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Fans of The Peoples Room of Mobile Celebrate Six Year Anniversary

An Article by Johnny Cole
Photos by Stephen Anderson
Featuring Comments by
Fans of The Peoples Room of Mobile

Six years ago, Jim Pennington, owner of The Peoples Room of Mobile, opened the doors to a brand new music establishment dedicated to enjoying live music without the distractions commonly experienced at most venues. The novelty of a “Listening Room” is nothing new, but is an option needed in thriving local music scenes. Pennington has often said he would rather have thrown everything into the nearby bay than turn the room into a honkytonk. He is also quick to say “not that there’s anything wrong with honkytonks or bars offering live music”. He envisioned something different for his new place. On Saturday, May 15, “The Room” celebrated its 6th Anniversary with special guest, The Jollies.

Through thick and thin, Pennington has survived numerous obstacles or occasional setbacks, including a nationally publicized name change from “The Listening Room of Mobile” to “The Peoples Room of Mobile”. In early 2020, The Southland Music Line wrote an article detailing that change.

The Southland Music Line has regularly attended shows since the very beginning of The Peoples Room. Personally, prior to the pandemic of 2020, I have attended approximately 25 to 30 shows per year and never missed an anniversary show. We have a deep appreciation for The Peoples Room of Mobile and admire Pennington’s determination to provide a safe and pleasant environment for the performers and guests. 2020 was a difficult time for everyone, but The Peoples Room found a way to stay open following a short hiatus due to Covid 19. Since that time, shows have continued with a respect for social distancing and more limited seating. The mission of providing great music has never ceased to exist as Pennington’s dream continues its fulfillment.

Top photo: The front of The Peoples Room of Mobile; Above photo: Jim Pennington, owner and operator of The Peoples Room of Mobile celebrating six years of providing great music to Mobile.

Here is a sample of what others have said about Jim Pennington and The Peoples Room of Mobile:

“I enjoy the Peoples Room because it is a place where sound has a chance. The dynamics of a performance and the lyrics (whether whispered or screamed) reach the audience as intended. The songs land without being compromised. And that is a rewarding thing for me as an artist but it is also a beautiful and rare thing for me to hear, when I go to a show there as a fan. Thanks, Jim, for creating and keeping such a space alive.”

– Eric Erdman (singer-songwriter and international touring musician from Mobile, AL)

“The Peoples Room is a special and extremely important place whose number one goal is to support and showcase the musical artists and songwriters in a listening environment. As the wife of a national and international touring artist who got his start right here in this room, I know how important it has been in our lives. I am also extremely thankful to be an employee of this wonderful place, as the website and social media manager. Jim Pennington has truly created a treasure that Mobile should be proud of.”

– Catherine Partridge
(wife of recording music artist Abe Partridge; website & social media manager for The Peoples Room)

“The artists that Jim Pennington books really solidify the meaning behind the venue name, The Peoples Room. They are the people’s artists: fierce story tellers, humble, talented and personable. I truly think it’s the caliber of artists, along with Jim’s personable nature, that keeps people coming back.”

– J.B. Lawrence 
(music video director, videographer & photographer)

“As an artist, playing at TPR is intensely gratifying because it truly is an intimate listening venue where the performers and audiences deeply connect! JP supports both national acts and local artists, and encourages them to shine. I recently saw Griffin House and enjoyed every minute of the show. There was an incredible energy in the room!”

Brenda Bledsoe (songwriter & recording artist)

“The Peoples Room is such a great asset for Mobile. I’ve been here since day one and hope to enjoy many a show in the future. Happy Anniversary, Jim.”

– Doug Gangaware (a loyal supporter of the Mobile and Gulf Coast Music Scene)

There’s no place like Jim Pennington’s The Peoples Room where the music truly comes first.”

– Josh Smith (He and his wife, Emily, make up the duo of Della Memoria)

“We are very fortunate to have the most excellent music venue in the People’s Room. Jim Pennington brings in a tremendous selection of talented musicians that play an incredible variety of music in a true listening environment. We love the place!”

The Lorenats “Steve, Sue & Annie”
(Loyal fans of The Peoples Room and Mobile, AL music scene)

“For me as I go to see live music, I always look forward to hearing the process of the creation of the song – the story behind it. At The Peoples Room I get that and a lot more! I HEAR the song! So many places out there offer us live music, and everyone talks loudly to drown it out. It is frustrating and miserable if you are there to hear your favorite musician(s) play or to hear someone new and its so loud you cannot hear; it is devastating. The Peoples Room fixes that problem. The owner, Jim Pennington, explains and maintains the policy of no talking while the music is going on. He insists upon a plan of “Respect the musician” and “Respect the person sitting next to you who paid to hear the music”. Every city needs to have at least one Listening Room for people who respect the music.”

Juanita Smith (Music Mom)

“Jim Pennington’s selfless vision of promoting the writers and their songs by cultivating a listening environment in The Peoples Room has proven to be an invaluable gift. What an honor to be asked to perform original songs in a venue that is fast becoming a standout, not only locally, but in the entire southeast. In other words, there are lots of people talking about The Peoples Room, people. Thank you, Jim Pennington!”

– Taylor Craven
(songwriter/music artist originally from the Mississippi Delta, now calling The Gulf Coast his home)

“The Peoples Room is a place where stories are shared. If those walls could sing…”

– Summerlyn Powers
(songwriter & music artist from the Gulf Coast, now living in Nashville, TN)

“The Peoples Room is a gem run by Jim… a place to listen…a place to come back to again and again…a most intimate brick and mortar music hall.”

– Robby Amonett
(Gulf Coast artist)

“Jim Pennington is a true class act – champion of live music, and supporter of his community both near and far. He curates excellent shows and does it with love.”

– Sarah Burton
(songwriter & music artist, originally from Ontario and now calling West Texas her home)

“Jim Pennington is passionate about music! This is rare in an industry that is set up to sell alcohol and lots of it. I played when it was the Listening Room about 5 years ago. He gave us a chance and we have been very good friends ever since. The room sounds great and is always a highlight to play. Great man and great acoustics….can’t get much better!”

– Billy Schell
(musician from New Orleans, LA)

“When Jim Pennington tells you that he wears his heart on his sleeve, he is almost being literal. And while you can’t quite actually take his pulse by looking at his arms, you can look at the man and see his love and passion for others from his head to his toes. In fact, his passion for animals, and music, and the well-being of others is the stuff legends are made of. What he does for the mental and spiritual health of his extended and extensive neighborhood rivals that of almost any regional practitioner of the professional healing arts – and what he does for the physical well being of the innocent small animals of our area may be unrivaled. I say these things as a member of the local medical community. I’m honored to know him and proud to tell others that he has helped me to thrive and grow as a human being by his dedication to maintaining a place where people like me can escape the all too common harshness of society; a place where we can all share artistic endeavors in the presence of others who truly care about the most important things in life with a consistency more needed now than maybe ever. Thank you, Jim Pennington, for being who you are and for bringing us The Peoples Room of Mobile!

– Dr. Tom “Doc” Leytham
(Physician, songwriter & musician from Mobile, AL)

There isn’t a single person whose done more for the music scene in Mobile than what Jim Pennington has done in creating The People’s Room.”

– Joshua Stephen Ward
(songwriter & musician from Mobile, AL)

“The Peoples Room gave me my first opportunity to play a real show. I learned to perform in that room, in front of a listening audience. Jim has always been good to me and I thank him for it. Without those first opportunities I, doubtless, would not have been the artist I am today.”

– Abe Partridge
(songwriter/musician/artist from Mobile, AL)

“The Peoples Room of Mobile has always been my #1 destination for live music and shows in downtown Mobile. Jim Pennington, a good friend and owner, has a knack for booking top quality artists covering all genres of music and variety shows held in an intimate setting that no other venue rivals.”

– Ruth Spicer
(music photographer from the Alabama Gulf Coast)

“I first met Jim Pennington while attending a show at The Peoples Room as part of my research into opening a listening room venue in Slidell, Louisiana. Jim has created magic there … for both his audiences and his artists. I’m proud to call him a friend and will continue to come over to Mobile to get my refill of his magical formula. The Lobby Lounge, a Listening Room Venue, owes him a debt of gratitude. Happy anniversary, brother, and keep up the great stuff you’re doing over there!”

– Mark Myers
(co-creator of the Lobby Lounge at the Harbor Center in Slidell, LA)

“Jim Pennington reached out to me to sing at the Peoples Room and it was like an invitation to join the Mobile music family. It’s as if the regulars bring your music to life with their heartfelt attention and this listening room is one of the premier experiences around for artists. I’m grateful and proud to be part of this community.”

– Pearl Clarkin
(singer-songwriter, originally from Pensacola Beach, FL and now living in Nashville, TN)

“I truly appreciate Jim Pennington’s dedication to artists and passion in protecting animals. He has turned The Peoples Room into an amazing location that not only supports local musicians but also supports local animal shelters.”

– Madison Grace
(singer-songwriter the Alabama Gulf Coast)

“Over the past six years Jim has established himself and The Peoples Room as the foremost venue anywhere around Mobile for original music, and only original music. By focusing on the artist and their connection to the audience, he has helped young talent develop their craft, enabled others to establish themselves in the business, and given our music veterans an environment to perform in that respects the years they’ve spent bearing their hearts for audiences around the world. His recipe is actually quite simple. It’s all about the song.”

– Robert Dienelt
(devoted music fan from Mississippi who has assisted a number of music artists from across the region)

“The Peoples Room is special because it is purposed to exist as a conduit for music. It’s more of a state of being than a place. Jim has created an atmosphere that allows the song to be the reason for it all.”

– Megan McMillan

“I love Jim Pennington. The Chip Herrington Jazz Quintet would simply not exist, had Jim not pushed me from my idea of forming a jazz combo to the reality of booking a performance in his club. His unique music venue (The Peoples Room) provided the ideal laboratory for my jazz experiment to succeed. The room works because of his steadfast commitment to the original concept — creating a performance space where it is all about respecting the music and the artists. Jim literally changed my life. I (as well as many others) owe my artistic identity to Jim Pennington and that magical place.”

– Chip Herrington
(Attorney at Law & musician from Mobile, AL)

“What Jim has built in Mobile has musically been the most important venue for our city. You’re there to see a show. You’re there to hear the words. You’re there for a glimpse into someone’s soul. Not many places allow artists to be who they really are. Here, it’s encouraged. My favorite place to play.”

– Andy MacDonald
(musician with Fat Man Squeeze, owner of Picker’s Paradise & cuisine editor at Lagniappe)

“Jim has created a unique environment for people who appreciate music – both artists and listeners. Artists are given free rein as listeners enjoy not only their music but get to know them on a more personal level. Jim is an incredible supporter of many worthwhile causes and just an all-around great guy. Jim brings incredible talent to our area and supports local talent in a way no other venue can. We are thrilled and thankful The Peoples Room has been successful! The music we’ve heard and the friendships we’ve made are priceless!”

– Tim & Tammy Grace
(owners of The Waggy Tail in Daphne & Fairhope, AL and devoted fans of great music)

“There are special venues that bring people and music together in a way that gives the listeners, as well as the performers, a unique and fantastic experience. The Peoples Room completely fits that description. Mr. Jim goes out of his way to make each performer feel welcome and appreciated. He makes it his mission to provide his community with music that is diverse and magical. Those who come to listen receive so much more than just a few songs. They receive an evening of community and appreciation, a night to remember. If you are in the Mobile area, make a point of getting to the Peoples Room for a night you won’t soon forget!”

– Chaislyn Jane
(singer-songwriter from Baton Rouge, LA)

“I love The Peoples Room because of the intimacy, the quiet attention that is paid to the artist, and because it provides a venue I know I can recommend to other folks who are touring that I know people are going to come and listen to them!! I also love it because it’s where I met the love of my life and where I eventually asked her to marry me. It’ll always be special to me.”

– Drew Nix
(singer-songwriter & musician with The Red Clay Strays from Mobile, AL)

The Peoples Room is one of my absolute favorite venues to play in the world! It’s such a magical experience. Some of my best live performances have been there. Kudos and much appreciation to Jim for his passion and dedication. Truly, this is a place like no other and we are so lucky TPR is right here in downtown Mobile, Alabama!”

– Lisa Mills
(singer-songwriter and internationally known recording artist)

“I have toured the world for decades with different artists but had not done a solo show since the 80’s in LA and Texas. Solo shows are difficult to do because you have to keep an audience not only entertained but engaged for 90 minutes or more and there is only you, your voice and your instrument. It’s also a way to not rely on your band, stage lights or any other support. Since Rick Hirsch moved back to Mobile in 2004, I had been visiting and doing an occasional show or session at various venues around Mobile, but I wanted to start doing solo shows and didn’t know where. Rick introduced me to Jim Pennington. I didn’t really have a following in the area, but Jim said he would like to do one and anytime I was in town to call him, he’ll make it happen. I borrowed a keyboard from Rick’s house and did my first show. Although the room wasn’t full, it was a very receptive audience and I found a place I could try out new songs (many written for my 8 piece band, organ trio or some I had done with various artists and always wanted to do myself). Since that time I have done several shows when in town – mostly solo, but one with Molly Thomas and one with Rick on guitar featuring not only songs by Joan Armatrading (I got Rick on Joan’s band in 1979), but songs by Rick as well (I’ve recorded on many of Rick’s productions and his own albums). I’ve also seen shows by other artists, some friends from Austin and some friends from other areas I had not seen before.  Jim has made a great place for people in a living room-like environment to simply listen. It’s a great place to play and tell intimate stories of situations that inspired the songs or a story of an artist that performed the song, respond to questions asked and actually just be a person as well as an artist. Jim and the Mobile community have been supportive every time I’ve played there and I always look forward to the next time. Thanks Jim and here’s to many more years!”

– Red Young
(musician who has performed around the world with many popular artists; now living in Austin, TX)

“I enjoy the Peoples Room because it is one of the few places that is accessible to bands and performers, as well as audiences to hear original music in an unhindered and respectful listening room forum.”

– Sergio Rangel
(musician with Satin Dogs and co-founder of All This Entertainment)

“The Peoples Room is THE spot to hear Mobile’s best singer/songwriters. Jim has done such a great job with the room and has created an atmosphere where musicians aren’t playing gigs, they’re putting on a show.”

– Jared Messinger
(Mixing engineer with Red Sloth Studios and musician with Sloth Racer)

“I appreciate Jim because he is a champion of the music makers. The greatest gift you can give me as a songwriter is to really engage and listen to my songs, and Jim offers that gift at every show in The Peoples Room”.

– Rhonda Huete
(singer- songwriter & musician with Gravity Blinks)

The Peoples Room of Mobile at 78 St. Francis Street in Mobile, AL

Click Here for The Peoples Room of Mobile’s official website.
Click Here for last year’s article: “The Peoples Room of Mobile – New Name, Same Listening Experience”

The Southland Music Line Family wants to congratulate Jim Pennington and The Peoples Room of Mobile on its first six years!

Page Designed & Edited by Johnny Cole
Additional Editing by Brenda Germany

© The Southland Music Line. 2021. All rights reserved

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: We welcome requests for permission to use content from The Southland Music Line website and Facebook page. Any shared articles or photos may not be altered, edited nor cropped and must include the appropriate copyrights of The Southland Music Line, Johnny Cole and/or Stephen Anderson.


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