ATLRetro’s Throwback to the 20th Century St. Valentine’s Day Guide – Our Top Picks for Gettin’ Comfy With Cupid, Retro-Style!

Posted on: Feb 10th, 2015 By:

by Melanie Crew
Managing Editor

Hey all you dapper fellas and glitzy gals! Cupid got your tongue? “Be Mine”, vintage-style this year and celebrate all that is vintage and Valentine’s in Retro Atlanta! Get romantic, retro-style and see what we have in store for you on this day of love and seduction!Meehans

1. Red Hot Jazz and Soulful Sensations. Get jazzy with your love tonight at Meehan’s Public House in Sandy Springs, during their 1920s Anti-Prohibition Dinner & Dance, featuring ’20 inspired tapas, cocktails and jazzy tunes by Courtney Renee Jazz!  Or jazz it up during the Emory Jazz Fest’s Big Band Night at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, featuring the Gary Motley Trio and special guest vocalist, Alex Lattimore. Free Admission; performance at 8pm. Get delivered at The Artmore Hotel (Studio Lounge) with a jump on the heartfelt holiday weekend (Feb. 13) with the soulful tunes of The TriggerMan Band, while sippin’ a few sultry cocktails from 6 to 9pm.

2. Blackhearts Unite. It’s a night of murder ballads made popular by Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Nirvana and a whole lotta’ bloody maniacal mayhem at The Earl with their Bloody Valentine’s event, featuring Kool Kat Aileen Loy with Till Someone Loses an Eye; circus shenanigans with The Thimberling Circus and more bloody romantic fun! Doors at 9pm!

2.14Famous3. Oh là là! Hearts A’Blaze Entertainment is smokin’ hot with their Vices & Valentine’s event va-va-vooming it up at the Shakespeare Tavern at 11:30pm, featuring performances by Kool Kat Talloolah Love, Kool Kat Persephone Phoenix, Kool Kat Roula Roulette, Kool Kat Ursula Undress, Candi LeCouer, Ada Manzart, Jack Callico and more! Tickets start at $20. Get a little naughty this Valentine’s Day at Paris On Ponce for their Luscious Love Valentine’s Day event, hosted by The Imperial OPA Circus, featuring 13 tantalizing acts, including tastes of vaudeville, cabaret, burly-Q and circus shenanigans with 2 shows, 8:30pm/10:30pm. $50 general/VIP $175! Or get royally romantic at 2.14STavernJerry Farber’s Side Door with Kitty Love’s Cheeky Belles Burlesque: Dizzy Princess Revue at 9pm! Tease it up with Kool Kat Kitty Love, Angelica Vice, JudyAnne Foxe, Valkyrie Jones, Sainte Lee, Zina Czarina and more! $15 in advance/$20 at the door. The Famous Pub welcomes you to the Spectacular! Come see what’s behind the red curtain at RITUAL’s Moulin Rouge Valentine’s Day Ball featuring the Diamond Dog Dancers and more! $10 gains entrance to this exciting extravaganza starting at 10pm!

Basement4. It’s Boogie Time. Shake your money maker at Kavarna in Decatur at Susi French Connection’s Valentine’s Disco Party at 9pm! Or get your ‘90s club fix at The Basement with their D.A.N.C.E. ’90 Dance Party, Valentine’s Edition that’ll have you dancin’ to your favorite ‘90s club tunes all night!

5. Be My Folksy Valentine. You won’t want to miss some old-time Irish, Scottish and Celtic mythical ballads this day of romance with Emerald Rose’s Valentine’s Day Show, putting a musical spell on you and your lucky lover at the Crimson Moon Café at 8pm.CrimsonMoon

6. Shakespeare In Love & Really Retro. Get romantically retro and take in William Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers and feuding families at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center! The Atlanta Ballet premieres Jean-Christophe Maillot’s alluring yet stripped down production of Romeo et Juliette, hailing all the way from Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo! The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra accompanies the beautifully choreographed masterpiece with Sergei Prokofiev’s provocative and breathtaking score! Tickets start at $20 and performance begins at 8 pm! And for all you knights in shining armor, get really retro and romantic with the royal one in your life and joust on down to Medieval Times for their Valentine’s Day Couples Package! $99 gets you 2 admissions, a photo, Valentine’s scroll, champagne in keepsake glasses, a light up rose and 2 admissions to the dungeon! Get classically romantic at Atlanta Symphony Hall with their “From the Heart” performance, delivering the “most romantic songs that celebrate Valentine’s Day” at 8pm!

2.13ParkTavern7. Groovin’ Up Slowly. Be a smooth operator and sail on down to Park Tavern in Piedmont Park for Valentine’s Day Eve (Feb. 13) with Yacht Rock Schooner! It’ll be an evening of smooth 70s and 80s love songs and a champagne toast, so put on your dancin’ shoes and come aboard! $15 online/$20 at the door. Doors at 7 pm!

8. Lovin’ on the Silver Screen! ‘Here’s looking at you kid!’ Take a peek at love and romance Old Hollywood-style at The Strand Theater as they screen Michael Curtiz’s classic romantic drama, CASABLANCA (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid CasablancaBergman. Enjoy a few cocktails during cocktail hour with your dapper fella or glamorous gal at the Lumiere Lounge, , open from 7-11pm!

Pallookaville9. Cupid’s Culinary Delights! Grab your beloved bestie and even the kiddies for a dinner fit for a king at Pallookaville Fine Foods in Avondale Estates! A king of pop culture and classic monsters, that is! They’ve got monsters and circus freaks and retro-themed food, oh my! So, you won’t want to miss their Valentine’s Day Feast running from Feb. 11 through Feb. 14, which includes the essential dinner of love, a ‘la Lady & The Tramp-style, Linguine & Meatballs and the fixins followed by chocolate-covered strawberries! Adults $18, Kiddies $10! Or hula on over to Trader Vic’s and escape into the island atmosphere with their Tropical Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menu, featuring BBQ Duck Breast Spring Rolls, Asian Chicken Breast Salad, Pan-Seared Yellow Fin Snapper, Which Chocolate Soufflé and more! $60/person.

10. We Goth You Covered. For the darkly romantic, The Oakland Cemetery offers their Love Stories Tour, complete with tales of loves past led by a Victorian-era clad docent. Tours last an hour, just long enough to meet a kindred spirit or even a new love! Get loved to death while traversing the land of passionate souls RLClonging for love. Tours haunt at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm! $10 adults/$5 students! Haunt over to the Red Light Café for their Valloween Costume Cabaret with bloody romantic tunes by Mayhayley’s Grave, belly and sword dances performed by Claire Voyant of The Cabaret Noir Collective and more! Doors at 7pm; $12 advance/$15 door. Or for a Valentine’s Eve-Eve (Feb. 12) event, get your bloody heart ripped out at Mary’s for their ‘Goth Nite St. Valentine’s Massacre’ event! It’ll be a Goth throw down featuring classic Goth rock, synth pop, post-punk and even tunes from the New Romantic era!

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ATLRetro’s Throwback to the 20th Century St. Valentine’s Day Guide – Our Top Picks for Gettin’ Comfy With Cupid, Retro-Style!

Posted on: Feb 11th, 2014 By:

by Melanie Crew
Contributing Writer

Hey all you dapper fellas and glitzy gals! Cupid got your tongue? “Be Mine”, vintage-style this year and celebrate all that is vintage and Valentine’s in Retro Atlanta! Get romantic, retro-style and see what we have in store for you on this day of love and seduction!

1. Red Hot Jazz. Get jazzy with your love tonight at the Crimson Moon, with Atlanta’s Jazz Diva, Tommie Macon (Tommie Macon & The Gentle Men) and her Evening of Jazz, Wine & Roses event! It’ll be a night of romance, tasty libations made to the little god of love, a special Valentine’s Day menu, a rose for your Valentine and sultry jazz standards!  Doors at 8 pm! Or let Kayla Taylor serenade you with her romantic jazz standards while dancing the night away with your sweetie under the dinosaurs sipping a few sexy cocktails at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX!

2. 80s All the Way.  Find your Prince (or Princess) at Vinyl this Valentine’s Day as you rock out with ATL Collective paying homage to Prince and sharing their intimate re-telling of his classic album, ‘1999’! Or rock on over to the Drunken Unicorn for their Valentine’s Formal, featuring live tunes by Smithsonian, a tribute to The Smiths and Kool Kat Joshua Longino with Andrew & the Disapyramids throwing a rockin’ beach party of love!  So, get dolled up, put on your dancin’ shoes and get down with the one who stole your heart! Doors at 9 pm! Or be a smooth operator and sail on down to Park Tavern in Piedmont Park for Lover’s Day with Yacht Rock Schooner! It’ll be an evening of smooth 70s and 80s love songs and a champagne toast, so put on your dancin’ shoes and come aboard! $15 online/$20 at the door. Doors at 7 pm! And for those about to rock, grab the rocker guy or chick in your life and get sinfully mischievous at Hottie Hawgs Smokin’ BBQ this Valentine’s Day with Sin City Atlanta delivering their rockin’ tribute to AC/DC!  

3. Deep Roots.  Get rustic and spend Valentine’s Day ‘in the round’ old-time-style at the Red Light Café, while rockin’ the roots troubadour swagger with Tommy Wommack, David Olney, Adam Klein and the swampy roots n’ blues of David Jacobs-Strain!

4. That’s Why They Call it the Blues.  Valentine’s Day got you down?  A little too jaded for your own good?  Well, jump, jive n’ wail your way to Big Tex for Valentine’s Day with the Tommy Dean TrioIt’ll be a night of blues, swing, jazz and soul standards! It’s a Rat Pack Valentine’s Day, so come on out and dance the night away! Music and dancing begins at 9 pm!

5. Shakespeare In Love & Really Retro.  Get romantically retro and take in William Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers and feuding families at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center! The Atlanta Ballet premieres Jean-Christophe Maillot’s alluring yet stripped down production of Romeo et Juliette, hailing all the way from Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo! The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra accompanies the beautifully choreographed masterpiece with Sergei Prokofiev’s provocative and breathtaking score! Tickets start at $20 and performance begins at 8 pm! And for all you knights in shining armor, get really retro and romantic with the royal one in your life and joust on down to Medieval Times for their Valentine’s Day Couples Package!  $99 gets you 2 admissions, a photo, Valentine’s scroll, champagne in keepsake glasses, a light up rose and 2 admissions to the dungeon!

6. Groovin’ Up Slowly.  Disco on down to Edgewood Avenue for a Valentine boogie with the one you love and your very own Romeo!  DJ Romeo Cologne that is, getting’ groovy at The Music Room on Edgewood Avenue!  Or shake a tail feather and boogie on over to The Artmore Hotel (Studio Lounge) and get groovy with Groove Centric!  $72 will get you the Tastes for Two package, which includes a bottle o’ red, dinner and chocolate truffles!   Or get funky with your Valentine at The Star Bar during their Valentine Daze event with Cousin Dan, xXgLaSsLuShXx and Miss Britta!

7. Lovin’ on the Silver Screen!  ‘Here’s looking at you kid!’ Take a peek at love and romance Old Hollywood-style at The Strand Theater as they screen Michael Curtiz’s classic romantic drama, CASABLANCA (1942), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Enjoy a few cocktails during cocktail hour with your dapper fella or glamorous gal at Rick’s Café Americain, set up in the lobby & lounge, open at 7 pm and throughout the film!

8. Be Mine, Pop Culture-StyleGrab your beloved bestie and even the kiddies for a dinner fit for a king at Pallookaville Fine Foods in Avondale Estates! A king of pop culture and classic monsters, that is! They’ve got monsters and circus freaks and retro-themed food, oh my!  So, you won’t want to miss their Valentine’s Day Feast running through Feb. 16, which includes the essential dinner of love, a ‘la Lady & The Tramp-style, Spaghetti & Meatballs and the fixins followed by chocolate-covered strawberries!  Adults $18, Kiddies $10!

9. We Goth You Covered.  For the darkly romantic, The Oakland Cemetery offers their Love Stories Tour, complete with tales of loves past led by a Victorian-era clad docent.  Tours last an hour, just long enough to meet a kindred spirit or even a new love! Get loved to death while traversing the land of passionate souls longing for love, beginning at 5 pm! $10 adults/$5 students! Or let the blood-letting begin as the Prince of Darkness rocks you while draining your veins at the Dracula: The Rock Opera CD Release Party & Concert with The Little Five Points Rockstar Orchestra, at 7 Stages running through Feb. 15! Or for a Valentine’s Eve (Feb. 13) event, get romantically massacred at  Mary’s for their ‘Goth Nite St. Valentine’s Massacre’ event! It’ll be a Goth throw down featuring classic Goth rock, synth pop, post-punk and even tunes from the New Romantic era!  And, bring a personalized Goth Valentine’s card to score some free swag! And for all you Tim Burton and bleeding heart lovers, get gothic and dress as your favorite Burton character at Jungle Atlanta during their Burton Valentine’s Ball!  It’ll be a night of Burlesque, aerial performances and all things dark and morbidly fantastique! Headlining burlesque performance by Vita DeVoid, dressed as Sally from A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, venders including our swanky BFF artist and vintage vending gal, Jezebel Blue, and so much more! Best costume wins $100! $10 cover before midnight!

10. My Mischievous Valentine!  Get a little naughty this Valentine’s Day with your lovely at Paris On Ponce for their 6th annual Valentine’s Day Show, featuring Burlesque, comedy, female impersonators and a saucy, adult entertainment and atmosphere!  Performances by Raquell Lord, Maya Montana, Coco Couture, Alicia Kelly, Angelica D’Paige, Smoking McQueen, Carmen Corazon and so much more! $45 general. $215 for an up-front for four table including wine/champagne, chocolates and cupcakes!

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Tis The Season for a Love Bite: 10 Tantalizing and Terrifying Reasons to Take Your Valentine to the Atlanta Ballet’s DRACULA

Posted on: Feb 11th, 2013 By:

L-R: Mina (Nadia Mara), Dracula (John Welker) and Lucy (Rachel Van Buskirk) in the Atlanta Ballet's production of Michael Pink's DRACULA. Photo credit: Charlie McCullers.

Last Friday night, ATLRetro had the phantasmagoric pleasure of experiencing the Atlanta Ballet‘s production of Michael Pink’s DRACULA, which plays through Feb. 16 at Cobb Energy Centre. The ballet has now become almost as much of a Valentine’s Day tradition for the company as it’s performances of THE NUTCRACKER are quintessential to an Atlanta Christmas.

Like Seven Stages’ DRACULA: THE ROCK OPERA, (which we reviewed here) this version hues surpisingly close to Stoker’s novel, especially in the first act (Harker’s seduction by Dracula’s three brides on a bed will be familiar to rock opera attendees) and even reinstating the American cowboy character of Quincey, though it keeps the characters in London for the climax. In the Atlanta Ballet’s version, however, Dracula runs a fine line of both sexual predator and charmingly seductive, appropriate for a Valentine’s production of a vampire story. Yes, we admit getting being much more hot and bothered when the Count seduces Mina in an electrifying erotic dance than we ever have been seeing a glittered-up Robert Pattinson sinking his teeth into a perpetually bored Kristen Stewart.

So in celebration of this now-Atlanta tradition, we asked the Atlanta Ballet if it could unbury a few behind-the-scenes secrets…

1. Michael Pink’s DRACULA had its world premiere in September 16, 1996, in Bradford Alhambra, England by the Northern Ballet Theatre in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s novel.

2. Production has been seen by over a half a million people worldwide since the world premiere.

3. Atlanta Ballet presented the North American premiere of DRACULA in 1998, and the production broke Atlanta Ballet box office records. The record was then broken again the following season when the company restaged the work for an encore presentation.

4. Dancers who portray Dracula receive additional pay for performing stunts of extraordinary risk.

Dracula (John Welker) and Jonathan Harker (Brian Wallenberg) in the Atlanta Ballet production of Michael Pink's DRACULA. Photo credit: Charlie McCullers.

5. Dancers in the production wear hand-tied wigs costing over $2,000.

6. It takes at least an hour and a half for the dancer performing Dracula to get in costume and makeup, and at least 15 minutes of work after each performance to remove the makeup and wig.

7. Artistic Director John McFall performed the role of Renfield in the Company’s original production in 1998.

8. David Grill, lighting designer of Michael Pink’s DRACULA, has designed the lighting for numerous Super Bowl halftime shows, including Beyonce‘s performance at this year’s showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.

9. Nick Dudman [blood] is the “drink” of choice for Atlanta Ballet’s Dracula. Dudman Blood was created by costume and special effects director Nick Dudman whose film credits include the HARRY POTTER series, STAR WARS V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, BATMAN, ALIEN 3 and INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE.  It’s apparently the most realistic blood on the market.

10. There are about 40 dancers cast in Atlanta Ballet’s production of Dracula.

BONUS 11: “My favorite scene is the Dracula and Harker part at the end of Act 1,” says Brian Wallenberg, who plays Jonathan Harker in Cast A. “Whether I’m dancing it or not, it’s just one of the best parts of the Ballet. It’s the most fun experience that a character goes through.”

To find out more and purchase tickets to the Atlanta Ballet’s DRACULA, click here.

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Kool Kat of the Week: It Ain’t Rockabilly If You Don’t Have the Right Pair of Shoes; Talking Smart, Sassy and Southern with Miss Mason of Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge

Posted on: Feb 6th, 2013 By:

Every other month for more than five years – that’s half a decade – Atlanta’s Retro hostess with the mostest Mon Cherie gathers her friends and throws a Rockabilly Lounge at The Masquerade. And we’re tickled pink that her Valentine’s Lounge this Saturday Feb. 9 features a bunch of Kool Kat alums. First off, Mon Cherie is one. Then shake rattlin and rollin’ will be one of our favorite Atlanta bands The Stumblers, featuring Kool Kat Keith Martin. The Sweetheart Burlesque Show includes performances by Stormy Knight and the magic of Chad Sanborn, not to mention Scarlett PageHada Pixie, and debuting for the first time anywhere: Sunshine Divine. Wear your jitterbug’ shoes because The Right Reverend Andy will be spinning swing, rockabilly and psychobilly favorites. And that’s not to mention the Ragin’ Raffle and vendors aplenty to help you find that perfect gift for your Retro-lovin’ Valentine. Doors are at 9 p.m. but it’s no exaggeration to say the fun always runs well past midnight, making it just about the best way to get a bang out of 10 bucks.

In the midst of all this Koolness, we realized there’s one kool kitty we hadn’t gotten to profile yet, the Rockabilly Lounge’s gorgeous, charming and dangerously clever emcee, Miss Mason. Not wanting to get stung by Cupid’s arrow in our rear, we decided we’d better remedy that situation right quick.

ATLRetro: Why Miss Mason? 

Miss Mason: It’s my maiden name. Incidentally it’s also the name I was often referred to when I was at trouble at school. Went like this: THEM: “Do you think you’re being funny, Miss Mason?” ME: “I KNOW I’m bein’ funny.”

Miss Mason and the Right Reverend Andy Hawley. Photo credit: Shawn Doughtie.

How did you get the nickname “The Mouth of the South”?

Ha, that one is courtesy of my parents, as I had – have! – the proclivity for talking when I shouldn’t, talking back, talking loud. Seemed a perfect fit for a tag line for a big-mouthed shit-talker!

To us, emceeing seems like an absolute art. How much of what you do is pre-scripted and how much is improvised?

I don’t fancy myself much of an artist. I’m just not afraid of crowds, not afraid to talk in front of one. As for scripting, information about the artists is something I collect so they can get a proper introduction. The artists work very hard at building their brand, and the last thing I want to do is mess that up. Sometimes they have developed intros to use for each performance, but there are plenty of artists who trust me to come up with something silly and fun. As time goes by and we all get to know each other better, the introductions get more and more clever. I rather enjoy it, and I hope it endears the artists to me.  So a little is scripted, but for the most part I just get up there and roll with the punches.

What do you love most about emceeing?

That’s easy: I love to make people laugh.

How did you get your start performing?

A little over five years ago I attended a birthday party for my friend’s son and Mon Cherie was there. She was just about to give birth to Rockabilly Lounge and asked if I’d like to be one of her Burlesque Beauties and give out Jell-O shots. Not long after our first Rockabilly Lounge, Mon Cherie asked if I’d introduce the band. I mentioned that I was surprised she wasn’t doing it on account of her history of being on stage and performing at The Chamber, and she said, “Believe it or not, I’m kinda shy!” – which cracks me up that THE Kitten With A Whip of Atlanta was too shy to say a few words on the mic! She tickles me like that. Anyhow, I did get up and intro the band, and she liked it, so the next time there were band intros, burlesque intros and much more. It was a happy accident. The rest is history.

How did you meet Mon Cherie and how long have you been collaborating with her?

I was introduced to Mon Cherie by Phil Solomon (AntiHeroes, Impotent Sea Snakes) for the first time at The Chamber in the early 90s. She had just come off stage. She was thrilling to watch. And I mean RAWR! We met again maybe a year or so later when she and Philip were touring with Impotent Sea Snakes in Miami. But it wasn’t until six years ago that we became reacquainted at a kid’s birthday party. There we were, grown up. HAHAHAHAHA! I’m kidding. We’re never growing up.

What’s so special about Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge and especially about this month’s Valentine-themed event?

Well, first off, there is something special about a promoter who puts her heart and soul in her work, and that is bound to translate into a great show. And this month’s edition features The Stumblers! Aaaaaand we have fresh meat debuting in the burlesque set! Aaaaaand I’m wearing my favorite red heels! I’m excited. Can we go there now?

What’s the best pair of shoes you’ve bought lately, where did you buy them, and why did you just have to have them?

Oh,man, I’ve been a good girl lately with the shoe shopping, but the last pair I bought are a fierce pair of black leather ankle booties with an architectural heel and a zipper up the back. Once I found them, it was love, and when it’s love I don’t care about the price. They’re absolutely more fetish/rock than they are anything, but I am that girl, too. Sigh, I love shoes. I have a closet full.

Miss Mason shows off her favorite pair of rocket red Betsey Johnson Mary Janes. Photo credit: Shawn Doughtie.

What’s your favorite cocktail and who in Atlanta makes it the best?

Oooooh, my favorite cocktail? That’s like asking which pair of shoes is my favorite pair!!!!  I love so many. Damn. Honestly my favorite cocktail, The Pink Lady, is made by meeeeeeee. It’s Smooth Ambler Spirits Gin and Cherry Limeade. But then I have vodka moods, SoCo moods, and I’m always in the mood for a frosty PBR.

What do you do when you aren’t being the fabulous hostess of Mon Cherie’s Rockabilly Lounge? 

When I’m not on stage, I’m a wife to The Mister and a mom to The Boy – who’s got a big old case of The Show Biz bug! – and puppet to Lily and Ginger, better known as Puggy Goodness, LLC . We love entertaining at Chateau Mason! I love to make a wicked cocktail, bake anything under the sun, make weird ice creams, and especially enjoy creating things with bacon, cayenne, Nutella, and/or bourbon. Ask around.  My skills are that of local legend! I’m a fledgling cyclist. I’ve committed to riding two centuries (that’s 100 miles! eek!) this year. Oh! And sometimes I hoop! I love to hoop!

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Really Retro: Lauda Musicam Treats Couples to Love and Lust Medieval/Renaissance Style

Posted on: Feb 8th, 2012 By:

Joanne Mei plays the recorder and Darryl Payne the flute in Lauda Musicam of Atlanta.

Chances are, if most people have any impression of romantic music in Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque times, it’s either courtesy of a scruffy bard at the Georgia Renaissance Festival or an image of a troubadour standing beneath Juliet’s balcony – the Really Retro version of a mariachi band. However, like the serious and silly love songs of jazz, blues and rock, romantic music was much more diverse and delightful than these stereotypes suggest. Contemporary Romeos and Juliets will have a chance to find out for themselves when local early music ensemble, Lauda Musicam of Atlanta present “Love and Lust: A Valentine’s Day Concert,” this Sat. Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. at Holy Trinity Parish in Decatur.

ATLRetro caught up with Joanne Mei, who plays the recorder in Lauda Musicam; about the 50-member instrumental ensemble of recorders, viols, harpsichord, sackbuts, shawms, harps, crumhorns, cornettos, and percussion, as well as the history and sound of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music; and why this Saturday’s concert will be a Really Retro romantic night to remember.

Any thoughts on the love song in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Were love songs different in an era of arranged marriages and stark class divides? Would a troubadour have sung one of these songs under my balcony window?

The Renaissance was a very romantic time if you weren’t dying of plague. The Catholic Church had a huge influence over the period which led composers to find unusual ways to express themselves. At the time, marriage for the upper classes had little to do with love. Courtly love as interpreted by poets and troubadours emerged as a way for people to express their passion. If you were a medieval noblewoman, you may have had a troubadour singing your virtues. If you were a washer woman, forget about it.

Lauda Musicam of Atlanta.

Tell us why we won’t be bored and why seeing this old music performed live in 2012 is both fun and enjoyable and the perfect way to spend date night with your 21st century Valentine.

If you have never heard early music, as performed on reproductions of period instruments, you are in for a real treat. Take your true love back in time for a unique, romantic evening with Lauda Musicam of Atlanta.

What does Lauda Musicam mean?  

It is a Latin phrase that means “In praise of music.”  Sometimes folks misspell it “Lauda Musicum,” which means “In praise of the musician.”  We certainly intend the former!

For most folks, I’d guess that the three musical periods run together in our minds, but are there distinct difference between each like jazz, blues and rock n roll? Or were there different styles coexisting like today?  

There were absolutely distinct styles and they were just as diverse as today. Unlike today, though, music wasn’t frequently heard in concerts. Rather, music served primarily a social function.  Early musicians often refer to Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque as the three major style periods, but they overlap greatly, and each period is represented very differently from region to region.

Many instruments we consider standard today didn’t exist in those days, like the piano and the guitar. Are these older instruments harder to play or why did they drop out of fashion?

Early instruments are fairly easy to play, but it takes practice to play well. These instruments were eventually replaced by technology – keys and valves made playing louder, higher and faster more of a possibility.

Liz Thomas plays the harp in Lauda Musicam.

Is there any story about how you become interested in/develop a love for medieval, Renaissance and baroque music, and joined Lauda Musicam?  

After earning my PhD and getting a job, I found I had some time on my hands.  One of my coworkers asked if I might like to try the recorder. Recorders are those plastic instruments you see in toy stores that so many grade school kids learn to play as their first instrument. I tried a soprano recorder in 1994 and got hooked!

Can you talk a little bit about the concert on Sat. Feb. 11? What will the group be performing?

LMA will be performing Love Music of the Renaissance at the Holy Trinity Parish in Decatur at 8 p.m.  Performing with LMA will be Uncommon Practice, an a cappella group that sings vocal music before the 18th and 19th centuries. Countertenor Adrin Akins will provide his unique voice to selections while John Maschinot will perform traditional Celtic folk tunes on the bag pipes.

Has Lauda Musicam done any recordings? Or is one planned?

Our performances are usually recorded. The Lauda Musicam of Atlanta website  is under construction but should have recordings available for download soon. Be our friend on Facebook!

What’s next for Lauda Musicam?

Our next two concerts will be geared to families and children. LMA will perform standard early music fare. Music by some of the most well-known composers will make this concert fun for the newbie and the enthusiast alike!  Members will lead a “petting zoo” after the concert for people to see and try instruments and to ask questions.

Join us either on Sunday, May 6  at 3 p.m., at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, [in] Covington. Or Friday, May 18 at 8 p.m. at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church at 1790 Lavista Road.

Robin Prechter, Joanne Mei and Patsy Woods of Lauda Musicam.

Are all Lauda Musicam’s concerts free?  

You can listen to all the hits from the 5th to the 18th centuries for free, but donations are accepted and appreciated.

What’s your day job when you’re not playing with Lauda Musicam, and do you play with any other musical groups?  

By day I manage a laboratory at CDC in Atlanta. I play recorders, Renaissance flute and the occasional percussion instrument. I also play penny whistles and sometimes perform Celtic rock music in pubs.

How do can someone become a member of Lauda Musicam of Atlanta?

Membership is open to amateur and pre-professional musicians with good music reading skills. Please contact [Lauda Musicam Director] Jody Miller at http://www.fippleflute.com/ or recorder96@aol.com.

 

Editor’s Note: Jody Miller also contributed some editing and checks for historical accuracy to this article. All photos courtesy of and copyright Lauda Musicam of Atlanta.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Making Whoopie Pies with Widdi Turner of No Big Whoop Bakery, Just in Time for the Turnin’ Trixx Bake Sale and Valentine’s Day!

Posted on: Feb 8th, 2012 By:

Widdi Turner's whoopie pies make a delicious Valentine's gift.

By Jennifer Belgard
Contributing Editor

Widdi Turner is one of the most talented and busiest gals in the ATL. She’s an actor, producer, crafter, a baton twirling-go-go dancing-performer, and an adventurous baker. She’s a one woman whirlwind taking Atlanta by storm. This month celebrates the one-year anniversary of her No Big Whoop Bakery, and Widdi is taking it to new heights. Her delectable treats are the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day.

Widdi’s homemade Nutella Whoopie Pies are the number-one selling dessert at Wisteria Restaurant in Inman Park.  Her weekly specialty flavors are also available online, or at Casseroles in Morningside.  You can pick up her goodies and many others at the Turnin’ TriXXX Bake Sale Sunday, Feb. 12 at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club in Little 5 Points from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

ATLRetro: Tell me a little about yourself.

Widdi Turner: Well, I do a little this, I do a little that!  I’ve worn a lot of hats in my life, which is probably why I first became an actor – I figured then I could be anything. In addition to acting – my biggest claim to fame would be appearances on GOOD EATS with Alton Brown – I also produce commercials, have my own crafts business [called] widdiwoo; twirl with Turnin’ TriXXXLittle 5 Points’ premier baton twirling troupe!; but mostly these days, I make whoopie pies – lots and lots of whoopie pies.

What led to the creation of No Big Whoop Bakery?

Speaking of Turnin’ TriXXX, we have a semi-annual bake sale at the Euclid Ave Yacht Club. Last year – one year ago this Valentine’s Day, in fact! – I introduced my whoopie pies along with cake pops and macaroons. The whoopie pies were the easiest of the three, so thankfully they were also the most popular!  And literally, after that day, the orders have never stopped coming in.  I had no intention of starting a business. It basically took on a life of its own, and I’m just tagging along for the ride.

Widdi Turner making whoopie pies.

I have about 10 that stay in constant rotation.  I recently cut the list down a little, although there are more flavors that I make if requested.  I do special events such as showers, wedding receptions, birthdays, etc.  I can personalize the wrapper that the treats come in with a special message, or display them unwrapped on platters in a decorative way.  I did one wedding reception where the bride was from Brazil and the groom was from India, so I created a whoopie pie of cardamom pistachio cake with mango buttercream filling.  They were a big hit!

Where do you find your inspiration?

It doesn’t hurt that I’m addicted to Food Network, Cooking Channel and TOP CHEF!  And of course, I could spend days exploring food blogs.  I try to think of foods I enjoy that demand to be recreated in whoopie pie form.  Being half-Asian, I’m familiar with flavors in Asian desserts, so I made a Japanese whoopie pie as a tsunami recovery fundraiser. It was a matcha tea cake with red bean paste buttercream and a swath of chestnut paste.  I called it the “Kibou Cake”; kibou means “hope” in Japanese.  Drinks can also be an inspiration, as the case is with one of my most popular flavors, the Irish Whoopie Bombe (Guinness chocolate cake, Jameson chocolate ganache and Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese filling).

What has been your biggest challenge?

Basically I feel like I’m working 2+ full time jobs as I grow this business but still have to work “the day job.”  And it has grown to the point where I have to take the big leap soon of making it full time, but that takes money.  Right now I’m working on the business plan and fundraising ideas,  Wish me luck!

Widdi Turner's best-selling Nutella Whoopie Pies.

I am the baker at Casseroles in Morningside (1393 North Highland Ave behind Meringue), so they carry the pies, and Wisteria (471 North Highland Ave) carries my pies on their dessert menu. Currently they serve the Nutella Whoopie, and it’s their top selling item.  Did I mention I make my own Nutella?  You can also order from me by checking out my Facebook page and emailing me your order [at] widdi@nobigwhoopbakery.com.

Any specials for Valentine’s Day?

Agh!  Thanks for reminding me!  Well, I’ll be baking something – probably some new items to test out for the bakery – for the Turnin’ TriXXX Bake Sale that will be Sunday, Feb 12 at the Euclid Ave Yacht Club from 2 to 6 p.m.  And my Valentine’s Day specials will be posted on my Facebook page, so check back often!

All photos are courtesy of Widdi Turner and No Big Whoop Bakery!

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