Kool Kat of the Week: Poppin’ in with Dante DeStefano on Her Way to DragonCon’s Comics and Pop Art Alley!

Posted on: Aug 27th, 2014 By:

dante_heroes_tableTo some, Dragoncon (Aug. 28-Sept. 2) is a five-day visual feast of costumery, to others a cosplay playground. A chance to meet, listen to and get the autograph of a favorite celebrity. Or the ultimate marketplace for all things phantastique. Sooner or later, however, all the Kool Kats find their way to Comics and Pop Art Alley. Two levels beneath the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

Here you’ll find not only top nationally known comics artists but some of Atlanta’s finest creative talents from Kool Kats Chris Hamer to Derek Yaniger, aka DerekART, who designed ATLRetro’s swingin’ logo.

One of our favorite local artists who’ll be lurking in the Alley this year is Dante DeStefano, the dark art mistress extraordinaire of Rag Bone Studio. Dante began her art career as a freelance illustrator focusing on painting with traditional media and illustrating children’s books. She developed a signature style of spooky-cute art, which she displays in galleries and conventions around the southeast United States.

ATLRetro caught up with Dante to find out more about what attracts her to creepy things that go bump in the night, what she’ll be doing at DragonCon and her latest excapades honing her skills as an animator and visual development for film, television and new media.

ATLRetro: How did you get into art and comics?

Dante DeStefano: Like many artists, I’ve been drawing and making things since I can remember. I’ve never been one to stick to any one medium for very long. I love creating and I want to try everything. I’m an illustrator, painter, animator, sculptor, puppet builder and seamstress. I got into making art because it feels good to create and to enjoy the creations of others. My brother, Nic, is also an artist, cartoonist and game developer. He helped foster my love of drawing. I got into comics by visiting comic book stores with him when we were kids.

giant bunny lrWho are a few of the artists who inspired you then and now and why?

My favorite comic when I was a kid was Walt Kelly’s POGO. I didn’t get a lot of the political jokes then, but I loved copying the characters from the strips, and as a native Georgian, the fact that it was set in the south resonated with me. Around that same time was when I heard my first Tom Waits album, THE BLACK RIDER. The imagery that danced around in my head was so vivid. I still draw inspiration from those daydreams and his music. Synesthesia is a great tool for me.

As far as comics go, I discovered Dianne DiMassa thanks to Charis Books when I was 15. HOTHEAD PAISAN is still my favorite comic book. It was my gateway into underground comix. As a young, queer, Italian myself, Hothead became a sort of demented role model for me. DiMassa and Allison Bechdel were great queer cartoonist trailblazers for the pre-web-comic era.

I also admire Wayne White for his uncontainable body of work and multiple careers. From puppets to animating to sculptures, I love artists who to do everything they can get their hands on.

How would you describe your own work, and what might ATLRetro readers be familiar with?

My own work is definitely on the cartoony side. I’m all about designing original characters. A lot of my characters have a heavy Fleischer animation influence. A lot of my paintings and animations feature monsters, freaks and spooky things. I have displayed paintings in some local galleries, including Homegrown Decatur. Readers might be interested to know that I illustrated album covers and T-shirts for Blair Crimmins and the Hookers.

StateHotel_cover webMany of our readers indeed are big fans of Blair Crimmins. Any story behind how you met him and your work with him?

I heard “Old Man Cabbage” on WRAS a few times. Whenever I heard that song, a brilliant haunted house scene that looked like it came right out of Fleischer Studios would play in my head. I didn’t catch who the band was until I heard an interview with Blair on that same station. I bought that album and immediately began drawing and painting the characters that popped into my head while it was playing. I emailed him pictures of the paintings that were inspired by his music. Before I knew it, I was meeting with the music man himself and painting a cover for STATE HOTEL featuring those characters.

There’s so much to do at DragonCon. Why should attendees be sure to visit Comics and Pop Artist Alley?

Everyone should visit the Artist Alley because that is the heart of the so-called “comic convention.” Before costumes, movie stars and parties, there are the artists who come to show you their original content. This is where the creators are, newbies and old pros. Artists’ alley is where you can meet and support artists directly. We come out to table at these cons because we are excited to meet you and to show our work. It’s especially a great way to discover your new favorite artist. Plus, you might be able to get a custom commission right at the con!

style_frame_001_lrWhat are you bringing to Comic and Pop Artist Alley?

I have an exciting new line of limited edition art toys that my partner Colin and I have made by hand. Each one is based off of an original character and hand-painted. I will also have original paintings (large and small), a series of art prints, T-shirts and greeting cards. Most importantly, I’ll be offering sketches and commissions on-site!

Do you do commissions outside of conventions?

Absolutely! This is a great time of year for commissions. I do a lot of them around the winter holidays. One of my specialties is spooky skeleton portraits. I like doing portraits and caricatures in general. If you have any requests, you can send them to dante@ragbonestudio.com.

starlight_mural_screenshotWhat else are you working on now? I understand you have an exciting new animation project.

Yes! I am making a film called MUSEUM OF MONSTER ART. It’s a short 2D traditional animation, based off of MONSTERS, my first art show at Kai Lin Art (Gallery). In this version, a young artist meets a monster who helps draw a crowd of his monster friends to her show. It features a lot of my characters from paintings that I made for the exhibit, both in the characters and the backgrounds. My crew and I are finishing up the rough animation at the moment. I’ll be submitting my film to festivals in the winter, but ATLRetro readers can see more at www.monsterartfilm.wordpress.com.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Blair Crimmins Promises Prohibition-Era Pandemonium at the Plaza Theatre Premiere of OLD MAN CABBAGE Sat. Feb. 4

Posted on: Feb 3rd, 2012 By:

Blair Crimmins and the Hookers. Photo credit: Scott McKibben.

With HUGO and THE ARTIST nominated for a bevy of Oscars this year, silent films seem to be getting a lot of love lately reimagined in creative ways for the 21st century. From what we’ve heard about OLD MAN CABBAGE, a short film co-produced by popular neo- ragtime band Blair Crimmins and the Hookers and Atlanta’s Ninja Puppet Productions, it sounds like a fantastic local addition to the oeuvre and a great reason to come out to the historic Plaza Theatre again this Sat. Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. But the night’s much more than just seeing a cool movie – Blair and the band will be playing the soundtrack live as the film unwinds on the big screen and then a complete concert afterwards in the alluring art-deco setting of the Plaza stage.

Based on a Blair Crimmins & the Hookers song and set in a farm forgotten by time, OLD MAN CABBAGE tells the tale of two dust bowl farm kids who find their lives flipped upside down when they are caught in an accident with an abusive father. Like so many classic children heroines, they run away to join the circus, only this particular one is distinctly supernatural. Without giving too much away, the cast features performers from the Imperial OPA Circus, well-known to the steampunk community. OLD MAN CABBAGE is directed by Raymond Carr, the founder of Ninja Puppet Productions, a collection of artists and professionals dedicted to the creation of innovative art and storytelling of all sorts.

As we pointed out in a previous short feature on Blair, you might think of ragtime as kind of quaint, but you wouldn’t be talking about his and the Hookers’ take on this 1920s form of jazz. Remember that they didn’t call the Twenties Roaring for nothing. In fact, you might even describe Crimmins’ high-energy style as “in your face” as rock ‘n’ roll. Except the groupies would be flapper girls, and the band is playing instruments your grandparents would approve of from banjo to accordion, saxophone to piano, trumpet to trombone—and may be accompanied by antics inspired by the best vaudeville comedy. Oh, did we mention that while the music swings, the lyrics to many of the songs are also delightfully decadent and dark.

ATLRetro has thought for a long time that it’s high time for Blair to be Kool Kat of the Week, but this week we had no excuse but to catch up with one of the Atlanta Retro scene’s most talented performers to get a sneak peek into what promises to be a sensationally surreal Saturday night at the Plaza. Tickets to the screening and concert are just $10 in advance and can be purchased here or $12 at the door.

What’s the story behind OLD MAN CABBAGE and your involvement with Ninja Puppet Productions?

“Old Man Cabbage” is a track off THE MUSICAL STYLINGS OF, which tells the story about a young man who moves into an old house and becomes possessed by the ghost of an old ragtime musician who lives there. It’s a biographical dramatization on how I became so enamored with early jazz. Raymond Carr took that ghost story and expanded it to give more backstory to the characters, and instead of the haunted house created a whole speakeasy of specters who reenact their gruesome demise every night. Quite a story. I won’t give the whole thing away.

So is it an extended music video or is it a movie? And what’s the running time?

Raymond calls it a short narrative film. I jokingly refer to it as my jazzy version of “Thriller.”  The film runs about 15 minutes long.

Is it performed with puppets or human characters since Imperial OPA is involved?

You won’t find any puppets or ninjas in the film, although we did use some sets built in miniature and green screens.  We brought in a lot of other local talent and used the video as an vehicle to showcase our Atlanta favorites. The circus group Imperial OPA, the cabaret troupe Davina and The Harlots, some aerial acrobats and a number of fantastic swing dancers all put their talents in the film, not to mention the people behind the scenes in makeup and costume who brought the prohibition style to the screen.

There seems to be a rebirth in fascination with circuses and carnivals, from the popularity of Cirque de Soleil to books like THE NIGHT CIRCUS, by Erin Morgenstern, which explore their darker, more mysterious side. There’s even that surreal, crazy Guinness commercial. Do you have any thoughts on the current appeal of circuses and where does OLD MAN CABBAGE fit in?

There certainly seems to be a renewed interest, and I’m glad to see troupes exploring all the different facets of the circus tradition. From the classic freak and sideshow acts to the more bohemian variety stuff, many young performers finding their place on the periphery of mainstream performance theater. I don’t know if that’s entirely new, but I can say I [have seen] a lot of very interesting [acts] just in the last few years.  I do think that Atlanta is grabbing a place in art and culture that can now compete with some other big cities.  There is a very youthful and unjaded excitement in the artistic community here.

How did you prepare for scoring OLD MAN CABBAGE?

I prepared for scoring the film by watching other silent movies. Of course, the classics METROPOLIS and CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, which are always fantastic, but I also watched THE GOLEM for the first time, which was one of the earliest monster movies ever made. It was filmed in 1920 about a rabbi who makes a giant man out of clay and brings him to life to protect the Jewish neighborhoods of Prague. I really dug that one and would recommend that to anyone with an interest in silent film.

Anything you’d like to share about the why behind the 1920s speakeasy setting and what the filmmakers did to ensure set, costumes and music were authentic?  

There wasn’t a lot of discussion on why the film should have a Prohibition era style.  That’s where my inspiration lies. That’s where home is for me. I know Raymond did a lot of research and studied old photos to ensure that film looked authentic.

And it’s silent, which seems even more apropos given the popularity and Oscar nominations for THE ARTIST and HUGO, two movies that pay tribute to the silent era. I’m supposing that was just lucky timing? 

Current trends always herd people to different areas to search for new life, to find something that they’ve been lacking, an oasis. I can see people who are finding that needed refreshment in the silent film era. Being beat over the head with the GLEE stick and AMERICAN IDOL will get anyone to pay for a ticket to silence.

Blair Crimmins. Photo credit: Katie Bricker.

What else do you have planned for Saturday night at the Plaza and do we need to dig out our bowties, golf caps, spats and flapper dresses?

Seeing a well-dressed crowd always brings a smile to my face. You won’t be the only one dressed up if you choose to do so. Davina and The Harlots will be dancing onstage and throughout the room in full flapper gear. The OPA will also be working the crowd in their usual fashion. The whole evening promises to be taste of pandemonium.

How did you personally discover and fall in love with ‘20s ragtime music and vaudeville?

It’s just music that endlessly amuses me. You know when you’re doing something you truly comfortable with as an artist because you never get tired of it. Once my writing steered in the right direction, the ship took off on its own.

Your gigs are always packed and your music and performances embrace the past but sell so well in the 21st century. Are you surprised to see how many people enjoy a musical style that’s nearly a century old in a time of fast-passing fads? Any thoughts on why Retro is so hip?

I don’t think it’s a fad or new thing. I feel as if people of every generation reach an age when they discover something cool from the past. Chances are, if you find something that you identify with, you’ll find a whole group of people that love it, too. As you watch new people discover it, there is a tendency to think “Wow, this is really catching on”; the reality is that it has never gone anywhere.  Its popularity is always fluctuating but never dies or becomes reborn. Some of the bad trends die and hopefully never wake up, i.e. polyester suits, but the really good stuff sticks around forever for generations to enjoy.

After Saturday’s screening, will OLD MAN CABBAGE be heading out on the film festival circuit or what are the plans for the film?

Yeah, Raymond is going to talk more about that at the film premiere.

And of course, what’s next for Blair Crimmins & the Hookers? 

We have a lot of great touring on the books for this year. There will definitely be new singles out this year and maybe a record. I’ve already been talking with some of my favorite local artists about the next music video, and I’ve got some other film opportunities in the pipe. Things are about to get real busy for The Hookers. I’m trying to do as much as I possibly can and never lose an opportunity to let the music take me somewhere new.

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Let Them Eat Cupcakes! The Sugar Dolls Bake Up a Scrumptious Saturday in L5P!

Posted on: Oct 5th, 2011 By:

When ATLRetro heard that The Sugar Dolls were throwing their 2nd Annual Day of the Cupcake party on Saturday Oct. 8, we couldn’t think of a more delicious way to officially kick off our latest weekly feature, the Wednesday Happy Hour & Supper Club. While a holiday just for this Retro sweet sounds scrumptious enough, this quintet of beautiful bakers (Alexis Gorsuch, Lena Kotler, Crystal Chambers-Goggin, Jessika Cutts and Kelli Graham) has cooked up an entire day of activities, starting from noon to 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Tattoo in Little Five Points and then continuing late into the night at Java Lords ($5 cover; proceeds to Atlanta Bully Rescue). They’ve tempted you with everything from boobalicious chocolate confections to flaming strawberries at Blast-Off Burlesque shows, Mon Cherie spectaculars, Rockabilly Luau, but Saturday will be all about celebrating the cupcake through activities, art and music. You’ll lick your lips for cupcake-inspired games, a Sugar Skull decorating room so you’ll be all set for the Day of the Dead, tasty tattoos, live bands (including Six Shot RevivalThe Sneaky Hand and The Claymores), karaoke, burlesque, pin-up hair-styling with Cherry Dame, a pin-up contest and, of course, cupcakes!

In fact, the idea of spending a day celebrating this timeless treat made us so hungry that we asked the Sugar Dolls if they’d be so sweet as to add ATLRetro to the menu as a sponsor. We’re thrilled to say that we passed their taste test, especially since we’ll be serving up a tasty new look at the end of this week, courtesy of Derek Art, too. That it’s Anya99’s birthday two days later is just icing on the cake, and she really loves icing, so while you’re dropping by for cupcakes, be sure to say hi. We’ll also be selling our first batch of ATLRetro T-shirts, so if you dig what we’re doing, consider buying one and supporting our humble efforts to keep Retro Atlanta alive.

With an all-day event, it’s sometimes hard to know when’s the best time to show up, so we asked Alexis to clue us in on all that’s cooking on Saturday. Of course, we couldn’t resist a few questions about the perennial appeal of the cupcake and the secret recipe behind the Sugar Dolls’ secret origin and success.

For a while, cupcakes seemed to have a bad reputation as being cheap alternatives instead of a real cake and mostly just for kids, but lately this quintessentially Retro treat is not just back in style, but as The Sugar Dolls have shown, can come in all sorts of creative flavors, even in adult versions such flaming with a drop of liqueur. What do you think accounts for their comeback?

Trends in fashion loop around so many years and I have been told on numerous occasion, it is due to nostalgia. “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” By Coco Chanel.  So what is more nostalgia than food, needless to say sweets? You nailed it on the head with the fact that cupcakes are Retro, but aside from that they have given us a sweet and simple way to step back to the past yet enjoy where we are and look forward to the future! I love how some of our sweets take me back to being a little girl, but the same cupcakes are the most elegant wedding display or engaging party favor. So much diversity in these simply amazing treats and people are really starting to recognize the possibilities and fun at reasonable budget. So honestly it is a nice handful of things that has really allowed these sweet cuppies to bloom into their own world.

We can’t think of a better name for a cupcake company than The Sugar Dolls. How did you gals get together and what made you start baking?

Thank you, we are pretty fond of the name too! Well, baking is such a sweet family tradition for so many folks, and all of the Dolls have some great memories and continue to make them together and with our families. We all met at different walks in our life but seem to have come together to make something bigger than ourselves. We want to share our love and experiences with you, and baking is the sweetest outlet to share those things and give in the many ways we would like.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Weekend Update, July 22-24, 2011

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

Friday, July 22

Dig out the glitter bodysuit and platform heels and get yourself down to The Masquerade for Gilded Trash, a glam rock theme party to be remembered featuring live music from The Sexual Side EffectsThe Unsatisfied and Starbolt 9; classic hits from T. RexBowie to IggyEno; burlesque by The Chameleon Queen; the scandalous banter of Dax Exclamationpoint!; foot-pounding grooves by Glitterdome‘s DJ Tiny Tears; body-painting; gilded go-go dancers, glam-inspired art by Chris Buxbaum; glam-orous vendors; and much more. Get a sneak preview from Kool Kat of the Week Amber Taylor, show mastermind and vocalist/guitarist for The Sexual Side Effects here.

The Stumblers make it a rockabilly/Southern roots night in The Basement at Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta. Read ATLRetro’s Extra Kool Kat of the Week interview with lead singer/rhythm guitarist Keith Martin here. Eighties multi-platinum heavy metal band Dokken rocks Wild Bill’s in Duluth. Country chanteuse Emmylou Harris plays Concerts in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical GardenRod Hamdallah is at Fat Matt’sCallanwolde‘s popular Tango Night is back including introductory lessons in the sexy Argentine version from Tango Rio‘s expert instructors at 8 p.m., followed by an open tango dance party at 9:15 p.m. Catch an IMAX movie and dance to soulful jazz standards performed by The Kayla Taylor Quartet at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX. And last but not least, the wacky cast of Cineprov! bait and tackle Humanoids of the Deep, a sensationally schlocky 1980 horror flick about half-man/half-fish mutations starring then-hottie Doug McClure, at 8 p.m. at Relapse Theatre. Free admission if you wear a bathing suit!

Last but not least, a high school ritual gets an undead makeover in a ‘50s setting in ZOMBIE PROM, this weekend only at Fabrefaction Theatre. The girl-loves-ghoul rock ‘n’ roll off-Broadway musical is fun for the entire family and performed by actual high school students as the culmination of a two-week theatre education program. The opening night show is at 8 p.m., and additional performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sat. and 3 p.m. on Sun.

 

Saturday July 23

What’s that, Artie? A steampunk theme night with a Wild West twist? That’s the wild, wild premise behind The Artifice Club‘s Weird West Saloon, at The Solarium in Oakhurst. The frontier-inspired festivities begin at 5 p.m. with a Trading Post Market, with doors opening officially at 7 p.m. and entertainment lasting to midnight culiminating in an after-party at McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub. There will be gambling and a quick draw tournament to benefit the Dream Power Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and featured acts included Blair Crimmins and the Hookers (read an ATLRetro interview with Blair about this ’20s-ragtime-inspired band here), DJs Swivel and Doctor Q, emcee and sheriff comedienne Sabrina Pandora and a bevy of burlesque beauties…er sexy saloon dancing girls includingFonda Lingue, Ruby Redmayne, Tupelo Honey and Talloolah Love, who treats you lucky ATLRetro readers to an exclusive preview here.

Americana classic Dex Romweber and sister Sara throw a party mix of originals and obscure nuggets from rock n roll’s dusty closets at the Star Bar for the release of the Dex Romweber Duo‘s latest album, IS THAT YOU IN THE BLUE. It only gets better with local rockabilly faves The Blacktop Rockets, classic rock-inspired The Booze and Chattanooga-based garage rock band The Bohannons also on the bill.

Meanwhile over at the Plaza, Blast-Off Burlesque are throwing a BEACH PARTY tonight for their third Taboo La-La sin-sational film series. Much more than a rare chance to see the classic 1963 frolic with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in 35mm on the big-screen, there’s a zany and sexy preshow featuring special guests Grinder Nova and The Chameleon Queen as the float-tastic Alotta Wood, as well as a Twist-Off Contest, a Hula Hoop Contest, and Twister games and beach party-inspired cupcakes from Atlanta’s own The Sugar Dolls, who were kind enough to serve up a tasty sneak preview of the treats they’ll be bringing here.

Eighties hit makers Huey Lewis and the News try to take you Back in Time to when it was Hip to Be Square at Classic ChastainCapitol City Opera players sing Broadway standards in ON THE LIGHT SIDE, a themed night of lighter music that has become a 20-year tradition at the vintage Callanwolde mansion. The Reverb-O-Rockets deliver Chicago style-blues “straight, no chaser” at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. And of course, DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Loungeinto a ’70s disco/funk inferno late into the wee hours.

Sunday July 24

Alick Gerard & the Dixie LTD play blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. Learn Beginning Vintage Hair Styling from award winning pin-up girl D’lilah D’lite from 1 to 3 p.m. at SpinARella Pole/Dance/Fitness. The class is part of the Syrens of the South‘s ABCs & 123s of Burlesque Class SeriesGET DELICIOUS AGAIN at 8 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre as Jim Stacy (PalookavilleStarlight Drive-InAM Gold, Greasepaint, etc.)  samples Atlanta’s Asian eateries in the latest installment of his unconventional culinary series serving up Atlanta’s Hidden Restaurant Treasures. If you can’t make thisFREE screening with special foodie guests, tune in or set your DVR to PBA 30 also at 8 p.m. Nature is Dangerous and It will Hurt You: A Benefit for Jessica Miller features some a great line-up of local blues and rockabilly bands, beer specials, Fat Matt‘s BBQ, raffle prizes and more from 2:30 p.m. to late at Blind Willie’s, including Bill Sheffield, Rocksploitation, Nat King Coal Miners, Bob Page and Co., The Shadows, Rod Hamdallah, Joe McGuiness Trio, The Electromatics, and The Stooge BrothersBlair Crimmins and the Hookers headline Unplugged in the Park at the Park Tavern.

Ongoing

The latest revival of Tony Award-winning musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is at The Fabulous Fox through Sunday June 24.

VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE not only chronicles the life of the rock star hairdresser/artist but also features lots of ’60s/’70s fashions and hair styles. Playing through Sun. July 31 at Cinefest.

At the High, RADCLIFFE BAILEY: MEMORY AS MEDICINE, the most comprehensive exhibition of the Atlanta artist’s works to date, opened last Sunday June 26 and runsthrough Sept. 11. Read more about the artist and this powerful exhibition that in last week’s Kool Kat. JOHN MARIN’S WATERCOLORS: A MEDIUM FOR MODERNISM, a companion exhibit also at the High this summer through Sept. 11, surveys the work of the man named America’s number one artist in a 1948 LOOK magazine survey. While his name is not a household one today, this exhibition reminds us of his important place in the modernist movement and why watercolors became such a powerful instrument for avante-garde art in the hands of him and other artists in the Stieglitz Circle,including Georgia O’Keefe.

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s other Retro exhibition, celebrates three key moments in modern design and also the Museum of Modern Art, New York‘s (MOMA) collection history. The works on loan from MOMA cover “Machine Art” (1934), “Good Design” (1950-55) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972), with the latter addressing modernism in the context of 1960s and ’70s counterculture.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)‘s newest exhibit WaterDream: The Evolution of Bathroom Design, runs through Sept. 24 in the dynamic new Midtown space. Displays take visitors through a four-part journey into the bathroom from the birth of minimalist aesthetics in 20th century design to current concepts.

Get a rare chance to view original manuscript pages from the last four chapters of ATLANTA’S BOOK: THE LOST GONE WITH THE WIND MANUSCRIPTat the Atlanta History Center. The new exhibit, which opens today and runs through Sept. 5, is part of a series of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the international bestseller and also includes foreign and first edition copies, the desk Margaret Mitchell used while writing it and select images.

Tune back in on Friday for Weekend Update. If you know of a cool happening that we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com

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Really Retro: Heading for the 1890s: Living in the Weird, Weird West

Posted on: Jul 21st, 2011 By:

When most people think Steampunk setting, images of Victorian London likely come to mind, but across the Atlantic and a steam engine-pulled train ride inland stretched a vast frontier. This Saturday night, July 23, at THE WEIRD WEST SALOON, the fine folks at The Artifice Club transform The Solarium in Oakhurst into a steampunk version of that less polite society where the law often came down to the fastest draw.

Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. with the opening of the Trading Post Market with vendors of unique jewelry, weaponry, costumery and other unexpected ephemera. Then at 7 p.m., doors officially open for ticketholders. Chance your cash for charity in the saloon casino, test whether you’ll be caught dead or alive in a quick draw tournament and kick back an alcoholic beverage in period sets created by mad geniuses Sean O’Shea and Penny Dreadful Productions. Of course, there’ll also be entertainment aplenty from Blair Crimmins & the Hookers (read an ATLRetro interview with Blair here) to Mistress of Ceremonies/Sheriff Sabrina Pandora, tunes spun by DJ Swivel and Artifice Club maestro/founder DJ Doctor Q to a bevy of Atlanta burlesque beauties, dressed delightfully down as sexy saloon personas including Fonda Lingue, Ruby Redmayne, Tupelo Honey and Talloolah Love.

The tantalizing Ms. Love graciously consented to give all you ATLRetro cowboys and girls an exclusive sneak peek, as well as the scoop on a Friday pre-party and late night after-party for those who want to play in the Weird West beyond the Witching Hour.

How did The Artifice Club get the idea for a Steampunk Western theme night?
There are many cultures to pull from when you talk about the Victorian era. Many of us start out with the European influence because it seems the most natural. Since The Artifice Club wants to explore all advents of the art form, the American twist was where we went with it this time, and it seems like everyone is really jazzed about it. It’s something new, and a great excuse to whip out those sewing machines, spray paint and epoxies! It’s time to think about a new slant on a good costume and new props, because you can always use a new form of weaponry, just ask Bill Harrison! The West Coast does a lot of really cool wild west conventions as well but not on the East Coast. That should be remedied.

It’s often said that THE WILD WILD WEST 1960s TV series was an early example of Steampunk. Can we expect to run into Jim West (Robert Conrad), Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) or—yikes—Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless (Michael Dunn)?

You might, though I find that most of our Steampunks lean toward doing unique costumes. Though, you never know with this crowd, they tend to surprise me at every turn! I know that the burlesque portion of our show is most definitely inspired by movies with saloon girls, such as THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, RIVER OF NO RETURN, and even a little French import from CAN CAN. I think Doctor Q would do flips if someone did the 1960s version of Loveless or Gordon, but that’s my opinion.

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Weekend Update, June 24-26, 2011

Posted on: Jun 24th, 2011 By:

Friday, June 24

Blair Crimmins

Things could get dangerous as radical ragtimers Blair Crimmins & the Hookers revive the Roarin’ Twenties after A Fight to the Death and Lille at The Earl. Read ATLRetro’s interview with Blair here. If you missed AM Gold‘s brilliant heartfelt rendition of the entire Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits ’74-’78 album at Bubbapalooza, we guess you could settle for the real Steve Miller Band at Delta Classic Chastain. Experience a funkier kind of jazz with Cadillac Jones at Star Bar. Catch an IMAX movie and swing dance the night away to Kingsized at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX.

The bewitching Dario Argento classic SUSPIRIA, starring Jessica Harper (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE) and Joan Bennett (DARK SHADOWS), is this month’s feature for Shriek Theatre Movie Night at DooGallery. And Film Love:Robbie Land includes 16 mm shorts and a chance to meet the acclaimed filmmaker. Works include MICANOPY WINTER WONDERLAND, which documents an antique jukebox converted into a diorama wonderland scene, and FLORIDALAND, about defunct Florida theme parks from 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Film Love founder/director Andy Ditzler was a recent Kool Kat.

Saturday June 25

Greg Theakston, comics writer/artist and the man who rediscovered Bettie Page, signs JACK MAGIC, THE LIFE AND ART OF JACK KIRBY, his definitive biography of the King of Comics who co-created many of Marvel’s most iconic characters from Captain America to the Fantastic Four, from 3 to 6 PM at Criminal Records.

Forget 3D! Ever seen a movie in hypnoprismoscope? Ghost Host with the Most Prof. Morte will unveil the mysterious new process this weekend as The Silver Scream Spookshow screens schlocky 1953 sci-fi/horror – well we’re not sure it’s a classic – movie ROBOT MONSTER at the Plaza Theatre. Come early for the hilarious pre-film stage show featuring gorgeous dancing ghouls and other fiendish friends. Kids matinee at 1 PM and adult show at 10 PM. Look for ATLRetro’s review soon.

It’s also the last day to see the ever irreverent Dad’s Garage Theatre take a stab at the ’80s horror genre of camp slasher films in SLAUGHTER CAMP about a homicidal maniac terrorizing a theatre camp. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Sunday June 26

It’s a day for new exhibitions. At the High, be among the first to experience RADCLIFFE BAILEY: MEMORY AS MEDICINE and JOHN MARIN’S WATERCOLORS: A MEDIUM FOR MODERNISM. Read more about the former in this week’s Kool Kat. Marin was named America’s number one artist in a 1948 LOOK magazine survey. While his name is not a household one today, this exhibition reminds us of his important place in the modernist movement and why watercolors became such a powerful instrument for avante-garde art in the hands of him and other artists in the Stieglitz Circle, including Georgia O’Keefe.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) opens its newest exhibit WaterDream: The Evolution of Bathroom Design, which runs through Sept. 24 in the dynamic new Midtown space. Displays take visitors through a four-part journey into the bathroom including the birth of minimalist aesthetics in 20th century design and progress into current concepts.

The Barrow Boys headline blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. And at night catch ’80s-founded alt-rockers Dinosaur Jr. at Variety Playhouse.

Ongoing

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s newest special exhibition celebrates three key moments in modern design and also the Museum of Modern Art, New York‘s (MOMA) collection history. The works on loan from MOMA cover “Machine Art” (1934), “Good Design” (1950-55) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972), with the latter addressing modernism in the context of 1960s and ’70s counterculture.

Margaret Mitchell Typing - Courtesy Margaret Mitchell House

Get a rare chance to view original manuscript pages from the last four chapters of ATLANTA’S BOOK: THE LOST GONE WITH THE WIND MANUSCRIPTat the Atlanta History Center. The new exhibit, which opens today and runs through Sept. 5, is part of a series of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the international bestseller and also includes foreign and first edition copies, the desk Margaret Mitchell used while writing it and select images.

Tune back in on Friday for Weekend Update. If you know of a cool happening that we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com.

 

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A Little Band Where Old Friends Play: Nat King Coal Miners

Posted on: Jun 20th, 2011 By:

So many of Atlanta’s best bands got their start when musicians known for other ventures just happened to get together and jam. That synergy has happened again with Nat King Coal Miners to the good fortune of the Atlanta music scene who will get to enjoy one of their first public performances at the Star Bar this Wed. June 22.

The recently formed jazz trio sports three musicians well known locally for years for their involvement in many iconic jazz, swing and blues groups. Spike Fullerton (guitar) most recently has been playing with Ghost Riders Car Club (see ATLRetro’s Feb. 2 Kool Kat piece on him and that band here), but his many other credits include being a founding member of Kingsized. Matt Wauchope (piano) is now with Blair Crimmins and the Hookers toured and recorded with the late, great blues guitarist Sean Costello, giving him the chance to perform with music legends such as Jody Williams, Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton and Elvis Costello. Veteran blues bassist Dave Roth is now with Burnt Bacon, but also performed with Sean Costello.

ATLRetro caught up with Spike to get the scoop on how the new venture got started, the Nat King Cole connection, what Ray Charles has to do with it, and why he’s bringing out the Big Girl…

Spike Fullerton playing with Ghost Riders Car Club. Photo courtesy of Spike Fullerton.

All three of you are seasoned musicians well-known in Atlanta for your previous misadventures? Why/how did you decide to get together to form a 1940s/’50s jazz trio?
The late lamented Glenwood in EAV had a terrific Sunday night jam session. I had played with Dave there a couple of times, and Matt turned up one night. We knocked out a couple of standards on the spot and that was it. Both of those guys are so good, you know it in about 16 bars. Dave Roth has both perfect pitch and relative pitch, and big-time chops to go with it; Matt Wauchope, who also plays piano with Blair Crimmins and the Hookers can just knock that Harlem stride style out as well. It’s both humbling and a real pleasure to play with such enormously talented musicians

Why the name Nat King Coal Miners and do you play Nat King Cole classics?
I happened to mention (original King Cole Trio guitarist) Oscar Moore as a big influence on me, and it turned out Matt and Dave already had this project going. Matt and I had both done long stints in Kingsized—I was a founding member years ago—so we had a large pool of common standards to choose from, as well as a shared sense of humor about the material. The language of jazz is pretty similar across genres—it’s just deciding which accent you want to speak with. The King Cole sensibility of strong rhythm, heavy swing, and clever lyrical and musical interplay was a natural.

Who are some other influences on the band’s sound and will you be playing just covers of jazz greats or originals, too?
The three of us are huge fans of the 50s R&B style of Ray Charles—we do a lot of things in that genre as well. It can go from utter melancholy to swingin’ like mad, and just has the most delightful sense of rhythm. We’ll do the odd original, perhaps a Waits cover, all sorts of stuff. Source material is important, but I think we are more concerned with the articulation rather than recreating the original records. So some things may sound more original than they really are and vice versa.

Spike's Big Girl.

Any special plans for the Star Bar gig this week?
Our good friend the Rockin’ Gator, legendary friend to the Atlanta music scene, will be on hand to tape some of the proceedings so everyone who turns up gets a little digital immortality as a side dish. For you guitar geeks out there, I’ll be bringing out a very special instrument from my collection to play for the evening. I had retired it for over a decade, but I love this style, and this group so much, I’m going to bring out The Big Girl (an extremely rare 1949 Gibson archtop), along with a period amplifier for the show.

Where else will the Nat King Coal Miners be playing soon and any plans for a recording?
We are booked for the Summer Shade Fest [Aug 27-28] in Grant Park and have recurring gigs at Blind Willie’s and hopefully the Star Bar going forward.

The Ghost Riders Car Club set had the most heartwarming moment at Bubbapalooza when you guys started pulling Mama Smalley and other Star Bar regulars onstage for an audience singalong to The Diggers‘ “She’s Breakin’ My Heart (While I’m Drinkin’ Her Beer)” Can you share some of the specialness of that moment with anyone who missed the show.
As you may know, I was on the bill at Bubbapalooza I. [Founder] Greg [Smalley] was a colleague of mine on the scene, and we played many a show at many a forgotten venue. It speaks to his impact on the community that after all this time. We should all be remembered so long, and so fondly.

Love your band logo – what’s the story on that?
It’s actually a real King Cole Trio album cover from the 40s. The postmodern sense of motion and optimism, and use of negative space and color, sort of dovetail with what we try to do as a group.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, June 20-26, 2011

Posted on: Jun 20th, 2011 By:

Monday June 20

Swing to Joe Gransden, trumpet player extraordinaire, and his 16-piece orchestra during Big Band Night at Cafe 290 on the first and third Monday of every month. From 3 PM on, savor tropical sounds and libations, as well as a Polynesian dinner during Mai Tai Monday at Smith’s Olde Bar. Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier is Monday night’s celebrity bartender at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong ParlorNorthside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday June 21

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Fedora Blues is at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday  June 22

It’s an all-star night of jazz and swing at the Star Bar with Nat King Coal Miners, a dynamic new jazz trio made up of three seasoned musicians, February ATLRetro Kool Kat Spike Fullerton (Ghost Riders Car Club) on guitar, Matt Wauchope (Blair Crimmins & the Hookers) on piano and blues man Dave Roth (Burnt Bacon). Read more about them in a sneak preview with Spike Fullerton posting soon.

Chris Isaak may not have that perfect pompadour anymore but you can see him still shaking up alt-rock with that modern Sinatra vibe tonight at in the Classic Chastain series. Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernThe Hollidays bring a little soul to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeckblues it down at Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday  June 23

Expect “shimmies, shakes, glitter, glamour and, of course, tassels” as the burlesque beauties of Minette Magnifique take to the stage tonight in a new show titled Prohibition Exhibition *Making the Illicit Explict* at The Warren City Club. Read the ATLRetro Kool Kat profile of Shellie Schmals, aka Baroness VONSchmalhausen here.

In Conversations with Contemporary Artists: Radcliffe Bailey, the world-renowned artist discusses his work with diverse media in the new exhibition MEMORY AS MEDICINE, which opens Sun. June 26 and runs through Sept. 11 at High Museum of Art. Take a tour with the provocative artist in this week’s Kool Kat here. Tickets to the talk at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Rich Auditorium are free but limited to two per person, and advance reservations are recommended at (404) 733-5000.

Tongo Hiti

Classic horror (James Whale’s 1931 FRANKENSTEIN featuring Boris Karloff vs Hitchcock’s 1963 THE BIRDS) is the theme for viewer’s choice night at Piedmont Park‘s Screen on the Green. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Alt-country act McNary plays Kathmandu Kitchen & Grill (formerly Pho Truc) in Clarkston. All shows are no cover charge, no smoking and all ages. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum LoungeBreeze Kingsand Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe features Curtis Jones & Friends.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, May 16-22, 2011

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 By:

Monday May 16

Andrew & the Disapyramids

Swing to Joe Gransden, trumpet player extraordinaire, and his 16-piece orchestra and special guest Jazz Tenor sax great Skip Lane this week during Big Band Night at Cafe 290 on the first and third Monday of every month. Andrew & the Disapyramids bring back the best of surf, doo wop, Mod, soul, sock hop and all types of retro rock ‘n’ roll during a free gig at Noni’s Bar & Deli tonight. Read the Kool Kat feature on band-member Joshua Longino here. Find out if Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier will croon a tune or two for tips as Monday night’s celebrity bartender at newly opened Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Parlor. Northside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday May 17

The Age of Aquarius rises again as HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical opens a weeklong run through May 22 at the 1929 Fabulous Fox Theatre. The legendary hippie rock opera follows a group of hopeful free-spirited young people as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn their draft cards. This production won a 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Find out and see the winners of the 2011 Mid-Century Modern Georgia Photo Contest, during a reception at Gallery See in the Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta, Building C at 1600 Peachtree Street. Photos depict buildings or sites in the state that are part of the design movement that lasted from the 1930s-1970s, and attendees also will have a last chance to view the exhibition, “Capturing an Icon: Ezra Stoller and Modern Architecture,” featuring works by the celebrated American architecture photographer.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday May 18

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Mission and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck bring on the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday May 19

Iconic ’80s alternative and psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips play The Tabernacle. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge. Breeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe features Bluebilly Grit.

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Weekend Update: May 13-15, 2011

Posted on: May 13th, 2011 By:

It’s only bad luck if you stay home on Friday the 13th, but Saturday is another of those Retro-crazy days full of tough choices. ATLRetro is terrifyingly torn between doing the zombie, rockabilly and ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL

Friday, May 13

For Whom The Ramones Toll. Read the Mark Arson’s review to find out why you shouldn’t miss one of two screenings of cult favorite ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, this month’s  Art Opening & A Movie,  at the Plaza Theatre. Since ROCKY HORROR is downstairs in the main theatre, tonight’s midnight show will be in the more intimate upstairs screening room, but we’re certain there will be plenty of screamin’ as  #1 Ramones fan Riff Randall (PJ Soles) and mouse-loving music teacher Mr. McGree (Paul Bartel) declare school’s out to no-fun Principal Togar (Mary Woronoff). And you get a chance to see some groovy artwork by ATLRetro featured artists Derek Yaniger, Chris Hamer and more of Atlanta’s best pop culture artists.

Indie alt-rock bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven play the art deco built-in-1931 Buckhead Theatre. Redneck underground favorites Slim Chance & the Convicts team up with the alt-country Wheel Knockers for a no-cover show celebrating their new EP release and to say farewell to their bass player at Milltown Arms Tavern in Cabbagetown. Chanteuse Julie Dexter sings jazz and soul at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX.

Saturday May 14

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of the book GONE WITH THE WIND from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown. Experience 150 years of history with this special program which delves into the entire GWTW story, including Civil War soldiers fighting the Battle of Atlanta, the city in the 1920s when Margaret Mitchell wrote the book, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel’s lasting legacy. The all-day event is part of a yearlong Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind 75th Anniversary Celebration series by the Atlanta History Center.

Check out this week’s Kool Kat for a sneak peek into one of the gardens of several privately-owned historic homes featured in the Artful Garden Tour, benefiting the High Museum of Art, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Gardens are located in Loring Heights, Druid Hills, Peachtree Battle, Buckhead and Ansley Park and local artists will be working on or showcasing their art in each location.

Blair Crimmins.

From 1 PM to Midnight, eat smoked pork sandwiches and listen to some of Atlanta’s best bands at Twain’s during the 3rd annual SpringFest benefiting The Atlanta Community Food Bank. Early on it’s family time with DJ Amy Handler of AM 1690’s The Kids Are Alright and the Imperial Opa dazzling with circus antics until 2:30. Then bands takeover including The Shathouse Rats, beach music-inspired The Mermaids, soul/funk/blues performers Amy Wren and What It Is, ’20s ragtime revivalists Blair Crimmins and the Hookers (read ATLRetro’s interview with Blair here), and Gentleman Jesse and His Men.

Help recreate George Romero‘s 1968 classic, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, in Virginia-Highland by joining the second annual Zombie Pub Crawl. Get to Diesel between 4-7 PM to have professional make-up artists from Atlanta’s top Halloween attractions Chambers of HorrorAtlanta Zombie Apocalypse and Netherworld apply your make-up or get a 10% discount at Norcostco/Atlanta Costume to do your own. Sponsors include Splatter Cinema/Gorehound ProductionsJagermeisterRed Bull and Sam Adams.

 

Have a spanking good time at Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge at The Masquerade with Hard Luck and TroubleRev. Andy spinning Psychobilly Freakout, a burlesque show benefiting Burlesque Hall of FameLegends, a Ragin’ Rockabilly Raffle and free shots of that ultimate Retro delicacy, Jello! Be sure to wish Mon Cherie “Happy Birthday.”

Catch a 9:30 PM encore screening of ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL at The Plaza. Bon Jovi rocks Philips Arena. Legendary keyboardist Ike Stubblefield is at Northside Tavern tonight. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Sunday May 15

Washboard Confessional headline blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl.

Ongoing

Leave it to the mad geniuses at Dad’s Garage to transform a beloved children’s classic into a bloody puppet musical. SCARLETT’S WEB features all your favorite characters from Wilbur the pig to Templeton the rat but adds some splattery special effects. Never mind, it’s all in fun though, they say, and definitely recommended only for anyone old enough to appreciate adult humor. Thurs., Fri. and Sat. nights at 8 p.m. extended through May 21.

At the High Museum of Art through May 29 is the MOMA-organized HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE MODERN CENTURY, a blockbuster exhibit showcasing a photographer and photojournalist who captured on film many of the seminal moments  of the 20th century from World War II to the assassination of Ghandi, China’s cultural revolution to civil rights and consumer culture in America.

For more weekend fun, tune back in on Friday for ATLRetro Weekend Update. If you know of a cool happening we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com.

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