Just another reason Atlanta has become Halloween-Town, USA is the Rock and Roll Monster Bash Sun. June 2 at the Starlight Six Drive-In. Hosted by the Silver Scream Spookshow‘s Professor Morte, the fiendishly fun festival of macabre music and movies is now in its 11th year. Highlights include MONSTROSITY CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING, live music by six bands, a souped-up hearse show, and two classic horror features in 35 mm majesty, THE DEVIL’S RAIN (1975), starring William Shatner, Ernest Borgnine and John Travolta, as well as Sam Raimi‘s EVIL DEAD 2 (1987), starring Bruce Campbell‘s chin and a chainsaw. [Read our Retro Reviews for THE DEVIL’s RAIN here and EVIL DEAD 2 here].
Another big reason to come is a vicious vendors market, featuring a wide variety of cool monster-themed and Retro-inspired merchandise from vintage cult movie ephemera to vintage clothes, Gothic jewelry to BBQ and booze. One of our favorite discoveries last year was artist Jeff Riggan, who had just moved himself and his Monster Art Studio up to Atlanta from Florida. We’ve been running into him at various street festival art markets, and his work has never ceased to impress us, from stuffed sideshow freaks Slugmo and Squidboy to gigantic tiki/tropical-themed works or a mega-painting of Lux Interior of The Cramps!
A professional artist for nearly 30 years, Jeff has painted approximately 30 murals for Orlando-based Tijuana Flats Tex-Mex restaurants, as well as created sets, sculptures, murals and large scale artwork for the Universal theme parks, Six Flags, WonderWorks, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and more. He and his work has been featured in many publications, local and national news, as well as several television shows.
Needless to say, Jeff’s tent will be one of our first stops at the Bash this year, but ATLRetro also is horrifically happy to report that’s just one of his nefarious plots to do his part in making Atlanta the official monster capital of America!
ATLRetro: You’ve got some big plans for this year’s Rock N Roll Monster Bash, such as a scarily special photo op, I hear! What can you reveal in advance without giving away any spoilers?
Jeff Riggan: There will be blood.
As I recall, last year was either your first Monster Bash and you were pretty excited about being part of it. What’s your personal favorite thing about Monster Bash and why it’s a not-to-be-missed Atlanta event?
Last year Monster Bash was our first festival in Atlanta, and it opened the doors for me. Monster Bash is a great venue for people with a freaky passion for art, music, classic horror movies.
Who was your first favorite monster growing up and why?
I worked in the theme park production industry for over 15 years, which was an amazing experience. I would have to say the most fun I had was in my own backyard, so to speak, painting murals for a local co-op in Florida, all over the outside of their buildings. They let me have the freedom to express myself. One of my most favorite was painting a three-story high Great Dane. I also enjoyed traveling from the Florida Panhandle to Chicago painting murals for a corporate restaurant – I was given free reign to paint whatever I wanted.
In addition to monsters and murals, you paint music-inspired art such as your recent Cramps and tiki-stuff. How do you describe your art and what are the limits of what you enjoy creating?
I listened to music before I began painting, it was a creative outlet for me until I discovered I was an artist. It’s a tangible way for me to express myself. They are intertwined, art and music. Lux Interior, Unknown Hinson, Hunter S. Thompson – in my own interpretive way.
You used to live in Florida. What brought you to Atlanta and when exactly did you move up here?
I came here as a leap of faith in May 2012. Monster Bash was our very first show here in ATL , so [I and my wife Emily] have been here for one year! It was an immediate overwhelming sense of belonging – everyone we met said “Welcome to Atlanta.” True Southern Hospitality!
You seem like the kind of guy who must have an amazing studio. Can you describe it and what you keep around to inspire you?
Eyeballs, skulls, torsos, “souvenirs” from dumpster diving and exploring old buildings, machine parts, trailers, bicycles – Fred G. Sanford would be envious!
Didn’t you some movie work here lately?
I just finished working on THE CIRCLE, an independent horror film, with Beth Marshall, Tripp Rhame, Ben Jacoby and Tom Hamilton. Forrest Hill and I built props, special effects, and build the sets We worked out at the old prison farm on Key Road, near the Starlight Drive-In.
What else are you up to right now, and what’s the next event at which you’ll be exhibiting/selling your work?
A featured spread in Stuffed Magazine with my felted circus freak creatures – Slugmo and Squidboy. We’ll be at the Strut [Sept. 21] in East Atlanta and then…..who knows! My sets/booths are becoming more and more elaborate, and I am always adding new stuff.
What question do you wish someone would ask you but they never do? And what is the answer?
Hey, can we pay you for your ideas, you just create stuff? The answer is YES!
The 11th annual Rock and Roll Monster Bash kicks off at 10 a.m. Sunday June 2 and runs all day and night at the Starlight Six Drive-In. Get their early to stake out the best parking spots. Bands include Alice Cooper tribute group Black Juju, Baby Baby, a reunion of The Butchers, Dracula (singing the hits as only he can!), Spooky Partridge and Metal Gaga (the lovechild of Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden!). Advance tickets are available at http://www.ticketalternative.com.
To purchase artwork year-round or contact Jeff about custom paintings, set design and more, visit Monster Art Studio online.