Sharp Notes April 29 2004

Where the playas play ... at the same time!

Music Midtown has once again become fodder for rants and rampant second-guessing. Two of Atlanta's most wanted MCs, Lil Jon and Ludacris, are playing the Coca-Cola/V103/WB 36! stage and the All the Hits Q100/Fox 5 stage, respectively. Here's the catch: They both play Friday night, April 30, from 10:30-11:30 p.m.

Luckily, the stages are reasonably close to one another, so an intrepid attendee can run back and forth between the king of crunk and our Dirty South rhyme-spitting loon. But if you want a spot near the front, you are going to have to decide if you'd rather "Get Low" or "Rollout." Perhaps at 11:25 p.m., as both sets are winding to their conclusions, Usher will pop out of the makeshift medical station between the stages and a live stereo rendition of the scorching hit "Yeah!" featuring both Lil Jon and Luda will take place.

But more than likely, this is just a scheduling guffaw of ridiculous proportions. First, both of these acts are locals playing for their hometown audiences, which is extremely important in the hip-hop game. Repping for the ATL is a big part of both Jon and Luda's personas. Splitting the hometown crowd between them doesn't really make sense. Why not get a huge crowd for both acts?

Secondly, rap acts don't tour that often. It usually takes the organization of a gigantic package tour, like Ludacris' spring jaunt with David Banner and Chingy, to move the hip-hop game from the studio to the stage. Making the crowd choose between Lil Jon and Ludacris, probably the two biggest draws for Friday night, is entirely unfair to attendees, and more than likely, these shows constitute one of perhaps two chances Atlantans will get to see their hometown boys this year.

A big hallmark of this year's Music Midtown lineup is the organizers' attention to the national hip-hop scene and Atlanta's monstrous presence in it. So, rather than letting its citizens enjoy both of our local heroes, Music Midtown divides the community on a preference of rap styles. How cruel.

Then again, this could all be about rappers' egos. Maybe Ludacris didn't want to take the open slot before George Clinton and Big Boi on Saturday — since filled by Jessica Simpson's little sis, Ashlee. Maybe Luda wasn't available Saturday. After all, if he didn't take the Friday slot, the Q100 stage would have had no real headliner for that night.

Whatever the reason, Music Midtown always creates tough choices — Jessica Simpson or Courtney Love, the Strokes or the Drive-By Truckers, Angie Stone or Joss Stone, etc. This one just stings a little.

Dance Robot Dan goes Gammon: The Energizer bunny of the Athens scene, Dan Geller, and his demure partner-in-crime (but according to their publicist, no longer partner-in-love) Amy Dykes have had to move past the still-pending demise of Geller's imprint, Kindercore (which he co-founded with Ryan Lewis, formerly of the Agenda), and shop for a new label. The electro-pop duo, better known as I Am the World Trade Center, has settled on Gammon Records as the lucky benefactor, with the honor of putting out the group's third full-length, The Cover Up, due out Tues., June 29.

The New York City-based indie label is best known as the original label of momentarily popular biker-jacketed garage rockers the Mooney Suzuki (since snatched up by Columbia) and as the vinyl distributors for the Dandy Warhols LP Welcome to the Monkey House.

In a statement to the press, Geller commented on the new alliance: "We have known the guys at Gammon for years and it just makes sense to trust them with the best record we have recorded. Plus, we got free Dandy Warhols vinyl for signing with them."

And they say only the majors are corrupt.

Catch the pair this Sat., May 1, at the Earl with Paper Lions and Pacific UV.

Local Show(s) of the Week:All the performances mentioned thus far warrant this tag, but on short notice, a locally reared big-city girl is coming home to take the official mantle. Chan Marshall — that's Cat Power to you — makes a not-so-rare appearance at the Earl Mon., May 3, and this time her hometown contingent is hoping and wishing and praying for some semblance of showmanship.

Her last two gigs back home were less then stellar. In the summer of 2003, she stomped and stammered through a set of covers and fare from her recent masterpiece You Are Free to the chagrin of many fans. When she mentioned that her admirers had spent too much money to see her, many agreed, while others had already left. It was a bitter pill for all around to swallow. That minor meltdown was followed by a no-show at a CD release party for a tribute album dedicated to the memory of Witt Mills, a local artist and musician who hailed from Marshall's neighborhood of Cabbagetown.

It'll be interesting to see if Marshall can coax people out to East Atlanta this time. Some of us learn slow. I know I do.