Get your honky-tonk on at The Saw Mill

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The Saw Mill is located at 899 County Road 473. Open mic night for all interested pickers and players is held on the first Friday of each month; karaoke is held on the first and third Saturday of each month. (Cheyenne Sharp)

CULLMAN, Ala. – What started out as a one-man woodworking shop nestled in Cullman’s Jerry Parker’s backyard is now known across the county and beyond as the one-stop shop for a night of karaoke and live music.

The Saw Mill is a home-grown honky-tonk. Parker said he tried a host of career choices and employment opportunities before his retirement from private woodworking, dabbling in photography, general handy-man services and home repair. Through each of those seasons, one dream hung on in the back of Parker’s mind: a communal place where people could visit for a great time and great company and safely let loose.

The Parkers have always been avid dancers and proponents of a good time. After a night of dancing the western two-step and tripping over other couples on the dance floor, Parker had enough and decided right then to create his very own honky-tonk; a place that allowed freedom of expression and the right to do whatever he wanted with his space – which included a larger dance floor and stage for live performers. His old backyard shop was just calling for a reason to be needed and used. The lightbulb went off in Parker’s head and The Saw Mill was born.

Pointing to the lighted and fully set stage, Parker smiled and recalled, “I sat right there on a sheetrock bucket with my sketch pad and I started plans on a honky-tonk. Then I started working on it.”

And work on it, he did. His backyard shed was transformed into the now neon-lit music joint. It’s a place where people can hear new artists, safely cut loose and enjoy each other’s company. Eventually, Parker developed The Saw Mill further; Saw Mill Records, Inc. is his nonprofit that prepares hopeful musicians to brave the world of the music industry by connecting them with contacts all over the country to get insight and help with demo tracks, composing and more.  

Parker said he never wants the community to forget what made The Saw Mill popular and what is still the joint’s best attendance night – live karaoke. With Saw Mill Records in-house, The Saw Mill is ready with studio-level equipment to elevate the performances, lending an air of a true concert performance on-stage for participants.

“Karaoke built this place and it’s still a huge part of it,” Parker said, explaining that while The Saw Mill doesn’t technically have a cover charge, it does operate on donations from singers, pickers and spectators. “We couldn’t and wouldn’t have any of this if it wasn’t for people coming and singing karaoke on stage and ones that come to have a good time throwing $5 in the jar.”

The Saw Mill is located at 899 County Road 473. Open mic night for all interested pickers and players is held on the first Friday of each month; Karaoke is held on the first and third Saturday of each month.

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