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The official AOSSR 3 poster from
artist Tim Spinosi

Alabama Old School Skateboard Reunion 3


Veterans Skate Park
Alabaster, Alabama
Saturday April 29, 2006


by C.Solomon(aka. AMOR-one)
photos by C.Solomon(CS), Kerry Johnson (KJO), Jay Salillas(JS) and others

Introduction

   For the past two years, the founders behind SkateAlabama.com have put on their "Alabama Old School Skateboard Reunion" around the Huntsville, Alabama area (that's in the northernmost reaches of the state for those wondering). This year, however, they chose a more central location, the newly constructed Veterans Skate Park just south of Birmingham in the small city of Alabaster. The $370,000 concrete skate park was designed by Site Design Group and constructed by California Landscape & Design Inc. in cooperation with Golden & Associates Construction. They recruited Brian Kelly, owner of Ride Skateboards and on-site manager of Veterans Skate Park for the city, to help organize, promote and run this year's event. Brian worked his connections and arranged a surprise guest, Jimmy Plumer. Although not an Alabama native, Jimmy is of course a Z-Boys legend, and one of Brian's biggest heroes. The date was set, the sponsors lined up and word was spread that this was gonna be one helluva fun event!

Gettin' Ready to Get Down

   Although I had planned on getting up early and getting out to the park around 10 am, I actually did not get my lazy ass up and going until much later. I pulled up to the park at about 11:30 AM and found the parking lot still fairly empty. To be fair, it was a very overcast day, so I have a feeling some people were waiting to see what the weather would do. Also, some of the other older guys were struggling from partying the night before (On a down note, Jimmy Plumer was apparently one of these and was getting to spend the day touring the nearby Pelham city facilities. He never made it out to skate for the event.). Anyways, I parked, got my board and pads together and made my way inside. Buddy, Wighat, Brian and the others had done it up nice. They had cool AOSSR 3 t-shirts (black with a PBR spoof design) for sale as you walked in the door. Outside, skate banners lined the fence. One particular banner stood out. It was a hand throwing the "shocker" with "Brew Crew" written around it in a circle. That meant the Brew Crew guys had already set up camp and coolers bowl side.(haha) There were some familiar faces already skating the bowl and others milling around getting ready or just mingling. I was stoked to see Greg "Sig" Sigfried (owner of the Club Old Man vert ramp) had made it all the way from Ozark, AL. Also, I found Buddy Rawls, Wighat and Phil Scalf at the bowl. They had made the trip down from Huntsville early that morning. Billy "Alabama Billy" Lohrig had also made it down from Huntsville but did not skate all day. I think he preferred to hangout in the Brew Crew camp for the day.(haha) Other familiar locals were John "JW" Waight, Greg Bloodsworth, Patrick Jackson, Kerry Johnson, Butch, Jay Salillas, Tim Spinosi, Jon Griffin, Spencer Kelly, Phil Hosey and Barry Gilliland along with a few other younger guys. As I skated, one guy seemed really familiar. Turned out we had skated at Pickneyville in Atlanta last year together. His name is Scott Hughston, and he skates for Plug Skateboards. Turns out he moved to Huntsville from DC recently and had heard about the event. He brought his son Brandon along as well. I was stoked to run into him again. Small world eh? He was killing the bowl. He was consistently getting into super stalled inverts both backside and frontside but could not seem to find the handle to pull them in. He made up for it in assaulting the coping all around the bowl. Also, I noticed some other familiar faces from road trips. A Nashville crew had headed down which included Eric Martin (founder of SkateTN.com), Rodney Cassell (Skaterbuilt pro), and Easton Nash (wore a sparkley red bowtie for the day). Eric had helped us out with the AoS-Fest 2 in Nashville, but I had not seem him since then. Eric and Rodney were trading off backside airs, while Easton seemed to be having fun skating the shallow end like a mini-ramp (ie. crazy lip tricks o' plenty). Sadly, shortly after I got there and skated, Buddy and Wighat, the event organizers, had to head back to Huntsville for a family emergency. They left the rest of the event in the capable hands of Brian, so it all worked out well in the end.

The Rancheros Come to Town

   Around 1 PM, I decided to go grab lunch with Scott and his son. As we were padding down, I could hear a low rumble in the distance. A dust cloud seemed to be approaching and from within it came all sorts of whooping and hollering. The noise grew louder and louder as it approached the park, and soon I could discern some figures from within the maelstrom. It was them! The legendary Atlanta Ramp Ranch Rancheros along with some other friends had come to skate. They included the brothers Jimmy and Dave OíBrien, John Hughes, and Load. Along with them were Ray Fennessey (Outlook pro recently injured in the Veteransí bowl), Martin, Malachai, and two or three other guys. Although the legends and stories probably far exaggerate the reality, the Rancheros were always known for being hell raisers with a fierce "locals only" intimidation at their home Ramp Ranch. Hell, as kids, we were always scared shitless to make the trip over to skate their ramp. Seems as they have all grown older, they have all mellowed much more in their ways. Same hell raisers, but far more just into having a good time than throwing any bad vibes. I was stoked to see them all show up. I knew the session was about to be cranked up a few notches. Scott, his son, and I headed off, grabbed a quick lunch at Subway and hurried back to join the action. By the time we got back, there were now several more people at the event. The crowd had finally arrived. For the most part, the bowl session started pretty mellow. There was a good line-up, but everyone could get in and go. I think folks were still warming up and finding lines at that time, so everyone was being well-behaved. The only thing close to chaos at that time was the product toss. In past years, participants of the reunion were given raffle tickets when they came in and a drawing was held to hand out prizes. In that way, lots of the older guys got some good gear as well as the younger groms. In the end, everyone walked away with something. For some reason, this year, it was done completely different. Products were just thrown out like at any demo or contest. Sadly, most of the kids that snatched them up had no idea there was anything going on at the park and could probably care less about the Old School Reunion. Oh well...just my gripe I guess. After the dust settled from the product toss, it was back to the session in the bowl. This time, folks were much more warmed up and lines were flowing.

Coping Dust and Bullhorns

   Around 3 PM or so, the session was in full swing. I wouldn't say it was a full-on snake session, but let's just say, you had better be very fast if you wanted to skate. (haha) With the Huntsville, Nashville, Atlanta and Birmingham crews all together, everyone was pushing each other. Until that day, I had not seen the bowl skated that way. So many lines and so many tricks were thrown down. Jimmy O'Brien was ripping frontside smith grinds, outstretched layback grinds, backside airs, and inverts. Scott Hughston continued with his aggressive lines and super inverts. Skating on his home turf, John Waight shared his super fast yet stylish lines with an occasional frontside grind thrown in for good measure. Kerry Johnson flew his trademark frontside airs. Eric Martin floated some nice backside airs and even threw out a nice Lien-to-tail. Rodney Cassell was barking some long, fast grinds. Phil Hosey worked double truck grinds, rock-n-rolls and fakie ollies. Load was floating styled out frontside airs and throwing in some sick grinds. Malachai translated his vert skills right into the bowl with a sick assortment of tricks including a backside nose grind, frontside slide-and-rolls, backside airs and even a lofty Thruster for old time's sake. Phil Scalf pulled big carving frontside airs around the deep. Martin was working the hip and found a nice frontside smith line in the shallow. Somewhere along the way, the adult beverages, testosterone, adrenaline and euphoria must have all kicked in because the session got even crazier. People were really starting to go for it and push their tricks and lines. Additionally, some one made the mistake of handing Ray Finnessey a bull horn. Since Ray could not skate due to a severe injury from his last trip to this bowl, he took it upon himself to become the eventís MC with the bullhorn. Ok, maybe "MC" is the wrong choice of words. It was more like "loud heckler" because Ray became the brutal critic of anyone that skated. It was hilarious! If someone did not hit coping on a grind, Ray would reprimand "Tile ainít the new coping!" or worse yet "That must be one of them Alabama grinds!". Even when someone hit a killer backside grind, Ray would pipe up "It donít count unless itís frontside!". He was unforgiving no matter who it was skating. He had everyone cracking up around the bowl, and anyone that skated feared what might come from the bullhorn next.

Closing Time and the After-Party

   Around 6:30 or so, Brian was ready to close up the park. The session had pretty much died down and moved out to the parking lot. Also, Brian was in a rush to go pick up Jimmy (haha). Everyone headed off to take a break. Around 9 PM, everyone who could still make it met at the local restaurant, Ragtime Cafe, for an after party and awards ceremony. A small buffet of food was provided (mostly things like Buffalo wings, chicken tenders, etc catered by Ragtime) by Ride Skateboards and ArtofSkateboarding.com. There were far less people that made it most likely due to being worn out after a day of skating and partying. This year, Peter Karvonen (owner of Faith skate shop) received the "Andy Spinosi Award" for 2006. "The Andy Spinosi Award is presented in honor of an individuals dedication and outstanding contribution to skateboarding in Alabama", and Peter was the deserving winner especially for his part in putting together the awesome DVD "Reason to Believe" this past year. The crowd hung around till Ragtime closed and ran everyone out. With that, another Alabama Old School Skate Reunion came to and end. Thanks to all who made this year's event so fun (Buddy Rawls, Wighat, Brian Kelly and anyone else I forgot). See you all next year (hopefully at another new Alabama concrete skate park!).

Arriving at the park(CS)

Small session before noon (CS)

The Brew Crew camp bowl-side (CS)

The Skull Bowl dwarfs John Waight(CS)

Event Organizers(CS)

Butch backside carving around the deep(JS)

Solomon rockin n' rollin (KJO)

Eric Martin backside airs(JS)

Buddy Rawls backside carving (CS)

Crowd by 2pm (CS)

The Rancheros join the line-up(CS)

"Alabama" Billy Lohrig and "Little Jon" Griffin(JS)

Product Toss Begins (CS)

Board Goes Flying (CS)

End of the Fun(CS)

Tim Spinosi Takes a Break(JS)

Snake Session Line-up(CS)

Rodney Cassell frontside smith (KJO)

Scott Hughston inverted (JS)

Spencer Kelly carving(JS)

Phil Hosey double truck grind(JS)

Tim Spinosi exits a frontside grind(CS)

John Hughes tucked in a frontside carve at Mach 5(JS)

The Session Really Heats Up(CS)

Dave O'Brien frontside(JS)

Ray Finnessey takes over(CS)

John Waight frontside grindage(CS)

Kerry Johnson frontside airs(BG)

Eric Martin Leins-to-tail

Martin frontside transfers over the hip to smith(CS)

Greg Bloodsworth kicks up coping dust(CS)

Phil Scalf double-truckin(KJO)

Phil Hosey fakie ollie

Load styles a frontside air(CS)

Malachai backside nose grinding(CS)

Jimmy O'Brien stretches a layback grind(CS)

Phil Scalf carving frontside air(KJO)

Load double frontside grinding(CS)

Jimmy Plumer hanging out Sunday (BK)

Jimmy Plumer longboarding in the bowl(BK)
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