For Atlanta fans of Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone’s Tony Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon, this week’s ice capades have proven scarier than the show’s “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” number. With today’s temps promising to melt the last of the ice, the most-anticipated show of the current Broadway in Atlanta season at the Fox Theatre will — fingers crossed — finally get on stage tonight at 7:30 after the show’s producers scrapped Tuesday’s opening night and Wednesday’s media night performances. To accommodate things, producers have added an additional Monday 7 p.m. performance of the show, which, in turn, has snowballed into another headache. The Book of Mormon cast had set aside Monday night Feb. 3 (the show’s one dark night) to contribute their time and talent to Crush: A Valentine to the 90s, a benefit cabaret to raise money for the Atlanta meals on wheels nonprofit Open Hand and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at the Woodruff Arts Center. The cabaret has now been cancelled and organizer Kevin Ireland says cabaret ticket holders will be contacted beginning today.
After WABE-FM reporter and weekend anchor Jim Burress finished grabbing sound for Stuck in The Bluff: AIDS, Heroin and One Group’s Illegal Quest to Save Lives, a 30-minute documentary that airs tonight, he drove home, crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling for hours. “I could not wrap my head around everything that I saw,” he recalls of his day chronicling the work of the nonprofit Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition’s needle exchange program. “There’s the drug use and the drug sales, the nonprofit doing this work and the neighborhood itself. Spending time there forces you to ask: ‘Is this a forgotten land? Are these people basically being sentenced to a neighborhood like this because that’s the easiest solution?’ No matter what side of this issue you fall on, you’re going to be challenged as a listener hearing the stories of these people. This is a deep, complex and troubling issue.”
Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell began his music career as a tagalong kid brother on his older sister’s date to a Ray Charles gig in Tuscaloosa in 1965. “I was 13 and my parents had something else going on that night,” Leavell recalled to Atlanta magazine this week from his 2500-acre tree farm in Macon. “So they said, ‘Why don’t you take Chuck with you?’ She graciously said yes. I was already playing music, learning piano and guitar. I was very interested in music. But I had never seen anything that powerful. I mean, Ray Charles is Ray Charles but then he had [David] Fathead Newman on sax, the Raelettes were singing. The band was just so tight. I walked away that night knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life. If I could be in a band that was anything near that good and that powerful and that moving, that’s what I wanted to do. It was life changing.”
In a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon, Stomp and Stammer magazine publisher and editor Jeff Clark apologized for the "crude, hurtful, disrespectful and insensitive" comments he made about Ria's Bluebird owner Ria Pell in the January issue of the music 'zine. The longtime music critic added: "I genuinely liked Ria and whether she liked me or not, she was always friendly to me and I, in no way, meant to demean her life or the impact she made."
On a day with a -5 wind chill, the temperature throughout the city managed to plunge even further south on Tuesday once Atlantans got a look at the January issue of Stomp and Stammer magazine. The 17-year-old monthly ‘zine published and edited by veteran Atlanta writer Jeff Clark, is a self-described hodgepodge of “news, music, noise, opinion and garbage.” Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr posts, friends, family and fans of Atlanta chef and restaurant owner Ria Pell are using the latter term to describe Clark’s 2013 In Review wrap up in the new issue.
Before he headed to the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center to begin his second term Monday, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed paid an early morning visit to Rick’s Barber & Beauty to get his ears adjusted. Owner Rick Walker doesn’t normally work on Mondays but he opened up his shop on Campbellton Road and Ben Hill early to accommodate one of his oldest customers. It’s become a tradition, after all. Four years ago, Reed paid Walker a visit before taking the oath of office to become Atlanta’s 59th mayor. “We joked that it was an election-winning haircut,” recalls Walker. But four years ago, Reed didn’t have a Facebook page with 26,476 followers. After Reed posted about his cut Monday, Walker’s quiet day off quickly became a memory.
Throughout its storied 58-year history, three things have remained constant at Atlanta’s politico watering hole Manuel’s Tavern. The city’s scribblers can always score a scoop if you wait around long enough. The tavern’s telepathic bartenders know you want another drink before you do. And at the end of the evening, your clothes are a walking billboard for Lucky Strikes.
Six months before his 1980 assassination, John Lennon took his four-year-old son Sean on vacation to Bermuda while wife Yoko Ono ran the family business back home in New York. For nearly five years, Lennon’s guitar had hung, unstrummed, on a wall above the couple’s bed. He canceled his subscription to Billboard, learned how to bake bread, and became a househusband and stay-at-home dad for Sean.
The wooded pocket park with a picturesque downtown skyline view has been transformed into District 2’s latest amenity, an off-leash dog park with designated areas for small and large dogs—the first such facility in downtown Atlanta.
This may be the first time the Variety Playhouse has intentionally booked a riot into the historic Little Five Points theater. Expect the spirit of Ria’s Bluebird Café owner and chef Ria Pell to preside over (and perhaps slam dance down front) at tonight’s It’s a Ria Riot!: Queers, Punks, Eats, DJs — A Celebration and Tribute to Our Friend Ria Pell benefit concert. After all, if there was one thing the activist chef loved as much as brisket for breakfast, it was supporting Atlanta’s live music scene. So tonight, beginning at 7, local bands and musical friends of Pell’s will be performing all of her favorite tunes as a benefit for her friends, family and business, all affected financially by Pell’s unexpected death last month at age 44.