Life Music in Oakland Cemetery: Tunes from the Tombs

Photo credit: Steve Grundy, Flickr

When you think of fun-filled destinations for a sunny Saturday afternoon, a cemetery probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. Maybe it should. Back at the turn of the 20th century, cemeteries served many of the functions now filled by public parks, hosting weekend family picnics and the like. The 48-acre Oakland Cemetery, sitting just a mile southeast of downtown in Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood, was established in 1850 as one of the first examples of a “rural garden cemetery.” It’s now part of a public/private partnership with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation and is a beautiful and historic respite bridging several of Atlanta’s intown communities.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

On Saturday, June 18, Oakland Cemetery will host its 6th annual Tunes from the Tombs, a day-long music and arts festival that for the second straight year features an all-local lineup. But don’t equate “local” with “provincial.” Headlining the bill is the Grammy-winning Atlanta hip hop collective Arrested Development, which topped the mid-90s charts with tracks like “Tennessee” and Mr. Wendal,” and continues to enjoy strong followings in Japan and Europe.

Original member Speech and his crew have been on a tear of late, having released two new albums this year: the free download “Changing the Narrative” (“more sample-based, with a hip hop feel,” as Speech describes it) and “This Was Never Home,” which he says has “a more current day feel, with synths and some acoustic guitar, but with our subject matter and energy.”

As he has from the band’s inception, Speech categorizes Arrested Development as “Life Music,” a positive, empowering force. “A lot of music strangely celebrates death, the ability to murder someone,” he continues. “If it were pure entertainment that would be one thing, but it’s too much the reality in our world today.”

Leave it to Arrested Development to bring a life-affirming vibe to a cemetery. One of the first hip hop bands to work with live instruments, AD will perform as an eight-piece, and Speech hints at several guest appearances given the proximity to their home base.

Also on the bill is HeaveN Beatbox, the stage name of charismatic Georgia State University grad Steven Cantor, who Speech says “has become a musical son to me,” as well as longtime area favorite James Hall and eclectic songstress Adron.

As part of the Historic Oakland Foundation’s stated goal of providing “something for everyone,” a second stage features a bevy of tribute bands with self-explanatory names like the B-53s and Fauxgerty. Add more than a dozen food trucks, an artists’ market, and a persimmon lager created for the occasion by Atlanta’s Red Brick Brewing Company with persimmons harvested from historic Oakland’s gardens, and you’ve got a recipe for a great day in the city.

As Events Director Mary Woodlan puts it, Tunes from the Tombs is “a party for a purpose. All proceeds benefit the foundation,” going toward the cemetery’s restoration and protection. General admission tickets are $20 in advance, a healthy discount from the $30 price if you meet at the cemetery gates.

glen-headshotGlen 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

4 Places to Get Artsy in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward

Lit at Edgewood Speakeasy

Lit: Books, Booze & Beats. Photo: Edgewood Speakeasy, Facebook

Lit: Books, Booze & Beats. Photo: Edgewood Speakeasy, Facebook

The Lit monthly book club hosts events at Edgewood Speakeasy featuring books, booze and beats. Each month has a theme, and guests are welcome to sign up to reserve a spot to read an excerpt from a book live on stage. Admission is free, but guests are asked to bring a gently used book to donate to a local charity. 

Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival

Old Fourth Ward Arts Festival

Old Fourth Ward Arts Festival will be June 24-25, 2016 at Old Fourth Ward Park.

Grab your family and head up (or down) the BeltLine to get to this two-day neighborhood art festival. Along with the usual festival fare, the event is hosting up to 150 local and regional artists, offering selections for guests to browse from. The 2016 festival will be held June 25-26 at Old Fourth Ward Park.

DIY Living Walls Tour

Artist: Teo Moneyless Pirisi. Location: 483 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta. Photo by Joshua Gwyn. From Living Walls, the City Speaks, Facebook.

Artist: Teo Moneyless Pirisi. Location: 483 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta. Photo by Joshua Gwyn. From Living Walls, the City Speaks, Facebook.

Around a corner, down the street and on the face of some of Atlanta’s buildings, underpasses and bridges, you’ll find some of the city’s best artwork. No, it’s not graffiti like the famed Krog Tunnel, it’s tens of feet of purposeful artwork commissioned as part of Living Walls since 2010. Take a bike, drive your car or take the Atlanta Streetcar to see some of the best unique artwork the Old Fourth Ward offers up.

Jackson Street Bridge

Atlanta Movie Tours often stop for photos at the Jackson Street Bridge.

Atlanta Movie Tours often stop for photos at the Jackson Street Bridge.

Bring your camera, and photograph Atlanta from one of its best-known point-and-shoot locations. Take a group shot on the bridge with Atlanta Movie Tours, and check out #weloveatl to see what others are seeing from their point of view on the bridge.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen Falkenberg-Hull 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.

Free Summer Fun in Georgia

Summer is a great time to explore all that Georgia has to offer, yet heading out each day can get expensive. To keep your budget in check, balance out more expensive excursions with free or cheap summer fun. Here is a sample of what you can find across Georgia.

See a Movie

Jekyll Island Movies on the Green. Photo: Facebook.

Jekyll Island Movies on the Green. Photo: Facebook.

Wrap up an evening at the beach with a free outdoor movie on the Jekyll Island Beach Village Green. Get there early to set up a blanket or lawn chair, and enjoy dinner from one of the restaurants located in the green. The kids can run around while the adults relax and watch the sun go down. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. Check the Jekyll Island events calendar for dates and movies. Not planning a beach vacation? Check out local Georgia municipalities; many town squares or local malls will host free summer outdoor movies as well.

Become a Lighthouse Explorer

St Simons Island Lighthouse

St. Simons Island Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Joe Szalay via Flickr

Fridays in June, children under 12 are admitted free of charge to the St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse. In addition to climbing the 129 steps to the top of the lighthouse, there will be crafts, games and family friendly activities.

Tour Savannah

Take a walking tour of Savannah in between performances. Photo courtesy Visit Saannah.

Take a walking tour of Savannah. Photo courtesy Visit Savannah.

Take a walking tour of Savannah for free with Free Savannah Tours. If you enjoy the experience, just pay a gratuity to your guide. Learn about Savannah’s history, the famous squares, movies that were filmed in the city, ghostly residents and more.

Discover the Meadows

Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in Columbus, Ga.

Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in Columbus, Ga.

Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in Columbus, Georgia has natural history displays, as well as nature trails and educational programming. Visiting the center is free (although donations are accepted). Special programs, like summer spectacular shows are offered for a nominal fee.

Cool Off in the Fountains

Geyser Towers at Stone Mountain

Geyser Towers at Stone Mountain

No need to just run through a sprinkler in the front yard anymore, Georgia has several splash fountains throughout the state where visitors can cool off with a quick run through, or dowse themselves with a steady stream. It’s like a free version of the many Georgia water parks. Whether you are 5 or 50, these community gathering spots are a lot of fun, and a great way to beat the Georgia heat.

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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Family Football Fun in the Summer

I know it’s summer time, but Georgia has football on its mind! The new Mercedes-Benz stadium is already changing the Atlanta skyline. With the announcement of Atlanta as host city for Super Bowl LIII, you can already hear the fans cheering.

Mercedes-Benz stadium under construction, May 2016.

Mercedes-Benz stadium under construction, May 2016.

If you’ve got an itch for football this summer, we recommend a trip to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The Hall features historic and contemporary memorabilia, children’s activities, interactive multimedia displays, a theater featuring an ultra-high-definition film, and unique special event and activity spaces.

College Football Hall of Fame. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

College Football Hall of Fame. Photo by Lesli Peterson.

Here are a few upcoming events you won’t want to miss:

June 11, 2016 – Cool off during the Hall’s “Football Blues” from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sing and dance with 1980s Pop Tribute group Electric Avenue and eat “cookout” style food at the fun, family-friendly tailgate. Arrive in your official tailgate gear and get your grub on! Our family will be there – hope to see you!

June 19, 2016 – Have Dad show off his leg by testing his field goal kicking skills on Father’s Day! Dads can enjoy their special day at the Hall for FREE with the purchase of a regular price ticket along with a special Hall of Fame gift.

July 16, 2016 – In honor of July 4th, they’ll show their patriotic side with a performance from a special country music artist and other family fun. This last “Football Blues” summertime event is from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Outside of an actual game, the College Football Hall of Fame is the best way to experience college football in the South, with sophisticated interactive exhibits and hands-on opportunities to celebrate and learn. Fall is just a season away …get in the Atlanta football spirit right now!

LesliLesli Peterson is Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Georgia Mountains Farm Tour: A Hidden Gem

Calling ALL foodies, farmers and families for the Georgia Mountains Farm Tour!

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

The 5th Annual Georgia Mountains Farm Tour will take place Saturday and Sunday, June 25 – 26, 2016. Enjoy a weekend of authentic farm-to-table dining with more than a dozen farms and several farm­-to-­table restaurants to choose from. You can customize your Georgia Mountains Farm Tour by picking the farms you want to visit each day, (attendees are encouraged to visit three to four farms per day), make reservations at the local restaurants and try samples at designated food stops along the way who are showcasing products from local farmers.

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Tour favorite LoganBerry Heritage Farm (Cleveland) returns to the tour this year with newcomer Glo-Crest Dairy (Clermont). They supply fresh milk for Mountain Fresh Creamery to use when making their delicious ice cream, which you can purchase directly from the Mountain Fresh Creamery store. Bring cash and your coolers!

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Be sure and make time to sit in on some of the farming classes being offered during this year’s tour. You can make your own farm-to table meals once you learn how to grow food year­-round with season­ extension techniques. Learn how to use the best tomato varieties and growing methods for Northeast Georgia (think tomato sandwiches all summer long), and for you fruit enthusiasts, learn how to start your first fruit orchard or berry patch.

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Photo credit: Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Georgia Mountains Farm Tour hours are from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26. This year, tour participants can choose from three pass options: basic weekend pass, Friend of a Farmer, or Farm Steward.  Basic weekend passes are just $30 per car if purchased by June 15, 2016. Along with the weekend car pass, the Farm Steward option includes a Georgia Mountains Farm Tour t-shirt and recognition on the Farm Tour website.

All in all, it’s a wonderful way to spend a weekend in the Northeast Georgia Mountains!

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.