HIGH FREQUENCIES: Are you ready?

Some say ‘it’s showtime,’ others are more cautious

#1 SOB
Photo credit: TONY PARIS
THE LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT: On the patio at Smith’s Olde Bar.

On a local Atlanta music Facebook page there is an extended discussion about whether or not there were sharks swimming in a tank underneath the glass dance floor of the Limelight in Buckhead during the ’80s (there were — for opening night). For those who don’t know, the “Studio 54 of the South” in the Piedmont-Peachtree Crossing shopping center is what gave the Disco Kroger its moniker, long after the dance club closed.

Forty years from now people will probably be having another discussion about what by then may seem bizarre: “What did you do during the Great Pandemic of 2020?” A lot of people will answer that they fought over rolls and rolls of toilet paper, sheltered in place, washed their hands over and over for at least 20 seconds each time, wore masks, wore double masks, made their own hand sanitizer, shopped for necessities online, and streamed endless movies and television shows until they’d binge-watched everything on the internet.

A good number of people will lament how live music came to an end, music clubs and bars and theaters closed, touring acts were forced off the road, and road crews, sound and light people, tour managers, and club personnel, booking agency and concert promotions employees, and others who made a living doing what they loved were either furloughed or lost their gigs altogether.

With an increase in the number of people getting vaccinated and others getting a bad case of cabin fever, people have started going out again.

Are you ready to get back to it? Are you willing to head out to the clubs to hear live music, see musicians perform onstage, and revel in all that you’ve been missing during these long months of self-isolation? The time is now, apparently, if you’re ready, willing, and able. Some people have already been paying the doorman a cover charge, throwing caution to the wind, and catching live music in real life.

For quite a few weeks now, both Blind Willie’s in Virginia-Highland and the Northside Tavern on Atlanta’s Westside have been booking weekend shows. I guess if you’re into the blues, taking your life in your hands comes with the territory. I mean, the musicians onstage had to make a deal with the devil to get their chops, right? So what’s the harm of going into a small club and enjoying some live music even if no one is following CDC guidelines, despite their being posted at the door, and there’s no social distancing, no one is wearing masks, and you don’t know if the person next to you has been vaccinated or is a COVID-19 denier?

Heading out is up to the individual — and many Atlanta club owners are betting that with spring having sprung, the time has come.

IN THE YEAR 2021: No need for waitrons at Smith’s Olde Bar. With a cellphone and a QR code you can order and pay without the hassle of human contact. Then, your food is dutifully delivered by drones straight from the kitchen. Well, they’re hot really drones, but they don’t speak much when they drop off your food. Photo credit: Tony Paris

Smith’s Olde Bar is reopening for live music this month. While the restaurant has been open for quite some time, the people at Smith’s have used the months of pandemic shut-down to make some much-needed renovations and upgrades to the upstairs main music room and the smaller Atlanta room downstairs, as well as the bar, dining, and game rooms. Patrons will immediately notice that all of the carpets have been ripped out, the hardwoods underneath are newly-polished, and everything looks and smells clean. Even the bathrooms have undergone renovations.

Musicians playing Smith’s will also note a difference, especially with the stage having been enlarged, new sound and lights installed, the dressing rooms getting a make-over, and that side bar, stage right, being moved to the back of the room.

The outdoor deck in back has also been extended, which is great if you’re still circumspect about the coronavirus pandemic, but not so good if you’re trying to avoid cigarette smokers and carbon monoxide inhalation.

Other club owners are also spinning the wheel of fortune, booking performers and reopening. Eddie’s Attic and Eddie Owen Presents: Red Clay Music Foundry have done so, though with more strict adherence to pandemic guidelines; Terminal West, the Coca-Cola Roxy, and the Buckhead Theatre are also selling tickets to shows.

Masquerade and City Winery have been offering the best of both worlds, presenting live streams and live music, as both venues mobilize and return to live concerts.

Just outside of Atlanta, MadLife Stage and Studios is bringing back live music. In Avondale Estates, the new 37 Main has been providing live music since its recent opening.

37 MAIN: Ready to rock in Avondale Estates. Photo credit: Tony Paris

It remains to be seen when The Earl and 529, currently with their restaurant and bars open respectively, will announce the return of live music to East Atlanta, though sources close to both businesses say June is probably when bands will start being booked at both places.

Though Aisle 5 in Little Five Points has been offering live music, there’s no word when the Star Bar will open its doors, thoughg it will present Bubbapalooza 2021 in its parking lot May 29, with The Revenge of Boone’s Farm Saturday starring Ghost Riders Car Club for two sets, starting at 2-8:00 p.m. Meanwhile, the Variety Playhouse is looking to August to welcome back music fans.

Elsewhere around town, Napoleon’s continues to book shows in the restaurant and the parking lot, while the Vista Room next door remains closed.

And, if you are in need of a vinyl fix, the Atlanta Record and CD Show will return to the Doubletree Hotel, 2055 South Park Place, on Sunday, June 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with early entry at 8 a.m. The hotel requires everyone who enters to wear a face mask. I’ll be wearing two, with a bottle of hand sanitizer attached to my belt!

If something’s happening with your club or music venue, and I don’t know what it is, fill me in: tony.paris at creativeloafing.com —CL—