Cover Story: Festivals

All summer long

Retro Festivals1 1 02
Photo credit: Courtesy Georgia Renaissance Festival
Renaissance Festival

The Atlanta Jazz Festival

The highlight of the monthlong celebration is the three-day outdoor concert (May 27-29) at Piedmont Park. Among the plethora of performers are three jazz legends. Pianist McCoy Tyner, a member of the original groundbreaking John Coltrane Quartet, brings his trio to Piedmont Park. Donald Byrd was still in high school when he performed with Lionel Hampton and later joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. And Grady Tate, who has drummed on hundreds of recordings for artists, ranging from Stan Getz to Tony Bennett to Aretha Franklin, brings his quintet to town. Other artists include renowned vocalist Carmen Lundy, the Yellowjackets and the Benny Golson Quartet. Aside from live music, the event will feature brunches, instructional workshops and youth jazz band competitions. So come out to Piedmont Park over Memorial Day weekend and experience what Mayor Shirley Franklin calls "one of the city's proudest traditions." By the way, did we mention it's free?

-- Noah Gardenswartz

Summer Film Series

For harried 21st-century workers, a brief respite in a cool, dark theater this summer may be as close as some of us get to a vacation. Some of the city's best film series are fortunately concentrated in summertime, beginning with the annual Atlanta Film Festival (www.atlantafilmfestival.com), June 9-17, featuring an array of shorts, local features and an especially promising crop of documentaries.

One of the best movie events because it capitalizes on the unbeatable combination of a big-city skyline and old-school movies is TCM's Screen on the Green (www.tcm.com/2006/screenonthegreen/index) in Piedmont Park, every Thursday in June, which kicks off with the Beatlemania classic A Hard Day's Night.

The Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival at the Fox Theatre (www.foxtheatre.org), June 1-Aug. 20, includes opening night Academy Award-winner Crash, with a sure-to-be-provocative post-screening discussion.

From Aug. 22-27, Cinefest and Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery will host the Atlanta Underground Film Festival (www.auff.org), which features locally made beach movie spoof Stomp! Shout! Scream!.

And finally, when it's hot outside, you want to see other people do all the work, and no one labors harder than the samurai featured in the High Museum's Rebel Samurai series June 2-30 (www.high.org), featuring new 35 mm prints of rare films.

-- Felicia Feaster

Atlanta Pride 2006

Oh, the people you'll meet at the 36th annual Atlanta Pride Festival (new.atlantapride.org), June 23-25, in Piedmont Park. Come to mingle with the 300,000-plus festival-goers, who give new meaning to diversity and know how to party. The 2006 theme, "pride 365 live. love. be," embodies the hope that "all Pride participants will take the strength, happiness and affirmation they get from Pride weekend and make it a part of their lives all year," says Donna Narducci, Atlanta Pride executive director. Live bands perform on the Coca-Cola stage from 1-10 p.m., vendors offer everything from beer and T-shirts to designer doggie duds, and the people-watching is unparalleled. The Pride Parade steps off at 1 p.m. Sunday from the MARTA Civic Center Station, and the Dyke March is Saturday at 6 p.m. Pride is Atlanta's ultimate "Come as you are" event. Atlanta Pride 2006. Free. Fri., June 23, 6-11 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., June 24-25, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Piedmont Park.

-- Sarah Winterfield

The Georgia Renaissance Festival

This 15th-century kingdom is more than swords, knights and stuff. Ten stages of regal entertainment feature such shows as the Washing Well Wenches, the Ten Penny Travelers (the noble breakdancers), and the Zucchini Brothers Danger Theatre. Then take in a show of jousting (the original extreme sport). If watching all this tom-foolery makes you hungry, there is food fit for royalty: turkey legs, fried cheese, Merlin's Magical Cinnamon Almonds, Scotch eggs and Dirt Cake. There are rides, as well: Columbus Ship, Catapulting Frogs and Jacob's Ladder, to name a few. But we suggest you take a whirl on them first before downing the noble delectables. $8.40-$16.95. Saturdays and Sundays through June 4. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. 6905 Virlyn B. Smith Road. Fairburn. 770-964-8575. www.garenfest.com.

-- Sonia Clark

Powers' Crossing Festival

Picture Martha Stewart, in all her glory, Southern-fried. This festival showcases artists and craftsmen from all around the country displaying and selling their work. There are also demonstrations on blacksmithing, the workings of a sorghum syrup mill and how to grind wheat in a grist mill. The festival, operated by a number of Coweta County nonprofit organizations, has a special children's park. Food, including vegan items, is provided by local church and civic groups. $2-$5. Sept. 2-4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 4766 Highway 34 West, Newnan. 770-253-2011. newnan.com/cowetafestivals/powers.

-- Sonia Clark

National Black Arts Festival

The National Black Arts Festival, July 14-23, and the eighth annual Great Atlanta Music Festival will bring a variety of art and music to the city. Highlighting the Black Arts Festival will be the premier performance of "A Great and Shining Light," a musical tribute to Andrew Young by Hannibal Lokumbe. The work, which was commissioned by the festival, is the latest in a series by the Grammy Award-nominated Lokumbe to focus on the lives of Civil Rights leaders. The piece features Bernadine Mitchell, a 150-voice choir and a jazz quintet, and takes place July 14 at the Woodruff Arts Center. Tickets range from $31 to $100; for more info, go to www.nbaf.org. The Great Atlanta Music Festival, held in conjunction with the Black Arts Festival, will feature national and local blues acts performing free at Woodruff Park, July 21-23. Artists include Trudy Lynn, Lucky Peterson and Theodis Ealey. For more info, go to sweetauburn.com/musicfest.htm.

-- Scott Freeman