A Tuesday Tour of Tunes

Eddie’s Attic put Decatur on the map in terms of the national folk/acoustic music scene. I adore Eddie’s and I consider myself spoiled by the quality of shows there — I’ve been known to slip out of the house and up to Eddie’s on a Wednesday night to sit in a corner in the back with a beer, enjoy the heck out of a show, and be home by 9:45. I’m excited to see what the new owners might do with the space, and I am thrilled that Eddie Owen’s renewed involvement will ensure that the Attic will continue to honor the purpose it has served in support of national touring artists.

There is little room on its busy stage, however, for the many accomplished musicians we have homegrown right here. When I was an Agnes Scott student, Eddie was still a bartender at the Trackside, where I would go to hear the likes of local artists such as the Indigo Girls, Kristin Hall, and Michelle Malone. I loved it there, and I also loved going across the street to the Freight Room to hear folks like Cyndi Craven and Tom Wolf, two Atlanta acoustic mainstays who still perform in the area.

Those days are long gone, but still there is something about Decatur that wants to clear a space for the incredible muslcal talent that’s being cultivated right here at home. We are crawling with great music. It’s just a little hard to find sometimes.

It’s not so hard, though, on Tuesday nights. An actual local music scene is taking root right around the center of the city. Thinking back to a suggestion in John Kessler’s recent piece on Decatur’s dining scene that a wonderful, leisurely evening might be made of exploring the terrific culinary options the city has to offer, wouldn’t it be fun if a similar set of musical riches were to emerge?

Maybe we are well on our way. Three venues, all within a half-mile of one another around the square, are now hosting lively sessions on Tuesday nights. At these places you can find some of the best musical talent Atlanta has to offer. It’s well worth taking one night to explore all three, or to spread the joy over three weeks. Who knows? You might even find yourself setting aside your Tuesday evenings to walk up to the square and hear some music in a relaxed, comfortable setting. None of these are “open jams” or “open mics;” each promises — or even exceeds — performances that you would hear on a professional stage. Are you ready for a quick tour?

Twain’s Jazz Jam

Joe Gransden kicked off his Tuesday night jams at Twain’s Billiards and Tap on Trinity in April 2008, and it didn’t take long for this session to gain a reputation as one of the best jazz jams in Atlanta. Joe is well known in Atlanta and especially Decatur as a trumpeter and band leader par excellence, and his Tuesday nights at Twain’s draw some incredible local talent, including regulars pianist Tyrone Jackson, bassist Craig Shaw, drummer Chris Burroughs, trombone player Wes Funderburk . . . the list just goes on and on. Mosey in around 9:00, order a beer, then sit back and prepare to be blown away for several hours by the stunning musicianship on that stage. Here’s an example — a nearly nine-minute take on “Caravan” featuring Clarence Johnson on sax, Wes Funderburk on trombone, Tyrone Jackson on keys, Craig Shaw on bass, and Chris Burroughs on drums.

Marlay House Celtic Jam

If you’re called to something a little more Celtic, then jig on down to the Marlay House on Ponce for the terrific Irish sessions with, yes indeed, some of the best Celtic and acoustic players the Atlanta area has to offer. This jam, which gets rolling around 8 p.m., has been a lively weekly event since about 2009. Members of the Buddy O’Reilly Band (well known for their leading role in Atlanta’s Celtic Christmas performance), and renowned traditional players such as Moira Nelligan (fiddle player and vocalist) and Tim Cape (fiddle), Barbara Panter and Whit Connah of Hair of the Dog, and a host of other accomplished musicians circle ’round in a generous front corner booth and play unplugged. Sometimes the Irish step dancers put in an appearance, too. Later into the evening, around 10 or 10:30, the music strays from its traditional Irish bent into American old-time, swing, blues, even Cajun. Find a table near the front for a good spot to watch and listen. Here’s a segment that WPBA produced on the Marlay House jam not long ago.

Java Monkey’s Tuesday Night String Club

A Marlay House session may leave you wanting to more fully explore Decatur’s acoustic offerings. Hie thee off, then, to Java Monkey on Church Street, for the Tuesday Night String Club. Since January 2010, here have gathered some of the area’s most accomplished songwriters and players, who bring out their guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, cellos — there’s even a concertina and a piano pretty regularly — for an evening of showcases, collaborations, experimentations, and playing for the pure pleasure of it. Among the regulars are local favorites Ben Wakeman, Cyndi Craven, Ashley Filip, Billy Gewin, Bruce Gilbert, Bob Bakert, Jerry Brunner, Lindsay Petsch, Daniel Lipton, and Atlanta newcomer and former Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member, John Cable. Take your glass of wine or brew and your hunk of Southern Sweets cake out onto the patio and settle in with this intrepid and entertaining gang. Here’s a sampling of a few minutes of a recent Tuesday Night String Club evening, featuring John Cable, Lindsay Petsch, and Daniel Lipton.


American Pickers Star Seen at No. 246 Last Night

Scott Drake writes in…

Guess who was out eating at 246 last night?  Mike Wolfe from American Pickers…did not get a picture with him but did tell him I like the show.

Agnes Scott Student in Glamour’s “Top 10 College Women”

I love bragging about my alma mater and fellow Scotties. And as a ukulele enthusiast, I love bragging about my fellow ukers. As it happens, these two worlds of mine collided in the September issue of Glamour, when Agnes Scott College student Tally Deushane was named one of the magazine’s “Top 10 College Women” for her YouTube-fueled fame. The adorably dorky Tally, a literature/creative writing major, has been writing original songs on her el cheapo ukulele from Amazon, videotaping them in her dorm room, and posting them on YouTube. She writes a lot of songs about television shows, and they are funny.

From the Glamour profile: “She didn’t think anyone would watch, but she started getting thousands of hits from viewers in the U.S., Australia, Germany, Italy, France and Brazil—among them the producers of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, who included her tune about their show on their season-five DVD.”

Tally, who has her sights set on Tina Fey’s career trajectory, has more than 100 ukulele songs on her YouTube page. Here is the latest, which happens to be my very favorite:

(Note especially that black ring on her left hand!)

Read more here: http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2011/09/top-10-college-women-the-entertainer

Decatur January Offerings

Here’s a round up of recent offers, events, and specials that I’ve gathered up recently…

  • The latest’s Sawicki’s newsletter announces that Lyn is now carrying local Johnson Family Farms whole milk for only $3.65 a half-gallon. (From my own observations, that’s cheaper than organic from the grocery store) and selling eggs from her own backyard chickens for 40 cents each.  Also Sawicki’s is doing a poll on perishables over at its website.  Head over and give a little quick feedback.
  • Tastings will host an Inauguration Party next Tuesday from 6p-whenever.  There will be Inauguration-themed trivia, beer specials, buckets of beer, 1/2 off Pilsner Urquell, food specials, ½ off sandwiches, ½ off house wines and themed cocktail.
  • Decatur EdTV is now offering a new monthly newsletter (pdf) to help residents stay up to date with the charter school process.  Andrea says hardcopies might also soon be available around town.
  • Whit’s End is in the midst of a Winter Clearance Sale.
  • Poetry Atlanta comes back to Wordsmiths’ stage this Saturday at 2pm.

Business owners – if you have any other upcoming events/sales/new offerings, send them along and I’ll add ’em to the list.

Indie Bookstores Bring Film "Paperback Dreams" to Push Push

The AJC has a short Q&A with the producer of Paperback Dreams, a new documentary about the country’s independent bookstores that’s coming to Push Push Theater next Friday at 8pm.  The showing is sponsored by many Decatur and surrounding area

Paperback Dreams,” released last month in California and already broadcast on several PBS stations, is making its way east this month. [editor’s note: It doesn’t look like its currently scheduled to air in Atlanta yet]

PushPush Theatre in Decatur will host a free screening at 8 p.m. on Nov. 21. The event is sponsored by several metro Atlanta bookstores, including A Cappella, Blue Elephant, Charis, Eagle Eye, Little Shop of Stories and Outwrite.

Read the full interview here.

Click here to view the film’s trailer.

Decatur Arts Festival Weekend Is Upon Us

If its Memorial Day Weekend, its also gotta be time for the Decatur Arts Festival! 2008 makes this the 20th year for the grand-daddy of all big Decatur festivals.

There’s lots going on this weekend beyond the artist’s market, so make sure to checkout the festival’s own webpage for complete details. Weather should be nice and warm. Or if you want work up your sweat from physical exertion instead of the heat, hike the 30-stop ArtsWalk on Friday night 5p-10p. (Actually you can take the FurBus for the ArtsWalk too, but then its really not a “walk” now, is it?)

Fellow Decatur-loving bloggers Catherine and Lauren are geared up and ready to go.

And so am I. In addition to visiting all the normal haunts, I might stop in to Eddie’s in the afternoon for a drink and a little entertainment before swinging by Worthmore for their “Grand Opening” weekend. Regardless, I’ll have camera in hand and will report back.

Any other non-obvious events going on this weekend that we should be aware of?

[this year’s excellent poster is designed by Corey Barksdale]

Eddie's Attic Looking to Go Syndicated

From the Emory Wheel

“If Bob Elphin has his way, Decatur could be a household name. Last month Elphin, the owner of Eddie’s Attic, a small music venue based in this Atlanta suburb, teamed up with Crawford Communications, an Atlanta production and broadcast company, and began work on a TV pilot that the two hope will convince media outlets to back the creation of a syndicated television show featuring live performances at the Attic.

For the Attic’s first foray into television, Elphin began by reaching out to regular venue performers like Shawn Mullins, Caroline Herring and Kitty Snyder, Telegram and the Everybody Fields, asking them to play a filmed performance for the pilot. Although these artists may not be big names, Elphin said in an interview with the Wheel that they have “a real understanding of [what] Eddie’s Attic is and have a real desire to help us be successful.”

According to the article, owner Bob Elphin is also working with Georgia Public Broadcasting to put together a monthly radio show from the Attic, in addition to looking at the possibilities of internet radio.