Sharp Notes March 11 2004

Making Music Midtown: This Thurs., March 11, Clear Channel will publicly announce the lineup for the 99X Locals Only Stage at Music Midtown. The 13 acts who will perform during the festival, scheduled for Fri., April 30-Sun., May 2, are Bain Mattox, Crazy Anglos, Ishues, [minus.driver], Red Letter Agent, Second Shift, slowEarth, Steadlur, the Swear, To Whom It Concerns, the Tom Collins, Van Hunt and the Whigs. No time slots have been finalized thus far.

The eclectic lineup — which swerves from neo-soul to electro/synth-pop — was picked by a process Clear Channel's Mitali Chakraborty calls "a very scientific one." A general call for submissions is made, then a committee from within the Music Midtown management team listens to the hundreds of recordings submitted. Then, "each member creates a 'hot' list to take over to 99X where we have a really fun listening party in the 99X conference room," says Chakraborty.

One more slot is still to be filled, and the winner will emerge from a battle of bands to take place Fri., March 26 at the Cotton Club. The three bands who have advanced to the final rumble thus far are Heavy Mojo, Linger and Arlington. A final preliminary round will be held Fri., March 12 when the Phamily, Obsession Day (formerly Dial 8), Good Friday Experiment and Myssouri go at it.

These locals will join a host of other Atlantans who will perform on the festival's major stages. Scheduled to appear are Cee-Lo, Lil Jon & the East Side Boys (What?!?), Lil Jon and the East Side Boys (OK!!), Drive-By Truckers and Chris Robinson and New Earth Mud, as well as nonlocals the Doors of the 21st Century (aka No Jim, 'cause he's dead, and no Densmore, 'cause he respects the Doors), critical darlings Fountains of Wayne and Shortlist prize winner Damien Rice. Tickets, on sale Sat., March 13 through Ticketmaster, are $40 for a single day and $45 for the entire festival (plus a hefty surcharge that will be used to buy streamers at the Republican National Convention).

Blind Willie's gets foresight: Earlier this year, Blind Willie's management team of Eric King and Roger Gregory, bassist of house band the Shadows, began looking for help in running the day-to-day operations of their 18-year-old blues club. They had only to look next door. On Tues., March 2, the operations group from Limerick Junction — Gordon Kerr, Rick Adams and local bar maven Tracy Crowley — were brought in to handle the bar's infrastructure and make some minor changes to the club's stage.

"We may be doing some jazz and obviously roots music that's associated with blues and jazz," says Kerr. "No, we're not planning to do any hip-hop or anything like that."

Other music ideas being batted around include bringing in more local blues acts like Mudcat and having a blues open mic. King will still handle booking national acts, and Gregory's Shadows still will be the house band, though they may not play as often. Other changes involve turning the club back into a neighborhood-type establishment, meaning earlier opening times, an expanded menu (including etouffee and black beans and rice) and a proper cash register.

Blind Willie's, named after Georgia blues legend Blind Willie McTell, has been bringing Atlanta premiere national blues acts since 1986 when King and Gregory brought in Luther "Houserocker" Johnson, who still plays the club, and a host of national acts including Lazy Lester, and select locals like Sandra Hall.

Gordon stresses that the club is far from scuttling to gut its heritage: "If you walk in there, you won't see any difference. We're just going to come in and tweak things. We're not planning to change the genre of the club at all."

Local Show(s) of the Week: Athens band of the shoe-gaze and dream variety, Pacific UV are headed to the big city next door to play a show at the Earl, Thurs., March 18. The group's self-titled first disc is a beautiful and haunting blend of electronic noodling that benefited from production and guest vocalist help from two of the members of Now It's Overhead (see feature, p. 95).

In a far calmer battle of the bands, jazz acts will compete for Atlanta's Future of Jazz Award and a performance at the Atlanta Jazz Festival during a series of competitions beginning Sun., March 14 and occurring every second Sunday of the month at Churchill Grounds. The first installment lines up improvisational vocalist Julie Dexter, the world-blend of Ede Wright Group and funky quartet A'emarti.

If you are looking for an ol' reliable, there's always OutKast's live band Whild Peach at the group's traditional venue of choice, Apache Cafe. Whild Peach has got funk, soul, sex appeal and Zeppelin covers to boot. The group performs Thurs., March 18. File under: Why haven't they made it yet?