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Weekend Picks – Happy 4th!



Atlanta! We have a long weekend ahead of us! Between BBQ’s and celebrating our independence, here are a couple of picks that we suggest and where you will find The Backstage Beat!


FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – The Fox Theatre – This show is SOLD OUT. Hope you have a ticket! If not, check back for a great review by our very own star writer, Bradley Stier!

ABBEY ROAD LIVE – The Variety Playhouse – Tickets still available! Get them HERE



GUADALCANAL DIARY, THE HOWLIES – Smiths Olde Bar – This show is SOLD OUT – Sorry  :(

F*** YESSS –  The Masquerade – Tickets still available HERE


LINDA GAIL LEWIS (Sister of Jerry Lee Lewis) with special guests HOT-ROD WALT and the PSYCHO DEVILLES, WHISKEY BELT, LOS MEESFITS – The Star Community Bar – Get your tickets HERE



EMILY KATE BOYD –  99x Unplugged in the Park – The Park Tavern.  THIS SHOW IS FREE!!! 21 and older.



All-American Celebration at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

The annual Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s All-American Celebration features a rousing program of patriotic standards, singalongs and classical favorites, including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Guest conductor Rob Fisher, music director of the Tony-winning Broadway series “Encores,” is joined by the U.S. Army Chorus, and the evening ends with a spectacular fireworks display. 8 p.m. July 4, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater At Encore Park, $12–$35, 2200 Encore Parkway, Alpharetta, 404-733-5010, .

Heritage Arts Festival at Underground Atlanta

All Fourth of July weekend, Underground Atlanta hosts a celebration of African-American culture and history with fine art and live music at the 16th annual Heritage Arts Festival. Blues in the Alley is a tribute to blues greats presented by Atlanta Blues Society. And look for more than 50 national and international booths featuring African artifacts and jewelry, plus film screenings, plays, storytelling and book signings. July 1 — July 4th, Underground Atlanta, 50 Lower Alabama Street S.W., Atlanta, 404-523-2311,

A view above Marietta’s Freedom Parade

The City of Marietta’s big Fourth of July Freedom Parade begins at 10 a.m. and 100 lucky observers can take in all the action from the rooftop terrace of the historic Strand Theatre to enjoy what’s billed as a “view above the rest.” Adding to the morning festivities, Bloody Marys, mimosas, screwdrivers, and other beverages will be available at the cash bar. Doors at 9 a.m. July 4, $10 admission limited to first 100 people, Earl Smith Strand Theatre, 117 North Park Square, Marietta, 770-293-0080,

BBQ and Beer at Woodfire Grill

Top Chef fan favorite Kevin Gillespie may be best known for serving the finest of local and sustainable cuisine at his Atlanta restaurant, Woodfire Grill. But every year Gillespie shows his love for Southern barbecue and craft beer with his annual BBQ & Beer celebration. On July 2, guests can savor a special dinner with Gillespie’s Terminus City BBQ sauce, Brunswick stew and sides, plus fruit cobbler and Sweetwater draft specials. 5:30 -11 p.m. July 2, $38 per person, reservations required, Woodfire Grill 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, 404-347-9055,

Red, White & Brew at the Georgia Aquarium

The Fourth of July benefit for the Georgia Aquarium’s education initiatives, Red, White & Brew is barbecue and beer festival with a bang. The celebration takes place atop the Aquarium’s parking deck, with views of the fireworks display at Centennial Olympic Park. Jim’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q cooks up All-American favorites such as hamburgers, hot dogs and pork sliders. And there’s live music from Yacht Rock Revue. 6 — 1:30 p.m. July 4, $45 per person, adults over 21 only, Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street N.W., 404-581-4000,

Dog Days of Summer in Canton

The July Fourth Dog Days of Summer celebration at historic Downtown Canton Cannon Park is all about canines and the people who love to show them off. Contests include prizes for best outfit, funniest outfit and the dog who looks most like its owner. There’s a dog parade, followed by a human parade and music and fireworks at Riverstone Shopping Plaza. 4 p.m. July 4, Downtown Canton Cannon Park, Canton, 130 E Main Street, Canton, 770-704-1548,

Party along the Peachtree Road Race route

Bars and restaurants along the Peachtree Road Race route are offering food and drink specials along with a view of the runners.

In Buckhead, Market celebrates with Fourth Fest starting at 6 a.m. At 7 a.m., brunch features $14 bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. Spend the day on the patio with more drink specials and live music. Or purchase a $25 VIP ticket and get exclusive access, including parking all day and premier race seating. July 4, Market Buckhead, W Atlanta — Buckhead Hotel, 3377 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, 404-523-3600, .

In Midtown, TAP’s annual Fourth of July party on the patio features Georgia beer, live entertainment and a street level seat to watch the race. The Independence Day menu includes barbecue pork, corn on the cob, slaw and watermelon, along with Bloody Mary, mimosa and Peachtree bellini specials. 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 4, 1180 Peachtree Street N.E., Atlanta, 404-347-2220

Take me out to the Braves game

What could be more American than baseball, hot dogs, beer and fireworks? The Atlanta Braves have been known as America’s Team, especially with those red, white and blue uniforms. But whatever jersey the club wears, the Fourth of July is a great time to be at Turner Field, where the National Anthem opens the game and fireworks rocket over the ballpark after it’s over. This year, the Braves take on the Colorado Rockies. 7:10 p.m. July 4, 755 Hank Aaron Dr. S.E., Atlanta, 404- 522-7630,

(4th of July info courtesy of AcesssAtlanta)


TASTE OF THE WORLD FEST –  Saturday, July 2 12:00p to 10:00p -at Old Five Points, Atlanta, GA

4 Days of Music | Artists’ Market | Charity Raffle | $10 Passport for a Sampler of 7 International Restaurants | Outdoor Dining | Great View of July 4th Keswick Park Fireworks

Fri, July 1st: 4 – 10pm || Sat, Jul 2nd: Noon – 10pm || Sun, Jul 3rd: Noon – 10pm || Mon, Jul 4th: Noon – 10pm.


Rain and Fire in Sedona



Ange Alex

A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography. 

What to do, what to do.

Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!

The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.

When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold. 

We were about to become glass blowers! 

Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.

Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”

Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.

Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.

Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.

Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.

They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like  we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor. 

Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing! 

Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.

If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!

How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!

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Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando



Ange Alex

I owe him a poem:

Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town. 

He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.

He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.

He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make

There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.

Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.

He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too

Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.

Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.

Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:

If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out. 

The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.

I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius! 

Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.


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“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward



Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.

The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.

John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!

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