LISTENING POST: Improvised themes, flamenco, ghost drones, oh yeah, and jazz

NOISE ON NOISE:Claire Lodge, Jeffrey Butzer’s mysterious large-scale music project, celebrates the release of ‘A Decorated Place,’ Sat., May 5, at The Earl. PHOTO CREDIT: Claire Lodge
Photo credit: Claire Lodge
NOISE ON NOISE: Claire Lodge, Jeffrey Butzer’s mysterious large-scale music project, celebrates the release of ‘A Decorated Place,’ Sat., May 5, at The Earl.

“Morricone meets Swans” is how Jeffrey Butzer describes the music of Claire Lodge, his latest music project, which debuts at The Earl on Sat., May 25. The Earl show serves as a belated release party for A Decorated Place, Claire Lodge’s full-length album, which was released in February.

Many readers will know Butzer from his annual Christmas season concert, which has become an Atlanta tradition, featuring Butzer, T.T. Mahoney, Mike Beshera and friends performing their take on the soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. The animated TV show, which first aired in 1965, stars characters created by Charles Schultz for the “Peanuts” comic strip.

Although a far cry from composer Vince Guaraldi’s jazz-inflected “Peanuts” score, Claire Lodge’s music is a distinctly recognizable product of Butzer’s predilections and process, which can be explored at length on his and the band’s Bandcamp sites. Suffused with fuzz-toned, whammy-barred, and reverbed electric guitar, A Decorated Place’‘, is a series of largely improvised themes and melodies mostly inspired by cinema scores, particularly foreign and domestic film noir, spaghetti westerns and surf movies. The songs are sharply expressed scenes or sketches, bolstered by garage rock grooves and infused with dramatic ambience. The music’s riffs and motifs often accrete in multiple sheets of crackling, distorted sound.

“Think John Zorn meets Sonny Sharrock meets Sonic Youth,” Butzer name checks.

Over the years, Butzer, who is also a playwright, poet and collagist, has produced music under a number of guises including Academy of Staring Daggers, Compartmentalizationists, and Bicycle Eaters. For the Claire Lodge debut concert, he will be joined by Sean Zearfoss and Sonny Harding (drums), Matt Steadman (bass), Ana Balka (violin). Ben Davis (saxophone) and a gaggle of guitarists including one named Claire Lodge, as well as Brian Kinch, Luci Giaranno, Ross Politi, Bill Taft, Will Green, Pw Shelton and June Alder. T.T. Mahoney will conduct the band. The setlist will feature songs from Butzer’s solo albums, Academy of Staring Daggers, Compartmentalizationalists, and possibly a couple of film scores.

“This is an experiment,” Butzer says. “I asked a bunch of Atlanta musicians who are better than me at improvisation to play. I trust them. I am hoping it will be a chaotic, noisy, beautiful mess.”
$15. 8 p.m. The EARL, 488 Flat Shoals Ave.NE, Atlanta, 30316. 404-522-3950.

Thu., May 2


FIERY FLAMENCO: Experience authentic flamenco when Berdolé returns to the Red Light Café Thu., May 2. PHOTO CREDIT: Erik Voss

Berdolé Flamenco Tablao, Red Light Café — Experience an evening of authentic flamenco Thu., May 2, at Red Light Café near Piedmont Park when Berdolé presents a live Tablao Flamenco performance. In the spirit of back rooms and taverns of southern Spain, this type of showcase is raw, unrehearsed and fully improvised, designed to create an ambience that sends chills through the spine and brings tears to the eyes. Performers include Cristian Puig, a flamenco guitarist, composer, and singer who played the role of “Joaquin” in the Alliance Theatre’s 2013 production of Zorro; Emrah Kotan, a classically trained percussionist who came to the United States from Turkey and received a master’s degree in Jazz Studies from Georgia State University; Marilia Quevedo, a professional flamenco dancer from Argentina who trained with masters of the art form in Spain and across South America; and flamenco dancer Julie Galle Baggenstoss (“Julie Moon”) who has performed and choreographed with the Atlanta Opera, Georgia State University’s School of Music and The Latin American Association, and teaches flamenco at Emory University.
$15 adv, $20 door. Doors 7 p.m., music 8 p.m. Advance ticket sales end one hour prior to door time. Red Light Cafe, Amsterdam Walk, 553-1 Amsterdam Ave NE., 30306. 404-874-7828.


Sun., May 5


SECOND LINE DOUBLE-UP: Perennial favorite Rebirth Brass Band returns to Smith’s Olde Bar Sun., May 5, joined by Atlanta’s own Wasted Potential Brass Band. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Rebirth Brass Band

Rebirth Brass Band, Wasted Potential Brass Band, Smith’s Olde Bar — Whether you know them from HBO’s Tremé series or one of their famous Tuesday night gigs at The Maple Leaf, the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band is an authentic New Orleans institution. Formed in 1983 by brothers Phil and Keith Frazier, RBB has evolved from playing second line on the streets of the French Quarter to raising the stage in front of thousands of fans at festivals around the world. While steeped in the tradition, RBB has incorporated elements of funk, hip-hop, soul and rock to produce a uniquely swinging, genre-fluid sound. Opening for RBB is the Atlanta-based Wasted Potential Brass Band, which got their start playing on the streets of Decatur. WPBB just dropped Room to Grow, an EP featuring a second line street beat, southern horn section, blues vocals and sousaphone on the bottom end.
$30 adv-$35 dos-$150 (VIP x 4@$37.50). Door 7 p.m., music 8 p.m. Music Room at Smith’s Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30324. 404-875-1522.


Fri., May 10


Bluesman extraordinaire: Jontavious Willis plays at Eddie’s Attic Fri., May 10. PHOTO CREDIT: Kind of Blue Music

Jontavious Willis, Eddie’s Attic — To the intimate confines of Eddie’s Attic in Decatur comes a solo concert by bluesman extraordinaire Jontavious Willis. One of the most distinctive interpreters of the current generation, Willis blends elements of Delta, Piedmont, Texas and gospel blues into a voice and sound all his own. Born in Greenville, Georgia, Willis was initially inspired by local church guitarist Robert Parks. A prodigious, self-taught artist through his teen years, Willis blossomed when he hooked up with the Music Maker Foundation, which nurtures aspiring artists within the realm of blues, folk and roots music. In 2020, Willis received a GRAMMY® nomination for “Best Traditional Blues Album” for Spectacular Class.
$26.70 gen’l admission, table $32.26 each (minimum 4). 7 p.m. Eddie’s Attic, 515-B N. McDonough St., Decatur, 30030. 404-377-4976.


Sat., May 11


NATURAL/UNNATURAL SOUNDS: Alya Ensemble performs a program of adventurous, beautiful chamber music at First Existentialist Congregation on Sat., May 11. PHOTO CREDIT: Max Eremine

Alya Ensemble at First Existentialist Congregation — Join cellist Jean Gay and pianist Amy O’Dell — otherwise known as Alya Ensemble — for their spring concert featuring guest composer Justin Greene. The program, “natural/unnatural worlds,” is inspired by ideas associated with “the dialogues we find ourselves in today: the weaving together of natural and artificial intelligence in our daily lives; and opportunities for in-person engagement and broader connections through digital networks,” according to Alya Ensemble. O’Dell will perform a couple of William Duckworth’s “Time-Curve Preludes,” which call for “ghost drones” created by pressing down certain piano keys with weights. Other musical selections include works by Greene, Jessica Meyer, Quinn Collins and Erik Satie. The program will be enhanced by two mocktail offerings (one drink per attendee included in the ticket price) crafted by Greene.
Free/$25. 4 p.m. music. First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta, 470 Candler Park Dr. NE, Atlanta, 30307. (404) 378-5570


READING PASAQUAN: John Charles Griffin is one of the poets and authors reading from their works during a free event at the Pasaquan art compound Sat., May 11, from 12-6 p.m. PHOTO CREDIT: Frida Raley

Poets and Authors, Pasaquan — Pasaquan, the 7-acre art compound in southwest Georgia near Buena Vista, originally created by Eddie Owens Martin (aka St. EOM), is the site of a special gathering of American poets and authors reading from their published works and signing books. Featured guests include Macon-born poet, author, recording artist, photographer and event founder John Charles Griffin; poets Dan Veach, Kodac Harrison, and Mamie Pound; and Tom Patterson, author of St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan. The festivities also include performances by alt-country artist Matt McMillan and Talbot, Georgia, singer-songwriter Neal Lucas.
Free. 12-6 p.m. Pasaquan, 238 Eddie Martin Road, Buena Vista, GA 31803.


Sat., May 18


FREE PUDDLES: Puddles Pity Party performs a free concert during the Third Annual WigWag Fest in Avondale Estates Sat., May 18. PHOTO CREDIT: EMily Butler Photography

Puddles Pity Party, Globe Arts Center, WigWag Fest — Wowie zowie! Don’t miss an opportunity to catch the inimitable, redoubtable, phantasmagorical crooning of Puddles Pity Party in a free, he said free, concert during the Third Annual WigWag Fest in Avondale Estates Sat., May 18. Puddles will be performing at the Globe Arts Center, a warehouse space situated in between @beerwildheaven @littlecottagebrewery and the @thelostdruid. Other bands — including Gringo Star and El Matador — will be playing on an outdoor stage in the neighborhood, which will be replete with art and food vendors.
Free. Globe Arts Center, 2833 Washington St, Avondale Estates, GA 30002.


Sat., May 25 through Mon., May 27


MEMORABLE JAZZ FEST: Jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant is one of the featured artists at the 2024 Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park over Memorial Day weekend. PHOTO CREDIT: Karolis Kaminskas

Atlanta Jazz Festival, Piedmont Park — Another Memorial Day Weekend, another edition of one of the largest free jazz festivals in America, if not the world. The 2024 Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park in Midtown runs Sat., May 25 through Mon., May 27 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. As always, attendees will enjoy music from nationally and internationally renowned artists, as well as some of Atlanta’s finest jazz practitioners. Details about the entire lineup and other pertinent info can be found here. Your learned correspondent recommends the following performers, one from each day of the fest.




Sat. 5/25:

Cécile McLorin Salvant is one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, right up there with Billie, Ella, Carmen, Nancy, Nina, Betty, and the rest. Legendary opera singer Jessye Norman once said Salvant “has a unique voice supported by an intelligence and full-fledged musicality, which light up every note she sings.” Don’t miss those lights!

Sun. 5/26:

If you want to hear Latin jazz done as the gods intended it, with just the right blend of old and new, caliente and cool, sharp and funky, get thy butt in front of the stage on Sunday prior to 9 p.m. to witness Paquito D’Rivera. The Havana-born, 16-time Grammy and Latin Grammy winning, co-founding member of the United Nation Orchestra led by Dizzy Gillespie, reed player, composer and arranger is the genre’s living master.

Mon. 5/27:

It’s no exaggeration to say that André 3000 knocked the Earth’s axis a few degrees off center with the recent release of New Blue Sun, an all-instrumental, flute- and synth-heavy, ambient trip. The opening track, with a runtime of 12 minutes and 20 seconds, now holds the record for longest song to debut on the Billboard Hot 100. What’s not to love?


Attendant to the three day Atlanta Jazz Festival proper are two special events. On Fri., May 24, at 8 p.m. at Symphony Hall, drummer Lil John Roberts will lead an Atlanta All-Star Band in a program celebrating the 50th anniversary of WCLK-FM (tix $25-$50). On Sat., May 25, jazz chanteuse Lauren Henderson is the featured artist for a late-night (10 p.m.) concert at Park Tavern (tix $50)
Free. 3-day event, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. each day. Piedmont Park, 1322 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA 30306.