In Birmingham, Alabama, a new all-femme booking agency is looking to create inclusive and safe music scenes one show at a time. Amber Ritchie, one of a trio of women running Black Tongue Booking took a few moments away from her growing new enterprise to answer questions about the bands coming our way and the scenes and shows we need.
Who is Black Tongue Booking?
Black Tongue Booking is me, Amber Ritchie, LaShunda Simpson and Lindsey Shante of Little Girl.
What brought you all to Birmingham?
I moved from a town in rural North Alabama to Birmingham at 18 to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I immediately became involved in student media – the school newspaper and I was a DJ for BlazeRadio – and began working at a small venue called Bottletree. After I earned by degree, I had aspirations to move, but remained here. I had made a lot of incredible friendships and really felt like I fit in well.
What sets Black Tongue apart from other booking agencies?
BTB is an all-femme run booking agency. I’m sure we’re not unique in that, but this venture is somewhat unique in Birmingham at the moment. We truly felt a need for it here. Having all women honestly wasn’t even intentional at first. When I had this idea, I wanted to ask the BEST to join me, and LaShunda and Lindsey were the first people who came to mind.
We also wanted to set ourselves apart by encompassing many different genres of artists instead of just one to truly represent our city. At the moment, we are only representing Birmingham-based bands to keep a little localism in our message, because we truly do believe in these artists.
I personally believe it’s important for women-led companies to grab hold of the music scene so that other girls can feel comfortable in following suit. I’ve come across women in this industry who revel in being the only woman in the scene as a “queen bee,” so to speak, because they had to fight tooth and nail to rise to the position on their own. I would rather pave the way to have as many women included as possible – all women doing the work. We do know what it’s like to be blatantly disrespected and objectified while on the job. The more femmes involved, the less of a “boys club” the music industry becomes and the more safe and inclusive our venues and DIY art spaces become, which in turn leads to the rise of all different types of musicians and artists.
Who do you represent?
Where do you book shows?
I’ve booked shows in most of the venues in Birmingham. My favorites are Marty’s, TrimTab Brewery, The Spring Street Firehouse and The Nick. We’ve all booked tours throughout the country and Lindsey has done work in Canada and South America. We periodically book shows for our bands within a three-hour radius of Birmingham for weekend runs. I personally do a lot of shows in Tuscaloosa at Egan’s and Druid City Brewing Company.
Do you think the South in particular needs a company like Black Tongue?
I think the South is a advantageous area to tour in. There’s so much culture and so many different clubs. From touring and traveling, it’s definitely clear that Birmingham’s music scene is, to me, superior to the rest. Everyone in the scene is like family, always working hard and lending a hand to help out one another, going to each other’s shows, promoting – it’s like having many different components to a well-oiled machine.
Who should reach out to you?
As far as artists go, we already have so much on our plate! But if venues, festivals or other artists would like to work with our bands in particular, we’d love to hear from them!
What’s up next?
As of now, we’re working on our spring weekend runs for our bands, I’m planning a handful of local shows, album release parties, and our first tours! Our artists have a LOT going on right now and we couldn’t be happier for their successes.
What are your hopes for the future?
In the future, we hope to expand to other cities, add to our team, get some merch, host festivals, collaborate with other organizations and have an office space/venue – I personally hope to coordinate a European tour at some point.