Alpharetta is a Symphony for the Senses

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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 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.
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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,, 678-297-2811.

© Lauren Boyd Photography 2013

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.

Four Georgia Music Visits Inspired by the Oxford American

The timing couldn’t be better for launching this portal into Georgia’s rich musical heritage — past, present and future. I’m looking forward to sharing with you the nooks and crannies of Georgia music, and doing my own discovery along the way. But in December, the Oxford American made my task a whole lot easier with the release of its Georgia Music Issue.

Oxford American's December 2015 issue

Oxford American’s December 2015 issue features Georgia music.

For those unfamiliar with the Oxford American, it’s an award-winning quarterly with a stated mission of featuring “the best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South.” The magazine devotes an issue each year to the music of one Southern state, and it’s time for Georgia’s close-up. And boy, do we look good!

The current Oxford American serves as a 176-page virtual roadmap to the Georgia music scene, with plenty to offer both newcomers and aficionados. The diversity it reflects is remarkable — household names (James Brown, the Allman Brothers, Indigo Girls), early/mid 1900s icons (Little Richard, Johnny Mercer, Ma Rainey) and the latest generation (Janelle Monae, Killer Mike, OutKast), just for starters. And if you’re the type who digests ideas better through sound than words, the magazine comes with a 25-track CD spanning an equally diverse roster of Georgia artists.

It’s inspiring to note the geographic expanse of the artists covered. Augusta. Savannah. Macon. Athens. Statesboro. Albany. Atlanta. Waycross. Tracing the roots of these visionary performers would make for quite a winding road trip. We’ll explore these strands — and plenty of others — in the coming weeks.

Here are four outings to immerse yourself in the experience:

1. Ocilla First Fridays on the Fourth. One of my favorite articles is Jonathan Bernstein’s human interest piece on Ocilla’s Dave Prater, the less heralded half of ’60s soul duo Sam & Dave (who made “Soul Man” famous well before the Blues Brothers). If you can’t wait for their October Sweet Potato Festival, take a trip to this small south Georgia town on the first Friday of the month for after-hours shopping, dining, music and art on Fourth Avenue.

2. The JinxBill Dawer’s poignant profile of Black Tusk bassist Jonathan Athon, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 2014, celebrates the sense of community that Athon inspired. The Jinx is a cornerstone of Savannah’s live music scene and a key venue for the Savannah Stopover festival, coming up March 10-12 (more on that soon).

3. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate a Legend – A Celebration of Johnny Mercer with Joe Gransden and Kathleen Bertrand. John Lingan’s look at “the moony lyricism of Johnny Mercer” may leave you longing for a revisiting of the Savannah native’s timeless hits. This tribute concert on Feb. 26, 2016, at Georgia State’s Rialto Fine Arts Center in Atlanta fits the bill.

4. Chicken Raid – The 77-year-old blues veteran Beverly “Guitar” Watkins is profiled by Atlanta writer Rachel Maddux. Watkins is likely to be among the dozens of blues artists gathering at the Northside Tavern March 19-21 for Chicken Raid, the annual celebration of another Atlanta country blues legend, Mr. Frank Edwards.

Meanwhile, my book club has taken the unusual step of reading the Oxford American cover-to-cover to discuss at our next meeting. I suggest you do the same — its brand of storytelling is that top-notch.

glenGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s newly appointed 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 You can learn more about the Oxford American’s Georgia Music issue in Glen’s piece at

Hear One of Justin Timberlake’s Favorite New Bands in ATL

It all started with a single tweet after The Shadowboxers released a video covering Justin Timberlake’s “Pusher Love Girl” in a tiny rehearsal space in Georgia.

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From there, the band has grabbed the attention of the music industry and celebrities, and they haven’t slowed down since. Other fans include Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town. It won’t be long before The Shadowboxers are a household name and we have to scoop for our fans.

The Shadowboxers playing with Reba McEntire and Little Big Town.

We had the opportunity to sit down with the band recently to discuss the Georgia music scene and their return to Terminal West this Saturday, January 9th. Here’s what founding members Scott Schwartz, Matt Lipkins and Adam Hoffman had to say:


The band with Timberlake at their sold out Nashville show in 2014.

The whole story goes back to late 2013. We were at a very low point in the timeline of the band – actually having legitimate kitchen table conversations about how long we could keep this up – when we started posting cover videos on YouTube.

And even saying that now, I feel like I need to add some modifiers to that now-cliched move: we were covering Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Crosby, Still & Nash. We’re still very proud of that cover series. Anyway, we did a cover of JT’s “Pusher Love Girl,” which is this awesome throwback-yet-modern gospel/soul tune off of his last album. A few days after we posted it, he somehow saw it, tweeted his approval and then he reached out to us.

So for the past two years we’ve been talking with him, writing a ton, and hope to have new music out in 2016 with his creative input. And we cannot wait to share it with the world.



B3x-RqhCMAAuk0Y.jpg-largeWe met at Emory University in 2007/2008. It didn’t take long before we were sitting in Matt and Adam’s dorm room sophomore year, playing each other’s songs we’d written individually in high school/early college, and those songs were the beginnings of the first Shadowboxer songs.

After college, we were looking for a new rhythm section and heard about Cole from some of our friends in the Atlanta jazz scene. We went to hear him play one night, and Carlos was playing bass. The two of them sounded great – and great together – so we asked them to come on board. Both jazz students at Georgia State University, they had been playing together for a few years and had already developed a strong musical connection, and their jazz and funk sensibilities have really helped shape the new sound of our band.



We’ve been in Nashville for a full year now, and this is the first major show we’ve played in Atlanta since leaving, so naturally we’re really excited. There’s definitely an added feeling of nervous excitement for us since we want to deliver in front of our fans and friends, some of whom have been coming out to see us for 6-7 years.

Playing in Atlanta will always have with it that extra level of nervousness since you can feel your whole history aligned behind you. Looking out to a packed house at Terminal West, you can’t help thinking about those early days of coffee shops and Emory frat parties, Eddie’s Attic shows and Smith’s Old Bar load outs.

Another way to describe it is: imagine someone that you had a crush on years ago who you haven’t seen in a while reaches out to you. She’s coming in town and wants to meet up for a drink. Last time she saw you, you weren’t as confident, had a dumb haircut, and were wearing white Asics with jeans. Now you’re feeling like your game is strong and you’re ready to deliver. In both scenarios, it’s going to be a special night for us.



This really feels like a home court venue for us. Back in 2013 we had our first album release show there, and it was the last place we played in Atlanta before making the move to Nashville. And Terminal West was the first “big” venue that we’d ever played in Atlanta completely on our own. From that stage, looking out on the crowd, the gravity of 7 years of hard work, playing every bar and open mic inside the perimeter really hit us. I guess, in a way, I feel like we really earned that stage. And the sound is incredible in there!

Get your tickets for January 9th HERE and don’t forget to tag your photos from the show with #GeorgiaMusic!



Atlanta Music Scene by Edward Fielding

There’s a really striking contrast between the identity of the hip-hop/R&B scene and basically everything else in town.

In the same way that cities like LA, New York, Chicago, and Houston have very distinct “sounds” that have developed over time and stem from their respective iconic artists, ATL hip-hop has developed in a very similar way; everything coming from the trap scene – Migos, ILOVEMAKONNEN, Future, 2 Chainz, etc. – is all an extension of the sound the Dungeon Family created in the ‘90s, and it all sounds DISTINCTLY like Atlanta.

The “scene” for other genres of music, be it electronic, indie, metal, or pop, consists of a body of extremely talented people that unfortunately not a lot of folks outside of ATL or readers of Creative Loafing are immediately familiar. We appreciate artists like Adron, Mastodon, and Little Tybee – whose sounds are all very different. If there was more of a defined “Atlanta sound” (like what you see within the hip-hop community), it could provide these artists with a potentially wider / more national platform. However, we, as lovers of music, champion individuality and originality and continue to champion all genres of music coming from the ATL!  


I feel like over the course of the eight years we spent in Atlanta, our inspirations went from a macro level to a much more localized and personal level. I think this makes sense, though, because initially the only connection to the scene that we had was those big success stories (aka, “Wow, John Mayer won the Monday Night Shoot Out at Eddie’s Attic??!!! Let’s do that!”).

That inspired us to learn more about our city and state so that later in college, we got really excited by all things Bradford Cox and especially Washed Out (we’re big fans of his album “Paracosm”).

Then, around 2011, we finally met some of the musicians around town (who we’re lucky enough to now call friends) who are still really hustling and making incredibly interesting music like Adron, Little Tybee, Marlon Patton with Weisshund, Chantae Cann, Algebra, and Nick Rosen.

Indigo+Girls+Closer+To+Fine+540565Finally, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls are enormous inspirations to us. They’re world-class songwriters, and we wouldn’t be the band we are today if not for the invaluable lessons learned while on tour with them.


Adam: For the last two years, we’ve really put all of our efforts into writing and building our live show. So I think we’re really primed to put out new music and really go for it. I’m confident that 2016 will see us releasing new material and hopefully touring hard.

Scott: Recording a record. We’ve been spending a lot of time accumulating a huge pile of songs that we are really proud of, and we’re finally able to get in the studio. It’ll undoubtedly be an extremely rewarding experience, and we can’t wait to finally put out some music that represents who we are now.

Matt: RECORDING!!!!!!!!!

It’s obvious The Shadowboxers’ talent, passion and charisma will lead the way to an amazing adventure in 2016. Hear them live at Terminal West this Saturday, January 9th.

Get your tickets HERE and don’t forget to tag your photos from the show with #GeorgiaMusic!



B6RUpoACEAAGPPb.jpg-largeParker Whidby is the Digital Content Specialist for Explore Georgia. She loves to travel, write & photograph all the amazing things Georgia has to offer. In her spare time, Parker enjoys painting, going to concerts, trying new restaurants & spending time with family, friends & her pups, Doc and Baxley.



Swayin’ to the Music at Cole Swindell’s Favorite Georgia Venues

Cole Swindell shares his favorite places to catch (or play!) a show around his home state.


Cole Swindell is taking the country music scene by storm! He releases his EP, Down Home Sessions, on November 6, before hitting the road for his first headlining tour on Nov. 11 in New York City with stops in Georgia in Carrollton (Nov. 19) and Athens (Nov. 20)

Cole’s song off of his self-titled album, Swayin’, talks about a taking a girl to see her favorite band play at a concert, savoring the experience and living in the moment. This is what #GeorgiaMusic is all about; seeing your favorite performers and experiencing it all at one of Georgia’s incredible venues.

Now, Cole, who grew up in Bronwood, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, shares with us his favorite places to catch (or play!) a show around his home state:

Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood – Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Aaron's Ampitheatre

Spanning 75 beautiful, wooded acres, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood is specifically designed with live music in mind. Its high quality acoustics make it a favorite for many artists, including Cole.

Albany Civic Center  – Albany

Photo: Animation Options
The Civic Center holds a special place in Cole’s heart. This is where he saw Reba McEntire perform every year when he was growing up! The center provides a wide variety of entertainment for visitors of Southwest Georgia each year.


Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hampton

Located 30 miles south of Atlanta, the 1.54-mile track at Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of the premier motorsports facilities in the country. It’s a dream come true for any musician to play before thousands at a NASCAR race.

Bluewater Bar – Valdosta

Located in a rambling old house in the former mill village of Remerton, Bluewater regularly presents singer/songwriters like Cole Swindell for Valdosta State Blazers and country music fans from all over.

Georgia Theatre –  Athens


After a fire that nearly destroyed the theatre, the historic venue reemerged in 2011. This year, the ticket company Pollstar ranked the Theatre as No. 15 in the world. It is a must-see on every music lover’s bucket list. The theater also has an amazing rooftop bar, The Rooftop, where guests can grab a bite to eat while overlooking downtown Athens.

Wild Bill’s  – Duluth

 Located in Duluth near Gwinnett Place Mall off of I-85, the venue holds up to 5,000 fans and features different bands and artists each weekend.

Turner Field – Atlanta

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“It ain’t every day you have a view like this at sound check. Can’t wait to see everyone at Turner Field tonight! We gonna #BringTheChopBack” – @cswinde2 (Instagram)



What’s better than America’s favorite pastime and a concert? Home of the Atlanta Braves (and Cole’s favorite baseball team), Turner Field hosts the Braves Summer Concert Series each year. After you take in a game – catch a free show!

The Gin
– Tifton

A premiere music venue and night club in South Georgia, The Gin hosts a variety of artists each week. Cole and other big names in country music like Florida Georgia Line, Tyler Farr, Parmalee, Sam Hunt and Chase Rice have played the stage. However, The Gin isn’t just for country fans! It also hosts a variety of other artists such as local favorites, hip hop and tribute bands.

Philips Arena – Atlanta


From the first time Cole saw one of his idols, Kenny Chesney, play Philips Arena, it has been on his list as a favorite venue. Every concert at the Atlanta Hawk’s home is an experience like no other. The venue can hold up to 18,238 of your closest friends!

The Coliseum –  Carrollton

Win TWO tickets to the show!

Coming back down South for his Down Home Tour, Cole Swindell will perform at The Coliseum on November 19th at the University of West Georgia! Performing all his latest hits, with special guests, Adam Sanders and Jon Langston, Cole’s show is guaranteed to be some “down home” fun! Don’t miss it!

And guess what? We’re giving away TWO free tickets to the show so you can be Swayin’ too! Enter HERE to win! 



5 Things Everyone Attending TomorrowWorld Needs to Know

The Gathering | TomorrowWorld 2015

Photo courtesy of Joe Silberzweig, TomorrowWorld

You don’t have to rent a car. If you’re flying into Atlanta for TomorrowWorld, you won’t have to rent a car or worry about dealing with public transportation to the TomorrowWorld site (about 20 minutes from the airport) because there are quick, convenient TomorrowWorld specific shuttles. Get your shuttle pass in advance to ensure they have a space for you here.

You don’t need to bring cash. There’s no need to worry about bringing cash to TomorrowWorld. Your TomorrowWorld Bracelet serves as your entry ticket to the festival and Dreamworld plus it’s the only form of payment accepted inside TomorrowWorld. You can load your bracelet before you go or at Top Up stations throughout the event.

You can store your stuff and charge your devices all at once. Want to keep your possessions safe while you party? Both TomorrowWorld and Dreamworld will have lockers for your convenience. Also, each locker has a charging device inside that is compatible with most major devices.

TomorrowWorld isn’t just about the music. It’s the full event experience that makes the festival unique. Don’t miss spin class, yoga, a full body workout incorporating EDM called Bass Bodies, meditation, pilates, speed dating and more!

House of Books | TomorrowWorld 2015

Photo courtesy of Joe Silberzweig, TomorrowWorld

It’s a great excuse to Explore Georgia. TomorrowWorld is in Chattahoochee Hills, about 45 minutes from downtown Atlanta, home of the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center and Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Very close to the event location is Serenbe, a live/work/play community focused on sustainable country living. You can tour their farm, go for a horseback ride or indulge in their regular wine and beer tastings. Their local restaurants, The Farmhouse and The Hil, are worth making a reservation for.

Just minutes away from Chattahoochee Hills is Historic Banning Mills where you can zipline on the World’s Longest Zipline, drop down the 100-foot power free fall and watch a birds of prey show.

Also close is the town of Senoia where The Walking Dead is filmed. Tours of filming locations are regularly offered. In the same town, TV host Rutledge Wood’s parents have a restaurant, Katie Lou’s Café where he can be often found when he’s in town, and musician Zac Brown owns Southern Ground Social Club.

EileenEileen 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.