and it’s time to get focused. Sure, we miss lazy days, but there’s also a bit of relief about getting back into a routine. 

It’s a special year for The Sidewalk Moving Film Festival – one of the state’s biggest and best film festivals, and an event that’s certainly worth a road trip from the Tuscaloosa and Northport area to Birmingham. 

The kids have been out of school for weeks now. They’re restless. For that matter, mom and dad are restless, too. And the family beach trip is still a month away. With weeks left in the summer vacation, what can you do?  

The holidays are quickly approaching.  During this time, some families travel to be with extended family members.  Here are a few tips to help you travel with ease with your small children.

In a country full of divide based on gender, color, political affiliation, equal rights, religious views and differing opinions, there is still one place in America where none of it matters, so long as you have money to spend or your credit card is not maxed. I submit to you that the unlikeliest of locales of which I speak sits in the middle of a desert in Nevada. 

Welcome to Las Vegas, where what happens no longer stays there, but is blasted across social media platforms worldwide. 

I’ve mentioned before my love of all things movies and music, but let’s add books to the list, shall we? I just got a new Kindle and I’ve blown through a LOT of great books in recent weeks. And I’m no snob about what I read – give me a great "chick-lit" book any day and I’ll be happy. I also read biographies and smarty books, but this time of year, I’m in the mood for an easy read that’s engaging and fun and will keep me entertained as I sit on a beach or by a pool relaxing. It's all about decompressing, and escaping into another world for a little bit. I thought I'd share some finds, so hopefully one of these will suit your fancy.


Continuum (soul/folk/electronic) Hangout Stage

Lost Kings (electronic/dance) Boom Boom Tent


Strangers You Know (alternative/indie) BMI Stage


It’s the last day of Hangout 2016, so you need to start the day on the right foot and keep moving. Reach for the Beach contest winners Continuum traveled all the way from Pensacola to show off their fresh mix of soul, folk and electronic sounds on the Hangout Stage. DJ duo Lost Kings will get the party started in the Boom Boom Tent, while indie alternative band Strangers You Know will play the BMI Stage.




The Wailers (reggae) Surf Stage

Spice-J (DJ/dance/bounce) Malibu Beach House


Coasts (alternative/indie/pop) Mermaid Stage


Bass Drum of Death (garage rock/rock-n-roll) AXS TV Stage


It’s hard to imagine what reggae music would be without The Wailers. Bob Marley’s band has been going strong for decades, and their rightful place is performing at a festival on the beach. Be sure to catch them in their natural habitat on the Surf Stage. Meanwhile, Spice-J returns to the Malibu Beach House for yet another bounce party. Over on the Mermaid Stage, indie pop group Coasts will be spreading their upbeat vibes. If you’d rather forgo the positivity and headbang with a band that truly rocks, Bass Drum of Death will throw down on the AXS TV Stage.




Coleman Hell (electro-folk/pop) Hangout Stage

Bro Safari (electronic/dance/trap) Boom Boom Tent

Pell (hip-hop/rap) BMI Stage


Folk-tronica, electro-folk, whatever you call it, Coleman Hell has perfected a cross-genre style that is truly unique. If you get the chance, you can hear something truly new when he takes the Hangout Stage at 1:30 on Sunday. If you’re trying to get down to some of the hardest-hitting beats Hangout has to offer, trap music veterans Bro Safari will provide. Meanwhile, up and coming hip-hop artist Pell will take the BMI Stage for anyone looking for the latest and greatest out of pre-Katrina NOLA.




Run the Jewels (hip-hop/rap) Surf Stage

HEALTH (noise rock/electronic) AXS TV Stage

Jerry Folk (electronic/house/chill) Malibu Beach House


Judah and the Lion (folk/bluegrass) Mermaid Stage



Hip-hop supergroup Run the Jewels (rapper Killer Mike and rapper/producer El-P) take the Surf Stage at 2:30 on Sunday. Meanwhile, hard-hitting noise-rock/electronica group HEALTH will be doing something weird and awesome (judging by their music videos) on the AXS TV Stage. Also, Jerry Folk returns for yet another DJ set in the Malibu Beach House. If none of these really do it for you, Judah and the Lion will play the only true bluegrass music of the festival on the Mermaid Stage.



Pro Tip: There is a 15-minute window from 3:30 to 3:45 perfect for a bathroom break or food and drink run before the next group of performers.





Fetty Wap (hip-hop/rap) Hangout Stage

POWERS (electronic/pop) BMI Stage


Grimes (electronic/synthpop) Boom Boom Tent


Say it with me: beats on the beach. Seems to be the theme of this year’s Hangout lineup, or at least the 3:45 block of Sunday. If you’re either a “Trap Queen” or you happen to be in the market for one, Fetty Wap will hit the Hangout Stage. If you want something a little more poppy, electro-duo POWERS will be grooving on the BMI Stage. And if you want something totally out there, go see Grimes do whatever Grimes does in the Boom Boom Tent. Expect something surreal.




Haim (pop/rock) Surf Stage

Mayer Hawthorne (soul) AXS TV Stage

Jack Novak (dance/electronic) Malibu Beach House

Raury (hip-hop/folk/soul) Mermaid Stage


When 5 p.m. Sunday rolls around, that means another quadruple-booking. Sister-act Haim will bring their pop rock mix to the beach on the Surf Stage, while neo-soul singer Mayer Hawthorne will take the AXS TV Stage. Jack Novak will take over the Malibu Beach yet again for another DJ set, while hip-hop/folk artist Raury will be on the Mermaid Stage.




Lenny Kravitz (rock) Hangout Stage


Flume (electronic/downtempo/pop) Boom Boom Tent


Muddy Magnolias (country/rock) BMI Stage



The first headliner of the last day of Hangout 2016 is none other than legendary shredder Lenny Kravitz. This could be one of those performances where everyone knows every song whether they realize it or not, just because he’s been a staple in the music business for so long. If for some reason the never-ending hit list of Lenny Kravitz isn’t your thing, Electronic producer Flume will have a downtempo set for you to chill out and groove to. And if Kravitz is old hat and you’re ready for something new, the Muddy Magnolias have a dual-lead singer, country rock thing going that has already received rave reviews from those in the industry.




Ellie Goulding (dance/electronic/pop) Surf Stage


Speaker of the House (DJ/house/dance) Malibu Beach House

Courtney Barnett (indie rock) AXS TV Stage


Thomas Jack (electronic/house) Mermaid Stage


The next big name on the list is English pop singer Ellie Goulding. Expect to hear all the hits that have steadily appeared on top 20 stations since “Lights” first popped up in 2010. If you’re looking to sneak in one more rock act before Hangout closes, go see Courtney Barnett, an indie rocker with cutting lyrics that are sometimes funny and sometimes raw, but always worth paying attention to. And if you want to dance but don’t want to fight the crowds at Ellie Goulding, Thomas Jack and Speaker of the House will be playing electronic house sets at the Mermaid Stage and Malibu Beach Tent, respectively.





Florence + the Machine (indie rock/soul/pop) Hangout Stage


This is it, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Hangout’s last headliner always makes for a great moment because there are no other artists pounding away in the Boom Boom Tent, competing for audience members. Instead, we get one final shared experience to cap the weekend before it all goes back to normal. This year, that’s going to be Florence + the Machine, whose songs are already big enough without the entirety of Hangout at their disposal. Try to stay toward the back if you get uncomfortable in large crowds to make the exit much less stressful. See you there!

Saturday at the 2016 Hangout Festival is packed with great offerings, including several noteworthy alt-rock groups with a decidedly grunge bent. These are some of the best bets, so be sure to jot down your favorites so you can catch them all.

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.



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