The Coal Mines, Birmingham, AL 35215
Jasper Coal was founded by Matt Parrish and Nate Tucker on St Patrick’s Day in 2004 at Bailey’s Pub on Birmingham’s Southside. Originally called The Immigrants, Matt and Nate performed around town along with musicians Mark Richards and upright bassist Brent Stauffer around St Patrick’s Day to earn drinking money. They performed their first show at the Red Horse Tavern (now The J. Clyde) singing sea shanties and other Irish drinking songs.
The band takes its name from the song "Jasper Coal" written by Dain Forsyth, a good friend to Matt and Nate and former member of Birmingham-based Irish pub band Shillelagh Law. The song’s inspiration comes from "The Tunnel Tigers", a working song by Ewan McColl about Irish emigrants who helped to build the London tube. Dain’s lyrics were based on the stories of Matt and Nate’s Irish ancestors who worked in and around the Jasper coal mines in Walker County, Alabama.
Jasper Coal recorded their first full-length album "Immigrant Child" in 2008 on the indie label Punchdrunk Records with additional musicians Jeremy Bradley and Marcus Buckner. The album featured the eponymous song "Jasper Coal" as well as other favorites such as the Irish rebel song "Black and Tans" and the drinking song "All For Me Grog".
Shortly after the album was released, Jasper Coal added bass and banjo player Jeremy Burns, also a former member of Shillelagh Law, who provided bass and background vocals "Immigrant Child". The following year, Jasper Coal added guitar player and vocalist Ian Hoppe. With a new line-up, the band released their second full-length album "1000 Feet Closer to Hell". The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in 2009 at Area 47 Studios and distributed on the Punchdrunk label. The album featured their first orignal song for which the album is named and a stylized cover of the rowdy drinking song "Boys From The County Hell " by Celtic legends The Pogues. "1000 Feet" received a positive review from the Boston-based e-zine Skope Magazine and has sold copies as far as Europe, Asia and Australia.
In late 2009, Jasper Coal began performing regularly with the award-winning competition bagpipe and drum band the Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band of Birmingham, Alabama. Along with the dancers of the Alabama Academny of Irish Dance, Jasper Coal shows developed into a virtual Irish cultural experience, performing 5- to 6-hour marathon shows complete with Irish dancers, bagpipes, and popular Irish drinkings songs.
In early 2010, the band added to their roster the widely-known traditional fiddle player Kevin Nicholson of the Delicate Cutters and formerly of Redhill. After numerous collaborations, Jasper Coal rounded out their line-up with Ryan Morrison, professional bagpiper and director of the Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band. The six-piece now performs regularly throughout the state and is in the process of booking some regional performances.
In late 2012, Jasper Coal begin work on their much-anticipated thrid studio album. The yet-to-be-titled project is due for release in late April or early May 2013.