Theres a foggy glow over this gloomy corner of downtown Atlanta. The Georgia Dome is just over the hill, and Im on the bad end of a dead end street. George Harrison was right, its been a long, cold, lonely winter. Only he seemed more optimistic. But this chill and these bad vibes have to break soon; Im almost out of Ayn Rand books to burn.
My hearts been on ice and these ambitions bundled up. Its been a mean season and this old soul's getting restless. My apologies for the tired wordplay, but that just about sums up this cliché of a winter. The tulips, the wayfarers, the sundresses theyre right around the corner. But they seem to be getting further out of reach.
Its a Saturday night, and weve found ourselves in one of Atlantas best kept secrets. The location is in the name of the place, and Ive been here a number of times, but my haphazard internal GPS still has trouble finding it. Its Elliot Street Pub and its nestled in a creepy corner of Castleberry Hill. Its a tiny bar that takes pride in its obscurity, a kind of place with cups, a keg and a chalkboard by the door that trusts the regulars with the honor system.
Were all here to see Atlanta throwback darlings the Soulphonics and Ruby Velle. Were cramped in this pint-sized bar shoulder-to-shoulder more like a walk-in closet with a liquor permit. But the warmth is comforting, its like were in this together.
Theres barely enough room to tilt a drink to your mouth in this place, so I assume the band is playing on the just-as-tiny patio. But that doesnt make much sense either. I saw the owners out in the street on a summers afternoon once, shooting bottle rockets at street signs, vermin and each other, so maybe theyre playing the dead end of Elliot? This is when Im informed that this place has a basement. I feel like Pee Wee Herman finding out the Alamo does have a basement. Rhythm and blues in a dingy, secret crawl space on a Friday night, add some gin and touch of tonic and this could be the right medicine for my seasonal depression.
Down the confidential staircase, its charming and candlelit, romantic like Dr. Lechter and glass of Chianti. Its a dingy brick façade basement just like any other, but this one has a full bar, a three-piece brass section and a crossbow in the corner. Yes, a crossbow is propped behind the gin-slinger, Jordan. Tip well and tip often.
The Soulphonics take the stage and the pocket-sized Ruby Velle takes my heart. But its ok, I knew it was coming, right like the rain she does it every time. Another one of Atlantas best kept secrets, she and her seven-piece band are slowly becoming a must-see. Chad Radford describes their latest single as, a warm and sultry affair that leaves the brains and hips clamoring for more.
Rubys little toes and brown legs are tapping along to the 60s R&B. Its quite infectious. She's so petite, yet her voice is anything but. How does something so big come out of something that looks so harmless? Were it not for band photos proving that there's a seven-piece band behind this girl I'd have no clue, because I haven't been able to take my eyes off her to count.
I surrender every time I see them, but this time its different. Bundled up and beaten down by these last few months, this old soul needed something to pull it out, check its vitals and buy it a drink. George Harrison was right. Little darling, I do feel that ice slowly melting.
Its been a mean winter, but the tulips, the sundresses, the wayfarers, theyre coming. Here comes the sun, and sometimes you need to be in a dingy basement with a crossbow to see that. And if you cant find your way to Castleberry Hill, find your record collection. Reach down in that dusty crate. And dig out your soul.
(Photo courtesy the Soulphonics and Ru
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…
That was January of 2007, and they are 21 now, so I'm guessing 14?