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Saturday I was recovered from the sinus infection enough to get out
and about. Degenerate SW had expensive tickets to the House of Blues
Lone Star Tour downtown at the Rialto. We arrived a few minutes late
for the 7:30 show and had to wait for an usher to seat us - a bad
sign. During a break the usher led us down to our seats. C.J. Chenier
& The Red Hots started up again, pumping out some excellent upbeat
zydeco. We settled in and got a feel for the place - a beautiful
venue with some great acoustics half-filled with Dunwoody's finest.
The sound coming out of the sweaty, smiling guys on stage just didn't
mesh with the scene. There should have been crawfish boiling in the
back. Instead the older couple next to us whipped out their portable
TV to catch the Braves game. There should have been beer bottles
rolling on the dance floor already crowded with folks doing the Cajun
two-step. Instead, a lady across the aisle from us concentrated on
her crocheting! Outside there should have been battered pick-ups
with gun racks. Instead there were pristine SUV's unloading folks
whose last live show was probably the ASO.
Don't get me wrong - it was a nice place and I'm sure those folks
enjoyed the show. But the raucous music might as well have been
pumped out of the speakers of their home stereo in the safety and
seclusion of their living room.
But I tried let the sound take my mind to where it originated and let
the amazing accordion playing of Mr. Chenier put a smile on my face.
Then all of the sudden he was saying it was their last number. I
thought we must've been REALLY late, only to find out we were maybe
20 minutes late, totalling for about a 30 minute set.
SW paid $35 each for the tickets.
But I figured it was just the opening act and though I liked 'em
there was much much more to come.
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown followed, a man who's been inducted into
the blues, rock and country halls of fame. C.J. joked that the jazz
hall of fame might be next and left the stage to Clarence, who bopped
into a set of slightly bluesy jazz. He can play big band, he can play
blues, he can play rockabilly, he can do it all. He can even play one
hell of a fiddle, which he did for his last number, a zydeco piece
perfect for his smokin' strings. Then it was over, after only a 45
minute set. But he hinted that there would be more to come after The
I slipped out during intermission and got us a water and a coke, for
$5. We'd snuck in a couple of airline sized liquor bottles in case of
We mixed a stiff drink.
Kim Wilson came on, pointed out that Gatemouth had invented a lot of
what The Fabulous Thunderbirds were doing, then started into some
amazing harp playing. The rest of the band was good but didn't match
his ability. Nobody matched his egotistical presence either, but
again I tried to ignore the sights and enjoy the sounds.
For a grand finale they got everyone out on stage for a big all-star
jam, a fun blues number that let each player do their thing in turn.
A few of the more boistrous crowd actually got out of their seats and
danced around. But then I asked my date what time it was on the way
home - 10:20. Less than three hours, counting a 20 minute
intermission and breaks between acts.
But I guess those folks needed to get back to Dunwoody before
downtown got too scary and the babysitter fell asleep.
Meanwhile, degenerate PH sent us a response to last episode:
I say right on Cole!!! The Star Bar is the best club in town, consistently bringing us great music at GREAT PRICES!
THE BIG SCREEN
Degenerate SW sent us this:
For the past couple of weeks I have been racking my brain trying to
remember a film I saw at the Atlanta Film Festival in early 1998.
For some reason this documentary crept back into my conscience and
has been plaguing me because I could not remember the title or the
director. I was about to begin a frustrating search on the Internet,
but I can't even remember the correct name of the film festival I
attended. Despite these memory lapses, it's the subject matter of
the documentary I could never forget, and I've been trying to think
of ways I could see it again or get in touch with the filmmakers. Then one of those weird things that happen in life happened. In
today's Weekend Preview of the AJC, in the newly released movie
section, there's a picture of the very same documentary I have been
vexed by. It has returned to Atlanta. The film is called "Alma" and
focuses on a very dysfunctional family and their tightly woven truths
and lies of interdependence. Recalling my initial viewing, the pace
is slow almost to the point of tedium, the sympathy a bit cajoled and
the comedy a bit brutal. But there is once scene in this haunting
documentary that heaves a sucker punch straight to your trachea. If
it doesn't make you gasp and clutch your throat, then you're a
heartless bastard and nothing will.
"Alma" is playing for one week only at 7 Stages in Little Five
Points. Showtimes are 7:30 and 9:30 nightly with Saturday and Sunday
matinees at 4:30. Admission is $7, but you won't mind the price when
you see it. This is independent documentary cinema at it's most
Then we caught it on Sunday and I gotta agree. It's American Beauty
for the ol' Chevrolet set, as the song goes, and hits close to home
in some places.
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