Kool Kat of the Week: An Artful Garden for an Artful Cause

Posted on: May 13th, 2011 By:

This week’s Kool Kat isn’t a person but a garden which happens to belong to a Retro home, one of those 1920s neo-Tudor-revival manors on Fairview Road where we can only imagine the Gatsby-style Charleston parties that once went on. Vintage Atlanta got a massive break in the early 1990s when a lawsuit finally took away the threat of Freedom Parkway being extended through what’s now Freedom Park. It was too late to save all of the historic homes that were demolished in the 1960s and ‘70s due to the specter of the “Stone Mountain Freeway,” but the threat of overlooking a highway lowered home prices in the parts of Druid Hills next door to it enough to make a deal for homeowners Christine Cozzens, an English professor at Agnes Scott College, and Ron Calabrese, a biology professor at Emory University. A potential view of asphalt vanquished, they planted a garden so beautiful that it’s a work of art, one of several that complement historic homes in Druid Hills, Morningside and Buckhead on The Artful Garden Tour, Sat. May 14 from 10 AM to 5 PM, which benefits the High Museum of Art.

Druid Hills itself could be called a garden neighborhood, designed to around curving interconnecting parks by pioneering landscape architect Frederik Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York and the Chicago’s World Fair. Olmsted embraced living in nature, and so does this house. Cozzens grew up in a neo-Tudor revival house and loved the fact that former owners had never changed the floor plan, as has happened to many Druid Hills homes, but the one addition the couple did make was a conservatory. “The idea was that we needed some more living space but we wanted to be able to be outdoors year-round,” she says. The garden, designed by well-known Atlanta landscape architect Mary Palmer Dargan, of Dargan Landscape Architects, literally encircles the house so big windows in the front and back also provide breathtaking views.

When Cozzens and Calabrese moved in with her then-small three children, the only blooms endured for a few weeks in the spring, but now the house is surrounded by an eclectic variety of shrubs, native plants and perennials, allowing for year-round color without a lot of work to maintain the loveliness. The variety reminds Cozzens of Merrion Square and other places in Dublin which the Irish literature expert has visited while leading student trips. “It wouldn’t be miles of privet or boxwood,” she says. “It would be different leaf textures, different colors, different everything right next to each other—an incredible tapestry of leaves.”

Winding paths lead to other parts of the garden including a vegetable planting area with five beds, the Crepe Myrtle Parking Nook which makes for a breathtaking view from the kitchen window, and Emma’s Garden, named after the family’s daughter, which still contains the small unicorn statue the now-20-year-old loved at age 9. The house and garden took a tragic hit in 2009 when a giant tree fell, and the drought gave an extra hit, but the possibility to participate in this year’s Artful Garden Tour provided inspiration to revive the garden after that difficult time. It’s also been featured in the HGTV series GROUND BREAKERS.

Tickets for The Artful Garden Tour are available here.

 

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Weekend Update April 29-May 1, 2011

Posted on: Apr 28th, 2011 By:

Friday, April 29

Inman Park Festival launches from noon to 4 PM with day one of its Tour of Homes, quite possibly Atlanta’s oldest ongoing annual peek behind the doors of private residences. The fun of this tour is not just the historic Craftsman and Victorian structures but the interior decor which often reflects that quirky artsy character of the neighborhood’s residents. Also launching today is the Druid Hills Tour of Homes (10 AM to 5 PM) which this year features houses built from 1918 to 1955 in the city’s first driving suburb originally designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Flashback to the ’80s with Brazilian heavy metal/death metal band Sepultura at Masquerade. Wauchope Krewe plays a mix of New Orleans funk and R&B, along with blues, jazz, Latin and original music, at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAXJoe Gransden and Kenny Banks jazz up The Mansion on PeachtreeLittle G Weevil brings the blues to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack,and Electromatics fuse blues, jazz and soul at Northside Tavern.

Saturday April 30

The Inman Park and Druid Hills Home Tours continue, and the Inman Park Festival shows why it’s Atlanta’s most creative street festival from a bodacious artist and vendors market through the Victorian neighborhood to a one-of-a-kind parade at 2 PM. Plenty of live music, too, with today’s Retro highlights including Zydeco T at 1 PM, crime-fightin superhero Falcon Lords at 4:45 PM, 17-piece big band Usual Suspects at 5:30 PM, and ’20s ragtime-inspired Blair Crimmins & the Hookers at 6:45 PM.

In an extra terror-ific treat, Professor Morte and the guys and ghouls of the Silver Scream Spookshow screen the 1958 Ray Harryhausen monsterpiece THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD at the Plaza Theatre with a kids matinee at 1 PM and adult show at 10 PM. Read the review by Mark Arson here. Reviving another type of vintage performance, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company presents Thomas Fuller‘s THE DANCER IN THE DARK, inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft mythos spawned in the 1920s and ’30s with a flavoring of New Mexico, at 2:30 PM at the Academy Theatre in Avondale Estates.

It’s Rockabilly/Redneck Underground heaven as Southern Culture on the Skids headlines the Star Bar with Ghost Riders Car Club opening. Brush up on your GRCC with ATLRetro’s Kool Kat interview with Spike Fullerton from back in February. TheBlues Barons play Fat Matt’s. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Sunday May 1

The Inman Park Festival offers up a final day of fun, including old-time-Western-inspired Cowboy Envy at 2:15 PM and Whole Lotta Dixie, a traditional Dixieland band with a knack for applying that sound to  ’60s and ’70s hits, at 3:30 PM. Six-piece string band The Groundhawgs fuses bluegrass, old-time, jazz and swing, poetry and blues, classic country and a little bit of Southern rock during “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl.

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Weekend Update: March 18 – 20

Posted on: Mar 18th, 2011 By:

Friday, March 18

Phoenix Flies tours go into their final weekend with Ivy Hall (Peters House, now SCAD Writing Center), Edward Gay House, Inman Park Arboretum, Historic DowntownCatholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, whose beginnings date back to 1848 and cornerstone was laid 1869.

Glenn Phillips and Swimming Pool Qs play Red Light CafeBryan Adams rocks Atlanta Symphony Hall with a solo acoustic night. SFJAZZ Collective performs hits of Stevie Wonder at Emory University’s Schwartz Center. It’s Salsa Night with Salsambo Dance Lessons & Entertainment at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAXFatt Matt’s Rib Shack serves up roots, blues and BBQ with Atlanta Boogie. Better Than the Beatles with Johnny Porazzo and David Lowell pays tribute to the Fab Four at Jerry Farber’s Side Door.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta March 7-13

Posted on: Mar 7th, 2011 By:

Wow, there’s a lot flying and frying this week Retro-wise in Atlanta from Phoenix Flies to Southern Fried Burlesque Fest to a host of pop and rock performers who got their start in the ’80s. Here’s your weekly guide to where and why to get out…

Monday March 7

Atlanta Preservation Center continues its annual The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Living Landmarks, so-named after the iconic symbol of Atlanta—the mythical bird that burns and is reborn similar to the city post-Civil War. The event which runs through March 20 offers a chance to take its neighborhood historical walking tours for free, as well as experience additional behind-the-scenes peeks inside Atlanta’s most famous buildings of eras gone by. Today’s tours include The Temple synagogue (1930), designed by legendary Atlanta architect Philip Trammel Shutze at 10:30 AM; the Gothic revival Peachtree Christian Church (1925) at noon; and Grant Park at 5 PM. Reservations are recommended. After dark, Joe Gransden & his smokin’ 16-piece orchestra present another Big Band Night of jazz at Café 290, featuring Sinatra, Bennett, Basie and Joe’s originals. Blues chanteuse Francine Reed is back at Cafe CircaNorthside Tavern hosts a Blues Jam.

Tuesday March 8

Phoenix Flies features the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center (AHC), site of lavish parties in the 1920s and ’30s; other AHC facilities such as the 1840 Tullie Smith Farm and Cherokee Garden Library and Kenan Research Center, which both house rare photos and documents of Atlanta history; neoclassic First Church of Christ, Scientist (cornerstone laid 1903); Hinman Home (1896), now Stonehurst Place Bed & Breakfast; Midtown’s The Castle; a general Historic Midtown tour; and Wimbish House (1906), one of the last remaining homes on Peachtree Street’s once posh Mansion Row now the headquarters of Atlanta Women’s Club.

Splatter Cinema presents 1980s vampire classic NEAR DARK at 9:30 PM. Read Mark Arson’s Retro Revue to see why you shouldn’t miss this hard-edged horror Western directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow and starring Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton. Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Fedora Blues plays Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack. Atlanta’s notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland.

Wednesday March 9

Phoenix Flies tours the Fabulous Fox Theatre and offers a rare peek inside The Herndon Home, a beautiful 1910 mansion built by Atlanta’s first African-American millionaire Alonzo Herndon which has many eclectic aspects thanks also to his drama teacher wife Adrienne who would put on theater productions occasionally on the roof.

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at The Glenwood. Catch Joe Gransden every Wednesday night at 8:30 PM at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. The Hollidays bring on the blues at Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM. Cover band ’80s Band of Destiny is in the Atlanta Room at Smith’s Olde Bar.

Thursday March 10

Stonehenge Mansion, one of today's Phoenix Flies tours.

Another busy day for Phoenix Flies including tours of Fox Theatre; early Edgewood-Candler Park; Unseen Underground exploring parts of the old railway lines and viaduct system not usually open to public view; Burns Club (1910), a replica of Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birth home with Burns poetry reading; City Hall; Stonehenge Mansion & Sanctuary, a Gothic mansion in Druid Hills built as a residence but now houses St. John’s Lutheran Church; and the Georgia Capitol.

The first annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest kicks off with the Atlanta premiere of award-winning documentary DIRTY MARTINI & THE NEW BURLESQUE, with a Q&A afterwards with director Gary Beeber and Neo-Burlesque Revival superstar Dirty Martini, at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center in Decatur. Be sure to read our fest preview here. Chickens and Pigs play Pho Truc in Clarkston from 8-10 PM. 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 Chicken Shack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

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Weekend Update March 4-6

Posted on: Mar 4th, 2011 By:

Decided it might make more sense to run Weekend Update on Friday mornings than on Thursdays. You can still find out about Thursday activities, of course, in This Week in Retro Atlanta on Mondays. And of course, you can plan ahead for the whole weekend.

Friday March 4

Blair Crimmins.

Legendary pianist George Winston tickles the ivories at Variety PlayhouseBlair Crimmins and the Hookers provide a 1920s Vaudeville atmosphere during amagical Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX themed“Night of the Kraken” tying in with its current MYTHIC CREATURES: DRAGONS, UNICORNS AND MERMAIDS special exhibition which will be open for viewing that night. Also, hear they’ll be serving up special mythic-themed cocktails, including a Krakentini, featuring Kraken rum, Silver Scream Spookshow‘s Professor Morte will be a special guest, and there’s a costume contest planned, too, so don your most mythical duds. Just about to post a last-minute interview with Blair about the fanciful festivities, so be sure to check that out.

Celebrate Mardi Gras early and decadently, or rather BART-I GRAS, with the insane crew of Avondale Estates’ Bart Webb Studios and the sexy and sassy Syrens of the South, Big Easy cuisine provided by Zatarain’s, beads, masks, and the first Bart-i Bra contest where the best decorated bra will be judged to crown the first Queen or King of Bart-i Gras.

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Kool Kat of the Week: David Spencer Has Gotta Dance, Gotta Swing, & He’ll Teach You How, Too, at Callanwolde This Spring

Posted on: Mar 1st, 2011 By:

“Dancing is like dreaming with your feet,” goes the famous quote by Constanze. If that’s true, David Spencer has spent his life in dreams. Since he was a little boy, he let his feet guide him, and they haven’t led him astray from becoming a sought-after high school date to professional ballroom dancing shows and competitions. For the past 30 years, he’s also been a ballroom dance instructor, and he currently shares his secrets to fantastic footwork at Allure Ballroom Atlanta, near Cumberland Mall, and at the Atlanta Ballroom Dance Centre in Sandy Springs.

However, aspiring and seasoned ballroom dancers wanting to hone their moves will get to practice in top-hat style this spring as David leads a pair of Thursday night 10-week classes for beginners (7 PM) and continuing dancers (8 PM) starting March 24 at Callanwolde. For those not versed in vintage Atlanta, this magnificent Gothic-Tudor-style mansion in Druid Hills was completed in 1920 and once belonged to Howard Candler, president of The Coca-Cola Company and son of its founder Asa Candler. Now it’s a cultural arts center and special occasion venue listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but one can only imagine the Gatsby-like grand gatherings that happened here in days gone by.

ATLRetro recently caught up with David to find out why he has such a passion for ballroom dance and also get a preview of these special Callanwolde classes, which represent just a few of the visual and performing arts seminars at the mansion this spring.

1. How did you first get into ballroom dancing and is there any story behind that?

I was very fortunate to have a mother that would sit and watch all the old, classic movies with me as a child—everything from musicals to horror films. We would pile up on the sofa or the bed and watch with a big tub of popcorn. By the age of 7, I made the decision that when I grew up, I wanted to be Gene Kelly. It is no wonder that I teach dancing for a living now. Oddly enough, with Mr. Kelly as my role model, tap dancing is the only form of dance I have not studied—yet.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta – Feb. 28 – March 6, 2011

Posted on: Feb 28th, 2011 By:

The Retro action in Atlanta isn’t quite as sizzling as last week, making it a great time to check out some of the ongoing great weekly events that pay tribute to vintage jazz, blues, funk and country. Or catch up on your city history with The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Living Landmarks, starting Saturday.

Monday Feb. 28

It’s definitely worth braving the showers to hear the vivacious voice of blues chanteuse Francine Reed at Cafe Circa in the Old Fourth Ward. And there’s a Blues Jam at Northside Tavern.

Tuesday March 1

Atlanta’s notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland.

Wednesday March 2

Every Wednesday in March, The Hollidays bring their modern take on classic ‘60s soul, garage, rock ‘n’ roll and obscure blues to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck plays the blues at Northside Tavern. Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at The Glenwood. Joe Gransden is off but jazz is still on the menu with Scott Glazer and the Real All-Stars at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM. The Atlanta Burlesque and Cabaret Club meets at a new venue, Melton’s App & Tap, in Decatur, at 8 PM. Topic is how to do (and not do) a photoshoot with opportunity to speak to professional photographers and pin-up professionals.

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ATLRetro Weekend Update, Feb. 10-13, 2011

Posted on: Feb 10th, 2011 By:

Vampires, Vietnamese food & rockabilly, va-va-voom and vintage soul at the Star Bar, Valentine’s weekend promises plenty to do for lovers and anti-lovers…

Thursday Feb. 10

The Atlanta Ballet put the vampire into Valentine’s a few years ago with its seductive performance of DRACULA. Now it’s the Little 5 Points Rockstar Orchestra’s turn to go blood red with HAUS VON DRACUL, PART 1, an original rock opera by veterans of Atlanta’s underground music scene, opening tonight at 7 Stages Theatre in Little 5 Points and playing through Sun. Feb. 13. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out ATLRetro’s preview with Chris Love, aka Jonathan Harker here.

Also, Ghost Riders Car Club celebrates Vietnamese New Year with classic ’50s honkytonk and rockabilly every Thursday in February at Pho Truc in Clarkston. For a taste, see last week’s KOOL KAT OF THE WEEK with guitarist Spike Fullerton. Or 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.

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