ATLRetro’s Haunted & Hellacious Halloween Guide 2016

Posted on: Oct 26th, 2016 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Calling all ghouls and gals! Come see why we think you should raise hell in ATLRetro this Halloween season!

1. Head Rolling Tunes! Get sinister All Hallows Eve weekend with a helluva lot of rancid rock ‘n roll! Rock out10.29StarBar ghoul-style at The Star Bar with Elzig (Elvis meets Danzig), The Crush and B.S.O.L. (Oct. 27)! Or celebrate 25 hellacious years with their 25th Anniversary Bash rocking out with Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols tribute); Horror Business (Misfits tribute); and Nameless Nameless (Nirvana tribute) (Oct. 28)! And you must boogie on down during their 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll ‘70s Disco Party & Halloween Bash featuring The Biters (as The Disco Bitches), Dinos Boys, Bad Spell and Gunpowder Gray (Oct. 29)! Get horrorified at the Clermont Lounge  as Captain & Maybelle present a Halloween Shock ‘n’ Roll Sideshow featuring terrifying tunes by Fiend Without A Face, Kool Kats the Casket Creatures and special guest Reggie Bugmuncher (Oct. 27)! Or get rocked with Mac Sabbath and Black Juju at The Loft (Oct. 29)! The BadAsh Allstar Team hosts a Halloween Monster Jam at 5 Seasons Brewing (Oct. 29)! Get monstrous and go, go Godzilla on down to the Variety Playhouse for a night with the Blue Oyster Cult (10/29)! The Earl gets sinister and delivers a night of honkytonk rock ‘n ‘roll with their Halloween Party featuring The Goddamn Gallows, Gallows Bound, The Vaginas and Stump Tail Dolly (Oct. 31)!

2. Fangtastic Films!  Catch RiffTrax Live’s screening of Herk Harvey’s CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) at theatres across Atlanta at 8pm [Avalon Stadium 12 (Alpharetta); Perimeter Pointe 10; Hollywood Stadium 24 (Chamblee); AMC Barrett Commons 24 (Kennesaw); Regal McDonough Stadium 16 (McDonough); Carnival of SoulsCinemark Tinseltown 17 (Fayetteville); and Georgian Stadium 14 (Newnan)] (Oct. 27 & 31)! It’s a night of ectoplasmic proportions at Venkman’s with a free screening of Ivan Reitman’s GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) at 7pm (Oct. 27)! Or make your way to ASO Symphony Hall for a screening of Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) with a live performance of the award-winning soundtrack by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at 8pm (Oct. 28)! Venkman’s dishes out a Cartoon Brunch featuring a screening of Tim Burton’s THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993) (Oct. 29)! Or spend the evening with Vincent Price with a screening of Andre DeToth’s HOUSE OF WAX (1953) at The Plaza Theater, running Oct. 28 through Oct. 29! And don’t forget to Time-Warp it up with some uber musically-inclined transsexual aliens at as they continue their tradition of screening THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975), featuring the live cast of Lips Down on Dixie at midnight, with special Halloween treats (Oct. 28-29)! Get bewitched with a screening of Kenny Ortega’s HOCUS POCUS (1993) at dusk at Atlantic Station during their “Spooky Film Fest” (Oct. 28)! Videodrome and JavaVino (JavaDrome) present another rare treat with a screening of David A. Prior’s SLEDGEHAMMER (1983) at 8:30pm (Oct. 28)! Get twisted with Kool Kats, The Hess Family with a complimentary screening of Horror Hotel Season 2’s “LIFE AFTER MEN” at Studio Movie Grill in Alpharetta from 6pm to 12am (Oct. 27)!

3. Dance with the Dead and BOOgie down!  It’s Halloween hysteria at Avondale Towne Cinema during Kool Kat Shane Morton, a.k.a. ghost host with the most, Prof. Morte’s Monsters of Mock Dance Party featuring Stephen Skipper’s Rolling Stones Tribute, Van Heineken and OC/DC at 8pm (Oct. 28)! Or rattle 10.28Avondaleyour bones during Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX’s Fright Night Halloween Party, dripping with devilish drinks, costume contests and more (Oct. 28)! Spook on down to The Beacon’s Halloween Haunted House Warming Party featuring a haunted house, costume contest, food trucks and rockin’ tunes with Smithsonian (Smiths tribute), Anna Kramer & The Lost Cause and the Rock*A*Teens (Oct. 29)! Make your way to The Howard House in Kirkwood for the 11th Annual Scarendipity Halloween Bash featuring Voodoo Visionary, Mayhayley’s Grave and so much more (Oct. 29)! Rock on down to the Masquerade for their 6th Annual Boos & Brews Halloween Party (Oct. 29)! Make your way to Club Famous for Coffin Classics Halloween: Goth, Darkwave, Industrial with Kool Kat VJ Anthony (Oct. 29)! Grab your favorite boil or ghoul and rock on down to the Red Light Café’s Halloween Prom featuring Roadkill Debutante, Burning Truck and Till Someone Loses an Eye (Kool Kat Aileen Loy) (Oct. 30)! Radio Cult dishes out a “Japanese-Anime” themed Halloween bash at Deep South Deli & Pub (Oct. 28)! Get your ghouls, goblins and ghosts fix at Skyline Park ATL’s Haunted Heights Halloween Bash featuring acrobatics, THRILLER zombies, live DJ, themed cocktails, midway games and more from 8pm-12am (Oct. 29)! Boogie down to Opera Nightclub for their Atlanta Horror Story Halloween Spectacular, featuring costume contests, special drinks, prizes and more (Oct. 29)! Do the Monster Mash at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club’s annual Halloween Dance Party (Oct. 29)!

4. Gothic & Ghastly.  DJ Silkwolf and DJ Merlot will drag you to Hell at Mary’s during their Goth Nite Printfeaturing death rock, post punk, goth anthems and more at 9pm (Oct. 27)! The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra gets phantasmal with their Phantom of the Orchestra event at 3pm (Oct. 30)! Haunt on down to the Historic Oakland Cemetery for their annual hour-long Capturing the Spirit of Oakland 2015 Ghost Tours, featuring music, a fortune teller and more! Come on out and tiptoe through the graves, make a few new spirited friends and hear the hallowed tales of some of their eternal residents, running from 5:30pm to 10:30pm, through Oct. 30! Or spook on down to the Fox Theatre as they get haunted during their annual Fox Theatre Ghost Tours, chilling your bones through Oct. 30!

5. Horrifying Hikes ‘n’ Haunts.  Nightmares are what this season’s9.23 all about! So, spook on down to Netherworld Haunted House in Norcross and spook it up through Nov. 1 (7:30pm-10:30pm week days; 7pm-midnight weekends)! Get terrified at Sinister Suites Hotel of Horror in Griffin, GA, spooking through Oct. 31! A little blood splatter never hurt ya, so trek on down to Carrolton, GA for a helluva lot of haunted hillbillies ‘n’ dead rednecks at Camp Blood, horrifying through Oct. 31! Put on your horrorific hiking boots and make your way to the Dolls Head Danse Macabre Halloween Hike at Constitution Lakes, hosted by The Georgia Conservancy from 7-11pm (Oct. 30)!

6. Thrilling and Chilling Theatrics, Art ‘n’ Parades.  Creep on down to The B Complex for the Art Exhibition and Performance sleepy hollowReception for “Will You Be My Nightmare” at 6:30pm (Oct. 27)! Or wake the dead at the Michael C. Carlos Museum’s Mummies & Mixers event featuring music, costumes, as classic Boris Karloff film and more from 7-9pm (Oct. 27)! Be the Headless Horseman’s next victim and get your bones chilled at Serenbe Playhouse’s thrilling presentation of their immersive spooky attraction and show, THE SLEEPY HOLLOW EXPERIENCE, haunting through Nov. 6 (Wed-Sun at 8pm; Fri-Sat at 10:30pm)! It’s a night of murderous clowns and gut splitting laughter as 1Up Comedy presents the Roast of Pennywise the Clown/Stephen King’s IT at the Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge (Oct. 27)! Spook on down to the Buford Highway Halloween Parade and Pop-Up, from 5-8pm (Oct. 29) Make your way to the Atlanta History Center for the Day of the Dead Festival featuring traditional dance, crafts, authentic Mexican food and more (Oct. 30)! Terminus City Tattoo (Duluth) delivers a day full of tricks, treats and tattoos with their 2016 Halloween Bash featuring $50 Halloween tattoos (12-7pm), followed by a killer bash kickin’ off at 8pm, with a costume contest and more (Oct. 29)! Or catch “The Ghastly Dreadfuls” spooking it up with creepy stories, frightful songs and devilish dances at the Center for Puppetry Arts, haunting through Oct. 29!10.27Clermont

7. Tricks, Treats & A Witchin’ Good Time! Cast a spell and make your way to the Mable House Arts Center’s Hogwarts Halloween at 6pm and 8pm (Oct. 28)! Spook on down to Callanwolde Fine Arts Center for their “Halloween Night on Callanwolde Mountain” family-friendly party featuring trick-or-treating, live music with the Callanwolde Concert Band featuring Matthew Kaminski, costume contests and more (Oct. 28)! Maniacal laughter ensues during The Village Theatre’s Halloween Improv House Party featuring an improvised Salem Witch Trial and more (Oct. 29)! Spook on down to the Ponce City Market for their A Haunting on Ponce: Eat, Drink and Be Scary, horrifying through Oct. 31!

8. Decaying Eighties.  Eighties it up at Venkman’s with a Totally ‘80s Costume 10.29TerminalParty featuring Members Only (Oct. 27)! Get strange at Criminal Records during their “Stranger Things: Vol. 1 Soundtrack” Listening Party with special guest Randall P. Havens (Mr. Clarke), a costume contest and more at 7pm (Oct. 28)! BOOgie on down to The Music Room for DJ Jaycee’s Edgewood “Thriller” Michael Jackson Tribute and costume party (Oct. 28)! ATL Collective delivers an evening of rotting flesh as they raise the dead with their performance of Michael Jackson’s Halloween classic, “Thriller” at Terminal West (10/29)! Kool 10.29BasementKat Becky Cormier Finch and Denim Arcade deliver a rockin’ ‘80s Halloween Party, featuring a costume contest, a “Thriller” dance class and more at the Wild Wing Café in Suwannee (Oct. 29)!

9. Get Funky and Groove Like a Ghoul!  Put on those dancin’ shoes groove like a ghoul at The Basement as they get down with forty thousand years of funk during their Keep on Movin’ Halloween Dance Party (10/29)! Get terrified from beyond the grave with Here Come the Mummies at City Winery (Oct. 31)!

 

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Kool Kat of the Week: We’re Off To See The Wizard Mark A. Harmon: There’s No Place Like the Fabulous Fox This Week!

Posted on: Jun 23rd, 2016 By:
Mark A. Harmon

Mark A. Harmon plays Professor Marvel, aka the Wizard of Oz in the new musical adaptation this week at the Fox Theatre.

By Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

There is little in American pop culture as universally, cross-generationally and continuously beloved as the 1939 film adaptation of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Everyone knows the characters, the songs, and why wicked witches don’t shower. The national tour of stage musical THE WIZARD OF OZ, running June 21-26 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, takes audiences arm-in-arm back down the Yellow Brick Road.

Oz had already appeared on the big screen by the time Judy Garland went over the rainbow, including silent versions in 1910 and 1925, and a 1933 cartoon, as well as several stage versions (including one by author L. Frank Baum himself in 1902). However, it’s the MGM classic that became the definitive version immediately upon its release 77 years ago this summer. It was nominated for Best Picture (but lost to GONE WITH THE WIND) and won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

The musical, which premiered in London in 2011, is based on the 1939 film, with all your favorite moments reimagined for the stage. That means Munchkins, flying monkeys, and dead witches! And what would Oz be without the vibrant Technicolor hues of the film—ruby slippers on yellow bricks to the Emerald City! Expect the same rainbow palate on stage. In addition to the classic songs, the production features new songs by musical theater legends Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Wizard of Oz himself, Mark A. Harmon, took a few minutes last week to chat with ATLRetro.

ATLRetro: I’d wager you’ve been an enormous fan of the 1939 MGM masterpiece your entire life, but I guess you don’t necessarily have to be. Why did you want to be in this production?

Mark A. Harmon: Of course! I’ve been a huge fan! I remember as a child one of the major television networks would run it once a year I believe around Thanksgiving. It was always a major event that you waited for all year. I have to admit that when I was asked to audition I was a little hesitant at first. I thought “How can you possibly do a live version that could even come close to the beauty of the movie?” Then I saw some clips from the first national tour and was completely blown away! We’re seven months into the tour and I’m still amazed at the production quality of this show.

Professor Marvel brings his magical wagon to Kansas in THE WIZARD OF OZ stage adaptation.

Professor Marvel brings his magical wagon to Kansas in THE WIZARD OF OZ stage adaptation.

What new does this production bring to the story?

The main story remains faithful to the movie and all the original songs are performed. There are new songs added by the brilliant Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. One of them is “Wonders of the World” which is sung by yours truly as Professor Marvel. There have also been some changes to the dialogue. But rest assured, all your favorite lines are still there.

As an actor, is it difficult preparing for such a famous role?

It is a little daunting at first. There’s always the possibility of being compared to such a well known performance. But each actor brings a unique quality to their role. Even though the audience may have a familiar performance in their head, I believe they quickly start accepting you as that character.

In addition to the 1939 film, there have been countless adaptations, interpretations, sequels and prequels to Baum’s original book (1900). What is it about the story that has kept inspiring revisits to Oz for over a century?

I’m sure there are whole books devoted to answering that question. But for me personally, I think it’s one of the classic coming of age stories. What adolescent hasn’t felt misunderstood and wanted to run away?

Dorothy and her friends meet Oz the Great and Powerful in the Emerald City,

Dorothy and her friends meet Oz the Great and Powerful in the Emerald City,

What’s it like on the road? Do you get to spend any time exploring the cities you visit?

It depends entirely on the schedule. This is my third tour and I’m not going to lie, some can be downright grueling. I’ve done tours where we’ve played five or six cities in one week traveling by bus. I think it’s important for people to know that when you go see a touring show, especially one that is only playing one or two nights, that the actors may very well have spent anywhere up to eight hours on a bus that day. This one, however, has been without a doubt the most enjoyable mainly because of the fact that we’ve been playing each city for no less than a week. It’s been such a treat to be able to have the time to do some real exploring!

Thanks again for chatting with ATLRetro. Break a leg!  Anything else you want to mention?

You’re very welcome and thank you.  I’d just like to say that I’m so excited to be returning to the beautiful Fox Theatre and invite everyone, young and old, to come see this spectacular production of THE WIZARD OF OZ!

The Wizard of Oz runs June 21-26 at The Fox Theatre. Show times and ticket information are available  here. All photos are used with permission.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Tiffany Engen Just Wants to Have Fun in Shoe-Stopping Broadway Musical KINKY BOOTS

Posted on: Mar 29th, 2016 By:
Lauren (Tiffany Engen) dances with shoes on her hands in the Broadway tour of KINKY BOOTS. Photo courtesy of Austin Northenor.

Lauren (Tiffany Engen) dances with shoes on her hands in the Broadway tour of KINKY BOOTS. Photo courtesy of Austin Northenor.

By Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

Broadway hit KINKY BOOTS opens the Atlanta leg of its national tour on Tues. March 29 and runs through Sun. April 3 at the Fox Theatre. Multiple Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (TORCH SONG TRILOGY) wrote the book, and Tony, Grammy, Emmy and my heart winner Cyndi Lauper (mostly this and this) wrote the music and lyrics. Check here for show times and ticket availability.

The musical chronicles a shoe factory in trouble and reborn thanks to a performer’s desire for sturdy stilettos. Inspired by true events and based upon the 2005 film of the same name, KINKY BOOTS premiered in Chicago in 2012 before its Broadway debut in 2013. It was a huge success and earned 13 Tony nominations, winning six, including Best Musical and Best Score for Lauper (the first woman ever to win that award by herself!). It began its US tour in 2014.

Kool Kat of the Week Tiffany Engen (Lauren) is one of many actors among the principal cast with impressive Broadway, Off-Broadway, film and television roles under their belts (including Jim J. Bullock). She previously performed in the Broadway and first national tour productions of LEGALLY BLONDE, the movie HAIRSPRAY (2007) and the TV shows RAISING HOPE and SMASH.

Tiffany took a few minutes before the opening of this week’s Atlanta run to chat with ATLRetro about the musical, her favorite roles and a little bit about life on the road.

Where are you from? How did you become an actor? What was your first production? How old were you?

I am originally from Minnesota. I have loved singing, dancing, acting since I was a kid.  My parents took me to see shows whenever productions would be in town. In second grade I played a chicken in THE GOOSE AND THE GOLDEN EGG. I had one line. I’ve been hooked ever since!

0961_KINKY_BOOTS_TOUR

KINKY BOOTS on tour. Photo courtesy of Austin Northenor.

Which of your past performances are you most proud of?

I feel very lucky to have worked on some incredible shows.  LEGALLY BLONDE, HAIRSPRAY, ROCK OF AGES all have held a special place in my heart. I’m most proud of this role and this show. The role of Lauren is so fun to play. She is tough, bold, vulnerable, funny and sassy. This show is so special and has touched so many people. I’m so proud to be a part of a show that is changing people’s hearts and minds.

If you had to play one role for the rest of your career, what would it be?

This one!!!

Before taking on the role, were you familiar with the KINKY BOOTS movie? The Broadway production?

Yes, I was a fan of both the film and the Broadway production. I actually got to see a run-through of the Broadway production before they moved to the theater. And even in a rehearsal studio with no lights or costumes you could feel that this show was special. 

What should we know about your character?

Lauren is a factory worker at Price and Son. She is not afraid to speak her mind to her new boss, Charlie. I love that she is the one who says the factory needs to find a niche market to cater their product to. She provides the lightbulb moment for Charlie. 

KINKY BOOTS on tour. Photo courtesy of Austin Northenor.

KINKY BOOTS on tour. Photo courtesy of Austin Northenor.

How long will you guys be on the road? Where else are you performing?

I joined the company in November and we have played wonderful cities. The tour has dates booked well into 2017, so I’m so excited that it has been embraced by theaters across the country. After Atlanta we head to Kansas City then LA, Seattle, San Francisco—the list goes on.

What should Atlanta audiences expect?

A joyous, thought-provoking, entertaining night of theatre. This show won six Tony awards including Best Musical. We love it when people say that this is the best show or their favorite show they have ever seen!

How would you describe the music?

Cyndi Lauper has written and incredible musical score that is unlike anything you’ve heard before. She writes ballads that will break your heart and then turns around and writes a foot-stomping finale that radiates joy in every line. 

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Tis The Season To Be Enchanted: Atlanta Ballet’s NUTCRACKER Still Magical in its 56th Year

Posted on: Dec 20th, 2015 By:
Claire Stallman and Jonah Hooper. Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Claire Stallman and Jonah Hooper. Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

THE NUTCRACKER by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Atlanta Ballet. Fox Theatre, Dec. 11-27, Tickets here.

By Claudia Dafrico
Contributing Writer

One of the sad truths of 2015 is the fact that it has become more and more difficult to find Atlanta traditions that have been around for longer than 20 or so years. For a city with so many beloved institutions, a good number of them have shut their doors or faded into obscurity in recent years. This is certainly not the case for the Atlanta Ballet’s annual production of THE NUTCRACKER, which is entering its 56th year of performances. One may be likely to think that the many years behind this Christmas mainstay would lead it to be stale and outdated, but the opposite could not be more true. The Atlanta Ballet’s NUTCRACKER is just as fresh and exciting as it was 56 years ago, and is a performance that should not be missed by anyone who considers themselves a true Atlantan.

Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Opening night was nothing short of packed, with attendees ranging from toddlers to grandparents out in their finest Christmas garb. Simply sitting in the audience prior to showtime was an experience in and of itself: the painted backdrop hanging onstage is breathtaking in its intricacy, and the warm, intricate design of the Fox only adds to the serene atmosphere. The audience, buzzing with anticipation, began to cheer and whisper as Drosselmeyer took the stage.

Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s original score is brought to life with help from the Atlanta Ballet orchestra, and the story of a young girl and her enchanted nutcracker doll is given a slight update to help the familiar tale remain fresh and engaging. Artistic director John McFall made the choice to age up the protagonist from a pre-teen girl to a young woman, and she subsequently plays a more active role in the action surrounding her. (Many readers will recall how her defeat of the Rat King usually involves her throwing a slipper at his head. In 2015, she

Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

wields a sword instead). The setting of this production, which is typically a generic European Christmas of centuries past, is now set firmly in 1850s Russia, and the beautiful, elaborate costumes of the party guests in the first act show how much time and research the set designers and costumers took in bringing McFall’s vision to life. As the story progresses, the stage is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, complete with snow for the audience, and only becomes more charming from that point on.

The performances of the dancers itself are so breathtaking that it is almost hard to put into words. Each performer, no matter how large or small the role, gives it their all, and there was not a weak link to be seen. Old favorites, such as the Trepak dancers and the Mother Matrushka, make appearances, much to the audience’s delight. The dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, as performed by Rachel Van Buskirk and Christian Clark, might just be the greatest ballet performance this writer has ever witnessed in her life. Buying tickets for THE NUTCRACKER is worth it just to see this number alone. It is seriously that good.

Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Photo by C. McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

An astounding cast, intricately beautiful sets and costumes, and a unique take on a classic tale all come together perfectly in Atlanta Ballet’s 2015 production of THE NUTCRACKER. If you’re looking to experience both a piece of Atlanta history and a ballet production unlike any other, be sure to get your tickets to THE NUTCRACKER sooner than later.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Oh, What a Night at the Fox!: Keith White Works His Way Back to Georgia With the Jersey Boys

Posted on: Oct 6th, 2015 By:
Keith White. Photo Credit: Jersey Boys.

Keith White. Photo Credit: Jersey Boys.

JERSEY BOYS, the rocking musical that chronicles the rise of The Four Seasons, is back at the Fabulous Fox Theatre Tuesday Oct. 6 through Sunday Oct. 11 presented by Fifth Third Bank Broadway Atlanta. This true story of how four blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks has become one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time. Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30. The show features all their hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What A Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You.”

ATLRetro caught up with Augusta, Georgia native Keith White, who has been performing in the ensemble for the past 13 months, to find out about what it’s like to tour with one of the longest running Broadway shows and why even though there’s been a movie, nothing beats seeing it live on stage.

ATLRetro: Did you grow up with a love for musical theater and/or retro rock n roll? What was your favorite retro band as a kid?

Keith: Both. I grew up with a love for imitating things. In fourth grade, I acted in my first play, and I kind of didn’t really stop. The retro rock ‘n’ roll thing happened in middle school when my dad gave me my first Led Zeppelin album. It was Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and setting up a band in the garage with my friend. I played drums and he played guitar. We were all about that classic rock.

What parts do you play, and what roles did those characters play in the story of The Four Seasons?

I’m in the ensemble so I play multiple parts including recording artist Billy Dixon. I sing one of his songs, “Trance.” I also play some gangsters. One’s named Donnie, and he ‘s trying to swindle some money out of a young Frankie Valli, which really happened. These are real people. I also play a bouncer at a nightclub named Knuckles, who was a real person, too. And I play a music agent at 1619 Broadway, the Brill Building, which was the center of the music world in the 1960s. Songs like “Come Fly With Me” were recorded there, and a lot of Paul Simon and Carole King was recorded there. I’m also the understudy for Nick Massi, the bass player in the Four Seasons and Gyp DeCarlo, the organized crime/mob boss guy.

Photo credit: Jersey Boys.

Photo credit: Jersey Boys.

What’s your favorite scene that you perform in?

I really enjoy doing Billy Dixon because I get to sing. If you get to see the show, it’s funny because Billy Dixon gets to sing for only about 10 seconds, but I get to sing and do some really wild stuff in that time.

Any story about why you especially wanted to be part of JERSEY BOYS and/or your audition?

I saw JERSEY BOYS in 2007 when I was 16 or 17, and it was so good. I truly loved it. I went to the Boston Conservatory to train for theater, and I knew that JERSEY BOYS was still playing – it’s now one of longest running shows in Broadway history. I never thought I would I be in it until I went in for an audition. I didn’t know if I’d cut it. I went through four callbacks. To me, this is huge! The big gig. It was what I was working towards since I was a kid—a national tour of a Broadway musical.

How do the touring performances compare to the Broadway company?

The only difference is that the set has been made travelable so it’s a little condensed. Instead of three LED screens, we have one, but it tells the same story. Whereas on some other tours, you’ll just get a backdrop, you get all the spectacle that is JERSEY BOYS still when you see the tour.

Did you do anything special to prepare?

When first joined the tour, I had to play drums. That’s what really cool. There’s no orchestra pit. Some actors are musicians in the orchestra and they’re out there on stage. It was kind of full circle in that I started playing drums in the garage and now I got to play drums on stage. That’s been the most fun. I was playing Billy Dickson and Knuckles the bouncer and also I was playing the drums

f Walk Like a Man Sept 2015

“Walk Like A Man.” Photo credit: Jersey Boys.

Did the Four Seasons have to come from New Jersey? What’s your take after working on the show?

Did they have to come from Jersey? I think maybe they did. That was their destiny. I think that also was their appeal to the masses. They’re blue collar guys. The people are hard there in the best way. There’s a toughness. And being so close to New York, they knew about the hustle of NY. It’s authentic Jersey no doubt. The writers asked Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio a lot of questions. Yeah, maybe they did have to be from Jersey. They are the Jersey Boys.

Do you have anything special planned to do while you’re here in Georgia? Will you be visiting any old haunts?

It feels very cool to be back in Georgia but as a kid, I only went to Atlanta to go to the airport, and I went on a fieldtrip there once and I saw [The Center for Puppetry Arts] with its Jim Henson exhibit. I’m actually going to Augusta later in the tour, and that’ll be a little surreal. I grew up there until I was 10 and all of my extended family is there—my mom and dad’s side. My family will get to see what I’ve been doing.

As an Augusta native, what might ATLRetro readers enjoy doing if they?

Augusta is where James Brown was born and raised, so that history runs rampant. There are statues of him on the Riverwalk downtown. The Soul Bar also is dedicated to James Brown. There’s obviously also the golf culture with the Masters. So you can feel all that. They’re very proud of their golf there.

Is there anything else that you’d like to tell people about JERSEY BOYS?

The show does a great job of making it feel like you’re watching one of those East Coast mob movies set in the 1950s. It captures that really well. It still holds up. It’s special.

All photos are provided by Broadway Atlanta and used with permission.

  

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Kool Kat of the Week: Galen Williams Dishes Out Some Old-School Soul at the Fabulous Fox Theatre While Touring the Nation with the Cast of MOTOWN: The MUSICAL

Posted on: Aug 17th, 2015 By:

By Claudia Dafrico08918_show_portrait_large
Contributing Writer

It’s exhilarating. It’s inspiring. It’s what makes you want to stand up and dance at any given moment. It’s Motown, and it’s coming to the Fabulous Fox Theatre Aug 18-23 to blow you away. MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL premiered on Broadway in 2013, and enjoyed a highly successful run and was nominated for four Tony Awards. Now, two years later, MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL is back and ready to charm audiences across the country.

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL follows the career of Berry Gordy, the creator of the Motown record label, and the events of his life as described in his autobiography, TO BE LOVED: THE MUSIC, THE MAGIC, THE MEMORIES OF MOTOWN. Throughout his illustrious career, Gordy made artists such as Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and The Jackson 5 household names. The music of these esteemed performers is the centerpiece of MOTOWN THE MUSICAL―the show has a whopping 66 musical numbers. Each one of these numbers is performed with passion and perfection by the cast, who excel at bringing to life the nostalgia of Motown music in its prime.

One of these extraordinarily talented performers is our Kool Kat of the Week, Galen Williams, Georgia native and alumni of Howard University. As a swing, Galen plays one of the most integral parts in the production; he is the understudy for multiple roles as well as a regular performer. ATLRetro had the chance to get one-on-one with Galen to talk about the show, classic Motown music and everything in between.

ATLRetro: You grew up in East Point, Georgia, which is right outside of Atlanta. Is it nice to be back home for the first stretch of the tour?

untitledGalen Williams: It feels amazing to be home! I’ve been anticipating this stop since this tour began!!! I wish we were here for longer than just a week!  MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL follows the story of legendary music producer Berry Gordy and the Motown musicians he propelled to fame. Has the genre he helped create been a significant influence in your life before you joined this show? Absolutely! I grew up very familiar to the Motown sound. Various artists like The Temptations and The Jackson 5 were integral to my development as a singer.

This show is filled to the brim with timeless classics from Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and many more. Which song would you say is your favorite to perform?

I love singing My Girl by The Temptations. It’s so cool to see couples of all ages hold each other a little closer while the song is going on. Plus the song sits in a wonderful place that makes my voice sound more amazing than it actually is, but it’s also nerve-racking because it’s one of the most iconic songs in the show! Talk about pressure!

Atlanta is one of the first stops on the national tour of MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL.  Where are you most excited to visit on your cross-country journey?

I’m definitely most excited about being at home in Atlanta because I grew up seeing many shows at the Fox Theatre. It will be a full circle moment for me to finally perform on that stage with so many family and friends watching. I also really enjoyed the time we spent in Orlando and Los Angeles. I’m also looking forward to spending time in Toronto for the first time.

Motown music has inspired countless artists to pursue their dreams of fame. Who or what would you say is your inspiration to perform?

Patrice Covington as Martha Reeves (center) & Cast MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

Patrice Covington as Martha Reeves (center) & Cast
MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour
(c) Joan Marcus, 2014

My spirituality! I believe that God has blessed me with the ability to perform and express myself at best through performing so I perform to honor my connection with Him and what He has given me. Also I have a very supportive family. Nothing brings me more joy than to see the faces of my loved ones light up when I’m on stage!

If you could go back in time and have a recording session with any Motown artist, who would it be?

This is such a hard question because there are so many artists within the Motown catalog that I would want to have that experience with. However, since I’m being forced to pick, I’d have to say that I would love to sit in on a recording session with Stevie Wonder because he has created some of my favorite songs of all time.

You’ve performed in a number of shows, including PASSING STRANGE, which is the story of a young musician and his adventures. Has your experience in PASSING STRANGE influenced your performance in MOTOWN THE MUSICAL?

Definitely. Maybe not so much as far as the actual story of PASSING STRANGE goes but at the time, PASSING STRANGE was the first show I had done where I was the lead of the show, and it was during that time where I pushed myself to become the hard worker that I am today. It takes a huge time commitment to get really good at anything and ever since that production of PASSING STRANGE that I did at Howard University, it taught me that the best results only come from hard work. So I can definitely say that PASSING STRANGE has huge influences on the performing artist that I am today.

The Temptations MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

The Temptations
MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour
(c) Joan Marcus, 2014

MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL makes it clear that the road to success isn’t always smooth. What’s your funniest audition story throughout your career as an actor?

Actually, I’ve got one even better for you! How about funniest bloopers I’ve experienced on stage? Great. As a swing, I am responsible for knowing eight different guys in the ensemble’s parts. That’s a lot of information, right? One week in particular, I was having a very busy week and had already been on for three different parts that week. One scene in particular came up, and instead of saying the line I was supposed to say, I repeated the line I heard before me and completely blanked on what the actual line was, so I just stopped talking. Let’s just say it was very difficult for not only me, but my cast mates on stage with me, to keep a straight face the rest of the scene. I’ve got a ton of stage blooper stories!

You’ve spent a lot of time rehearsing with your co-stars in preparation for the upcoming tour. Any pre-show rituals or performance superstitions you’d like to share with us?

Before every show, I like to take five or 10 minutes on stage before the show starts to warm up physically and vocally. While I’m warming up, I like to listen to the theatre fill with people from behind the curtain. I can literally feel their excitement from behind the curtain sometimes. Then I join the prayer circle that a few cast members gather for, and it’s show time!

On a final note, the national tour of MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL will be traveling across the country for a full year. Any plans for the future

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye & Cast MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2014

Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye & Cast
MoTOWN THE MUSICAL First National Tour
(c) Joan Marcus, 2014

after the show wraps up? Where should we be looking to see you next?

For the moment, I’m just enjoying my time on the road, seeing the country and doing what I love to do! I definitely see myself on the Broadway stage once this amazing time on the road ends!

All photos are courtesy of Broadway Atlanta and used with permission.

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Kool Kat of the Week: High and Loud: Tenor Rob Evan Helps Put the Classic into Classic Rock with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Posted on: May 8th, 2014 By:

Rob Evan. Photo courtesy of Ron Evan and ASO.

This week’s Kool Kat is Rob Evan, a Georgia native who’s teamed up with vocalists Micah Wilshire and Shem von Shroeck as The Rock Tenors. Hear them mash up the worlds of rock, country, Broadway and opera with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on Fri. May 9 and Sat. May 10.  

As a vocalist and recording artist, Mr. Evan is a member of the platinum selling rock band, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He’s also rocked Broadway in the original Broadway cast of JEKYLL AND HYDE, playing the title roles for three years and over 600 performances. His credits also include one of our favorite leading roles, Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLESon Broadway and the critically acclaimed National Touring Company.

ATLRetro caught up with Rob to find out more about the Rock Tenors shows, TSO and more!

What’s the secret origin story behind the Rock Tenors?

The three of us were actually separated at birth and raised by different parents. We three were fed daily doses of Classic Rock and inspired by such greats as Freddie Mercury, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant and so on. The ultimate goal was to reunite us as grown men and form the super group, which is now known as THE ROCK TENORS! OK, most of that is NOT true and actually we were brought together by Maestro Michael Krajewski in Calgary about a year and a half ago. This monster was his brain-child.

You meld quite a diverse selection of music for the show. How did you decide on what musical acts and songs to include? Is there a specific criteria for a Rock Tenors song?

The three of us are very different in our vocal styles. Maestro chose material that he thought would highlight and feature what we excel in as vocalists. The criteria for our material, to me, is best described as HIGH and LOUD. All kidding aside, there is really something for everyone in this concert. I promise it’s not a scary “Rock” show. People are loving it both young and old(er).

Do the Rock Tenors always perform with a symphony? What will the ASO contribute?

Yes, this particular show is built for symphonies. To me – and I have performed with most of the major symphonies around the US as well as several internationally – the ASO is one of the best in the biz. They will add a great deal to our performance. It’s a blast to hear 60 pieces jam on your favorite Rock songs.

What’s your personal favorite part of the Rock Tenor performance?

Probably the Rock Tenor Medley we do at the end of the first act. Again, we are very different, BUT when we first sang together in harmony, we realized that it was going to be a great project to work on. The Rock Tenor Medley highlights tunes from The Beatles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Yes, Kansas and Journey. 

Has anything ever surprised you about what resonates with audiences?

I can’t say that much surprises me anymore because I’ve seen so many different reactions having performed for over 20 years. I am convinced though that the Classic Rock genre is slowly making it’s way into not only the symphony world but our everyday lives no matter what age you are. Remember that Mick Jagger is 70! And so are a lot of the Stones fans. 

You’ve been in so many exciting Broadway shows and tours. When you were growing up, what was one Broadway show or role that inspired you? And have you had a chance to perform it?

I have to say that the reason I am doing this for a living is because of LES MISERABLES. I actually saw it at The Fox the first time it came through Atlanta. I was taking my girlfriend out for what I thought was a romantic French dinner and then a French musical. I was blown away and became obsessed. And my full circle is that I played Jean Valjean on Broadway as well as at The Fox.

You did HELLO DOLLY with Madeline Kahn. What role did you play and what was it like to work with her?

Before I got cast in LES MIS and during the time I was still in Atlanta, I auditioned for work at Theater of the Stars. I was in the chorus. Madeline was so lovely and generous to the cast. She would actually do her classic lines for you if you asked, i.e. “I’m So Tired…” from BLAZING SADDLES. She is sorely missed. As well as Theater of the Stars. 

Do you have any exciting Trans-Siberian Orchestra news to share right now?

TSO has been my chance to be a real “rock star.” I have performed in front of millions over the past 10 years that I have been in the band. I also have gold and platinum records on my wall thanks to the band. We are gearing up for both a new album, which I have already laid down my vocals as well as a brand new Winter Tour that begins in November. 

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Photo credit: Jeff Rothman.

What else are you up to right now? What’s next?

I am the busiest I have been in a while. I do a great deal of symphony work in both the Broadway and Rock genres. I am also producing and creating concert projects. Some I am in, some I direct. My “baby” if you will is a show called ROCKTOPIA which should air next spring on PBS. I also have a progressive rock band called Menrva Realm and hope to tour that in Europe soon

Since you’re a Georgia native, is there something special when you get to perform in Atlanta and do you have a favorite thing that you plan to do while you’re here?

I LOVE Atlanta. I actually moved my family from NY to Alpharetta in 2008 hoping to stay. Unfortunately, the nature of my business brought us back to NY only a year and half later. All of my family is based in and around Atlanta and Georgia, so I will get to spend some time with them. They are all coming to see The Rock Tenors. And, I might hit The Varsity. Just sayin’…

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Kool Kat of the Week: Carmie McDonald’s Take on Preserving Georgia’s Historic Theatres, Reviving Communities ‘One Theatre at a Time’ and the Fox Theatre Institute’s Second Annual Theatre Revival Tour

Posted on: Apr 30th, 2014 By:

by Melanie Crew
Contributing Writer

Carmie McDonald, Community Engagement Manager at the Fox Theatre Institute (FTI), an outreach division of Atlanta’s Fabulous FoxTheatre, immerses herself in Georgia’s rich and glorious history of magical movie palaces and theatres along with the communities that have stood by them. What’s even better is that she gets the opportunity to join the communities the FTI has served while celebrating their successes during their free Second Annual Theatre Revival Tour, coming to a theatre near you, May 1 through May 3, 2014!

The Revival Tour will make stops at The President Theatre in nearby Manchester, Ga. on May 1, followed by a stop at Atlanta’s own, The PlazaTheatre, ranked as one of the world’s top 20 movie theatres [Men’sJournal, April 2014] on May 2 and lastly, the tour will come to a halt in Athens, Ga., showcasing The Morton Theatre on May 3! Each stop on the tour includes a community festival, helping raise awareness of the importance of historic preservation and showcasing all three restoration project venues funded by their highly competitive FTI grants. Atlanta’s own legendary blues chanteuse, Francine Reed, will take the stage and woo the crowds at each stop along the way!

Before jumping head first into her dream job, McDonald hailed from Savannah where she earned graduate degrees in Historic Preservation and Architectural History at Savannah College of Art & Design. She worked her preservation magic with the Historic SavannahFoundation and was the perfect candidate for the Community Engagement Manager at the FTI.

The FTI is the Fox Theatre’s way of giving back to the community that rescued it from its near demolition back in the ‘70s. In an effort to draw the public into the realm of its glory days while raising awareness of the importance of historic preservation, the Fox Theatre began hosting their Fox Theatre Tours in the spring of 2013 [Herald-Journal, May 2013]. These 60-minute guided tours expose audiences to the behind-the-scenes details and illustrious history of the extravagant and palace-like venue which remains just as magnificent as it did when their doors opened in 1929. And as an added bonus, you’ll have the opportunity to meet our very own Kool Kat Scott Hardin, projectionist at the Fox Theatre since 1978 [July 2013; see ATLRetro’s Kool Kat feature on Scott Hardin, here].

ATLRetro caught up with Carmie McDonald for a quick interview about the FTI, the importance of historic preservation in Georgia’s communities and her love of the Fabulous Fox Theatre, which excitedly celebrates its 85th birthday this year!

Community Engagement Manager for the Fox Theatre Institute (FTI) sounds like such a cool job! Tell our readers how you landed such an envious gig and what’s your favorite aspect of the job?

I’ve been with the Fox Theatre Institute (FTI) since 2008 and not a day goes by that I don’t pause to think about what a privilege it is to work here. It is rewarding to be part of an organization that has meant so much to the Atlanta community for 85 years. I love seeing someone experience the Fox Theatre for the first time.  You’re never too old to be swept away by the magic of this place!

Has being in the historic preservation field always been a dream of yours? Anything interesting you can tell our readers on what drew you to such a fascinating field?

I’ve always appreciated old buildings and the stories they tell about our past, so historic preservation was a natural fit as a career choice. But, historic preservation is not just a movement about buildings and the past. It is also about the people in the community and the future. I love helping ensure that our historic theatres will be here for future generations to enjoy.

What is the Fox Theatre Institute (FTI) and what does it do for the community? Why do you think it is important to preserve Georgia’s theatres?

The Fox Theatre Institute (FTI) is the community engagement division of the Fox Theatre. We provide support to historic theatres throughout the region in the form of preservation and operations assistance. There are more than 260 historic theatres throughout the state and each one is a significant part of the community it serves. Preserving these theaters is an important part of community-wide revitalization.

What can you tell us about the two restoration projects that were completed this year?  The President Theatre in nearby Manchester and The Plaza Theatre located right here in Atlanta?

The Fox Theatre Institute provided The President Theatre with funding to complete the restoration of their façade, from the marquee to the top of the tower and spire, both being in disrepair for more than thirty years. Through the support of FTI and other granting organizations, this theatre is being restored to its original Art Deco splendor. FTI also provided grant funding for the restoration of The Plaza Theatre’s landmark marquee. The restoration process at The Plaza involved removing rust and repainting the sign to its original colors.  In addition, new LED lighting was added to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly marquee.

And what can you tell us about Athens’ Morton Theatre which received their grant in 2011 and is also spotlighted on this tour?

The Morton Theatre holds a special place in Athens’ history. It was built as a Vaudeville theatre in 1910 by Pink Morton, a prominent African-American businessman. Since then it has served the community as an anchor on Athens’ ‘Hot Corner,’ the historic African-American business district at the intersection of Hull and Washington streets. FTI provided funding for restoration of the theatre’s original wood flooring system in 2011.

How does the FTI choose which theatre receives a grant? Is it a competitive process?

FTI accepts applications from historic theatres that are owned by a public agency or non-profit organization. Applications are reviewed by a panel of arts and preservation professionals. Funding is awarded to theatres that will create significant economic and cultural impact to the communities they serve.

Why do you think it is important to preserve art and culture? What is the goal of the FTI and their desire to, “Revitalize Georgia’s communities, one theatre at a time?”

Arts and culture contribute to Georgia’s communities by creating jobs and providing tax revenue. They are essential to education because they facilitate critical-thinking and communication skills. Furthermore, arts and culture are integral components of vibrant, creative and livable cities. FTI believes that the revitalization of a historic theatre can provide a focal point for the economic and cultural development of a community.

Tell our readers a little bit about the Second Annual Theatre Revival Tour kicking off on May 1, 2014? What sort of exciting things do you have in store for attendees?

FTI will showcase three of its theatre restoration projects during the Second Annual Theatre Revival Tour. The three-day tour, taking place May 1 – 3, aims to raise awareness for each of the historic venues by embracing local community efforts surrounding the preservation of these theatres. Each destination on the Tour will host a community festival, featuring Atlanta resident and legendary blues songstress, Francine Reed.

Tell us a little bit about FTI’s relationship with the celebrated blues chanteuse, Francine Reed and how she was chosen to headline the community festivals attached to the tour.

FTI believes in supporting local talent whenever possible. Whether working with preservation contractors or musicians, FTI strives to partner with people that are connected with their communities. Francine Reed has an amazing voice and a deep connection with the music scene in Atlanta, so selecting her to headline our Theatre Revival Tour was an easy decision!

Anything exciting in the works for future FTI projects?  How about anything new happening with the Fox Theatre Tours you’d like to tell our readers?

Forty years ago, the people of Atlanta rallied to save the Fox Theatre from demolition. Since that time, the Fox Theatre has been deeply committed to giving back to the community that saved us. Be on the lookout for some exciting events during this special anniversary year!

 

 

All photographs are courtesy of the Fox Theatre Institute (unless otherwise noted) and used with permission.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Seventeen Years of Stompin’ and Stammerin’: How Jeff Clark Sold His Soul to Rock and Roll Journalism

Posted on: Nov 19th, 2013 By:

Jeff Clark, Editor/Publisher of Stomp and Stammer, costumed as Alice Cooper for the 2012 L5P Halloween Parade.

Happy Birthday, Stomp and Stammer! There’s no way we’re missing your badass two-day party this weekend at The Earl including Prince Rama headlining on Friday Nov. 22 and legendary soul man Swamp Dogg at the helm on Saturday Nov. 23. Here’s why:

Maybe ATLRetro ought to think of Stomp and Stammer as the competition–and yeah, we’ve been known to sneak more than a peek at their calendar when putting together This Week in Retro Atlanta. But I’d much rather call Atlanta’s independent rock music tabloid an inspiration and Publisher/Editor Jeff Clark a good friend and a kickass music journalist with a no-holds-barred attitude for telling it as he hears it. Sometimes that pisses off folks, sure, but with Jeff’s encyclopedic knowledge of rock from its roots to the present, we think he’s earned the right to call out some pretenders. I’ve joked a few times that I gave Jeff his first big break when I was editing Tuesday Magazine, what the features and entertainment section of Georgia State University‘s student newspaper The Signal was called way back in the 1980s. But I think it was actually my predecessor Brad Hundt. In any case, while I was lucky to have many fine writers back in the day, I stand by the assertion that Jeff was and still is the best.

In any case, Atlanta is damned lucky to have a great free music print tabloid like Stomp and Stammer, especially in this online era. While Jeff has assembled a mighty swell staff over the years, it takes the right pilot and a hefty dose of passion to keep something this awesome going for so many years. If that doesn’t make Jeff a Kool Kat, we don’t know what does, and we’re mighty excited to have the chance to ask him about his own musical roots, how he got into writing, the origin story of Stomp and Stammer, the killer line-up he has booked for The Earl this weekend, and when he plans to throw another of his famous yard sales.

ATLRetro: With your musical knowledge, we wonder if you were listening to a stereo in the womb. Seriously where do your musical roots start? What age and what did you listen to?

Jeff Clark: Hard to remember any specific moment or time, truthfully. I do recall having a little red transistor radio when I was a kid. It was pretty small, about the size of a juice box, and I think it only played AM stations. Back then there was a lot more music on AM than there is today, and I was significantly enthralled by the sounds that were coming out of that thing. I used to carry it around with me all sorts of places, and I think at some point I somehow attached it to my bicycle, probably with tape or rubber bands, so that I would have a radio to listen to while I was zippin’ through the neighborhood doing wheelies.

I used to crudely record songs from the radio onto cassette tapes, and make my own mix tapes that way. Keep in mind that this was early/mid ’70s AM radio, WQXI and stuff, so a good deal of the songs were from cheesy one-hit wonders and such, but to me it was the epitome of cool. I also remember listening to that little radio late one night, in bed, with the volume very low so my parents wouldn’t know I had it on, and you know how on the AM band, especially at night, storms, even at a great distance away, cause interference with muffled crackles and electric frizzle? So “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac came on, and with all the soft crackly static bursts punctuating the verses intermittently, in the dead of night, alone in my room, it was probably the spookiest song I’d ever heard. “Thunder only happens when it’s raining…” To this day, it’s one of my favorite songs.

A few years later, my older brother was going to Georgia Tech and ended up doing some work at WREK, the college station there. So I started listening to WREK simply because he worked there, even though he wasn’t one of the DJs. That was a major revelation, because that station’s always been so adventurously programmed. I heard all sorts of weird, wonderful music, some of which stuck with me and piqued my interest in the underground scene. I specifically remember hearing the Velvet Underground for the first time on WREK and loving it, although I’ve long forgotten which song it was.

Eye Candy, featuring Shonna Tucker (Drive-By Truckers).

Other memories stick out, like seeing bands on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in its early years, when they actually had cool, interesting musical guests. Watching the local TV coverage of the Sex Pistols‘ US debut at the Great Southeast Music Hall. Being introduced to the Ramones by a really cool girl I had a crush on in high school, I have no idea whatever happened to her. Laughing at CREEM magazine. Seeing PiL on AMERICAN BANDSTAND, still one of the weirdest, most anarchic TV appearances by a band I’ve ever seen. The first really big concert I went to was The Who at The Omni. That was 1980, I think. After that it was The Kinks, Dylan, Zappa, all at the Fox, I think. Got a job at Turtle’s Records not too long after high school, and that provided another great avenue to discover new music, and meet fellow fans. By that point I was going to shows at 688, the Agora, the Moonshadow Saloon, etc, all the time, and there ya go.

Did you ever consider being in a band yourself? If yes, what instrument did you play or would you have played?

When I was a kid, like a lot of kids I would fantasize about how cool it would be to be a big rock star in a band that toured the world playing to millions of fans. I had an electric guitar for a while, but never really learned to play it very well at all. I know I should’ve kept at it, but after a certain point I realized I was better suited to channel my deep interest in music in other ways. Besides, I’m pretty certain I would write terrible songs and I’d have to give myself a scathing review, and then I’d let a bitter grudge against myself fester for months upon months until I physically attacked myself in a drunken rage in public one evening. And that would just be embarrassing.

When did you do your band interview, who was the band and when/where was it published? How did it go?

My first band interview was probably not for a publication, but an on-air interview for WRAS when I was attending Georgia State University, late ’80s. But I did lots of interviews for them, and I can’t remember which was the first. My first published interview was for for The Signal, the GSU student newspaper. I started writing for it after I was temporarily canned from 88.5 at some juncture. So my first published interview for The Signal was either Dinosaur Jr (Lou Barlow) or Edie Brickell & New Bohemians (not Edie but their guitar player, can’t remember his name). I hope it was Dinosaur Jr, because that’s at least cool, but then the first band I ever saw play was Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (a terrible, hokey ’70s act) at Six Flags, so I’ve never really had the cool factor in my favor. As an aside, I started both writing and doing radio while at GSU, and I’ve pretty much consistently done both ever since.

Legendary soul man Swamp Dogg headlines Stomp and Stammer 17th Birthday Weekend, Night Two.

Ha, I think the first rock band I ever saw live was Paul Revere and the Raiders at Carowinds. You’ve watched the Atlanta music scene for over two decades now. What local band are you saddest to say had the most potential but never made it out of here?

There have been lots of them! For a long time, no one paid much attention to Atlanta bands. Like, on a national scale. In the ’80s Atlanta was overlooked because there was so much attention paid to Athens, and in the 1990s, the rap/urban thing started getting huge with So So Def and LaFace and all their acts, so that sort of became known as “the Atlanta sound.” You had exceptions, for sure, like the Georgia Satellites and Indigo Girls and whatnot, but I tended to prefer the more offbeat ensembles. Things like Opal Foxx Quartet, Smoke, Dirt, Magic Bone, King-Kill/33, these were all amazing bands in their own way, but I wouldn’t say that any of them were really destined for mainstream acceptance. Interestingly, in some circles Benjamin (Smoke, OFQ) has posthumously become a small scale celebrity. I mean, there was a multimedia dance performance in New York recently based loosely on his life, featuring Smoke songs. That, to me, is rather bizarre.

These days, with the major label system barely a factor as far as signing new talent, especially in the rock realm, most bands aspire to getting attention from Merge or Vice Records or In the Red or other established indies, if they have any label aspirations at all. Often a band can cultivate a solid following by releasing music themselves, putting it online, using social networking, blogs and word of mouth and touring with other likeminded bands that already have a dedicated fan base. It seems like the potential rewards are far less than they once were, but the ability to make a living playing music is actually more acheivable if a band is good, smart and works hard.

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires will be be backing up Swamp Dogg on Saturday Night. Photo credit: Barry Breicheisen.

Anyway, back to your question. In the past couple of years, I thought both Knaves Grave and Ghost Bikini were amazing bands that certainly had the talent and potential to break out of Atlanta, at least on the indie label, fill-a-small-club scale if not greater. Both of them broke up a few years after forming. That sort of thing happens everywhere in every city’s scene. It’s disappointing, but what can you do? Bands are often volatile, it’s like a three or four or five-way marriage, and in many cases the personalities aren’t the most mature.

Before Stomp and Stammer, you were writing for multiple news venues, including national outlets like Details? Why did you decide to devote your energies to creating a damned fine local music zine instead?

I think it’s probably because it gives me the freedom to do what I want. I wrote pieces for a few national publications – Details, Raygun, Alternative Press, a few others. That was cool, but I really get more personal satisfaction doing the stupid stuff I do with S&S. That’s probably crazy, I suppose. Also, there aren’t that many national magazines covering good music anymore (meaning, music that interests me) in the print world, and at this point I’d probably make less money doing that anyway. Having S&S gives me an anchor that I know will be there month to month, and I don’t have to keep pitching stories as a freelancer to editors that don’t give a shit about Kid Congo or whoever I’m inspired to write about that day.

Also, for the most part, I hate writing. I do it because I can, and I’m not bad at it, and I’m writing about things that interest me. But most times I’d rather just be able to enjoy music without having to think about it. On the other hand, I have a lot of strong opinions (who knew?) and writing certainly allows an outlet for them. And that’s another thing – I don’t know of a national publication that would let me say some of the things I say. Everyone’s so fucking afraid of offending somebody.

Prince Rama headlines Friday night of Stomp and Stammer's 17th Birthday Weekend.

How did Stomp and Stammer get started? It must have been challenging paying print costs in the beginning, but then you already had a long rolodex of contacts in the music industry and local scene to hit up for advertising.

My friend Steve Pilon started it with me in 1996. Both of us were working at 99X at the time, and we were sort of in charge of putting together this little free monthly music magazine they did for a while to promote the station and the music they played. In retrospect, from 99X’s perspective it was a mistake to put me in charge of such a thing. They did it because I’d been writing for Creative Loafing for several years; therefore, in their minds, I knew how to put together a free magazine. I had no idea what I was doing. Shortly after 99Xpress started in early 1995 I got Steve the job of doing the layout for it. He and his wife had a record label at the time called Long Play Records, they put out Smoke, Opal Foxx Quartet, Big Fish Ensemble, a few other acts, and Steve did the design work for the CDs. Anyway, basically we used that year to experiment and put all sorts of silly things in the 99X magazine, some of which included mocking some of the acts they were playing, which was clearly a mistake and I’m sure ultimately contributed to my dismissal from the station. But we learned how to plan issues, and layouts, and deal with advertisers, and PR people, distribution locations, etc. We learned how to make a magazine.

So it was Steve’s idea to start Stomp and Stammer. He was the publisher, I was the editor. At first it was just an online zine. This was, I think, April 1996. I guess it was sort of ahead of its time, in that respect, so ahead of its time that we found it incredibly difficult to find anyone willing to pay for advertising in an online-only music magazine. So in November ’96, the first print edition came out. I think it was a mix of Steve’s and my contacts in the local scene as well as national labels that allowed us to have a pretty solid advertising base from the get-go. Steve left the fold a few years later to focus on other, more lucrative endeavors. Delusionally, I opted to stick it out. And while everyone tends to treat me as if I AM Stomp and Stammer, we have many talented writers, designers, photographers, distributors, advertisers, etc contributing to every issue, and they deserve a huge chunk of the credit for keeping the operation going.

White Woods is on Stomp and Stammer's Friday night line-up.

Why do you still distribute printed copies of Stomp and Stammer versus going online only? And it’s free, too. Is it challenging staying print in an online world?

As far as getting advertising and paying printing costs, that’s always a challenge. I’ve gone through some extremely lean patches at times. Why do we still distribute printed copies? I guess I’m old fashioned. And I think there’s still a significant part of the population that enjoys picking up such things at the record store, or reading while they eat their burrito, or while they’re at the bar, or taking a crap or whatever. There are certain qualities that printed matter can provide that online cannot. Everyone and their mother has a blog nowadays, and I just don’t know if I’d want S&S to just be another one cluttering up the internets. Instead, we’re killing trees and cluttering up the window ledge at Eats. I’ve found it extremely hard to make any significant advertising profit online, then again printing costs are crazy and keep rising. Is one way better or worse? I don’t know.

You have some pretty killer and also diverse line-ups for both nights of Stomp and Stammer birthday shows. Did you have any particular goals in the kind of music/musicians you wanted to include?

I always want to put on a great show and showcase bands that we’re really digging, especially new local bands. If possible, I also like doing things that are a bit out of the ordinary, like people that have never played Atlanta or if they have, then not in a long time. So that usually entails bringing in acts from out of town. Some years I’ll just stick with local bands to keep costs lower, but this year I decided to go for broke and fly in a few headliners that wouldn’t have played here otherwise, and that I think really need to be seen and experienced. I also don’t like repeating myself, so every year I try to get bands that have never played our birthday shows before. And I like to mix up genres a little bit, not just do the same sort of thing.

Zoners play Friday night. Photo Credit: Bobb Lovett.

Can you tell our readers a bit about the different acts and what makes them special? Anything else you’d like to make sure they know in advance?

Well, as far as the first night (Friday, Nov. 22), Prince Rama are just one of the most creative, fun, strange, fascinating bands I’ve heard or seen in the past few years. They are two sisters in their 20s who grew up in rural Texas and in Florida in a Hare Krishna community, and now they are based in New York. They have really interesting, inventive ideas about music, art, film and fashion, and they combine all of it together with Prince Rama. Their current music is sort of an amalgmation of dance music, psychedelia, pop and various ethnic sounds from cultures the world over. And they are just really cool people.

Zoners are a fairly new Atlanta band on the scene that look like a bunch of misfits tossed together but have a really tight, punchy pop-punk sound. Catchy original songs, and they cover the Dickies and 999, and that works for me! White Woods is Julia Kugel of the Coathangers. She’s put out two White Woods singles on Suicide Squeeze but has never played a White Woods show ’til now. She’s put together a band including Matt from Zoners. I don’t know exactly what it will be like, but I’m certain it will be wonderful.

Sodajerk opens Saturday night of Stomp and Stammer's 17th Birthday Weekend.

The next night, Saturday, Nov. 23, we have Swamp Dogg playing what he says is his first show in Atlanta, even though he recorded and produced at studios in Macon, Muscle Shoals and elsewhere in the South throughout the ’70s. He’s a really great soul singer, but his material is a bit more off-the-wall than most of his peers. He’s a funny, wacky character who says “motherfucker” a lot, has tons of stories to tell about his life, and is enjoying a significant comeback this year with the re-release of much of his back catalog via Alive Naturalsound Records. His backing band will basically be Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, a gritty, raw, powerful, working class outfit based mainly in Birmingham although Lee himself lives in Atlanta. The Glory Fires also recorded for Alive, but I found out Lee was a big Swamp Dogg fan after he and the Glory Fires recorded a version of “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” probably Swamp’s best known song. So a few issues back, I had Lee interview Swamp for S&S, and that turned out so well I thought it’d be cool to take it one step further and have his band and Swamp Dogg collaborate on some shows. They’re also playing together in Athens at the 40 Watt the night before our show.

Speaking of Athens, the Drive-By Truckers are certainly one of Athens’ more popular bands of the past decade-plus, and that’s where Shonna Tucker cut her chops for many years. Now she’s doing her own thing with her band Eye Candy, featuring fellow ex-DBTer John Neff and other longtime Athens players. They have a debut album just out called A TELL ALL, which to my ears combines the sound of prime Muscle Shoals, classic Nashville country and ’70s AM radio playlists. I’m very pleased to have them on our bill this night. Opening the show will be Sodajerk, an Atlanta four-piece who haven’t been playing much lately so I was happy to find out they could do the show. They specialize in loud, crunchy, concise redneck rock ‘n’ roll, perfect for fist-pumping and PBR-pounding.

Jeff Clark (center) channels SCARY MONSTERS era Bowie for the 2013 L5P Halloween Parade.

I honestly think these are really strong lineups, and even though they may not be household names, I stand behind every one of these bands and I guarantee these shows are gonna be a blast. I hope you and your readers come out and make party with us!

Finally, we’ve gotta ask, when is your next yard sale?

Next spring. April. Hopefully on one of the first beautiful Atlanta springtime Saturdays of the season.

Creative Loafing just ran a nice little piece on Jeff, too. Check it out here

All photos are courtesy of Stomp and Stammer and for promotional use only.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Where is Love and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA? Scott Hardin Finds Both as Projectionist for the Fabulous Fox Theatre

Posted on: Jul 26th, 2013 By:

Fox Theatre Projectionist Scott Hardin with an original 1929 projector.

By Gretchen Jacobsen
Contributing Writer

While The Fabulous Fox Theatre was not actually conceived as a movie house (it was originally intended to be the headquarters for the Shriners’ organization) and it amazingly almost faced the wrecking ball in the 1970s, its history as the Southeast’s premiere glittering palace of cinema is firmly entrenched.

While The Fox has been transformed from a movie house to a multipurpose arts venue, its storied past in cinema is kept alive by the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival which kicked off in June. From now through August, The Fox will present seven more features on the biggest screen in Atlanta. Before the movie starts, patrons are treated to a sing-a-long with the “Mighty Mo” organ and a vintage cartoon. This weekend’s features include Quentin Tarantino‘s DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)[Fri. July 26 at 7:30 p.m.], the animated caveman comedy THE CROODS (2013) [Sat. July 27 at 2 p.m.] and a new digital version of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) [Sun. July 28 at 4 p.m.]as well as the official Sing-a-Long version of the John Travolta-Olivia Netwon-John ’50s-themed high school movie musical GREASE (1978), which is not part of the official series.

Only in July, the Fox Theater also will present special movie tours before this weekend’s Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival screenings. These tours will take you to the projection booth, screening room, two star dressing rooms and the stage while learning about the history of the movie palace and Mr. William Fox‘s innovations. The Fox also offers behind-the-scenes hour-long tours year-round.

Making this all possible, in a sense, is our Kool Kat of the Week, Scott Hardin. Scott has been the film projectionist at the Fox since 1978, making this his 39th year in the projection booth. We recently caught up with Scott to talk about film, history, the new tours and his own beginnings in “showbiz.”

ATLRetro: How did you become a film projectionist? 

Scott Hardin: I was too old to pretend I was Zorro anymore, even though my grandmother made me a wonderful cape that I got a lot of mileage out of. That, and a friend of mine I had met when he was working for Theater of the Stars – while I was a 14-year-old kid in THE SOUND OF MUSIC – had later joined the projectionists’ union and thought I might like to train to be one, too, given our past “showbiz” affiliations. He was a great friend named Jeb Stewart, who had actually sung on Broadway in the chorus of various shows. My biggest claim to fame had been playing the role of OLIVER at 12 years of age in the summer production at Theater Under the Stars, which was then outdoors at Chastain Park Amphitheater. What does that have to do with your question?  Not a thing, but I can still sing “Where is Love?” for you if you’d like.  Jeb Stewart later became the Business Agent of the Projectionist’s Union and sent me to help with the Fox projector installation those many years ago.

The auditorium and stage of the Fox Theatre. Photo credit: Yukari Umekawa.

When did you start at The Fox? What was the Fox like at that time?

I started in the spring of 1978 helping with the installation of projectors that had been brought over from the Loew’s Grand Theatre [Ed. note: another Atlanta movie palace which had been the site of the world premiere of GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) and tragically was destroyed by fire that year].  I was a young movie projectionist with four years of experience at the time and was sent to fill in for an older projectionist who had to go deal with personal issues for a few days. I remember carrying some of my dad’s tools with me to the job in a Kroger sack. I told them “Don’t worry, I’ll only be here for a few days.”  Well, that was 35 years ago and the other guy’s never returned.  I’m pretty sure he’s not coming back.

The doors to the theatre were locked with chains when I arrived. I was told to knock loudly on the door and ask for Joe Patten. After banging the arcade door as loudly as I could, a young receptionist came over to unlock the door. I told her I was there to work with Joe Patten on the movie projectors, and she just turned around and yelled as loudly as she could towards the auditorium:  “JOE!!! …JOE PATTEN!!!”  (This was before they had walkie-talkies to communicate with.) After no one answered she said, “well, he’s probably backstage.  Just wander back there and see if you can find him.” (Ed: Joe served as The Fox’s technical director from 1974 to 2004. He was granted a lifetime rent free lease in the 1970s and still lives in an apartment at The Fox.)

Scott Hardin with the new digital projection system.

Is there a film you projected at The Fox that you think was terribly overrated? 

I think the film OLIVER [1968] was overrated because I wasn’t in it.

What about underrated?

THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (2001) was terribly underrated.  How can you get more poignant than that?

One of the exciting films of this year’s Coca-Cola Film Festival is a new digital print of David Lean’s masterpiece LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. What can viewers expect out of this release?

They will see a beautiful rendition of the original negative of the 70mm film print, this time shown in Digital Cinema with no fading of color, no scratches, no splices, no interruptions of sound.  They can also expect camels.

Another film on the docket is the sing-a-long version of GREASE. Will you be singing along with the audience?

I’ll be sitting in a seat in the balcony using a remote volume fader to turn the sound levels up and down while following a script that has my sound cues in it.  I’ll be singing loudly at the same time too, except I’ll be singing “Where Is Love?”

Sing-a-Long Grease at Prince Charles Theatre, Leicester Square. Photo courtesy of Fox Theatre.

Before this weekend’s screenings, moviegoers can book special Movie Tours at The Fox. What’s your favorite “secret” place people will see on the tour?

My office door backstage that has my name and the word “Propmaster” above it.  It’s my secret, because even though I do double duty as the Props Department Head, I’m not really a “master” at it – I barely have a green belt – but if somebody paints “master” above your name, you have to keep up appearances.

Will you be in the projection room during the tours?

Yes, in all probability, along with my assistant Mike.

How has The Fox changed over your 35 years?

There have been so many changes it’s hard to enumerate them all. There’s a general trend in technology from analog to digital, and from simple to complex. I’ve also noticed people I’ve worked with for years gradually start to look older and wonder why I still look 28.

What do you think about the change in film from celluloid to digital? Is projection easier? More difficult?

Digital Cinema projection is easier because you don’t have to inspect and repair each frame of film by hand, and it looks and sounds great when everything works. However, you’re relying on computers to always work perfectly, which everyone knows is fraught with folly, and [that] will make it less reliable than film in the long run, in my opinion.

The original 1929 projectors at the Fox Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Fox Theatre.

Finally, which film have you projected the most? And how many times?

I have projected GONE WITH THE WIND on 11 different occasions in my 35 years at the Fox. One time in 1989 was for a 50th anniversary re-premiere with some of the surviving cast members on the stage. The most prominent was Butterfly McQueen, who played Prissy. My friend Jeb Stewart, who was responsible for first sending me to the Fox, helped me project the movie that night.

This Weekend’s Movie Details:

DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012); Dir. Quentin Tarantino; Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson; Friday, July 26 @ 7:30 PM; Fox Theatre; Tickets here; Trailer here.

GREASE SING-A-LONG (1978); Dir. Randal Kleiser; Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing; Saturday, July 27 @ 7:30 PM; Fox Theatre; Tickets here; Trailer here.

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1963); Dir. David Lean; Starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn; Sunday, July 28 @ 4:00 PM; Fox Theatre; Tickets here; Trailer here.

Gretchen Jacobsen is freelance producer, writer, costumer and film school graduate. She is also widely know by her Steampunk nom de internet, Wilhelmina Frame, and serves as the Editrix de Mode for the website Steampunk Chronicle.

 

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