Record Store Day 2009

April 14th, 2009

Criminal Records owner Eric Levin recalls a time in the not-so-distant past when it seemed like owning a record store was something to lament rather than celebrate.

A deluge of media chatter about music going digital forecasted nothing but doom and gloom for CDs, LPs and the stores that sold them. Behemoth chains like Tower and Virgin were going the way of the dodo, while downloading music for free via such file sharing sites as LimeWire was considered the future.

“For a time, whenever I met new people they would come up to me like I had cancer and say, ‘You own a record store? I’m sorry… .'” Levin says. “I felt as though I was being made the butt of a joke, which implies that I am a bad business person, and I bristled at that. Overnight, record stores had gone from being cool places to being something to almost be reviled.”

Rather than sit idly by while the cult status of mom-and-pop record shops deflated in the public’s eye, Levin — along with a handful of record store owners, employees, and marketing gurus from around the country — hatched a plan. On April 19, 2008, that plan came to fruition with the first Record Store Day. Dedicated to the institution of the independent record store, it was a Hallmark holiday of sorts that served as a beacon to remind the world that record stores still exist. The implications resonated around the world.

In Atlanta, Criminal Records transformed the Little Five Points parking lot into a carnival atmosphere complete with bands, DJs and a makeshift flea market for selling records. Stores threw parties in other cities as well. Newbury Comics in Boston, Grimey’s in Nashville, and Amoeba Records stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles all followed suit in what felt like a kitschy but successful grassroots campaign.

Read Full Article. By Chad Radford, Creative Loafing.

Kodac Harrison Plays Tonight

April 10th, 2009

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On Friday April 10, Atlanta musician/poet Kodac Harrison celebrates his 60th birthday and the release of his new live CD Reach For the Moon at Eddie’s Attic, 515 N. McDonough St. $10 (advance). $13 (door). 9 p.m.

Here, in his own words, is his story.

I grew up in Jackson, Ga., and my first influences came from Macon — Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers. I was a first lieutenant in the Army right after Vietnam, and training was cut back so I had plenty of time to play guitar and to read. I discovered John Steinbeck, who became my favorite author. My first professional gig was at a place called East of Eden in Salinas, California, about two months after I got out of the Army.

I moved up to a communal community in West Virginia and continued to play guitar. For several years I went back and forth between Georgia and West Virginia, but often felt isolated and longed for the excitement of the city. I moved up to New York City for awhile, and down in the Village a club owner told me I should put together a band and record an album. I knew I would have an easier time doing that in Atlanta, so I moved back and recorded my first album in 1984.

Read Full Article. James Kelly, Creative Loafing.

The Real Underground Atlanta Is Coming to Light

April 5th, 2009

Killer Mike has been vocal about distinguishing authentic Atlanta rap from the emerging hipster-hop scene that’s taken root here in recent years. Now, he’s taking it to the recording booth with the scheduled release of a compilation album titledUnderground Atlanta.

Due in June ’09, the album will highlight a range of hood-happy and street-certified ATL artists from Gucci Mane to T.I. — who recently signed Mike to Grand Hustle Records.

Underground Atlanta will be released through Killer Mike’s own Grindtime Official imprint via his distribution deal with SRC/Fontana.

Read Full Article. By Rodney Carmichael, Creative Loafing.

10 Albums that Describe Atlanta, as Picked by Jermaine Dupri

March 28th, 2009

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Apparently it is Atlanta Week on MTVNews.com. For his contribution, Jermaine Dupri picks ten albums he thinks define Atlanta.

I am hugely surprised he 1) listed them in the order he did – Usher before Outkast? Really? 2) included himself (No shame yo!) 3) Only included huge urban artists. There are a ton of good rock artists among other genres in Atlanta plus a score of lesser known urban artists *cough* Janelle Monae *cough* he could have included. Cutting edge, really? Cop out?

Jermaine’s Top 10:
1. Confessions by Usher
“The best R&B album of this decade, which did wonders for the city musically. It set us apart once again to show the world that ATL is the new Motown.”

2. CrazySexyCool by TLC
“It continued to keep the ATL in the forefront of urban pop music and is the biggest-selling urban female-group album.”

To See the Rest of the List, Click Here. By Drive A Faster Car blog.

Atlanta an Inspiration to R&B Singer

March 28th, 2009

For the past decade, R&B singer, songwriter and musician Raphael Saadiq has not only looked to his native Oakland and the Motown sound for musical inspiration, but also to our Motown of the South.

“[Atlanta production team] Organized Noize probably really got my attention first,” says Saadiq, who while having recorded three solo albums (including this year’s Grammy nominated “The Way I See It”) is still probably best-known for his eight-year run with breakthrough R&B band Tony! Toni! Toné!

“It was just inspirational to watch those people play music. There’s just so much talent in the South; so much realness. And it’s just been good for me, being a musician, to put my ear to the Atlanta music scene. And I’ve been really digging it.”

Little wonder that Saadiq, who first made his way onto the scene as a teenager playing on pop superstar Prince’s “Parade” tour — and has been producing (D’Angelo, Angie Stone, Joss Stone) and performing ever since — has many ties to this city.

Read Full Article. By Sonia Murray, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Celebrities Spotted at Loca Luna and Clermont

March 23rd, 2009

Actors Woody Harrelson, in town shooting the movie “Zombieland,” and Bill Murray, here working on the film “Get Low,” have both been spotted taking in the, um, sights at the Clermont Lounge.

We hear from sources at the legendary Ponce  de Leon Avenue exotic dancing landmark that Murray was enjoying two popular beverages at the infamous dive  bar: Pabst Blue Ribbons and bargain whiskey from the bartender’s well rack.

Alas, we’ve been unable to confirm whether Murray or Harrelson have as yet been treated to a poetry reading/lap dance from Blondie, the club’s most famous dancer.

There’s also been no official response from the actors on how they responded when one young female fan reportedly straddled Murray excitedly while telling him that he reminded her of her dad. Murray gallantly helped the potentially tipsy fan to the exit.

The actors have also been regulars at Loca Luna, the Latin tapas and mojito emporium over on Amsterdam Avenue in Midtown as well.

By Richard Eldredge in Access Atlanta.

Read Full Article, Here.

Changing the Faces of Atlanta’s Orchestras

March 23rd, 2009

Musicians of color often have a difficult time breaking into the classical music scene.

The Talent Development Program with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is trying to change that trend by nurturing African-American and Latino music students.

Tony Cox talks with Azira Hill — who started the program 15 years ago — and cellist Khari Joyner, one of the program’s participants.

To listen to the Interview, Click Here. Interview conducted by Tony Cox, NPR.

Atlantan with New Vibe

March 20th, 2009

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Austin, Texas – With her New Wave hair, black-and-white dinner jacket and Mary Janes, Janelle Monae looks like an extra from the 1982 science-fiction cult classic “Liquid Sky,” an escapee from one of Prince’s fever dreams or from a planet about 10 light years from here.

It’s also made her one of the buzziest acts playing SXSW this year. “Many Moons,” a song from her 2007 debut EP “Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase,” was nominated for a Grammy for best urban performance. Her amazing look has generated fashion spreads.

Born in Kansas City and based out of Atlanta, the 24-year-old Monae’s voice is a complete deadpan when she replies “Wonderland” after being asked where she is calling from.

In fairness, her vanity label/collective/arts movement is called Wondaland Arts Society. Here are a few notes from the Society’s Web site: “We have created our own state, our own republic. There is grass here. Grass sprouts from toilet seats, bookshelves, ceilings and floors. Grass makes us feel good. In this state, there are no laws, there is only music. Funk rules the spirit. And punk rules the courtrooms and marketplace. Period.” Sounds pretty good to me.

Read Full Article. By Joe Gross, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Artists React to Atlanta Jazz Festival’s Cancellation

March 16th, 2009

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As most of you know by now, it appears that the 2009 Atlanta Jazz Festival has been cancelled. I’ve heard from the mayor’s office that the Bureau of Cultural Affairs is looking for potential sponsors to bring a 2010 festival to Atlanta, but the city will not be contributing money from its general fund for that purpose. According to the city’s FY2009 budget summary, eliminating the jazz festival will save $142,000.

This week, I’ve been e-mailing with last year’s Future of Jazz winners for some perspective on the mayor’s decision. Kemba Cofield, who won the competition in the straight-ahead vocal category, will be heading to New York next month to record a new album. Mace Hibbard won last year’s straight-ahead instrumental contest. Pianist and flutist Bradford won the nu-jazz category and performs frequently with The Nick Longo Band at the Sambuca Jazz Cafe. Below are their reactions to the mayor’s news.

Read Full Article, by Jon Ross, Jazzlanta.

Atlanta’s Arts Hit Troubled Times

March 13th, 2009

Last fall, when Congress was grappling with the first of several bank bailouts, Buckhead art dealer Alan Avery came to appreciate that the current recession is different from others he’s faced in his 27 years in business.

“There have been weeks when I didn’t have a single person come into the gallery,” says Avery, who represents such well-known artists as Chuck Close and David Hockney. “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that happen.”

Sydney Ellis, director of marketing for 7 Stages theater in Little Five Points, is also familiar with that sinking feeling.

“We opened our first show last fall on the same day there was no gas in Atlanta,” she recalls. “That seemed to set the tone for the entire season.”

Kim Patrick Bitz, founding executive director of the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts, recently decided to launch a 25th anniversary e-mail fundraising campaign for his organization, which operates the AtlanTIX half-price ticket booth.

In its first three weeks, the campaign collected just $380.

“We’d expected a few thousand,” says a stunned Bitz.

Nearly every member of the Atlanta arts community has a similar anecdote illustrating when the impact of a slumping economy made itself felt. If Flora Maria Garcia looks worried, it’s because she’s heard most of them.

Garcia is CEO of the Metro Atlanta Arts & Culture Coalition, a publicly supported entity whose mission is to advocate for better funding and recognition for local arts organizations and increased public awareness of cultural offerings.

Last fall, when Garcia first began hearing horror stories, she quickly surveyed every arts group on MAACC’s mailing list. The results were dismal.

“I’ve been doing this for 27 years and never seen it this bad,” says Garcia, who came to Atlanta a year ago from Dallas.

Read Full Article. By Scott Henry, Creative Loafing.