Sarah Lewitinn, aka Ultragrrrl, may not be a household name in Atlanta, but in NYC she reigns supreme. Proof? New York Magazine named Lewitinn as one of "The Most Influential People in Music" in 2006. And though only in her twenties, Ultragrrrl has accomplished much â she's a published author (The Pocket DJ), an award-winning DJ, her blog (www.ultragrrrl.com) is wildly popular, and she's the founder of record label Stolen Transmission, in partnership with Island Def Jam.But even if you take all that away, Lewitinn has something many people lack in the music industry: killer intuition. She was the first manager for My Chemical Romance back in 2002, before they were even signed to a major label. And she was a huge backer for the Killers before they got signed to Island Def Jam.
And to top it all off, she's also been featured in Vanity Fair, Nylon, and U.K. GQ. In a nutshell, she has her shit together. And if you ever want to see her doing her thing but don't want to make the trip to NYC, check her out tonight. She'll be DJing a house party at 1268 Oak Grove Ave. in East Atlanta courtesy Cartel manager Chris Black, and local DJ and previous CL contributor Drennen Quinn.
(photo by Austin Peters and Nick Darmstaedter)
Atlanta natives Supreeme are coming home to Atlanta this Sunday for one quick show at Drunken Unicorn before returning to NYC. Members Tom Cruz, King Self and Negashi Armada will be performing new songs off their latest mixtape, American Badass. Negashi gave me a quick rundown of the mixtape, saying, "American Badass is an irreverent, rebellious freedom party ... with raps that are simultaneously genius and childish, and infectious beats that are stripped down to the bare essentials."
American Badass features guest spots from Murs, Taz Arnold (of Sa-Ra), J Young, Killa T and Mickey Factz. Free copy to anyone who comes out. Check 'em out, they just got named Best Local Hip-hop Act in Atlanta in our recent Best of Atlanta 2007 issue. And it makes sense â they're young, fresh, energetic and always put on a fun show. And this Sunday night, you know they'll be on point and feeling the hometown love.
Supreeme performs with Proton, the Dreamer and Mach 5 at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Drunken Unicorn. $10. 18 and up. Check out their latest songs and what they've been doing at www.myspace.com/supreemesupreeme.
(photo by Charlie McCullers)
The preview for big, Big Boi's much-anticipated collaboration with choreographer Lauri Stallings and Atlanta Ballet, took place in the guise of a launch party for Atlanta Ballet's 2007-2008 season. Held at the King Plow Arts Center, it mostly drew the kind of audience -- lovers of the traditional arts -- that probably knew nothing of hip-hop beyond what they might hear on the radio or TV. There were large tables of sushi and peppered chicken, and ballet patrons mingled around the studio with wine glasses in hand.
The host for the evening was John McFall, the company's artistic director. He promised that Atlanta Ballet will create dozens of new costumes for big. "I think we're going to set a bunch of new fashions with big," he said, promising that the finished production will be a fantastic and provocative experience.
This past Saturday, when presented with the choice either to "Pump It Up" at Gwinnett or be felt up at the Girl Talk show at MJQ Concourse, the decision was easy: I went to the show I had tickets to. That the former required less physical movement and featured Elvis The-Love-of-My-Life Costello along with Bob Oh-My-God-That's-Bob-Dylan Dylan also played a major factor.
Gwinnett Center has great sound, and the performances were stellar. If I were blind, it would have been, for me, a fabulous show. But this is what my $49.50 (not including service charge) bought me:
(Photo by Michael Ruther)
This is Bob Dylan and his band during the encore. Bob's the one in the hat.
And just imagine Elvis Costello (solo, for the first time in 12 years) in the same space. One tiny British man serenaded 13,000 with an acoustic guitar that, from my seat a quarter-mile away, was smaller than the beer in my hand.
As for Dylan, do I think he's over-the-hill? Do I think he's past his prime? Musically, no. I couldn't determine anything else without binoculars ($10 by the merch table).
I know large venues such as the Arena at Gwinnett Center are necessary, especially for such big acts. But sometimes, when I pay to see a band, I want to see a band.
(photo by Phil Knott)
Recent Atlanta transplant and R&B singer/songwriter Ne-Yo (Def Jam) visited Grady Memorial Hospital today. Before touring the hospital's cancer center, trauma and neo-natal units with a small entourage including Grady officials, Ne-Yo announced plans to give a concert to benefit the financially ailing hospital.
Ne-Yo has also invited "every artist in Atlanta to participate" in the concert, according to a statement released by his record label today. Even proceeds generated from a star-studded benefit would only amount to a drop in the bucket based on Grady's dire financial need. But maybe it could bring some much-needed public attention to a cause that has mostly been tossed back and forth between political and corporate interests.
The show date has not been confirmed.
Last weekend, the Atlantis Music Conference marked its 10th anniversary with a weekend of panel discussions, concerts and networking parties, most of which were centered at the CW Atlanta complex. Since it was the final weekend of the summer -- autumn officially began Sunday, Sept. 23 -- there were great events happening all over the city, and I only got a chance to spend Friday afternoon at Atlantis.
First, I took in "Get in the Van" Touring 101 at Vinyl, which featured my good friend Fiona Bloom, who promotes events and publicizes artists through her New York-based company the Bloom Effect. (Her Atlanta clients include Anthony David and Melissa Young.) Others on the panel included Greg Green, talent buyer at the Masquerade; and Greg Diekroeger, former chairman of the National Association of Campus Activities. It was pretty dense stuff, and you could see aspiring musicians diligently taking notes as the panelists talked.
I went over to "Beatin Up Da Block" Producers Panel and Beat Battle, which was held inside Center Stage Atlanta. Most of the seats in the theater were filled, and with good reason: Sitting at the dais were DJ Toomp, Focus, Isaac "Ike Dirty" Hayes III, Don Cannon, Khao Cates and Jaz-O. Save for Jaz-O, who hails from New York (and is famous for mentoring Jay-Z), these are some of the more successful producers in Atlanta.
The audience, most of them fledging MCs and producers, was almost obnoxiously reverent, and applauded loudly after each panelist spoke. Focus, an in-house producer at Aftermath Entertainment, said that his first meeting with Dr. Dre was like a scene out of The Godfather. Aphilliates member Don Cannon noted that "Go Crazy," the song that established him as a producer, was originally a mixtape track for T.I. until Young Jeezy coerced Cannon to give him the beat. DJ Toomp, who's blowing up for Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing," talked about making his first record for Raheem the Dream in the 10th grade, and subsequently becoming a "superstar" at his high school.
The weekend was filled with music thanks to the 10th annual Atlantis Music Conference. Some was good. Some was intolerable.
I spent Thursday night at Smith's Olde Bar and managed to catch three bands that were really impressive. Singer/songwriter Evan McHugh opened up the night with the help of an upright bass and a drummer to accompany his acoustic guitar. I've heard his recorded material, and I have to say he brings his 'A' game in the live setting as well. He's got one of those vocal ranges that hits the high notes with ease and candor.
The Brock Scott Quartet played next, and its sound is a refreshing break from the typical rock band I'm used to seeing. These guys won Open Mic Madness this year, so I expect you'll see more of them in the future. They have a unique sound that boasts jazz, blues and rock all at the same time. Using a variety of instruments and displaying a true knowledge of music makes the Brock Scott Quartet a band to keep an eye on.
The middle of the night had the favorite taking the stage. The Bridges played one of the best sets I've seen from them. Their youth and vigor exudes through their songs. I felt like I was on another planet while I was watching them play. They had a slew of audience members singing along with them, and despite the fact that they're not playing some kind of cock rock, the majority of patrons in the room were men. I suspect that since the Bridges are collectively one of the best-looking bands around, however, appearances may have had something to do with that, in addition to their sweet, folky, perfectly harmonized love songs.
The Coathangers closed out the night, and the reaction was mixed, as it usually seems to be with this band. Either you love them or you hate them. I caught a very brief part of it before deciding to leave the room and head home.
Friday night was spent entirely at Star Bar to see the annual Prasse Fest. The Empties from Athens opened up with a good showing of poppy garage rock. I was pleased with my first time hearing them, and from the buzz in the room after their set, I'd say they picked up quite a few new fans. For three guys, they certainly make music that's creative and engaging.
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(Photo by Noel St. John)
Here's a quick rundown of bands worth seeing at Atlantis this weekend, courtesy of Confessions of a Music Addict blogger Leah Baker. For more performance, panel and party schedules, visit Atlantis' main site.
Friday, Sept. 21
Star Bar: Tonightâs showcase at Star Bar is part of a superior lineup thatâs found here at the same time each year, thanks to David Prasse. Thereâs never a bad act, making it easy to plant yourself in one spot all night instead of hopping around from venue to venue like the Easter bunny on steroids.
Starting off the night is a band from Athens (and we all know anything out of Athens is worthy of a listen) called the Empties. Fans of kitschy garage rock are going to just love them. Once again, three guys and their instruments pave the way for a night of awesome, cutting-edge rock.
Another band to note is the Modern Society, which has just managed to pick up a development contract with Epic for winning some kind of competition. So, coming right off that high should warrant a good set out of the band that will be full of pop and rock. Following MoSo, Rantings of Eva is scheduled to play its catalog of alt-rock goodness. Fresh from recording its first full-length album, Rantings brings matchless guitar riffs and level vocals full of range to what promises to be a decent audience.
Stick around for Trances Arc if you like radio-friendly tunes from a keyboard-infused band. It never ceases to amaze and is sure to lay down new tunes off its impending LP, XOXOX. If youâre more into bands that put on a live show youâll literally be talking about the next day, due to the shock of it, then you wonât want to miss Steadlur close down the place. Seriously. There is never any telling what these guys will do, and that alone is reason to watch.
Lineup: 9:00 p.m., the Empties; 9:45 p.m., the Modern Society; 10:30 p.m., Rantings of Eva; 11:15 p.m., Y O U; midnight, Trances Arc; 12:45 a.m., Steadlur
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