Ending the streak

Music Midtown lineup lures music fan to explore the unknown

Music Midtown or bust. I have a confession to make: I have lived in Atlanta for almost nine years and I have never attended Music Midtown. There always has been at least one artist in the lineup I really wanted to see and each year, I said to myself and my husband, "Maybe this year," but I never quite made it. I think it's the crowds — an annoying aspect of life that I try to avoid. Or maybe it was the fear of the unknown: Where would I park? Is it going to cost me an arm and a leg to get a bottle of juice or something to eat? Will the performances start on time? Etcetera, etcetera.

Last year, I had every intention of attending. I even got the highly coveted press pass but decided against it because my 2-year-old seemed to be rather maladjusted to the heat.

This year, however, I have vowed to show my support for what seems to me (even from afar) to be a really cool event. The greatest factor in deciding to go this year is that my husband's birthday is Sat., May 5, and his musical idol Al Green is slated to perform. Having missed several Atlanta appearances by the good Reverend over the years, my husband not-so-subtly hinted to me that seeing him perform would be a great birthday present.

So this year, we're going. My son, all of a year older, seems to fare better these days in the heat and my daughter, the little party animal that she is, will thoroughly enjoy the excitement. Our biggest challenge, I fear, will be pulling them away from Kids' Town, an area for young festival-goers that will feature face painting, a hands-on SciTrek exhibit, stilt-walking, dancing and the usual cast of characters: Pooh, Arthur, the Cat in the Hat. Hey, even a rousing, get-happy rendition of "Love and Happiness" can't compete with that. But we'll try.

In addition to Al Green, the list of urban acts scheduled to perform at Music Midtown this year is impressive: Erykah Badu, Arrested Development, Carl Thomas, Ludacris, Run DMC, Sugar Hill Gang, Bilal, Kool and the Gang and Musiq Soulchild. Some artists confirm well after the list of performers has been announced, so there might even be others.

Badu and the reunited Arrested Development are at the top of my wish list. And my husband, being the die-hard old-schooler he is, probably will want to check out Kool and the Gang and the Sugar Hill Gang. But then again, Al Green could leave him so emotionally spent, he might be willing to pack it in after his performance.

Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me be clear: I have nothing against Al Green. In fact, as a child I was a big fan and I suppose I still am. Would I enjoy seeing him on stage? Sure. Would I kill for the opportunity? Probably not as quickly as my other half would. I don't doubt that the Rev. Green will put on an exciting, high-energy show and I look forward to seeing it.

So this year, without question, will end my seven-year streak of missing Music Midtown (this is the event's eighth year). I plan to be there come hell or high water (OK, maybe that's a bit dramatic).

Voyage to Atlantis.

And while I'm on the subject of venerable Atlanta music events, let's talk about Atlantis. I was happily surprised to hear that the 4-year-old conference is taking another stab at its Urban Symposium. Although last year, there were a few members of the urban music community who eyed the effort suspiciously (accusing white organizers of simply trying to tap into the urban dollars floating around our fair city), the urban (black) oriented panels and showcases are on tap for the third straight year.

And on the subject of courting so-called black dollars: So what? People have the right to choose whether they attend the event and if I know aspiring artists the way I think I do, they're hungry for all the information and hook-ups they can get as they try to break into the music business — regardless of where it comes from.

My advice: Go to every conference, workshop and seminar you can and ask the same questions over and over just to see if you get the same answers. Maybe then you'll be on the right track to getting ahead; that is, until the next conference. By then, the answers will be totally different.

For information on Music Midtown, visit www.musicmidtown.com; and on Atlantis, go to www.atlantismusic.com.??