Philip Bailey says his mother told him he was singing before he was talking. That early love of music has kept the singer, songwriter and percussionist on the world music stage for nearly five decades with legendary Earth, Wind and Fire and as a solo artist.
Bailey begin his life in music as a percussionist. He says one of his aunts took him to a parade where he first heard the bass drums, which led him to improvising with with trash cans. He credits his switch to the snare drum to the excellent music in the schools program in his native Denver.
As a child he listened to his mother’s favorite singers Mahalia Jackson and Dinah Washington and would mimic them in their key. He did not know he was developing what would become his world famous falsetto and four-octave vocal range. A natural baritone, Bailey has taken on the vocals of his late friend and EWF partner, Maurice White.
As a member of EWF, he’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, has won 7 Grammy’s and has an honorary doctorate in music from the Berklee School of Music. Earth, Wind and Fire will be honored in this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, too. Bailey is also a prolific songwriter and is a member, of course, of The Songwriters Hall of Fame. He says songwriting is “an other worldly thing. You can’t make it happen, it moves through you for something greater.” He quotes his friend Quincy Jones, “Inspiration goes down the street and stops at your house. If you don’t get with it it goes to the next house. You have to get up and get on it!”
Along with touring with EWF, Bailey has a new solo album, “Love Will Find A Way.” He credits his daughter Trinity and son Philip along with his friend Deshawn Dawson for giving him the impetus to work on the album, which he funded himself. He says that the work on the album was augmented by the generosity of many talented musicians who perform with him including Christian McBride, Chick Correa, Kamasi Washington, Bilal and will.i.am.
A special addition to the upcoming performance of EWF is an afternoon program administered by the Music Is Unity foundation created by Bailey to reach children and adolescents in foster care to introduce them to the world of music production. The program lets young people come backstage for a sound check and an introduction to what happens to put on a major concert. Spaces are limited. Reserve a spot through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earth, Wind & Fire - Reasons (Official Music Video) - YouTube
Exterior of the Ponce Library (Courtesy Friends of Ponce de Leon Library)
Atlanta-Fulton County’s Ponce de Leon Library is about to get a serious makeover.
The branch was slated to close July 15 for renovations but the date was moved to the end of August after community outcry over the planned removal 17 trees to make room for additional parking spaces and a drive-through book drop. Library officials have said they will work to preserve as many of the trees as possible.
The branch will be closed for approximately six months once work gets underway.
Fulton County has contracted with Evergreen Construction and McAfee3 Architects for design, engineering and construction management services.
“The designers have done an amazing job maximizing every corner of the space,” Fulton County Library System PR/Marketing Manager Claudia Strange said. There will also be infrastructure updates to electric, plumbing and HVAC.
Although, the Ponce branch is part of a two-year effort to redesign and modernize 23 of Fulton county’s 34 libraries, each project is unique. Many of the changes to the branch came directly from patrons during a series of public input meetings that began about a year ago.
“One of the big resounding cries was for some quiet spaces for studying, reading and tutoring. We heard a lot about the space having hidden areas, so we wanted to have sight lines from where the staff sit to monitor the branch,” Strange said. “There was a desire for the children’s area to have a better separation from adults. For the exterior, people asked about better lighting, better parking and ADA access, which we were already planning for.”
Two new reservable enclosed rooms that seat four comfortably will be located in the middle of the adult section.
“They’re all glass so staff can still monitor them but are a private space suited up with technology, useful for students working on a project or a small meeting,” Strange said.
The renovation also features a modernized computer lab with 20 new desktop computers with flat screen monitors. It’s located next to a much smaller staff info desk that encourages staff to walk around to help patrons.
“The children’s area will be almost half of the library and will include tables and a story time space,” Strange said. Right behind it, a state-of-the-art meeting room will be able to accommodate larger programs.
“The meeting room will be probably be the most visible transformation with new furniture, flooring, lighting, storage for staff, storage for Friends of Ponce, and all new technology, including a drop-down big screen for a presentation or movie night,” Strange said.
To encourage older youth to come in and enjoy the library, teens will have their own dedicated “loungy” space across the lobby from the children’s area.
Like all renovated branches, Ponce will also have a digital display announcing upcoming library news and self-check out. Books on hold will be right inside the lobby. Look for first four digits of your last name to grab your books, scan your library card, scan all your books at once at the self- check out machines and off you go.
For those who wish to peruse for books at the branch, they’ll find the lower shelving more accessible.
Even the book collection is getting a makeover, following the standard practice of removing books not checked out in two years.
“Weeded out books get donated to Better World Books who gives us credit to buy new books. It’s good for us because it allows us to improve and update the collection, while getting books out that aren’t being checked out. And we’re still able to move books across all 34 libraries and get them to you,” Strange said.
During the closure, patrons are encouraged to use nearby branches – Peachtree Library, Kirkwood Library and East Atlanta (closing Sept 16). You may find the deployed Ponce staff at these or other branches or at outreach activities publicized on afpls.org and Facebook.
“While we know the closing of this library will bring some inconvenience, the result will be well worth it. We look forward to completing the renovations as quickly as possible and re-opening beautiful renovated libraries that can serve the community more efficiently,” Fulton County Library System Director Dr. Gabriel Morley said.
That unveiling is already well anticipated.
“Friends is excited about the idea of having a beautiful library and we are starting to brainstorm about the grand opening,” Friends of Ponce Library past president Stephanie McCaa said.
For up-to-date renovation information, visit afpls.org or call the renovation hotline at (404) 613-7323.
Time to put away the bathing suits and hit the books again. Intown’s public schools will resume classes this month for the 2019-2020 academic year. Here are some key dates for those who have kids heading back to school.
Atlanta Public Schools The new school year kicks off Monday, Aug. 12. For those already thinking about vacations, the Thanksgiving break will be Nov. 25-29; semester break is Dec. 23 and through Jan. 3, 2020; spring break is April 6-10; and the last day of school will be May 22. APS will hold its annual “Back to School Bash” on Aug. 10 at the World Congress Center where there will be information, activities, health screenings, resources, exhibitors and 5,000 backpacks will be given away to students. For more information, visit atlantapublicschools.us.
City Schools of Decatur Decatur’s public schools will resume classes early – Thursday, Aug. 1. Fall break will be Sept. 23-27; Thanksgiving break is Nov. 25-29; holiday break is Dec. 23 to Jan. 6; winter break is Feb. 17-21; spring break is April 6-10; and the last day of school is June 2. For more information, visit csdecatur.net.
Fulton County Schools The 2018-19 school year begins Monday, Aug. 12, for thousands of children in Fulton County. The Thanksgiving holiday is Nov. 25-29; winter break is Dec. 23 to Jan. 3; spring break is April 6-10; and last day of class is May 22. The school system will host “First Day Fulton” back to school celebrations on Aug. 3 at Banneker High School and North Springs High School with free school supplies, activities, health screenings and entertainment. For more information, visit fultonschools.org.
DeKalb County Schools DeKalb public schools are also back in session on Monday, Aug. 5. Thanksgiving break is Nov. 25-29; winter break is Dec. 23-Jan. 3; spring break is April 6-10; and the last day of class is May 21. For more information, visit DeKalbSchoolsGA.org.
Sheraton Atlanta announced Friday the hotel on Courtland Street in Downtown will remain closed until at least Aug. 11 after several guests were sickened this week with Legionnaires’ disease. The AJC reports that testing to determine the source of the outbreak continues.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced plans for the City’s management of federal grants to be centralized under one office, reporting to the City’s Chief Operating Officer. As part of the restructuring, the City has requested that the administration of Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds be aligned under the Atlanta Continuum of Care, managed by Partners for HOME (PfH). After months of planning, the restructuring is now contingent upon approval from HUD, Atlanta City Council and the PfH Board.
Tickets for Taste of Atlanta, which is set for Oct. 18-20 at Historic Fourth Ward Park, are now on sale. The 18th annual festival will feature more than 100 restaurants as well as on-stage cooking demos, cooking classes and new this year, Food Districts, a more expansive VIP Experience and a Saturday night concert. Buy tickets at this link.
Jimbo Mathus is known by many as a founding member, vocalist and guitarist of the popular band Squirrel Nut Zippers. The band, best known for a hit song called “Hell,” became part of a trend in music that reconfigured early American music for big bands.
After the Zippers went on hiatus, Mathus continued to write, produce and perform music solo and with a band. He’s performing two shows in Atlanta – Sunday, April 21, 5 p.m. at Grocery on Home in Grant Park and Monday, April 22, at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur – playing songs from his latest album “Incinerator.”
Hailing from the hill country of Northeast Mississippi, Mathus began his musical journey at age 6 when he took up the mandolin and joined the family band.
Mathus said his part of Mississippi was still so remote that the local people created their own entertainment. Music was a social experience and families often played music together for their neighbors. His family would play old fiddle reels and dance tunes and songs by Jimmy Rogers and the Carter family. Mathus said he always thought of songs as telling stories and that informed his own music, which he began writing as a teenager.
He says his songs are written in minutes, “kind of like a lightning strike.” He says sometimes a title will come from a conversation or a book he is reading and the song will be written in his head while he is walking or working on his farm. Mathus says he dreams a lot and sometimes a song deepens in his dreaming. The songs on his new album evoke strong memory of people who inspired him or crossed him. He describes the songs on “Incinerator” as tombstones and effigies.
Mathus owes his resilience as a musician and producer to his nonchalance about money. He says that when he lost money he “shrugged his shoulders.” He says, “I didn’t want to be bitter. I had my health, my talent and hid a few guitars in the wood so the lawyers wouldn’t get them.” He also gives lots of credit to Fat Possum Records where he records and produces.
But the best news might be for fans of Squirrel Nut Zippers. The band has reformed and Mathus will be touring with them later in the year.
There has been a second deadly collision involving an electric scooter rider in Atlanta.
According to police reports, William Alexander, 37, was struck and killed by a Cobb County transit bus on West Peachtree Street in Midtown on Wednesday night, July 17.
Atlanta Police investigators believe the bus was turning onto 15th Street when it struck Alexander, who was wearing an Atlanta United jersey and was on his way home from a match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Investigators said there is surveillance video that shows Alexander on the e-scooter, but not the accident itself.
Atlanta City Council members Amir Farokhi and Andre Dickens issued statements following the death of Alexander. The city council recently passed legislation to wrangle the more than 10,000 e-scooters and bikes on Atlanta’s streets.
Farokhi said in part: “I’m deeply saddened by the incident in Midtown last night that resulted in the death of William Alexander as he rode a scooter home from the Atlanta United game. As we await full details of the incident, my deepest condolences go out to Mr. Alexander’s family and all involved. Our city aches whenever a life is lost. In addition to a time of mourning, it’s also a call to act. We need to invest more in complete streets streets that accommodate cyclists, scooters, and pedestrians as much as they do cars. It’s in our power to ensure these sorts of tragedies are absent from our city. While I am working aggressively with the City’s Office of Mobility to solve the problems created for pedestrians by e-scooters, the vast majority of which occur in District 2, we must solve the bigger problem of streets and sidewalks that are not safe enough for all modes of mobility.”
Dickens indicated in his statement that he has asked Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer, Commissioners of Public Works and City Planning to conduct evaluations with regards to how our city’s transportation and construction management practices could be improved and aligned to prevent further injury and loss of life.
“In the six months since City Council passed new laws impacting the operation of e-scooters and other mobility devices in the city, we have learned a lot about ridership trends, rider behavior, and how to manage these devices,” Dickens said. “In that same period, a cyclist in a bicycle lane was severely injured just last week, and another scooter rider was killed near West Lake station in May, on top of multiple fatal vehicle accidents and pedestrian deaths. These events and others indicate that we need a critical review of our light transportation infrastructure, our police practices around enforcement, and our overall safety around all forms of transportation. As we acknowledged when discussing the scooter legislation, we must constantly evaluate and improve upon the usage and regulation of shareable vehicles to ensure that we limit the frequency and reduce the severity of incidences like we saw Wednesday evening.”
Jamestown, the Atlanta-based real estate investment and management company behind Ponce City Market, has bought The Shops Buckhead Atlanta.
The 356,000 square foot development – which includes office, retail and dining space, and two undeveloped parcels totaling 2.7 acres – was built in 2014 by Oliver McMillan and is situated across six blocks in Buckhead. This transaction was brokered by JLL Capital Markets.
The property is home to international luxury brands such as Hermès, Spanx’s Global Headquarters, health and wellness studios and a variety of dining options. Jamestown will host a series of town hall meetings where members of the community are invited to join in discussions on the property and its place in Buckhead.
“As local Atlantans, the intersection of West Paces Ferry and Peachtree has always been a centerpiece of Buckhead and we are excited to be incoming stewards of this community asset,” said Michael Phillips, President of Jamestown.
Jamestown will host the first town hall on Tuesday, July 23, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, Suite B200. Participants can RSVP here.
City Springs Theatre is presenting the musical comedy “Hairspray,” music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman, book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, directed by Brandt Blocker. The show runs at City Springs’ 1,000-seat theatre through July 21.
There is choreography by Cindy Mora Reiser and music direction by Chris Brent Davis, who plays keyboard and conducts a 10-piece orchestra that sounds like 25. I never cease to wonder how musicians do that these days.
The mastermind not mentioned in the program is John Waters, who wrote and directed the 1988 film on which the current work is based. Mr. Waters’ original movie was not a musical, though it had dance and musical numbers in it. Being no fool, he allowed a Broadway musical to be produced of his work in 2002; it proceeded to win eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran over 2,500 performances; it also triumphed in the West End, enjoying a long London run. Then there was a movie of the musical; then a live TV version!
In its present form, “Hairspray” is a musical comedy dream. On the surface, it may seem too outrageous, too campy, too over-the-top, too everything to work. But this show has a secret weapon: Her name is Tracy Turnblad (Jennifer Massey). Tracy is a plus-size, teen-aged jolt of joy who sees obstacles as stepping stones. She’s a high school girl whose unbounded optimism is as big as her hair (it’s 1962, Baltimore, and big hair is not just “in,” it rules, fortified by ten tons of hairspray). Even the boys have it, sort of.
By the way, you may have seen the movie (musical or non-musical) or the TV show, but “Hairspray” live is much more fun. Tracy lives with her mother Edna (Greg London continuing the tradition – Divine, John Travolta, Harvey Feirstein – of the character being played by a man) and father Wilbur (Steve Hudson).
Tracy’s biggest current desire is to dance on Baltimore’s “The Corny Collins Show,” a teenage dance fest produced by Velma Von Tussle (Deborah Bowman), who ruthlessly promotes her daughter Amber (Alison Brannon Wilhoit), both in winning prizes on the show and hopefully winning heartthrob Link Larkin’s (Chase Peacock) affections. Tracy has hitherto admired Link on television. Her best pal Penny (Leigh Ellen Jones) encourages Tracy to audition when a spot on the TV shot becomes vacant.
By the way, “the girl’s first song,” a tradition in musicals (think “A Cockeyed Optimist” or “I’m the Greatest Star”), is when the female lead states who she is, what she wants, and what may happen. In “Hairspray” Tracy sings “Good Morning Baltimore,” a number so fiercely bright, cheery, and fearless (especially as performed by Ms. Massey), that you think Tracy may just take flight—and take you with her. And you learn a lot about Tracy’s indomitable spirit. This is no ordinary girl.
I cannot tell you the entire plot; however, when Tracy gets detention (for “inappropriate hair height”), she meets Seaweed (Christian Magby), an African-American student who shares Tracy’s passion for dance. Tracy learns that black kids can only dance on “Corny Collins” one day a month, and Tracy instantly perceives the injustice of that. Tracy is for immediate integration (this is the early 60’s, remember) and later finds an ally in Motormouth Maybelle (Kayce Grogan Wallace), Seaweed’s mother and the owner of a record shop.
In a twinkling of an eye the show becomes inadvertently prescient and political and you’re not even sure how it happens! But don’t think for a second that “Hairspray” is heavy-handed about race, inclusion, acceptance, or body-shaming. But the fact is, my friends, that “You Can’t Stop the Beat” of “Hairspray’s” hilarity, outrageousness, fun, and message any more than you can stop “the motion of the ocean.”
There are too many fun, memorable musical moments (like Ms. Wallace’s roof-raising “I Know Where I’ve Been” or Ms. Bowman’s “Miss Baltimore Crabs”) to mention. You must see the show.
This is a really fine cast, some of whom I’ve mentioned, and they all have standout moments. And there are more: Chris Saltalamacchio’s Corny Collins; Marci Millard’s triple performance as Prudy, the Gym Teacher, and the Jail Matron; Tony Hayes’ Mr. Pinky and Principal; Arjaye Johnson’s Little Inez; Grace Arnold’s Shelly; CJ Babb’s Duane, and many more in the Ensemble, fine singers and dancers.
I believe director Brandt Blocker has a little Tracy Turnblad in him, for he has written: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could change hearts and minds through the power of song, laughter, sincerity, and dance, as opposed to social media feuding and fighting?”
Mr. Blocker, I believe you and “Hairspray” have succeeded more than you know.
Renderings of the two towers project in Midtown at 1081 West Peachtree. (Courtesy Midtown Alliance)
Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers has proposed a combination development that would feature one tower for student housing and another for market rate apartments.
According to a report from Midtown Alliance, the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC) got its first look at the project at its July 16 meeting.
The property is at 1081 West Peachtree Street, but would also front Spring Street as well just behind the Hanover West Peachtree complex. A 22-story tower would offer 205 units of student housing, while a second 27-story tower would feature 385 apartments. Both towers would have street level retail/restaurant space – roughly 8,000 square feet total. The towers would share an 8-level parking deck with approximately 712 spaces.
The site plan includes a new private street on the southern edge of the property, which would allows for service and loading to be handled internal to the site.
The DRC recommended the addition of continuous sidewalk, accommodations for ride-share passenger drop-off and short-term parking, and adequate screening of the parking garage to block it from the residents in the Hanover building.
The design of the towers is still in process and the committee requested more specificity about exterior building materials and details related to the balconies and window openings.
While no variations were requested, the committee withheld full support until additional information is provided by the developer.
The Deer and The Dove and B-Side, two new restaurants from Chef Terry Koval, have opened on the downtown square in Decatur. The Deer and The Dove pays homage to the surrounding farms and local purveyors with many of the New American dishes coming out of a wood-burning oven and grill. Fresh vegetable platters and shared plates with local cheeses, cured meats and homemade bread are all on the menu. At B-Side, guests can enjoy New York bodega-style breakfast and lunch sandwiches (think “egg on a roll”), wood-fired bagels, salads, soups and more. For more information, visit deerdove.com.
Chef Craig Richards and restaurateur Billy Streck announce plans to open Lyla Lila in Midtown this fall. Located at 693 Peachtree Street Northeast on the ground level of the 24-story lilli Midtown apartment building, the menu will feature southern European cuisine. The restaurant is named after the owners’ daughters. Follow the restaurants progress on Instagram at @LylaLilaATL.
Capital One Café is expected to open by year’s end at Lenox Square in Buckhead. The space will be both a bank and a coffee shop where customers can get help with their accounts, use free Wi-Fi, use ATMs, or grab a Peet’s coffee and a local pastry. Capital One cardholders will get 50 percent off coffee and beverages every day, but the space is open to everyone, not just customers.
Chef Ford Fry’s latest concept Little Rey is now open in Piedmont Heights at 1878 Piedmont Ave. A “cousin” to Fry’s Tex-Mex favorite Superica at Krog Street Market, Little Rey is serving up “chicken al carbon” at its core plus salads, fresh salsas and hand-made tortillas and margaritas. For more information, visit littlerey.com.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will open its sixth Atlanta location at the Coda building Technology Square this fall, according to a report at Tomorrow’s News Today. The shop will have a 700 square foot stall in the building’s food hall.
Dos Bocas will open later this summer in Downtown at 275 Baker Street offering up Cajun and Mexican cuisine. Located in the former Legal Sea Foods space, the two-story restaurant boasts 8,000 square feet and will feature a prominent bar, private dining areas and an outdoor patio with view of the newly renovated greenspace at Centennial Park.