Daily Agenda - Atlanta Magazine


What are you doing this weekend? July 17-20

Tennis, tomatoes, and a Parisian party

This weekend is all about the art of the throwback. Relive the ’70s with the Doobie Brothers, get your grade school on at Field Day, remember the Civil War at the Atlanta History Center, and unleash your inner child at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Perfectly content with the present? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of other stuff going on too.

The Doobie Brothers
The 1970s flashback at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre will be complete when you hear this: The opening act is Peter Frampton. Thursday, 7 p.m. vzwamp.com

BB&T Atlanta Open
Defending champ and UGA alum John Isner is among the world-ranked players competing at the Atlantic Station tennis tournament. Saturday through July 27. bbtatlantaopen.com

Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival
JCT Kitchen and the Goat Farm Arts Center host this contest in which chefs, mixologists, and farmers vie to invent the tastiest tomato-based creations. Saturday, 1 p.m. killertomatofest.tumblr.com

Phil Ralston
The Atlanta artist, whose paintings and drawings will be on exhibit at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, says his works are improvisations, with each mark on paper or board serving as the “main consideration for what happens next.” Friday through September 12. callanwolde.org

Atlanta Field Day
For those with nostalgia for schoolyard competitions, 50 teams will face off in the Historic Fourth Ward Park in events ranging from the very traditional (tug-of-war) to the less-so (“soggy sweat pants relay”). Saturday, 12 p.m. atlfieldday.com

The Battle of Peachtree Creek
The Atlanta History Center commemorates the 150th anniversary of the battle with cooking demonstrations, performances, music, and more. Saturday, 11 a.m. atlantahistorycenter.com

Bastille Day Festival
Paris on Ponce’s tribute to the French holiday comes a few days late (the official date was Monday), but the promise of a grilled cheese contest, scavenger hunt, burlesque performances, and most importantly, a French bulldog and pug costume contest seems worth the wait. Saturday and Sunday. parisonponce.com

National Ice Cream Day
All visitors to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta get free Blue Bell ice cream on their way out the door. Perfect for people with kids and people who completely forgot they were supposed to babysit their nephew this weekend. Saturday, 11 a.m. childrensmuseumatlanta.org

For more events, check out the July calendar in our Summer Guide.


AJ Ghent Band introduces sacred steel guitar to the masses

As openers for Zac Brown Band, the group showed off the African American gospel style pioneered by Ghent's family

When the bearded white dude introduced himself, AJ Ghent was nonplussed. “I didn’t have a clue who Zac Brown was,” recalls Ghent, whose band was rolling into a midnight set when Grammy winner Brown entered the almost empty Dixie Tavern one evening last summer. After the gig, Ghent and Brown hung out, talking. They didn’t leave the tavern until seven in the morning. “We clicked right away,” says Ghent.

Since then, the AJ Ghent Band has opened for Brown nationwide, introducing audiences to the evolution of “sacred steel,” an African American gospel style pioneered by Ghent’s great-uncle Willie Eason; grandfather Henry Nelson; and father Aubrey Ghent Sr. “They’re like the kings of sacred steel, but I didn’t want to be defined by what they’d done, or be stuck inside the box of a church environment,” says Ghent, twenty-seven, who moved to Atlanta from Florida in 2012, building on a regional following while playing with anomalously influential bandleader Col. Bruce Hampton.

Now, when he isn’t conjuring James Brown on vocals, Ghent makes his custom eight-string steel guitar wail like a spectral woman, often harmonizing with the vocals of his front-line bandmates, wife MarLa Ghent and sister Tiffany Ghent Belle. Will Groth (drums), Seth Watters (bass), and Gary Paulo (rhythm guitar/sax) bring rhythmic funk to the band’s bluesy rock.

The group is at work on a debut album for Brown’s Southern Ground Artists label. “I’d like to create the energy of a live experience with a studio album,” says Ghent, for whom the live experience has changed. “I knew small clubs and pizza joints. Then we played the Georgia Dome with Zac, and it was like adjusting your ears to the sound of a million people screaming.”

This article originally appeared in our July 2014 issue under the headline "From Altar to Arena."

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