Walking Tours of Athens and Macon Musical History

In last week’s coverage of the Oxford American’s can’t-miss Georgia Music Issue I intentionally skimmed over two of the state’s most storied musical towns because I wanted to give them a bit more bandwidth (yes, that’s a pun): Athens and Macon. Both cities have walking tours that give music fans insight into the bands, venues and landmarks that figure prominently in local music history.


Dudley Park railroad trestle in Athens

Featured on the back cover of R.E.M.’s 1983 debut album, the Dudley Park railroad trestle is one of the stops on the Athens Music Walking Tour.

The magazine holds a wonderful, wide-ranging 20-page history of Athens’ musical heritage. Art Rosenbaum’s thoughtful reflection on the town’s African-American gospel and work song (that’s where R.E.M. got the idea) traditions are its centerpiece, but most of the section offers vignettes of the ’80s-forward indie rock bands most often associated with the University of Georgia’s home.

Athens is a great walking city, and even in February you’re as likely as not to be greeted with open-jacket weather. A self-guided tour of musical attractions is available on the Athens Welcome Center’s website and allows ample opportunity for detours and freelancing. I never pass through Athens without a stop at The Grit, the homey diner whose breakfast dishes and pastries are so tasty one barely notices they’re meat-free. The C-00 film production company of R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe was housed in the building’s upstairs office, by the way.

Athens institution Wuxtry Records

Athens institution Wuxtry Records celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2016. Photo by Jason Thrasher.

If you prefer more structure, guided versions of the tour will be offered June 24-26 to coincide with the 20th annual AthFest, a weekend-long indoor/outdoor music event. And guided tours are always available for groups of five or more with a few days’ advance notice.


Rock Candy Tours in Macon

Rock, roll and stroll through Macon’s legendary, notorious music history with Rock Candy Tours.

Macon’s musical history runs the gamut from the Allman Brothers to Little Richard to Otis Redding. The first two are subjects of lengthy Oxford American features, and Redding’s emotional (even by his high standards) “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember” graces the 25-track CD that accompanies the issue. Rock Candy Tours offers a series of curated strolls — some running on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, others for custom scheduling. The road may not go on quite forever, but it sure helps to have someone show you the high points. The Big House Museum, the Allman Brothers’ showpiece, is another worthwhile stop.

Because walking works up an appetite (and because I’m always thinking about food), don’t don’t miss a chance to dine at H&H Soul Food, a favorite of the Allmans and other bands from the legendary Capricorn Records label, not to mention countless locals.

glenGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org. You can learn more about the Oxford American’s Georgia Music issue in Glen’s piece at GeorgiaMusic.org.

5 Reasons You Need a PULSE Pass

From January 27-31, 2016, the PULSE Art + Technology Festival will take over Savannah, offering locals and visitors the opportunity to experience the intersection of art and technology at the Jepson Center for the Arts. Here are five reasons why you need to explore the festival.

Video: PomPom Mirror by artist Daniel Rozin will be on display at the PULSE Art + Technology Festival in Savannah.

It’s completely interactive. PULSE invites guests to be a part of the art with interactive exhibitions, artist talks, performances and more.

If you’re GIF-happy there’s no other place you should be. The second annual Savannah International GIF Festival, happening during PULSE, will showcase “the best digital animations set to live music by local performers.”

Video: Recap of the 2015 Savannah International GIF Festival.

You can’t get into the evening festivities without a PULSE Pass, including the GIF Festival. Other evening lecture experiences include a lecture by Featured Artist Daniel Rozin. Medeology Collective, a performance by SCAD alumnus Helado Negro and the opening night festivities.

It’s free! If you’re a member of Telfair Museums, your PULSE Pass is free, getting you admission to the evening sessions. Non-members may purchase passes for $15. Buy your pass online via telfair.org/PULSE or at the Jepson Center front desk starting January 20.

PULSE at the Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah

Experience everything PULSE has to offer at the Jepson Center for the Arts in Savannah.

Everyone gets free admission during the day. Thanks to several sponsors, admission to PULSE during the day is free and open to the public.

Want to experience more arts in Savannah? Check out this guide featuring art-centric destinations and accommodations within the city.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Alpharetta is a Symphony for the Senses

songwriter festival2 lr

ALPHARETTA, just north of Atlanta and easily accessible via the state’s “Hospitality Highway,” entertains, offering a variety of opportunities to savor the sounds of live music. From an intimate setting at The Velvet Note to outdoor ambiance at Matilda’s, to noteworthy performances at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Alpharetta brings new sounds to the suburbs!

Catch a concert at Alpharetta’s impressive 12,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, which hosts famous names throughout the year.

Photo: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Photo: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Get in touch with Southern roots at Matilda’s Music Under the Pines. This outdoor Alpharetta concert venue offers a relaxed alfresco evening of entertainment. Owner M.J. Potter created the music series in 2005, and it has grown over the years to attract some of the best musicians and bands in Atlanta and around the country.

Bring favorite eats, drinks and even Fido along, and kick back while bands pick out bluegrass, country and folk rock tunes. Matilda’s Music Under the Pines offers a downhome experience that will have patrons feeling sweet harmony — only in Alpharetta.

Photo: ABH Photography

Photo: ABH Photography

April through November, head to Chukkar Farm on select Friday and Saturday evenings for live music set against the backdrop of more than 100 acres of rolling landscapes and breathtaking views of the polo field.

Go indoors at The Velvet Note and hear a world-class musical artists in a setting as intimate and comfortable as your own living room.

Photo: The Velvet Note

Photo: The Velvet Note

Seek out this Southern city during the annual Wire and Wood Songwriters Festival each October. Nationally recognized singer-songwriters gather for three days of concerts. Music lovers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that inspired country, rock, blues, Americana and bluegrass songs. Attendees will be able to meet touring veteran songsmiths and local up-and-coming talent as music fills the streets of Alpharetta. More details will be announced at www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com as soon as they are available.

Photo: Occupy My Family

A perfect duet: Pair good eats with sweet beats

Cure cravings at any of Alpharetta’s menu of eateries featuring cuisines that satisfy from homegrown to globally-inspired.
Smokejack lr

Photo: Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau

At Avalon, Oak Steakhouse‘s contemporary dishes like bone-in pork chops over Carolina grits and wild Alaskan salmon will make you say farewell to grandfather’s stuffy steakhouse. This modern take on fine dining also features prime cuts of beef and a handmade cocktail menu to really please your palate. (678) 722-8333

Calamari, crostini and clams, oh my! Colletta offers a modern take on Italian favorites. With unexpected flavors like a peach and gorgonzola pizza or a veal chop over polenta, your taste buds will not be left wanting. Don’t forget to end the night with a cannoli.  (678) 722- 8335

Every other Wednesday these jointly-owned restaurants pair up for an outdoor party in Palmer Plaza. Let artists from near and far serenade you while you kick back with $5 drinks and specialty apps.

Downtown is also where you will find more restaurants with a beat! Your lips will be smackin’ at locally owned Smokejack’s Southern Grill and BBQ. Start off with a tasty basket of fried pickles, move to a pulled pork sandwich or chomp down on smoked, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Relish the finger-lickin’ comfort food while local bands pick out bluegrass and country favorites every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. (770) 410-7611

Music and food culminate in Alpharetta for a symphonic experience for the senses.

South Main Kitchen is known for its farm-to-table fare and unique communal dining experience. Fill your appetite with their fresh ingredient-focused dishes from an ever-changing, American-inspired menu.Top off a cocktail and toast a night out by heading to the rooftop lounge and bar area. Local musicians fill the fall air with sweet sounds most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. (678) 691-4622



Indulgent dishes paired with fresh melodies — Alpharetta feeds both body and soul.

TIP: Call ahead to ensure the restaurant of your choice is featuring live music that night. 

Find everything you need to know about Alpharetta here, including the city’s Don’t Miss Events.

Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.AwesomeAlpharetta.com, 678-297-2811.

© Lauren Boyd Photography 2013 www.LaurenBoydPhotography.com www.Facebook.com/LaurenBoydPhotography

Mom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

Discount on Cave Hikes with the Georgia Girl Guides

caving with the Georgia Girl Guides

Caving with the Georgia Girl Guides

For anyone who likes hiking Georgia’s beautiful trails above the ground, the Georgia Girl Guides are inviting you to enjoy a hike below ground in Northwest Georgia with a 20 percent discount on all winter caving tours from now until the end of February. Just add the promo code WINTER20 when you make your reservation. Because caves are a constant 56 degrees, it doesn’t matter what the weather is outside — you’ll still be able to enjoy your hike inside the cave.

Who exactly are the Georgia Girl Guides?

Georgia Girl Guides: Amy and Christine

Georgia Girl Guides: Amy and Christine

Amy Ward and Christine Rose, both former Georgia State Park employees, started the Georgia Girl Guides in 2011. Both adventure seekers from a young age, they combined their knowledge and experience of the outdoors and enjoy sharing it with guests. Amy is a member of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Search and Rescue team, so feel safe knowing there is no emergency she can’t handle, and Christine holds a Master’s in Science in ecological teaching, which she uses to educate guests as they explore the underworld below ground.

What exactly is a Caving Tour?

It’s like a hike underground, but there are no clear cut paths, and you need to bring your own light. Just like above the ground, you’ll cross rivers, see wildlife (bats), and use some climbing skills. The views include pointy stalactites and stalagmites, as well as unique rock formations. See our post on Field Trips with Sue for 10 more reasons to you’ll love a Georgia Girl Guides Cave Tour.

What gear is needed?

The Georgia Girl Guides supply all the gear you’ll need for your caving tour, including gloves, kneepads and a head lamp. Wear long pants, bring a sweatshirt (56 degrees is a little chilly) and bring a garbage bag to throw it all away at the end. After our trip, it took me two rinses with the hose, three rain showers, one rinse in the sink and two times through the washing machine to get all the mud out. But then, that’s part of what I love about a Georgia Girl Guides tour.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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6 Georgia Festivals You Won’t Want to Miss in 2016

Mark your 2016 calendars and start making plans to attend these Georgia festivals.

parade at the International Cherry Blossom Festival

Don’t miss the parade at the 2016 International Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon.

International Cherry Blossom Festival (Macon) – Party with the blossoms during the annual two-week event in downtown Macon. This festival has something for everyone, including (but definitely not limited to) tours, food, a huge parade, concerts, vendors, sports events, a battle of the bands. The 2016 festival will be held March 17- April 3.

Savannah Irish Festival (Savannah) – Do you love St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah but you’re not up for joining the thousands of roaming street revelers? Head to the city a month in advance for the annual Savannah Irish Festival, a three-day cultural celebration that kicks off the town’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The 2016 festival will be held February 19-21.

Rose Show & Festival (Thomasville) – Celebrating its 95th year in 2016, the Rose Show & Festival features thousands of roses, two parades, live music, a street dance, arts and crafts, festival food and more. The 2016 festival will be held April 21-23.

Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival (Jekyll Island) – Each September Jekyll Island cooks up something good (real, real good if you ask me) for locals and visitors. The annual Shrimp and Grits Festival features a celebration of the favorite dish in all things, including cooking demonstrations, book signings, arts and crafts vendors, a cook-off, kid-friendly entertainment options and shrimp boat tours. The 2016 festival will be held September 16-18.

Arts in the Heart of Augusta (Augusta) – Visual, musical and cultural arts combine for this annual event in downtown Augusta. In addition to arts and crafts vendors selling their goods, the festival features family-friendly fun for youngsters and live music, festival food, street performances, open galleries ready for browsing and plenty of local flavor. A 2016 festival date has not yet been confirmed for this autumn festival.

The Cotton Pickin’ Fair (Gay) – Step back in time to the days when cotton reigned supreme throughout Georgia. This festival focuses on art, antiques, crafts and classic Southern-style live entertainment. A 2016 festival date has not yet been confirmed for this autumn festival.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.