Georgia Drummer Keeps the Beat for Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil's KURIOS - Cabinet of Curiosities

See Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities in Atlanta through May 8, 2016.

A man with accordion legs, a gentleman whose giant belly is the residence of a 3.2-foot tall woman, aquatic contortionists, an invisible circus, rola bola aviator… just a few of the quirky and diverse characters Georgia-born drummer Kit Chatham keeps the beat for in Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities, showing at Atlantic Station through May 8.

Cirque du Soleil has visited Atlanta 17 times with 14 different shows since 1991. Based in Montreal, Cirque features some of the world’s most talented individuals who perform reality-defying feats to live music. 

Chatham, who has performed in six different Cirque du Soleil productions since 2005, graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in music education and taught in Cobb County before joining Cirque du Soleil. We caught up with Chatham to find out what he likes most about performing in his home state.


Kit Chatham in costume for KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities

Having grown up here, are you excited to be performing back in Georgia?

“Definitely. The last time I performed here was 2007 with Corteo, also a Cirque du Soleil show. I moved out in 2009 to Las Vegas so I am super excited to be back.” 

This year, Georgia is celebrating the Year of Music, what does Georgia music mean to you?

“It depends on the area. I am an Athens boy, so R.E.M. and the B-52s, but then again I moved from Atlanta for my last years in high school and I was closer to Augusta, so James Brown. When I was in college, I used to record in Macon in the Allman Brothers studio. It’s widespread – Widespread Panic, they’re also from here. It’s tough to summarize Georgia music. It’s got roots in the South. It’s also got soul. It’s got everything — gospel, country, hip hop. It’s very cool to see how much music comes from Georgia that you wouldn’t expect.”

How does live music contribute to the overall Cirque experience?

“With every Cirque show, you’re dealing with things that can happen with acrobats at any given time. So, in order to flow with the acrobats, the music has to be able to adapt and change, maybe go back, maybe jump ahead. It changes every night.”

How does touring with Cirque du Soleil differ from touring with a band or as a solo musician?

“With arena shows or Broadway, you’re in a place one night, two nights, then you’re out. Your one day off is your travel day, which really stinks. With the tent show, we’re here 10 weeks, which is really great. I’m getting a lot of time to explore.”

Chatham performing in Cirque du Soleil's KURIOS - Cabinet of Curiosities

Chatham performing in Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities

Does this cast rely on you in this location for input on what to do in Georgia?

“I gave them a long list of what to do in Georgia. You’ve got to go to The Varsity. You’ve got all the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attractions, Ebenezer [Baptist Church]. The Georgia Aquarium. The World of Coca-Cola. Stone Mountain. The barbecue places to go to. Athens. Savannah. I gave them a huge list of things to try to guide them.”

What is your favorite thing to do in Georgia?

“I am a big barbecue fan. Brunswick stew — you can’t find Brunswick stew anywhere but in Georgia. Every time I come here, I get Chick-fil-A. I love how the brewing industry is starting to pick-up here. But, the biggest thing for me when I come to Georgia is usually family.”

How does this show differ from other Cirque shows you’ve toured with?

“The theme of this show [KURIOS] is steampunk, and it deals with the age of invention and creativity. Going from that steam era to electricity, everything is experimental. The scenery, the stage, all has that steampunk feel. The music is somewhat eclectic. There is a lot of presence of electro swing, which is associated with that theme. There are some more swing elements, classical, rock-and-roll. … With every show the music is different, the styles are different. That’s the one thing that drew me to Cirque, is there are so many different styles within the show and the uniqueness to the music, the overall characteristics to it in each show.”

KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities is at Atlantic Station until May 8. Shows are Tuesday-Sunday in the afternoon and evening. Individual tickets range from $35-$170. Visit for more information or to purchase tickets.

nicole-webNicole Rateau provides marketing and communications support for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. She would love to go on tour with Cirque du Soleil, but she would miss Georgia and collard greens!

Georgians Win Big at The GRAMMYs!

Congratulations to the Georgians who took home GRAMMYs® last night at the 58th annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles! The Georgia winners are: 


Savannah native Dave Cobb had an extraordinary night – he produced the Best Country Album, Chris Stapleton‘s Traveller, as well as Jason Isbell‘s Something More Than Free, named Best Americana Album.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Recording artist Chris Stapleton (L) and record producer Dave Cobb accept the Best Country Album award for 'Traveller' onstage during The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/WireImage)

Chris Stapleton & Dave Cobb (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Watch the album trailers:


Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey & Liz Rose (Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images)

Songwriter Hillary Lindsey‘s hometown of Washington, Ga. is abuzz today with news of her Best Country Song GRAMMY, shared with fellow writers Lori McKenna and Liz Rose, for Little Big Town’s smash hit, “Girl Crush.”

Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, who also picked up “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” for the song, were both raised in Georgia.



Former President Jimmy Carter won his second GRAMMY for Best Spoken World Album for A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety. Listen to the audiobook here.



Susan Archie (Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Atlantan Susan Archie earned her third GRAMMY for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32), which she shared with fellow art directors Dean Blackwood and Jack White.

Georgia is very proud of these deserving winners today! Share you favorite music memories by using #GeorgiaMusic!



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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 9.38.42 AM

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.