An Article by Johnny Cole
Photos by Stephen Anderson
Over the last several years since Jim Pennington opened the doors of The Peoples Room of Mobile (formerly known as The Listening Room of Mobile), The Southland Music Line has been enjoying this unique live music establishment.
As its website clearly states: “The Peoples Room of Mobile features the finest local, national, and international singer/songwriters, storytellers, and musicians in an intimate setting where both artist and audience connect in a clean, quiet, and comfortable setting. The room’s focus is on the artist. Outside distractions and talking over the artists are not allowed.”
For many years, the term “Listening Room” has progressed, particularly across the United States. A number of music venues have adopted this term to set themselves apart from an array of alternatively styled establishments showcasing live music. The Southland Music Line has done numerous articles and photo collections about Pennington’s place, including an episode of our TV show “Music Scene”. Personally, I have attended approximately 120 shows at what has become one of my favorite music venues.
Regardless of names, many (including myself) have long called the place, “The Peoples Room” because as Pennington puts it, the room has always belonged to the people. In 2019, The Peoples Room of Mobile adopted its official new name following a highly publicized debate over its use of the term “Listening Room” with a company out of Nashville. Jim Pennington had huge support from his legal advisors, fans of the Room and large numbers of musicians from all over the country and abroad. In the end, Pennington said that the music came first and a long legal battle wasn’t worth the frustration. The Nashville company backed off due to unwanted attention and Pennington decided to give the room its already well acknowledged name, “The Peoples Room”.
Top photo: Jim Pennington with “Jack the Cat”; Above photo: Fans of Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory enjoying the show at The Peoples Room of Mobile. (photos by Stephen “Andy” Anderson)
The Peoples Room of Mobile continues to be one the region’s most loved places for live music. I am amazed by how many well known music artists have performed at the venue since its opening in 2015, including Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory, Amanda Shaw, Ben Dickey, Billy McLaughlin, Bryan White, Chely Wright, Charlie Mars, Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys, Dan Navarro, Edward David Anderson, Fort Defiance, Grace Askew, The Hussy Hicks, Jackie Venson, Jason Eady, Jimbo Mathis, Kim Richey, Malcolm Holcombe, Michelle Malone, Pegi Young, Peter Bradley Adams, Peter Case, Radney Foster, Red Young, Sarah Burton, Shannon LaBrie, Sixpence None the Richer’s Leigh Nash, Sunny Sweeney, Travis Meadows, Webb Wilder, The Weeping Willows, Wes Jeans and many others!
The Peoples Room of Mobile has also long been a place loved by musicians from southern Alabama that perform all over the world like Abe Partridge, Eric Erdman, and the always entertaining Lisa Mills.
Mobile, Alabama and The Gulf Coast have a wealth of musical talent that regularly appears at The Peoples Room, including the Chip Herrington Jazz Quintet, Laurie Anne Armour, Melissa Summersell and Tom “Doc” Leytham. I can’t mention the Room without highlighting its respect for such artists on the rise as David Shivers, The KneeOn Sisters, Madison Grace and Xaris Waltman.
Award-winning country music artist, Bryan White, with Jim Pennington at The Peoples Room of Mobile
“The Room” has also had the good fortune of having acclaimed videographer, J.B. Lawrence film several shows and interviews to widespread attention.
In 2020, there’s no sign of slowing down thanks to shows by Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin, Jeffrey Gaines (someone I recently saw open for Robin Trower), Robbie Fulks, Jeff Plankenhorn and, yes, more.
Music is the top priority at The Peoples Room of Mobile. Jim Pennington has put his heart and soul into this spectacular place that has given a unique platform where music artists can easily connect with their audience – in a true listening room experience. He has also used the venue to show his enormous love for animal rescue and a number of other special needs.
This article is intended to show our deep appreciation for The Peoples Room of Mobile and its owner. I am personally glad to call Jim my friend and The Southland Music Line looks forward to attending more shows in 2020.
Final Thoughts: It’s all about the music – a name is just a name. The Peoples Room of Mobile will always be exactly what it set out to be in 2015 – a “Listening Room”. No one can ever succeed in changing that. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN: We just want a room where we can listen to great music without distractions. Thanks, Jim.
Robby Amonett has painted numerous performances at The Peoples Room of Mobile – The above painting was of Chely Wright during her sold out show in 2019.
Click Here for The Peoples Room of Mobile’s official website.
© The Southland Music Line. 2020. All rights reserved