This Week in Retro Atlanta March 7-13

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

Monday March 7

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

Tuesday March 8

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

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

Wednesday March 9

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

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

Thursday March 10

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

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

The first annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest kicks off with the Atlanta premiere of award-winning documentary DIRTY MARTINI & THE NEW BURLESQUE, with a Q&A afterwards with director Gary Beeber and Neo-Burlesque Revival superstar Dirty Martini, at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center in Decatur. Be sure to read our fest preview here. Chickens and Pigs play Pho Truc in Clarkston from 8-10 PM. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge.  Breeze Kings and Chicken Shack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

Friday, March 11

Phoenix Flies tours include Piedmont Park Past to Future‘ neo-Gothic Oglethorpe Campus & Museum; Historic Downtown; Hinman Home (1896), now Stonehurst Place Bed & Breakfast, Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, whose beginnings date back to 1848 and cornerstone was laid 1869; Historic Midtown; and the 2nd Friday Art Stroll of Castleberry Hill art galleries.

Jo "Boobs' Weldon is ravishing in red.

Day Two at Southern Fried Burlesque Fest features a Free Range Burlesque show hosted by Mike Geier of KingSized with special guests Dames Aflame. Performers include international stars Dirty Martini and Jo Boobs; legends Tiffany Carter and Gyna Rose Jewel; and regional and local performers including festival organizers Katherine Lashe and Ursula Undress of Syrens of the South.

It’s an all-star night at Star Bar with Drivin’ n Cryin’ lead man Kevn Kinney & the Musical Kings opening for The Baseball Project, featuring REM‘s Pete Buck and Dream Syndicate‘s Steve Wynn. Just down the street, Colin Hay, of ’80s Aussie hit-makers Men at Work, does a solo gig at Variety Playhouse. Serving up jazz with a wide Western swing, The Bonaventure Quartet, featuring Atlanta chanteuse extraordinaire Amy Pike, plays Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX. J.T. Speed serves up Southern soul and blues at Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack.

Saturday March 12

A blockbuster Saturday for Phoenix Flies features a Grant Park Work Day, an open house at L.P. Grant Mansion, one of only two antebellum homes still standing in the city of Atlanta and home to Phoenix Flies sponsor the Atlanta Preservation Center; and tours of Sylvester and Harmony Grove Cemeteries, which date back to the 1800s; Wren’s Nest, a Queen Anne Victorian mansion which was home to author Joel Candler Harris, including storytelling; Fox Theatre; Druid Hills; Center for Puppetry Arts; Historic Downtown; Castleberry Hill; Marcel Breur’s Atlanta Central Library; and Inman Park United Methodist Church, completed in 1898.

Godfather of Atlanta Burlesque Torchy Taboo

See some of the best local, regional and national burlesque performers compete to be queen of the first Southern Fried Burlesque Pageant hosted by Burlesque Mayor of NYC Johnny Porkpie.  Afterwards “Godfather of Atlanta Burlesque” and this week’s Kool Kat Torchy Taboo hosts a Dirty South Showcase featuring ravishing regional stars including local favorites Tupelo Honey and Rosie Palms.

Eighties heart throb Rick Springfield kicks off a series of ’80s rock concerts at Wild Bill’s in Duluth. VIP side stage seats are even available for those who want to relive their teenybopper fantasies of being “Jesse’s Girl.” Get tickets from Ticketmaster or call the Wildline at (678) 473-1000. At Eddie’s Attic, catch CC Booker III featuring Will Scruggs, a SoulJazz tribute to the music of three great artists: Ray Charles, King Curtis, and Booker T and the MGs. Dennis Palmer & Col. Bruce Hampton experiment at the Five SpotJumpin

Rick Springfield live.

Jukes offer up swingin’ blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Joe Alterman Trio jazzes up Jerry Farber’s Side Door. U2 cover band Uno Dos Tres Catorce is one of four bands on the roster at Meehan’s Public House. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Sunday March 13

Southern Fried Burlesque Fest strips down the art of tease with a Legends Panel featuring Gyna Rose Jewel, Tiffany Carter and “Godfather of Atlanta Burlesque” Torchy Taboo from 10 am to noon.


Have a Sunday in the Past with Phoenix Flies. Today’s tours and presentations include Grant Park neighborhood and Grant Park; Callanwolde, a magnificent Gothic-Tudor mansion once home to members of the Candler family who founded the Coca-Cola Company and now a fine arts center (see last week’s Kool Kat piece on ballroom dancer extraordinaire David Spencer who teaches one of many arts classes there); Wren’s Nest, with storytelling; All Saint’s Episcopal Church, a 1906 Victorian-Gothic building with Tiffany windows; Georgia Tech by the Georgia Tech Living History Program; Stonehenge Mansion & Sanctuary, a Gothic mansion in Druid Hills built as a residence but now houses St. John’s Lutheran Church; and Castleberry Hill.


Good grief, CB’s an adolescent now, his little sister’s a goth, his ex-girlfriend’s in a mental hospital for setting too many fires, his friends are all drunk, and when his dog dies from rabies after killing a “little yellow bird,” he starts to question the existence of an afterlife. That’s the wacked-out premise of DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD, a black comedy inspired by the popular PEANUTS comic strip and performed by the new Fabrefaction Theatre Company, which runs through March 13.

KOOL KAT Emily Yetter stars as a precocious, politically incorrect Tinkerbell in J.M. BARRIE’S PETER PAN under the big tent at Pemberton Place, next to the World of Coca-Cola.  Performances have been extended through April 10.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died in 1901, but it’s not a stretch to say that his vibrant posters and prints of showgirls, nightclub stars and the café culture influenced the 20th century romantic view of Paris and still inspire today’s burlesque performers. The High Museum of Art’sdynamic new special exhibition, TOULOUSE-LAUTREC AND FRIENDS: THE IRENE AND HOWARD STEIN COLLECTION, runs through May 1. Also at the High through May 29 is the MOMA-organized HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE MODERN CENTURY, another blockbuster exhibit showcasing a photographer and photojournalist who captured on film many of the seminal moments  of the 20th century from World War II to the assassination of Ghandi, China’s cultural revolution to civil rights and consumer culture in America.

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


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