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Instead of mourning after the demise of Churchill Grounds, many of Atlanta's jazz musicians began playing music throughout the city. There are now 10 weekly jam sessions at venues inside the perimeter, placing Atlanta on comparable footing with more jazz-forward cities like Seattle.
“Johnny had a million stories, and he knew a million songs—an endless flow of songs.” Johnny Knapp accompanied artists from Billie Holiday to Tony Bennett to Barbara Streisand. His friendship with Col. Bruce Hampton introduced him to a new audience of Atlanta music lovers. He died in Lawrenceville on November 9 at age 89.
Virginia Schenck has sung for as long as she can remember, but she didn’t pursue performing seriously until 2010. Today Schenck (who goes by her stage name V-A) regularly performs around Atlanta and has released two albums.
Freddy Cole sits at a table in a back corner of Sweet Auburn Seafood restaurant. The linens are crisp, the decor modern: shimmering tile, high-backed benches—all unmarked by smoke or time. This place is a welcome sign of slow resurgence in this historic part of town.
Johnny Knapp is 87, and he feels it. He moves with a walker, his withered legs powered by wiry forearms and large hands that have flown over piano keyboards for 70 years. It’s Tuesday, and his ride is waiting.
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