GREAT ATLANTA BEER FESTIVAL 2014

Saturday, September 6th at 3pm

Location: Turner Field

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://greatatlantabeerfest.com/

By Liz and John Attaway

America’s pastime holds a special place in everyone’s heart and nothing could make it any better, right? Wrong. Take the breathtaking view of the field, beer samples, good friends, and open the alley games to the attendees and what do you get? Great Atlanta Beer Festival. It makes baseball better. This year we discovered two new pumpkin beers, reconnected with a few old beer friends, and had fun dancing in the rain (ok, not dancing, but close).

As the downpour of rain deluged the open spaces outside Turner Field, we got to hover under the O’Dempesy’s tent who had already run out of their Your Black Heart Russian Imperial Stout, which made me sad, but I got to stand next to the truck with the Harpoon UFO Pumpkin. Yum. That brings me to what this festival is really about: beer. My favorite two beers of the festival were Harpoon UFO Pumpkin, which they categorize as an unfiltered pumpkin ale. The other was Terrapin Pumpkin Alethat Terrapin says is actually a malt beverage brewed with pumpkin and spices. They were both similar with a pumpkin fruit forward start and slightly sweet but smooth aftertaste. It was like having pumpkin pie without all the sugar in a glass. If you know me, you know I love pumpkin. So, if you like pumpkin beer like I do, I would recommend these two beers any day of the week. Not a pumpkin fan, how about another beer that I enjoyed called Blue Point Toasted Lager? It was smooth and a good balance of hops and malt with a toasty finish. It reminded me a little of Shock Top’s Pretzel Lager (also present at this festival and well enjoyed by me!) for it’s almost pretzel feel but not as strong as actually eating a pretzel. Lastly, but not least by any means was Your Black Heart Russian Imperial Stout by O’Dempesy’s. It was my overall favorite beer, again, this year, so I thought I would give it another shout out. Run to your bartenders and tell them to stock this: stout lovers will help it fly off the shelf. So. Good.

Let’s not forget there was more than beer at Great Atlanta Beer Fest. The pitching games in Scout’s Alley were open and a few people (ok, a lot) took their shot at seeing how fast they could pitch. I saw everything from 20 mph to 80 mph. Why isn’t that guy a baseball player? Also, there was a booth for the Proud Beer Drinker that was a crowd favorite with a “Strong man” Standin (thanks Yahoo Answers). My friends and I all took our turn with our faces in it and taking our pictures. See my shenanigans to the left. Finally, there was also music by The Geeks that had a large crowd dancing and singing by about 7pm, as well as lots of football on the TV’s of the chop shop. With that the lights dimmed over Turner Field and the Uber drivers lined up outside the gate, the Great Atlanta Beer Fest 2014 was in the books and the home team won.

Missed Great Atlanta Beer Fest? Don’t worry, Atlanta Beer Fests have another one on September 27th in Kennesaw and then again October 25th for Halloween called Boos and Brews. Get your tickets now.

http://kennesawcraftbeerfest.com/

http://atlantabeerfestivals.com/boos-and-brews/

The Field at Turner Field

Proud Drinker Standin

Braves Statue

ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATO FESTIVAL 2014

Saturday, July 20th at 1pm

Location: The Goat Farm

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://killertomatofest.tumblr.com/

By Liz and John Attaway

How do all the good, classic horror novels start? It was a dark and stormy afternoon at an urban Georgia farm. The lights flickered and then faded leaving the goats bleating and stirring in their pens. Small red dots start to liter the horizon spilling over the distant hills as far as the eye can see. What the urban Georgia farm didn’t know was this was the end, the end of life as they knew it because the Killer Tomatoes were coming and they were hungry. Ok, so maybe killer tomatoes aren’t scary but they are mighty tasty and pair well with food and drinks more than you can ever imagine. That brings us to the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival where everything and I mean everything is diced, chopped, pureed, relished, jammed, pickled or stuffed with tomatoes. Take into the account the eclectic site filled with goats, filing cabinets built into a wall, several large barn-like rooms with rustic and odd décor, the festival was primed for festival goers to explore and enjoy this unique festival.

Over its six years this was the festival’s first year at The Goat Farm Arts Center after outgrowing its home at JCT. Kitchen & Bar in years past. This year boasting 70 chefs and mixologists that made everything from bourbon and tomato concoctions for the attendees to shot, to tamales, to tacos, to desserts, to popsicles and so on and so forth, I could go on for hours.  There were several special eats that I thoroughly enjoyed, while my favorite was Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails’ tomato tart with tomatoes from Milton’s Acre. This pizza-like tomato tart was topped with Green Zebra Tomato chow-chow with a little tomato crème fraiche to accent the sweet with the creamy. I went back for seconds because it was fresh, hot and just plain good. Another one of the tomato food invention was Miller Union’s gazpacho that mixed heirloom tomato watermelon and cucumber into a wonderful tasty, dish. Cool and tangy, sweet, the gazpacho was a delight in the heat of the summer day. Outside I found several wonderful tomato mixtures that are worth mentioning here. Farm Burger brought an heirloom tomato sloppy joe that was toped with pickled green tomato and fresh tomato relish. It was filling and good. Down the row was Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand where Delia Champion brought her chicken chorizo tacos stuffed into a corn shell and topped with roasted tomato salsa. Who doesn’t love tacos? So good! Finally, who can resist a fried green tomato slider from Bantam & Bitty & Chick-A-Biddy? It was freshly fried right in front of the attendees and they definitely win the award for longest line, but it was worth it. The people voted for their favorite tomato mixture was drum roll please; Gunshow’s cherry tomato fried pies with tomato ice cream. The judges gave top honors to Osteria Mattone + Table & Main’s tomato tartar with buttermilk caviar.

As far as the drinks, Wild Heaven knocked it out of the park again with their Civilization Barley Wine that was smooth and flavorful filled with cranberries and cherries. It was quick to go! They also brought the Blackbird that they added a little bit of tomato and chardonnay to, which was good but we much preferred the Civilization. There many other liquor cocktails on hand that included gin with shrimp garnish, moonshine and Georgia peaches, bourbon with sherry and tomato, vodka mixed with pepper, hers and peaches to name a few.  They were all interesting in their own right but my favorite was Paper Plane’s Red Dawn: bourbon, lime heirloom tomato and topped with sherry. This is the first time I’ve had tomato in a drink and not spit it out as I’m not a huge fan of anything like bloody marys or drinks of the like. The people gave the best tasting small plate to Miller Union’s The Night Shade Lightning that included moonshine and peaches. The judges decided on JCT Kitchen + The Optimist’s All In One Basket that included vodka, tomatoes, peaches, peppers, herbs and citrus.

On top of the food and drink, the festival is all about helping out the local organic farmers through the nonprofit Georgia Organics and helping out “members of the Atlanta restaurant community facing unanticipated hardships” The Giving Kitchen. Two other things of note were the filing cabinet wall sculpture by David Baerwalde* that was a big point of discussion among attendees, as well as my run in with a celebrity. The filing cabinet wall was one of those things you probably won’t ever see again. It’s unique and filing cabinets really do work as planters! Not to mention that if you look through the drawers, you never know what you’re going to find. We found a drawer full of documents from what looked like a steel company or contractor that worked at the site from the mid-90’s back to the early 80s. We found hand written notes, customer files, and projects from moving walls to fixing flooring. Finally, that brings me to the highlight of my visit to The Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival: my selfie with Stephen Collins. I was walking in one of the rooms and saw a guy that looked familiar and I immediately knew it was him but I wanted to make sure. I’m sure my eyes bore into the back of his head because I had to stare. Finally, I figured I would ask if he was Stephen Collins and he said, “I am” and turned to face me. He was thin but the voice was unmistakable as I watched him for years on 7th Heaven and recently followed his journey on Revolution. He was nice enough to let me take a picture with him. Thanks, Stephen Collins, for making my day.

Overall, we had a blast trying new food, cocktails, and running into celebrities. Never mind the gloom, rain or humidity, that all paled in comparison to the eclectic charm and stellar eats of the festival. Now, I can truly say I’m tomatoed out.

*Check out David Baerwalde’s collection of art at http://dbaerwalde.wix.com/site

GUMBALL 3000: ATLANTA RALLY 2014

Thursday, June 5th at

Location: Centennial Olympic Park

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://www.gumball3000.com

By Liz and John Attaway

The dark clouds loomed over Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta and the police shouted loudly for everyone to take cover as the thunder cracked nearby. The storm passed by about an hour later and all but put a damper on the rally as the concert and rally as they were both cancelled due to weather. Even though there wasn’t a concert or fanfare, the Gumball 3000 is about the beautifully rare cars and there wasn’t any disappointment there with everything from Ferraris, supped up Mercedes, McLarens, Aston Martins, Bentleys, Jaguars, Lotus and many more. Started in 1999 by Maximillian Cooper, the Gumball got its name “from New York artist Andy Warhol after he used it to describe how the public chew up and spit out popular culture like chewing gum and ‘3000’ as a nod To Cooper’s fascination with the future, particularly at a time when the world was about to enter the 21st Century.” The 2014 Gumball 3000 ran from Miami to Atlanta then to New York. Once in New York the cars were shipped overseas to Edinburgh then runs to London, Paris, Barcelona and finally ends up in Ibiza, Spain.

This year’s coveted Spirit of Gumball 2014 Winner was D.J. Deadmau5 & Tory Belleci of Mythbusters fame’s Purrari 458. The Spirit Award is for the team that encompasses what the Gumball is all about: speed, fun, and sharing the experience with the world. Deadmau5 and Tory streamed their experience with a 360 camera, as well as promoted it on social media, and really helped the Gumball’s word-of-mouth for this year’s race. The prize? They got a 3 food tall Gumball machine. Way to go, guys!

With this being said, nothing would speak louder than pictures, so here is a gallery of the experience including the real celebs: the cars. Enjoy!

PARTY IN THE PARK 2014

Saturday, May 17th at

Location: Centennial Olympic Park

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://partyintheparkatlanta.com/

By Liz and John Attaway

Among the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, and newly constructed Skywheel, Centennial Olympic Park connects many of Atlanta’s tourist destinations downtown. It’s here that Party in the Park kicked off its annual event to bring Atlantans to this beautiful park among the city’s concrete jungle. This year, the music was stellar with local crooners Stokeswood, Minus the Bear from Seattle, The Joy Formidable all the way from Whales, MGMT’s East Coast Jammers, and DJ extraordinare Girl Talk. Let’s dive right in.

Girl Talk was the headliner for Party in the Park and brought his DJ A-game with several fun mash-ups that included rap or hip hop and mixed with Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” as well as Space Hog’s “In The Meantime.” Girl Talk’s Gillis explained to FMLY in 2009 that his name was “a reference to many things, products, magazines, books. It’s a pop culture phrase.” I enjoyed the odd pairings of popular songs of then and now mixed into one long, dance party. On the other end of the spectrum, I would put Minus the Bear. From Seattle (like the great Pearl Jam and Soundgarden), their sound was more rock based with several songs that I said, “this sounds like Foo Fighters,” or “this sounds a little like Pearl Jam.” That’s a compliment seeing as I grew up with grunge and hard rock of the early 1990s and I would say elements of their music had that classic sound.

As far as the local Atlanta music scene, Stokeswood opened Party in the Park and represented the city well with their typical energetic, electric performance. A little bit of Talking Heads here, a little bit of electronic there, add in some indie rock elements and you’ve got Stokeswood.  We’re no stranger to Stokeswood having stumbled on them at a beerfestival a few years ago. We were immediately impressed with their Talking Heads Cover and Adam’s fabulous party pants (Hint: they had stars on the)! We also have seen them several time at Tin Roof where they play under the name “The Employee.” We’d never met lead singer, Adam Patterson, though we’ve had several chances before, but got to speak with him briefly as he hung out in the crowd after their set. He was very gracious and hopefully one day they will break out of the Atlanta scene!

One of the most anticipated performances of the night was MGMT. Several groups came gussied up in finger painted on “war paint” in anticipation of the band, one even with a large anchor painted on his chest and a sailor’s hat. Playing their bigger hits like “Time to Pretend” and “Electric Feel” ignited the crowd into a frenzy with loud singing voices being heard over the actual band. If you’ve never seen MGMT, the band is mainly psychedelic rock with some great 80’s and 70’s yacht rock melodies. Their performance are quite the chameleon as I’ve seen them more than once now and got two different takes on their true nature. The first time we saw them was at The Tabernacle and that performance, while soulful and jam-my, was still very much main stream with hints of Beatles and Phish thrown in here and there. This performance was much more like something you might see from Widespread Panic or Phish or even Sergeant Pepper from the Beatles. Psychedelic to the core and more tuned to an outdoor festival, there were times the music would drone on and I’d find myself checking my watch. That’s not to say it was bad, it was just much more slow and methodical than I remembered. That was unless they were playing their main hits, which were electric and captivated the crowd. They ended with their big hit, “Kids”, playing the end of the song for about 15 minutes until the clock struck 9. I love that song!

Finally, The Joy Formidable had a few radio hits including “Whirring” which I enjoyed every time they were played, so when they were announced in the line-up I was interested in seeing them. This is when I was blown away. Everything you get in Alternative Rock was flowing from the stage as they played and I couldn’t believe I’d missed this band! Where was I, under a rock? The lead singer, Ritzy Bryan came out on stage in a lace pink dress and proceeded to rock with the best of them, whaling guitar and all. It was a sight to see. I’ve decided that I’m going to sample all their albums and decide if they are a new “favorite” of mine or if they are just incredible live. I hope both. That’s what these concerts are here for: to show you new and exciting things you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Thank you, The Joy Formidable, for rocking my ears off (and the ringing in my ears the next morning proves it)!

On top of the great music, Desperados sponsored the event offering concert goers a taste of their newest beer. That’s right, they gave each concert goer a free beer! I’ve talked about Desperados before but it’s worth mentioning it’s not what you expect from this beer. Being infused in Tequila barrels one would expect a harsher flavor but its sweet flavor is what is the most surprising. It’s seemed to be a hit. They also had several other offerings for the festival attendees with live artwork, live body painting, a circus side show full of sword and balloon swallowers, as well as several other daring acts you’d see in a carnival atmosphere. It was a good time.


SHAKY KNEES FESTIVAL 2014

Friday, May 9th to Sunday, May 11th at

Location: Atlantic Station

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://shakykneesfestival.com/

By Liz Attaway, Eric Wallin, and John Attaway

In front of the Peachtree and Piedmont stage stood a large paved parking lot filled to the brim with a sea of ecstatic music fans enjoying their favorite bands. With several thousand of your fellow Atlantans, and some good music, once the cloud parted and the storm passed, Shaky Knees’ Saturday night in Atlanta was a rocking good time.

The large turnout for this year’s Shaky Knees Festival made it clear that Atlanta’s up-and-coming music festival had outgrown the humble beginnings of last year’s inaugural launch for the festival. Last year’s Shaky Knees Festival brought Atlanta’s music lovers to The Masquerade, a well-known music venue on Atlanta’s Beltline, which is in walking distance to many homes and Atlanta’s hottest new residential development, Ponce City Market. This year’s venue is not known for its musical legacy, but instead is one of Atlanta’s premier retail districts, sandwiched between a movie theater, a major department store, a parking garage and the Downtown Connector. Atlantic Station proved to be more than accommodating for the increased turnout of this year’s event. In exchange for the in-town neighborhood charm of Old Fourth Ward, Atlantic Station provided convenience, plenty of parking, and a paved special events area that saved concertgoers from the muddy mess of last year’s event. Rain came and went on Friday and Saturday with little incident.

As for the venue, the stages were set up in two areas of two stages each, the Piedmont / Peachtree stages in the back area of the venue, and the Ponce de Leon / Boulevard stages near the entrance. Other festivals often involve mass migrations of the crowds between stages, but these paired stages afforded little interruption between sets, as one act would be setting up on the stage next to the current act that was playing. It made for an enjoyable music experience! As afternoon turned to evening, Atlanta’s impressive downtown skyline lit the night sky with urban brilliance, painting a striking backdrop for a spectacular evening lineup, featuring Conor Oberst, Houndmouth, The Replacements, Jenny Lewis, with the evening being capped off by Modest Mouse. While we were only able to make it for Saturday’s performances, Friday and Sunday also featured top notch entertainers and fan favorites.  Friday fans got to hear The National, local Athens, Georgia favorites The Whigs, Dropkick Murphy, Cage the Elephant, Gaslight Anthem and many others.  Sunday fans got to hear Brooklyn’s San Fermin, music festival staples Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, music veterans the Violent Femmes with Alabama Shakes capping off the official end of the festival.

Of the acts on Saturday night, those that stuck out were Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse and of course The Replacements. Cold War Kids catchy radio tune, “Hang Me Out To Dry,” is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. They’re one part indie rock with strong guitar and one part electronica, stir in some eighties influence and you’ve got Cold War Kids. Modest Mouse was the Saturday headliner with notable radio hits like “Float On” and “Dashboard.” The Singer Isaac Brock and his Modest Mouse crew have been around since 1993 and released their first album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About, in 1996. Considered indie rock now-a-days, their performance was one of the best of the night with an explosion of light and sound.

Finally, that brings us to The Replacements, that band you’ve heard a dozen of their songs from the 80’s and early 90’s but never knew their name. That being said, they’ve been around since 1979 and were big influencers on current music. Something I didn’t know about The Replacements, was the 1998 teen movie, Can’t Hardly Wait, was named for The Replacements song, “Can’t Hardly Wait” that plays in the movie’s credits. Thanks, wiki, for that awesome tidbit of interesting information. We had heard that The Replacements were one of the best shows around and boy did they impress at Shaky Knees. After 22 years apart, The Replacements roared back into the festival limelight with 2013’s Riot Festival. Not only that, but they picked up a guest appearance of late (and at Shaky Knees) by Billie Joe Armstrong, front man and guitarist of the popular group, Green Day. According to Wikipedia, he recalled seeing The Replacements live after the release of Pleased to Meet Me. “It was amazing. It changed my whole life. If it wasn’t for that, I might’ve spent my whole time playing in bad speed-metal bands.” So, are you telling us Green Day is Green Day because of The Replacements? Thank you, The Replacements, we salute you!

Aside from the music, food and refreshments were on tap, serving up cold Dos Equis beer (XX), cocktails and the new Desperados tequila-flavored beer. If you remember from our Counterpoint 2014 article, this was the beer we thoroughly enjoyed with the sweet tequila taste and smooth beer finish. Atlanta’s well-known food trucks and vendors also were present, including the well-known King of Pops, The Fry Guy food truck, the Atlanta Burger Truck, Buen Provecho, Bomb Squad Pizza, Nectar, The Pickle Food Truck and On Tapa The World. Thank you, Heineken and Desperados Beer, for the access to the festival, including VIP. We had a blast and can’t wait until next year!

COUNTERPOINT MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014

Friday, April 25th to Sunday, April 27th at

Location: Kingsdown, Ga

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://www.counterpointfestival.com/

By Liz Attaway

On the hill above a rural Georgia field is a large illuminated COUNTER.POINT sign that overlords something magical and inviting; it lures you in and takes hold of your soul. On the left of this sign in the sky is a sea of people gaggled together in front of an illuminated stage, their hands in the air, their bodies jumping and dancing in unison, their lips mouthing the words, while we stand in the back in awe of the sight. The excitement and anticipation from the crowd sends goose-bumps up your spine, touching deep inside all you want to do is join in on the happiness. That’s Counterpoint and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Let’s get right to the heart of the Counterpoint: the music. From Sleigh Bells, to Foster the People, to The Revivalists, to the headliner, OutKast, Counterpoint had wall-to-wall music, sights and sounds that kept the proverbial you busy and satisfied for three days. The scene described in the first paragraph was OutKast with Big Boi proclaiming, “It’s good to be back in the dirty, dirty.” Playing everything and I mean everything you’d wanted to hear: Rosa Parks, Hey Yeah, Mrs. Jackson, and Skew it on the Bar-B to name a few, they put it all out there for our enjoyment. They came out later than expected due to a rain delay, but it was worth the wait as the people danced and swayed to the tunes they knew so well. We loved every minute of it from the American Flag to the laser light show! It looked like Andre 3000 and Big Boi both were having a blast and that’s what it’s about: giving the audience a good time, while having a good time themselves. Now if they could just have had a big screen or two for the people in the back to see the shenanigans. Funny story: we met Andre 3000 in an elevator and didn’t even know it until later that night. He was very gracious to us and probably enjoyed a regular conversation for once. It’s good to have them back and I can’t believe they are celebrating 20 years. Now, I’m feeling a little old.

The most anticipated artist for me was Sleigh Bells. Having seen them before in a small venue, they didn’t disappoint with blazing guitar, deep base, loud drums all held together by Alexis Krauss’ smooth voice. Last time we saw them Alexis got hit in the head with the guitar but finished her performance and even made an appearance at the merch table, gash and all. If you’ve never heard Sleigh Bells, I would describe them as upbeat electronica pop rock, or as I first heard them described, noise pop. I love Sleigh Bells and on top of that their energy and humility is breathtaking. Alexis gives it 100% every song, every time and seems to love every minute of her time on stage and her performance. My only complaint was their set got cut due to a rain delay and probably had to cut my favorite of their cannon of songs: Tell ‘em from the Treats album. I need more. When’s the next show?

I haven’t seen Foster the People before and I have to say they were quite good live. With spikes of clear stone reminiscent of the fortress of solitude from superman, they came out with gusto and LEDs fluttering light in the background. They played several songs that were widely known like Pumped up Kicks and Don’t Stop, while mixing in some other songs that kept with the quality of the radio songs. Not only can Mark Foster sing, he also plays the piano and put his talent on display several times during his set. Another band we enjoyed were The Revivalists, as they were a little different than the other Counter.Point fare. With French horn and saxophone accompaniment, the lead singer, David Shaw was probably the most energetic lead singer besides Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. He jumped out into the crowd the second he could and the crowd loved it. His music reminded me of a band from college called, Dayroom and it excited me! I think I’ll be downloading their music soon from iTunes.

Beyond the music, our new friends at Heineken, cornered the market on beer and offered its flagship brand, Heineken, Heineken Light and a new beer introduced to the crowd called Desperado. Desperado is a new tequila barrel-aged Mexican lager that is sweet, cold, and satisfying for the spirit, wine, and occasional bud light lime drinker. Surprised by the taste, it was sweeter than anticipated with a hint of citrus and a smooth light tequila tart taste throughout. The beer wasn’t the only thing Heineken brought to Counterpoint, they brought what was called the Heineken House. It was a bar in a uniquely built art exhibit of live artwork being painted by the artist as the festival went on around it. At night, it was illuminated for the world to see with neon green outlines. The artwork was done by artists that were brought in from all over including big cities like Los Angeles and hometown heroes from Atlanta. Heineken will also be sponsoring two more big Atlanta shows called Shaky Knees at Atlantic Station that has a stellar line up including The National, Modest Mouse, Cage the Elephant and more is one. The other is Party in the Park on May 17th that is sponsored by Desperado and has big names like MGMT and Girl Talk. Where do we sign up?

As for the other sponsors, Zippo had a design a Zippo contest where the winner would win a guitar. I saw several of the entries and they were all very good. Next to Zippo was Cracker Jack’s and they were giving out Spicy Pizzeria snacks all weekend, which came in handy in a pinch. Also, Bed Head had a tent where attendees could get rid of that nasty festival hair and get their “hair did” by a professional. Bell’s had a draught house where they featured several of their beers including my favorite Bell’s beer: Porter.

What would a festival be without the people? Beyond the words were the poles, hundreds of poles, with anything from cardboard cut-outs to umbrellas, to glowing eyes, to trees. The most interesting were Bill Cosby and King of the Hill’s Hank with glowing eyes, while the worst and most perplexing was the literal tree. It was like the guy picked it up in the woods and said, “Hey, let’s use this as our pole.” What. In. The World. There was body paint, guys in speedos, several dozen people with fashion fur hats, and so on and so forth, so talk about a melting pot of cultures. The OutKast fans were out in force on Sunday with tailgaters in day parking blasting classic OutKast. We even got asked what our favorite OutKast album was on the way back into the festival grounds.

Where were all these people staying? There were several things you could do that included camping, Glamping, RV parking, day parking, or staying off-site at a hotel. We were going to drive home but we ended up finding a hotel the night of only 15 miles away in Adairsville, so it was entirely possible to find something last minute. The camping on the grounds of Steeplechase looked the most fun with people grilling out, taking naps and enjoying their friends. Up the hill is where the RVs were parked with their air conditioning and personal bathrooms, which would have been a good change from those Johnny-On-The-Spots. The next lot over were the nicer RVs of the VIP where we met our friends at Heineken and next to that were the Glampers. You could purchase a pre-pitched tent with anything up to four cots to an actual bed! They looked tres chic as the French would say. If you didn’t feel like playing in the mud with the masses, there were people who day parked and went home or stayed in hotels. It was very easy to get to and from the concert with plenty of car lanes and very little lines.

Overall, what a glorious weekend of good music, interesting people, exciting new connections, and everything in between at Counterpoint. We had such a good time and CAN’T WAIT to go back next year and experience it all over again. You should also pencil it in for next year, this is a can’t miss festival anyone can attend!


NIGHT OF SPECTACLES 2014

Saturday, May 10th at 7pm

Location: The Buckhead Theater

A FASHION EYE WEAR EVENT BENEFITING THE GEORGIA LIONS LIGHTHOUSE

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.nightofspectacles.org/

By Liz Attaway

Spectacle Wishes and Eye Surgery Dreams.

On a stormy night in May, a few hundred people gather together for a lavish event that helps needy Georgians see. Women in ball gowns, men in tuxes, all dressed up to help their friends, family and strangers from all over Georgia.  This event is the annual Night of Spectacles and now in it’s seventh year, Georgia Lions Lighthouse has helped over 6,490 people in 2013 alone. This event raises money to provide eye services like exams, glasses, surgeries, screenings and even hearing aids to those who can’t afford them.  With silent auction, live auction, reverse auction, and a stunning fashion show there is plenty of room to open your heart and help your fellow Georgians.

 

The main event of Night of Spectacles is the fashion show. This year, SCAD, Clark Atlanta, and Georgia Southern fashion students competed for a $1000 scholarship to help them to realize their fashion dream. The winner of this year’s $1000 scholarship was Lily Johnson from Georgia Southern who had one of the most unique dress designs with over 300 eye glass pieces, while being edgy and different. This is her third year in the competition, and her attention detail, hard work, and overall unique design made her dress the clear winner for to the judges. As far as the other winner, the runner-up was Walter Dixon of Georgia Southern. Finally, another designer, Melanie Woodroffe, who is not a student was recognized as she creatively crafted a “steampunk” designed dress that incorporated a top hat and the classic Victorian era detail. My favorite dress was one that would be easily wearable with blue eye glasses down the front and a low back. It could be worn out on the town! I also liked the navy blue number with the open midriff and dangling clear eyewear. Another one was black with what I would describe as gold wings and adornment, as well as a princess ball gown with a long flowing pink train. The variety and imagination of the students was in full force this year and there wasn’t a bad dress in the house. Bravo!

 

I wanted to take a minute to talk about the judges as I was impressed with their pedigree! Starting with Julie Moran who is a Georgia native who went on to be a host on Entertainment Tonight! She is uniquely qualified for fashion as she covered numerous fashion events for her day job. There was also Sherie Nevett, who has her own clothing line called Sherie Nevett Designs. She was wearing a stunning white dress that was very fashion forward. The final judge is Jessica Black, the 2010 Miss United States and Georgia girl as well. It must have been an hour to win this competition with such forward thinking fashion icons!

 

On top of the spectacular fashion show, the silent auction included a variety of items from big items like Southwest Roundtrip tickets, to sunglasses, to gift cards for several restaurants and outings, to an autographed Cam Newton football, and even a wooden train. They were selling like hot cakes. After the silent auction closed, the live auction took center stage and was co-hosted by Georgia Franco. George Franco is a news anchor over at the local Fox Five News affiliate and seemed to really enjoy pumping up the crowd. Some of the items included a trip to Italy to stay in the Tucson son, as well as an African safari for the adventurous, even a beach vacation in Florida. After that, the reverse auction was probably the most lucrative of the donations as people gave from larger sums to smaller sums. One guy gave $50 per Lions member in the room, which was impressive. Everyone at our table gave during the reverse auction and seemed to move people to give. And let’s not forget the fabulous food catered by Soiree with little chicken salad sandwiches, prime rib, and cooked mixed vegetables. They even had a risotto bar where you could choose your toppings, which I had never seen before.

 

If you don’t know anything about the Georgia Lion’s Lighthouse more than what was mentioned above, know that on top of the people they have helped, the eye surgeries, and glasses, they also recycle eye wear and have volunteer opportunities open to the public in their eye clinic. Too many people desperately need help with their sight and before I started helping with Night of Spectacles years ago, I took for granted my eye sight. Now, I know how many lives Georgia Lion’s Lighthouse and the Night of Spectacles help all over the state and beyond. If you would like more information on the Georgia Lion’s Lighthouse go to their website: http://www.lionslighthouse.org/

 

SWEETWATER 420 FEST 2014

Friday, April 18th to Sunday, April 20th at Varied by day

Location: Centennial Olympic Park

WE’RE HERE FOR A GOOD TIME.

SHE’S HERE FOR A LONG TIME.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

http://sweetwater420fest.com/

 As The Mist descended upon Atlanta, a rogue storm of bloodthirsty creatures wreaked havoc on this sprawling metropolis, while a small band of citizens fought for their lives held up under the Sweetwater 420 stage. Ok, maybe that was the synopsis for Steven King’s The Mist with some creative tweaks (special credit to IMDB), but none the less, the mist was a minor issue. What it wasn’t an issue for was the spirit and mood of Sweetwater 420 Festival. With great music, a vibrant artists market and a ton of happy people, the festival was in full force despite the minor mist setback.

Our first stop this year was to see our friend, Wesley Cook, play the main stage.  With his smooth sounds of the beach, intertwined with some catchy rock riffs, he was a big hit to festivalgoers. Cook is a dynamic singer, songwriter who has competed in Rolling Stone’s Street to Stage competition, as well as does anything from acoustic small shows to big stage productions. We would say he is a mix of beach fun-in-the-sun, Dave Matthews, rock, and jazz, then top that with his energy and you’ve got Wesley Cook. If you like any of that, you should check him out at http://www.wesleycook.com/.

I’ve never seen anything quite like the Not So Silent Disco Tent.  Heard from across the street, the dance beats filled the air around the tent as tons of festival goers piled into see the rainbow bright girls dance in front of a white, futuristic stage set up dressed up with lights, a hazer, and beach balls. The crowd danced to the beat in time as non-festival onlookers from the fence gazed in amazement. It was probably one of the best things at 420. It was energetic!

On the sponsorship side, Tic Tac blew me away with their neat little set up where attendees could stand in line to get a make-your-own pack of Tic Tacs. They had a large variety of flavors including, light and dark strawberry, peppermint, berry, as well as spearmint. Once the pack was put together you got your very own label. On the other side of the set-up was a place you could take a picture IN a Tic Tac pack. It was pretty fun the only downfall was the long line. The other big sponsor had to be Johnsonville Brats. They brought a really big truck that boasted it was the world’s biggest grill. It looked and smelled fantastic. They were selling large brats for $3 so we tried them. Mm Mm. Worth every bite. They weren’t the only food offering, there were a ton of food trucks scattered about including Mixed Up where you got your food to hair metal tunes, as well as anything from fries to comfort food to fish.

In the paved area of the park, the artist market had it all from jewelry (big watches, my favorite), clothing, artwork, to anything in between.  Beyond that there were two other experiences worth noting and they include the Comedy Stage and the Sweetwater Experience. To get out of the rain or for a little change of pace, attendees could go in and watch a live improve act from several improve theaters all over the city. The other place you could go was the Sweetwater Experience. They had beer pairings with food and a seminar on what is in your beer. Not to mention the specialty beers you could try for a small fee.

Overall, despite the misty experience, Sweetwater 420 was a lot of fun this year. Moving it from Chandler Park to Centennial Olympic park was a stroke of genius and made for a much better festival experience. The lines were a lot shorter and the parking situation was 100% better. We had a great time and are looking forward.

HOGS AND HOPS 2014

Saturday, April 5th at 2pm

Location: Masquerade Music Park

“We Smoke Pig Butts and We Cannot Lie” – Smoke Ring BBQ.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.hogsandhopsatlanta.com/

“We smoke big pig butts and we cannot lie,” huh? We have to admit that we too like smoked butts and cannot lie: we like them in rub, we like them in glub, we like them here or there, we like them everywhere. Dr. Seuss and Sir Mix A lot aside this festival was all about the food and there was more than I could fit into my belly.  At Hogs and Hops beer was flowing, the barbeque was smoked, the stew was stewing, the collards were steeping, all that being said are you hungry yet?  I drew up my elastic waist pants, gathered wet wipes, and dug in.
Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts? My favorite food of the festival was the Brussels sprouts from Smoke Ring. It was different and unexpected at a big barbeque festival. They combined what tasted like oil, garlic and salt. It was a thing of beauty, I might have muttered the words: To. Die. For. It wasn’t an understatement. I know it’s weird to talk about Brussels sprouts in a barbeque article so let’s move on. Of the barbeque variety there were two dishes that stood out to me: Bone Lick’s pulled pork straight from the hog was the first one. The pulled pork was tender with a lightly smoked and rich flavor, don’t ruin it with sauce, and eat it plain.  I had to go back for seconds and thirds. The second of my favorite barbeque offerings were the D.B.A Barbeque ribs. They were cooked to fall off the bone and had the right amount of spice and rub giving it a little bite. Along these same lines were was the best barbeque sandwich, by Moe’s Original Barbeque; it was the Turkey and Slaw. The turkey was tender and slightly smoky, while the slaw was vinegar based with the right amount of bitter cabbage and vinegar, topped with some mayonnaise. It was so good I ate the whole thing despite being stuffed up to my eye balls. Speaking of slaw, if you haven’t tried Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Asian Pear Slaw, you’re missing out. Sweet. Salty. Vinegar-y. Slightly creamy; four good adjectives that should make your stomach growl. I know mine is! Let me take a minute here to mention that Greater Good Barbeque was the winner of the Hogs and Hops judges competition, but I didn’t get around to them as they were the furthest from the front. We will have to take a weekend adventure to try them and you should too.
Barbeque wasn’t the only thing on the menu like the Brussels sprouts, Bone Lick had some really good collards soaked with bacon, and another one of my favorites was the Italian Meatball from Mighty Meatball. It was smothered in marinara sauce, cooked, and then topped with more marinara sauce. Did I mention the meat was hand ground and they even make their own sausage? Phenomenal. Mighty Meatball has two food trucks and frequents the Atlanta Food Truck Park. You should go and hang out with these friendly, down to earth restaurateurs. Don’t forget the dessert. The line leading up to the tent said it all about The Naked Donut Company; they were fresh fried right on site and seconds before being topped. They were sweet and sticky with or without chocolate and sprinkles.

 

Barbeque and all the fixin’s weren’t the only draw, there was also some new Atlanta breweries and several new beers on tap to try. A new Atlanta brewery called Yes Face has a phenomenal beer called O Face Stout. It was one of those Stouts that you drink multiple of and enjoy the whole time.

Some stouts tend to get bitter over time or don’t have enough malt flavor but this had the right blend of both malt and flavor.  Have you ever heard of beer that tastes like pretzels? Look no further than Shock Top who now has a pretzel wheat beer that was surprisingly good (if you like pretzels as much as I do). It smelled like a bag of pretzels freshly opened and finishes with a slight pretzel flavor but smooth throughout.  I was surprised that I liked it so much because it was just so odd.  Speaking of pretzels, we’ve tried Knotty Pretzels a few times but paired with the Pretzel Wheat it was heaven. The local Atlanta pretzel company has some good flavors including Italian, which was really fresh and good.

With a full bell, we left Hogs and Hops with a smile on our faces. It was barbeque and beertastic and now I know what restaurants I’ll be going to for my barbeque fix.

Try any of these places for yourself, here’s a handy list:

Smoke Ring http://www.smokeringatlanta.com/

Bone Lick BBQ http://www.bonelickbarbecue.com/

D.B.A. Barbeque http://www.dbabarbecue.com/

Moe’s Original Barbeque http://www.moesoriginalbbq.com/

Mighty Meatballs Food Truck http://www.mightymeatballs.com/

The Naked Donut Company http://www.thenakeddonutcompany.com/home.html

Greater Good Barbeque http://greatergoodbbq.com/

Sweet Auburn Barbeque http://sweetauburnbbq.com/

 

 

 

 

BEER CARNIVAL 2014

Saturday, April 5th at 12pm

Location: Atlantic Station

The Carnival’s Coming To Town!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.thebeercarnival.com/

 Step right up! Don’t worry height restrictions don’t apply here; you can be 10 feet or 2 feet to ride these ride. With the beautiful Atlanta downtown skyline, blue sky, and the red flags of a carnival tent swaying in the wind, The Beer Carnival rolled into town with a plethora of engaging carnival games and beer. On this glorious day there were so many carnival games, it was almost impossible to figure out where to start. To the right were games and beer to the left were games and beer, what shall we do first?

From Angry Beers, a live take on Angry Birds, to Keg Racers that pits friends against each other in a race to glory, to several plastic ducks taking a swim down a watery luge, there was a little something to do for everyone (and their mothers!). My favorite game had to be the Duck Luge. I know, I know there was a game called Surgery! that was a BIG take on Operation! It was cool and deserves a little shock mention but it wasn’t my favorite. Why you ask? Water! Not only was it a little unique, it also involved pumping water that may or may not work or splash all over the participants and it just made for a really fun time.  I watched one girl laughing so hard that her pump didn’t work well that it really was contagious to all the people watching and playing.

Then, there were the Keg Racers, where you could sit on a plastic keg with wheels and race one of your friends around a short track and walk away with bragging rights. The line was pretty long and some people were really good at it and some people just would fall off or putt around the track. It was pretty funny to watch but it didn’t matter, the participants really had a lot of fun.  Another one of the games was the Beer Graffiti Wall, which was totally full by 2:30pm. There were tons of sayings and names on it but not a lot of real estate. So, we took to the ground and wrote our website on the ground and took a picture. Free advertising (kind of)? Yes, Please. Genius! Finally, there was Top Spin that allusive game that we played several times and just couldn’t win. It became a mission to win! What I found was that no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t win. It was like we could squirt the target all day but it was really random if you won or not. What is the trick to this game, I wonder? Is it like finding Bigfoot and just never going to happen? I guess so for this year. I would like to mention some of the other games that included BOWL! a big bowling game, some traditional carnival games like throwing balls at cans, to floating beer pong. I can’t monition them all here!

Let’s not forget the beer: three to mention. First, O’Dempsy’s Your Black Heart Stout was there, so you know which one I went back to a few times as they have one of my favorite stouts. I’ve had this beer so many times and just love it. Highly recommended. In the VIP area were two specialty beers that turned my head, the first being Starr Hill Little Red Roostarr Coffee Cream Stout. I took a chance on this one even though it had the word “milk” in it and it was worth it. It was a gloriously smooth with a strong chocolate nose and a creamy finish. One of the best beers I’ve ever had and no it isn’t better than my favorite beer Wake-N-Bake so don’t ask.  The other was the Red Brick’s 20th Anniversary Ale.  It was a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. Red Brick’s website quotes it at 10.5 percent ABV and one of its biggest beers yet. It was a good big beer with a lot of up front malt and a smooth bourbon finish. I would recommend it. Finally,back out in the general area was Eventide Stout. I finally found a place that has a stout that is in their regular brewery rotation. YES! It’s really hard to find stouts on tap all year round at a brewery.

This carnival wasn’t about the bearded lady, elephants, clowns, or the Amazing Houdini the Magnificent; it was a fun time with games and beer. There was so much to do and so little time. Next year, I’m playing more games and by God I’m going to win Top Spin.