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Best Bets for NYE: Go Ahead and Party Like It’s 2011!



As we race to countdown the final hours of 2011 and wish this year adieu, it’s time to finalize your New Year’s Eve plans with the Backstage Beat! So, pucker up and hold on because we’re about to kiss this year goodbye and start 2012 off with a big ol’ bang. Here’s what’s rockin’ our world the last few minutes of December 31, 2011.

Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta
For starters, there’s always the traditionally packed out and crazy Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta. The all-day event starts at 11 a.m. and goes until 12:30 a.m. after the Peach Drops at midnight. You can watch the Chick-fil-A Bowl and Peach Drop live on the Kenny’s Alley big screen TVs. Kenny’s Alley will have these bands and performers – The Frame, Frets on Fire, Trina Mashell, JWhite, Virginia Runnin’, Georgia Power Trio, Act Thirt33n, 10StepsBack, Best Friends, STACE, Eryn Woods, Norwood, Typical Friday Night, and Generation Now! The Family Fun & Budding Peach Stage will have family-friendly activities and entertainment all day long including, Isaiah Hill, Alley Sweatmon, Jharee, Tyreke, Clevetta, Melodic 3.0, Vedo The Singer, and Agape Love. There will be Peachtree Rides (carnival-style rides), face painting, balloon artists, photos with exotic birds, and food & New Year’s Eve vendors here. The Peach Drop Main Stage will feature live entertainment, fireworks, and the big Peach Drop finale! Bands on this stage start at 6 p.m. with Reign and play until after midnight, including Pato Margetic, Jimi Cravity, The Whiskey Gentry, and headliner Kansas. This is a free, all-ages event, but you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol at the different venues and restaurants in Underground Atlanta. No outside alcohol is permitted at this event. The event happens either rain or shine. Reservations for restaurants in the area are recommended and Underground Atlanta’s food court will be open until 9 p.m., but the bars and clubs will be open until 4 a.m. Transportation and parking – there is limited pay parking in the area; cabs will be available on-site throughout the event; and MARTA runs until 2 a.m.

Peach Drop

Underground Atlanta
50 Upper Alabama St SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 523-2311

CAKE at The Fabulous Fox Theatre
Not looking to stand outside waiting on the 800 pound peach to descend? Then maybe you’d be up for a piece of CAKE at the fabulous Fox Theatre’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza! Celebrating 20 years of music, CAKE is sure to have something special up its long jacket sleeve for you on NYE. This American alternative rock band has several hit singles – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle,” “The Distance,” and “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” – and are platinum selling recording artists for their albums, Fashion Nugget and Prolonging the Magic. Currently, CAKE’s 2011 album release Showroom of Compassion is on their own label, Upbeat Records. Get ready to wiggle, sing, and head bob in your seat because this is a seated show (unless everyone opts to stand through the performance). What better way to ring in the New Year and let your sweet tooth go wild, than with CAKE’s zany brand of witty, catchy pop rock tunes? So, dance like it’s 2011 with CAKE! Oh, and rumor has it that the circus will even be in town for this one – Atlanta’s very own Imperial OPA Circus that is!

The Imperial OPA Circus
The Fox Theatre – Atlanta
660 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 881-2100

Downtown Countdown Atlanta 2011 with Naughty By Nature and Ed Kowalczyk of LIVE at Hyatt Regency
Looking for an all-inclusive hotel party? Then buy an all-inclusive party pass and a hotel room so that you’ll be all set for a refreshing mini-staycation in Atlanta! For eight years straight, Lindy Promotions & USA Entertainment along with Metromix, Dave FM, Wild 105.7/96.7 and Heineken are coming together to throw one of the biggest NYE bashes in town. When you purchase an all-inclusive, you will get access to two floors of entertainment, five and a half hours of premium open bars, an array of the Hyatt’s top cuisine (featuring heavy hors d’ouvres, carved meat stations, Asian delicacies, pasta stations, late night breakfast), plus Atlanta’s largest hotel balloon drop at midnight along with decorations and party favors. This party boasts a ratio of one bartender to every 70 guests and one buffet station for every 150 guests, so you won’t spend all night waiting in lines and they organizers have limited the capacity to a very comfortable number for the space. The evening’s entertainment includes musicians (Death is a Dialogue, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, and Naughty By Nature in the main Metromix Centennial Ballroom and Blind Crush and Unzipt in the Hanover Room), deejays (Lethal Rhythms Entertainment, DJ Suspense), and comedians (Marcus Harvey, Shalewa Sharpe, Tushare Singh, and Dan Weeks). So, ring in the New Year right with 4,000 of your closest friends, premium booze, fancy eats, and entertainment to spare! This event attracts a really diverse crowd (a wide variety of ethnicities and ages, but mostly mid-20’s to late 30’s aged crowd), so leave your hater hats at home. You MUST be 21 years or older to attend this event. Formal dress code, but not stuffy – guys are expected to wear a jacket & tie or tux, but funky preferred (like MTV Music Awards style) and girls – cocktail or formal dresses (again, creativity encouraged!). Ticket prices increase as the event gets closer. General admission – $129, Post-Bowl Ticket (after 11 p.m. entry and does NOT include dinner buffets) – $85, and VIP Ticket – $200. There is limited seating throughout the event, but VIP tickets will have access to lounges with seating, a coat check, and upgraded dinner menus and bars.

Downtown Countdown Atlanta 2011

Hyatt Regency
265 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303

New Year’s Eve Bash at Sidelines Marietta!
Party, support two local bands, and stay away from downtown traffic only at Sidelines in Marietta! GP Burdell Enterprises brings Southside of the Tracks and Tron Jackson to the Local (concert venue) at Sidelines for a NYE throw down that will even include an open bar all night long in the price of admission. The Local even has some entertainment of its own with “the flaming bartender” on hand to entertain you will passing out shots and cocktails. There is limited space to party, but they will have an unlimited party going on! Southside of the Tracks will play from 9 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. and then Tron Jackson will take over and headline from midnight until whenever! There will be a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and close about 3 a.m. This venue is 18 and up – 18+ to party and 21+ to drink. 18+ cover is $15. 21+ advance tickets are $35 and $45 at the door.

Sidelines Marietta

The Local at Sidelines
1440 Roswell Road
Marietta, GA 30062
(770) 509-3320

New Year’s Eve with Yacht Rock Revue at Park Tavern
Party rock at its boozy, slow jam finest is what the Yacht Rock Revue brings to the party! If it’s not sold out, this is going to be one jam packed event. It’s all-inclusive, so that means your drinks and food will be covered all night long into the wee hours of the morning! Yacht Rock Revue will be rockin’ out and getting people dancing with Atlanta’s best DJ spinning music in the Piedmont Room of Park Tavern, which overlooks the Midtown skyline. There will be an open bar with premium liquor, beer, wine, and champagne. The party will also have yummy gourmet foods including hors d’oeuvres, a carving station, fabulous NYE specialties with plenty of sides and salads to keep your energy up to dance on into the New Year. Plus, they will also have a sushi display featuring sushi flown in fresh from Hawaii and a toasty s’mores experience with a midnight breakfast buffet that will include Krispy Kreme donuts! Of course, there will be a midnight champagne toast, NYE favors, coat check, and a photo booth to round out your awesome NYE experience. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the party goes until after midnight. Tickets start at $140. Tickets:

Yacht Rock Revue

Park Tavern in Piedmont Park
500 10th Street NE (corner of 10th and Monroe)
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 249-0001

The Shelter’s 3rd Annual New Wave New Year’s Eve Party
End 2011 and start 2012 off with a retro party! Yes, pull out your new wave gear and come kick it old school with The Shelter. Caz 10, Alabaster, and Davo will be spinning your favorite ‘80’s classic songs including all the beloved one hit wonders and those club shakin’ chart toppers. There may be a few ‘90’s songs thrown in the mix for fun as well. There will be prizes for the best dressed new waver in cool/funny/goofy clothing. The party starts at 9 p.m. and goes until 3 a.m. or later. 21 and up only. For $10 cover charge, you get free party favors, a free champagne toast at midnight, and you get to shake your groove thing all night long!
The Shelter
2101 Tula Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
(678) 694-7435


Honorable Mentions:  :)

The Peachtree Tavern

Tyler Reeve Band w/ Seven Handle Circus – New Years Eve Night!

For $20.12 you get FREE Domestic Beer and Well Drinks 9 to 11! Plus two GREAT bands!

Smiths Olde Bar

The Constellations ring in the New Year at Smiths!

With Cousin Dan & The Higher Choir! World of Lewis will be on hand hosting the NYE Festivities

The Masquerade

Against Me with Fake Problems, Ninja Gun, The Wild, Franz Nicolay

Wild Bills

Colt Ford



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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