Luthier’s Passion now his career
Local farmer lives off the grid
MAY | JUNE 2014
— Teens guitar skills turning heads
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in this issue
features 32 | A Promising Melody
High school student Melody Kiser just may be the next big thing on the music scene. The teenager’s guitar skills have already caught the attention of several worldrenowned guitarists who think she’s well on her way to musical notoriety.
40 | Crafting Guitars
From the basement of his home, Newnan’s Randy Bowers makes music without playing an instrument. Instead, he builds guitars from scratch. Once a dream, it’s now how he makes his living.
47 | Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
NCM talked to several Cowetans who undertook the daunting task of relocating a historic building. For some, it’s a matter of preserving history. For others, it’s their chance to turn an old house into a home. continued ➔ may/june 2014
58 features (cont.) 58 | Off The Grid
In an age of fad diets and extreme excercise videos, Joshua Garner is a jack-of-all-trades who talks the talk, walks the walk, and demonstrates that a truly healthy lifestyle starts from the ground up.
70 | Meet The Littlefields
We all love zombies, but Jimmy and Marlene Littlefield make it their mission to promote Coweta’s small towns and find work for local extras as AMC's hit series “The Walking Dead” continues to make its mark right here at home.
on the cover
in every issue 14 | From the Editor 15 | Calendar 16 | Roll Call 18 | Style 22 | Hobby Q&A
76 | 78 | 80 | 82 | 82 |
Duel Pages Pen & Ink Blacktop Index of Advertisers What’s Next
Luthier’s Passion now his career
Local farmer lives off the grid
MAY | JUNE 2014
10 | www.newnancowetamag.com
— Teen's guitar skills turning heads
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding East Coweta High School student Melody Kiser. She plays multiple instruments, but she loves the electric guitar and has caught the attention of several well-known musicians.
➔ See more on page 32. Photo by Jeffrey Leo
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FROM THE EDITOR ◗
So far, so good
ith Father’s Day around the corner, I’d like to add one more brief profile to an issue rich with people features. Ten years ago, about this time of year, my father suffered what doctors called a significant heart attack and subsequently underwent surgery. When the pain first hit, he attempted to gut it out, unaware that it was more than simple heartburn. Hours later, with increasing pain, he agreed to go to the emergency room. Not long after that, doctors performed five-bypass surgery on my 60-year-old father. They did their part — he lived. For the past decade, my father has done his part, and he lives. The heart is a tricky organ, one that requires more pampering as you get older. It’s one that requires the royal treatment if you’ve endured what William H. Blair has endured. When it comes to his health, dad always has taken what the doctors say and multiplied it. By this I mean, when they told him to breathe into an incentive spirometer 5 times every half hour in order to keep fluid from building up in his lungs following surgery, he instead did so 10 times every 15 minutes. It’s just how he’s wired. When dad got home from the hospital 10 years ago, he was determined to overcome any modest expectations for a full recovery. Along with giving up Marlboro reds and eliminating fatty foods and salt from his diet, he committed himself to walking twice
daily and tending his vegetable garden, a garden that provides a large part of his groceries these days. Aside from unrelated surgeries, during the past 10 years — rain or shine, or grumpy or tired or preoccupied or overbooked — dad has walked at least four to six miles all except a handful of days since he came home from Piedmont Hospital in 2004. Imagine that. Three-hundred-sixty-five days times 10 years minus … let’s say two weeks. That’s 3,636 days times an extremely conservative estimate of five miles a day. Eighteen thousand one hundred eighty miles. He’s walked the distance of the Appalachian Trail roughly nine times. He’s easily been to China and back. But as dad would say with a shrug, “So far, so good.” That’s his motto: Don’t tempt fate. Enjoy the day. “Happy Monday.” “Happy Tuesday.” “Happy Wednesday.” As a part-time outdoorsman, I’ve always been fascinated by survival stories and the will to live. Yossi Ghinsberg feeling hopeless in the Amazon jungle. The Robertson family adrift at sea. Nando Parrado cold and desperate in the Andes Mountains. To me, though, there’s something more heroic in my dad walking his way to better health — and life — one mile at a time because he has to. There’s no search party, no lifeboat and no foreign military out looking to rescue him. It’s just my father and his day-to-day will to live for as long as he can, to stay by my mother’s side and plant another season’s worth of tomatoes and green peppers. He’ll be 71 in September. I’ll never equal my father’s steely determination, but if I can somehow meet him halfway, I’ll be doing pretty good. Thank you, dear old dad, for setting the bar. Happy early Father’s Day … and Happy Friday. Thanks for reading,
Will Blair, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org 14 | www.newnancowetamag.com
Centre Masterworks Ensemble Choir
will perform on May 4 at Wadsworth Auditorium. The ensemble consists of middle school and high school singers and members of the Adult Centre Masterworks Choir selected to represent Newnan in its Sister City of Ayr, Scotland, in June. Tickets are $10 at Let Them Eat Toffee!, the Coweta County Visitors Center, Morgan Jewelers and Bank of North Georgia.
CALENDER OF EVENTS – BEST PICKS
Memorial Day celebration
A Memorial Day celebration in Senoia will be held on May 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day will include a parade at 2 p.m., a national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. and fireworks at dusk. The fireworks will take place in Marimac Lakes Park.
---------------------------------------ph. 404-520-7465 ---------------------------------------Located in Newnan, Georgia
Master Gardeners spring garden tour The Master Gardeners of Coweta County’s spring garden tour — “Unique gardens of North Coweta: Come for the beauty, leave with inspiration and knowledge” — will be held on May 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Call 770-254-2026 for more information.
Summer Wined Up
Summer Wined Up is June 13 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in downtown Newnan. Stroll the streets on the square and sample participating merchants’ wine selections. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event.
VINEWOOD PLANTATION, located in historic Newnan, GA, is the ideal venue for your outdoor wedding ceremony, reception, or special event. Built in 1852, this Georgia Plantation House and its Stables were fully renovated to include all of the contemporary amenities you need without sacrificing any of the Southern tradition and charm that you deserve.
is a freelance writer and a speaker for Life Training Institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University. Megan enjoys mountain biking, traveling and most things artistic. Her insatiable curiosity about people and what makes them tick lent itself to this issue’s assignment. ➔ Off the Grid, page 58
Leverett Butts has suffered from a lifelong, incurable case of Beatlemania. Though he has worked here, there, and everywhere, he is currently a tenured assistant professor of English at the University of North Georgia. He is also a paperback writer. ➔ Duel Pages, page 76
NCM’s in-house style expert, spends the majority of her time at home with her two preschool children … which means she rarely wears anything but pajamas or exercise clothes. She loves reading, date nights with her husband, and singing Disney Princess songs with her daughter, Lilly. In this issue, she dresses up her husband and son for summer. ➔ Style, page 18
As coordinator of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, Jeff Bishop is a public historian who is well-versed in the ways of old Newnan. He’s also the author of “A Cold Coming,” a story of murder and family history. He is currently working on a book about the McIntosh Trail. ➔ Relocation, Relocation, Relocation, page 47 16 | www.newnancowetamag.com
is a freelance writer living in Newnan with her husband, Bryan. Her work has appeared in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Images West, the Georgia Bulletin and the Washington Examiner. She loves fly fishing, live music and creme brûlée. ➔ Crafting Guitars, page 40
Marc Honea, an occasional
writer and composer, is a longtime resident of Newnan. He summarizes his political and religious views with one simple mantra: “Line ‘em up against the wall.”
➔ Brief Bookstore Encounter, 79
Melissa Dickson Jackson’s recent work can be found in
Cumberland River Review and Eyedrum Periodically. She’s also written two collections of poetry, “Cameo” and “Sweet Aegis.” According to NCM’s resident historian, W. Winston Skinner, Jackson shares ancestors with Beat Generation bad boy William S. Burroughs. ➔ My Mother Tells Me About Granny Alice and Poor Essie, page 78
Elizabeth Melville is a freelance writer, in addition to
working at a private school and for a pro-life organization. She, her husband, Jonathan, and their daughter, Nora, reside in downtown Newnan. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Winthrop University. A good cup of Joe keeps her inner zombie at bay. Meet the Littlefields, page 70
Brenda Pedraza-Vidamour is a former Newnan Times-Herald writer who retired early to spend more time with her grandchildren. She enjoys banging pots with spoons, singing Disney tunes out of key, and playing air guitar in toy store aisles. She says that’s about all she knew about good music until this issue’s assignment. ➔ A Promising Melody, page 32
Sean Stewart is an impromptu poet who writes
some of his best work moments before the sun rises and the birds start chirping. A father of two, he lives, works and breathes in downtown Newnan. ➔ Jack & Jillian, page 78
Gayle Thrower Rej of Atlanta is a stay-at-home mom with a past. Formerly a music booking agent, a high school theater teacher and a classic movie theater owner, she now spends her days washing clothes and playing with dolls. There’s still a glint in her eye and a spring in her step. There are still books to be read, Elvis records to be heard and places to be visited. ➔ Duel Pages, 77
Let Us Hear From You!
Feel free to send thoughts, ideas and suggestions for upcoming issues of Newnan-Coweta Magazine to
18 | www.newnancowetamag.com
A Spin for Men I loved everything about this shoot — the models (husband, son and goldendoodle … I’m biased), the looks, the fact we are THIS close to summer. Love it all. But men’s clothes can be typical, boring and repetitive. Khakis and a polo. Khakis and a button down. Jeans and a polo. Suits. Blazers. Loafers. Same old, same old. So, channeling my inner J. Crew, I set out on a mission to breathe a little life and color into this world of khaki and beige. Shopping downtown at C.S. Toggery I found this fantastic, slim-fit shirt. I originally considered going for the (expected) frat-tastic pant with a bow tie but opted for a last minute change-up. When I put together the outfit for our little guy (linen
A bow tie helps the Barnards’ goldendoodle, Winnie, match little Bennett in summer style.
Stylist CAROLYN BARNARD | Photographer AARON HEIDMAN | Models aaron Barnard with son, beNNetT
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“It’s all about a balance. Think Country Club meets Midtown. Business on the top, party on the bottom.”
button down, grey jeans rolled up James Dean-style, pink tie, lime green vest, aqua Toms), he looked so great I had to try to match the look on the adult version. Pairing the dress shirt with these grey jeans took the look from “Wow, I’ve seen that look on every college campus ever” to “I wouldn’t have thought to put that together but it looks pretty cool.” I love the aqua color of this skinny tie. Tied loosely and not squared-away, business-as-usual allows for flexibility in where you can wear it (a hot date, casual Fridays at the office, happy hour, etc.) Now, I love a good gingham bow tie 20 | www.newnancowetamag.com
as much as the next Southern girl, but sometimes going for the skinny tie is a win. More modern. Keep it classy with a patterned belt like this one with golfers on it from Vineyard Vines. I kept the shoes dressy and conservative with dark brown Clarks. It’s all about a balance. Think Country Club meets Midtown. Business on the top, party on the bottom. Dudes: take risks, be confident and don’t let us girls have all the fashion fun. As for the bathing suits, downtown Newnan has some great choices. I found these bright men’s trunks at Blue Moon and a coordinating pair for Bennett at C.S.
Toggery. I always assume the brighter the better. Also, please make sure your suit is neither too short nor too long. Just above the knee is perfect. Capri-length board shorts are no good. And don’t even get me started on man daisy-dukes; no one needs to see upper man thigh at the pool. Tank tops are back in a major way (but only as a bathing suit top, guys … you don’t have free rein to rock a tank anywhere else unless you’re Zac Efron). You can pick up some stellar sunglasses, like these Toms, at Blue Moon. Add a backwards hat like this one and you’re set. These tiny Toms shoes (seen throughout)
Summer Camps Camp Heritage are great for kids, but adults should shy away from pairing Toms with a bathing suit (please, also shy away from mandals at all times. Those are man-sandals. Man foot should always be covered, unless going to the pool or beach, which is when you should get a good pair of flip-flops). Happy summer shopping! — Carolyn Barnard email@example.com
June 2-5 & June 16-19 For rising PK4 through rising 1st grade
Youth Sports Camps June 2014 Ages & dates vary by sport Baseball | Basketball | Cheerleading Football | Soccer | Volleyball
Local Fashion from Local Shops
All camps are open to the public. Visit www.heritagehawks.org for details and registration. 2093 Highway 29 North | Newnan, GA 30263 | T: 770.253.9898
Men’s dress shirt Cotton Brothers/$74.50/C.S. Toggery Men’s belt Vineyard Vines/$49.50/C.S. Toggery Boys vest Bailey/C.S. Toggery Bow ties High Cotton/$35/C.S. Toggery Boys Toms Blue Moon Boutique Men’s swim trunks Southern Tide/$79.50/ Blue Moon Boutique Men’s tank top Water’s Bluff/$25/C.S. Toggery Men’s hat $26/Blue Moon Boutique Men’s sunglasses Toms/$139/Blue Moon Boutique Boys swim trunks Southern Tide/$55/C.S. Toggery NCM may/june 2014
with Christian Shellabarger
Christian Shellabarger, 16, has an uncommon hobby. Several hundred years ago in Europe, the sport of falconry — hunting with birds of prey — was as common as golf is today. There are approximately 5,000 falconers in the United States. Shellabarger is a student athlete at Newnan High School. Photographed by JEFFREY LEO
22 | www.newnancowetamag.com
“It took me two weeks to train her. It usually takes up to a month.” Explain your hobby. Falconry is the pursuit of a certain quarry with a trained raptor. I’m an apprentice falconer. The other two classes are general and master falconer. Tell us about your bird. Athena is passage red-tailed hawk, which means she is less than a year old. She weighs 40 ounces and has over 700 pounds per square inch of power in her feet, with razor-sharp talons. She is trained to come to me and she hunts with me. Normally, red-tailed hawks kill rabbits and squirrels. Athena has killed a couple of quail and squirrels. Hopefully, she will catch a rabbit soon. How do you hunt with a hawk?
24 | www.newnancowetamag.com
When she is hunting, she is acting purely on her natural instincts. She goes after whatever I flush for her. I’m the bird dog. She is the hunter. How did you get Athena? How long have you had her? Did you have to train her? Athena was trapped from the wild in September 2013 in a Bai Chatri trap. My dad and I trapped her a few miles from our house [near Moreland]. You can only trap passage birds, and they migrate to Georgia with the first big cold front. It can take anywhere from a day to months. We caught a few mature birds and released them until we found the right one. Females are one-third bigger than males, and she is big for a female, so I kept her because she is able to handle prey better. It took me two weeks to train her. It usually takes up to a month.
Because Christian Shellabarger’s hawk, Athena, has 700 pounds of pressure in her claws, the 16-year-old has to wear a heavy-duty glove for protection.
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“It’s just like the National Geographic Channel right in front of you.”
What’s it like taking care of a bird? Her birdhouse is an 8-by-10 room elevated off the ground, with two perches — one for her to weather in and the other to keep her out of the elements. She eats chicken and a special vitamin supplement called Vitahawk. A big part of keeping birds of prey is weighing them religiously. It allows you to keep them at a
healthy weight and ready to fly. When she is not hunting we are either training with the lure or just flying to keep her healthy and strong. She takes a few months off after squirrel season to molt and grow her adult plumage. Do you love her like a pet? I love her, but you can’t get too attached because they are still
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Home Sweet Home
Athena’s birdhouse is an 8-by-10 room elevated off the ground, with two perches — one for her to weather in and the other to keep her out of the elements.
wild animals and anything can happen. You can lose the bird or she can get attacked by other wild birds. The birds aren’t pets. The bird doesn’t love me, though she sees me as a food source and as an advantage in the field.
The government limits the number of birds and species that
Your apprentice falconer’s license allows you to trap and keep a bird. Tell us about that.
You must have a mentor and you must have your facilities ready
ome ecor H D
apprentice falconers can have. The higher your class, the more species you can acquire. To become a falconer, you must register for the falconry test with the Department of Natural Resources. and inspected before you go trapping for your bird.
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“She goes after whatever I flush for her. I’m the bird dog. She is the hunter.” Can you tell us a little bit about the history of falconry? Falconry dates back to around 2,000 BC. People such as Moses and King Solomon from the Bible, and General George Patton, all flew the Saker Falcon. In Medieval times, kings flew rare falcons and eagles while peasants flew more common raptors. Today, Mongolians fly the golden eagle and the Eurasian Eagle Owls and take full-grown wolves with them. Falconry is still big in the Middle East. How did you get into this unique sport? I got into falconry by going to Tractor Supply, where I met my 30 | www.newnancowetamag.com
mentor, Dale Arrowood, who was giving a presentation with his birds. I asked him how to get my own bird. From there, I went online and found out how to get certified and how to get my falconry license. He taught me everything I needed to know and let me handle his bird and get good experience. What does the future of falconry hold for you? I definitely want to take my falconry to the next level by moving up to a general class falconer next year and eventually to a master falconer. I want to make it into a career by doing bird evasion for airports, being a bird trainer for a zoo, being a raptor breeder, or
WE ST G E O RG IA’S LE G A L TE A M
NOT A PET
Despite Athena’s grace and beauty, Shellabarger is quick to add that she is still a wild animal and not a pet.
just giving bird presentations. Some falconers have a special breeding permits so they can raise birds to sell or sell the eggs. I would like to be a breeder one day. What do your friends and family think of your hobby? No one ever believes me when I tell them I have a hawk. After they see her, they’re quite amazed and think it’s pretty cool. My family thinks it’s unique and fun to watch. What would you tell others who are interested in falconry? Falconry requires a lot of time and persistence, but it is more than worth it. There’s nothing better than to see a beautiful bird that you have trained chase down a squirrel or rabbit with such determination. It’s just like the National Geographic Channel right in front of you. It is such an adrenaline rush and a great feeling of success. NCM
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elody Kiser’s room looks like the bedroom of any other high schooler: unmade bed, wall posters, and every surface crowded with teen paraphernalia, including a copy of Guitar Legends: Gone Too Soon. It’s Guitar World Magazine’s tribute to fallen icons like John Lennon, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. Her cousin wrote in large, loopy script on the inside cover: “Just think, you will be in this magazine one day!” The cousin’s wish is written in pink and punctuated with hearts. Below the scrawl, Melody’s aunt clarified, “She means you’ll be famous — not dead.” Melody laughs about the note, but has been quietly examining the idea of fame and its price since she began realizing success could be hers one day. She’s an extraordinary electric guitar player, but known mostly only within her small circles. She’s performed in school programs, talent shows, town festivals, open mic nights and gigs around town. She enjoyed small celebrity status three years ago when she uploaded a YouTube video titled “12 year old girl guitarist ‘Hot for Teacher’ talent show.” It garnered about 10,000 hits the first month, and has about 89,000 views to date. Her next 15 minutes of fame arrived when she played on stage last summer with band members from Journey, Lynyrd Skynrd, Santana, Boston and Steppenwolf.
East Coweta student well on her way to musical success Written by BRENDA PEDRAZA-VIDAMOUR | Photographed by JEFFREY LEO
Along with the electric guitar, the teen plays alto saxophone and holds first chair at East Coweta High School’s Wind Ensemble. She’s been in the All State Band for the last four years. She also plays mandolin and drums. Academically, she holds the number one spot out of the 703 students in East Coweta’s 10th grade class, according to her official transcript. She routinely downplays the grades, the talent and the awards. Levi Young, a history teacher at East Coweta, explained it. “Humility is its name,” he said.
Last February, Young needed a lead guitarist for the school’s
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Black History Month program. He’s a bass guitarist and had already recruited Stacy Brown, one of his drummer friends from church and a professional musician who has played with Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey. Band director Robert Owens steered Young to Melody, who Young only knew as a student in his AP European History class. “You could be sitting right next to her, and you wouldn’t know how great a musician she is until she performs,” Young said. Melody suggested showcasing Jimi Hendrix in the program. She knows most of his songs, and decided on “Voodoo Child” because it featured most of Hendrix’s styles, including his heavy wah-wah guitar work. The band didn’t practice; they played the piece one time after they'd set up in the cafeteria.
Michael Monarch (right), Steppenwolf’s original lead guitarist, accompanies Melody Kiser, an East Coweta High School sophomore, on stage before a crowd of association executives last August in Atlanta. Joining them, from left, are Barry Goudreau, Boston’s original guitarist, and David Coyle, World Classic Rockers.
She told them, “Let’s do an intro, bridge, and then we’ll solo with three turnarounds, and then we’ll go back to the intro. We’ll slow down, and then we’ll have a finale that’s crazy.” Melody, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, sensed the crowd’s reaction when she appeared with the two men. “Everybody was like, ‘Why is she in there?’” she said. And then she showed them. She explained how Hendrix almost single-handedly changed the way people looked at rock & roll, and that he was an AfricanAmerican, and then she picked up her guitar to deliver from the opening riff all the squeals, distortion, fleet-fingered fretwork and blistering solos expected from a Hendrix performance. She sang: Well, I stand up next to a mountain And I chop it down with the edge of my hand The crowd went bananas, erupting into a standing ovation, just like the audience did during her performance in January at a talent show held at the Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts in Newnan. “She plays forcefully and, in a lot of ways, just like Jimi Hendrix,” Young said. The talent show was the soccer program’s annual fundraiser. Eighteen acts were listed, with Melody appearing last. The stagehands and other contestants rushed backstage when it was her turn. She had already sealed the win in their eyes. The performance began with Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption,” highlighted by two-handed tapping, and was followed by “Sweet Child O’Mine,” with Melody throwing the guitar behind her neck as she sang the intro: She's got a smile that it seems to me Reminds me of childhood memories She confesses she sings only when she has to, although her top finish that night was as much due to her soulful rendition of the Guns N’ Roses's hit as it was to her guitar playing. She’s got chops, smarts and skills. “It’s one complete package when you talk about Melody,” said Julie Maier, a family friend, adding that the entire family is just as multi-talented and humble. Maier said while everyone else is amazed, Melody shrugs it off as if that level of talent is expected. She’s hard-wired to excel. Aundie Kiser, Melody’s mother, said the drive comes from Melody’s fear of disappointing her, partly because Melody wants to fulfill a rock star dream that escaped her mother’s grasp. Aundie toured in a band until she got married. Friend and classmate Hannah Maier talked about how Melody didn’t like her when they first met in sixth grade at Lee Middle School. Melody originally thought she was badly dressed and a suck-up, she said. Hannah, Melody and another friend, Carly Roberts, were all in band together at Lee Middle. As the new kid, Melody was assigned last chair. Next thing Hannah knew, Melody kept sliding over with her sax, week after week, until she was first chair. The Maiers and Roberts befriended the Kisers when they
Photo by Mitch Simcoe
moved to Sharpsburg from Jonesboro after Aundie’s divorce in 2009. The girls have been inseparable, often spotted sitting in Hannah’s Isuzu Rodeo in the school’s parking lot, singing and dancing to music before the first bell.
Melody Kiser loves Journey. Her favorite band is Journey, her favorite musical artist is Steve Perry of Journey and, yes, her favorite guitarist is Neal Schon of Journey. He was reluctantly edged out of first place, though, on her Top 10 list of the Best Guitar Performances of all time by the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The Godfather theme solo
“Stairway to Heaven,” bow solo
“Eugene's Trick Bag”
“Castles Made of Sand”
“All the Things You Are”
“When the Love Has Gone”
The list was difficult for her to compose since there are so many great guitarists. Melody appreciates and is remarkably fluent in all genres, such as the classical, jazz, blues and rock styles reflected in her list. Country and opera are in her repertoire, too, since she learned some of those songs on request from family and friends. 36 | www.newnancowetamag.com
Hannah’s mother, Julie, was the one who encouraged Melody to apply for the Fantasy Camp at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City. The camp gives participants the opportunity to perform on stage before a large crowd. They also get to jam with World Classic Rockers, a group of original members from some of rock & roll’s greatest bands. “We coach them on the songs that they will be performing with us, and try to make it as much fun as possible,” wrote Michael Monarch, Steppenwolf’s original lead guitarist, in an email. “Melody has a sense about herself … that she’s pretty good on guitar and knows it." Videos of her performance with them on “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born to be Wild” show her vulnerability, up until she steps forward for her solo. She handled herself like a pro, said Monarch and David Coyle, World Classic Rockers guitarist. Soon after that, she was asked to join WCR at the Atlanta concert because they were so impressed with her at the camp. Kevin White, WCR’s artist manager, called on Nancy Price, director of the Fred, to ask about Melody’s availability. “We didn’t realize quite the level of talent we were dealing with, but everyone was blown away,” Price said of the audition. “She was all they could talk about after the show in the green room.” White said he felt Melody would be a nice local tie-in since it was Atlanta’s opportunity to showcase the city to the American Society of Association Executives. More than 5,400 professionals and industry partners attended the conference, which ended with WCR’s concert finale. “She came out all nervous and shy, and just killed everybody,” Coyle said. “She intrigued me because she was a far better player than I was at her age. If she keeps it up, Orianthi, look out.” Orianthi is another blonde female musician best known for being the lead guitarist in Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” concert series. Melody studies the lives of all ill-fated musicians, poring through their biographies intent on learning from their mistakes. She started the studies, and playing guitar, when her brother Christian bought her a guitar for her ninth birthday. Not long after that, their father approached the manager of Happy Hours Sports Grille in Stockbridge about putting his kids on stage. “[The manager] was hiring DJs, and he wasn’t really satisfied,” Christian said. Christian, 27, said they were paid $200 per night, but earned more in tips. Customers kept requesting songs to see if they could play them, and when they delivered, the tips
started flowing. “Those were like twenty dollar tips,” he said. “‘Hotel California’ brought the house down.”
In the Eagles’ 2013 documentary, songwriter Don Henley said "Hotel California" was about “a journey from innocence to experience.” Melody was 12 when she covered the song with her brother. She turns 16 in May. She practices guitar up to nine hours a day when school is out of session. She makes sure she stays in the pocket. “She has a feel you can’t teach. It’s like it’s in her soul. She plays things note for note. If not note for note, it’s just as good as the note she didn’t play,” said Brian Williams, a guitarist and vocalist with the Hudson Road Band. She’s often asked to sit in with them when the band plays in Newnan.
Many of the music veterans said she reminds them of who they were when were they were her age. She evokes a time when they, too, were beginning to grasp their promise and possibility. “I didn’t always handle it the best, but I did come out the other side with quite a story,” WCR’s Monarch said of his early years. It’s not that she’s a girl or has mastered guitar-playing at such a tender age, it’s the promise of what is yet to come, Coyle added “You can do a lot in four to five years,” he said. Mariano Pacetti, band director at Odyssey Charter School in Newnan, believes she’s well on her to fulfilling that destiny. He’s been giving Melody private lessons in saxophone since she was in seventh grade. He’s collaborated with many successful and famous musicians, including Newnan’s own Alan Jackson. “She’s a legend at my school,” he said. “One day when I was teaching at Music
ith all guitarists, there’s a fascination with the tools of the trade. Melody’s first guitar was an Epiphone Les Paul, given to her by her older brother on her ninth birthday. They learned to play together by ear, and they share a collection of guitars in the
basement of their mother’s home. The basement has been converted into a music and recording studio. Currently, Melody alternates between a Fender Stratocaster and a Jackson Soloist. She favors the Jackson because it has the best of everything (singlecoil pickups, humbuckers, and a
Floyd Rose tremolo bar). “It’s got the most frets, which makes it go the highest of any one of my other guitars, and it’s got a cutaway neck where I don’t have to contort my hand to get up to the really high frets,” she said. She and Christian love to troll guitar stores. Here’s her list of area stores she likes the most and why:
Guitar Center of Atlanta
Atlanta Vintage Guitars
Very welcoming, and the store allows you the ability to play various types and models of equipment.
Cool and calm atmosphere with different equipment than most stores supply.
Unique products and appointments available.
Ken Stanton Music Marietta
Staff is friendly, and the variety of musical gear is diverse and high quality.
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Boutique Guitar Exchange Atlanta
Appointments are available so employees can cater to your needs.
and Arts, I heard … somebody just wailing away on the guitar. I thought it was somebody pretty old. I came out into the store to see who it was, and it was her.” He's invited her to play lead guitar for his concerts at Odyssey ever since. “She’s the most talented musician I have ever taught, and I have taught some of the greats like Paul Pollard, the worldrenowned trombone player. At this point, as a sophomore, she’s way ahead of him,” Pacetti said. Pollard holds first chair at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and has been a faculty member at Juilliard since 2012. Melody wants to attend Berklee College of Music in Sherman Oaks, Calif., because of its lauded contemporary music program; that’s if nothing happens before graduation to propel her dream. “I would really like to be professional on a very high level. Not just playing the bars, but the amphitheaters, touring regularly every night, a different city all the time. I think that would be just awesome,” she said. Her mother has been unequivocally supportive of her dream. “I hope she takes it to the top, and I hope she doesn’t turn into a Justin Bieber,” she said.
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A video is paused during a viewing of Melody’s talent show performance of “Sweet Child O’Mine.” She’s in the moment, wailing on her guitar with head bent as her face withdraws behind a waterfall of hair. The video resumes and the audience is cheering. Melody looks out and yells, “Sing with me!”
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guitars Newnan luthier strings together new business
40 | www.newnancowetamag.com
Written by LINDSAY GLadu
Photographed by T.J. POWELL and REBECCA LEFTWICH
n his basement shop in Newnan, Randy Bowers picks up the body of an ornately carved Fender Stratocaster lookalike. Purple-colored sawdust flies off the worktable as the luthier shows off the hunk of wood that gave life to his new career as a guitar craftsman. The mural on the unfinished guitar is a trippy conglomeration of beating hearts and UFOs all swirled around a skull and crossbones. The letters E, L and M are placed along the curving edge of the guitar — a tribute to his wife, Lisa, and two daughters, Elliott and Myranda, who gave him the do-it-yourself guitar kit last year on Father’s Day. “I’ve always loved the instrument,” Bowers said of guitars. “It was around five or six years ago that I thought maybe I could make a living at this.” The white walls of his two-room workspace are studded with clamps, screwdrivers, chisels, abstract paintings of monsters and pin-up ladies, and five guitars begging for a strum. The room is not unlike its owner, who has an arm full of similar tattoos. His drooling boxer, Boone, sits in the shop at his owner’s feet like a four-legged Igor awaiting the next Frankenstein moment. Above, a guitar base Randy Bowers uses for practice to perfect his unique carving skills. At right, Bowers sands the edges of his latest project.
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“I’ve always loved the instrument,” Bowers said of guitars. “It was around five or six years ago that I thought maybe I could make a living at this.”
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Bowers always places the letters E, L and M somewhere on the guitars he makes — a tribute to his wife, Lisa, and two daughters, Elliott and Myranda.
Bowers started his luthier business, Guitars Akimbo, in January. While he’s still fresh to the business, Bowers has already made several electric guitars and bass guitars for his clients, who come from as far away as Kentucky and Louisiana. He also repairs stringed instruments. Bowers reaches for an Ibanez electric guitar with candy red and gold-tone knobs and a mirrored pick board that recently received a makeover. He worked on the rebuild for two weeks, replacing its parts, sanding and smoothing the divots worn into the neck of the instrument. He pulls off the wall another Fender Stratocaster with a new gleaming black fingerboard. He used the old white fingerboard as a template and carefully cut out a new one to suit his client’s request. Two guitars stand out among the five hanging on his shop wall, though. One is a beat up, green Fender Stratocaster
with a tiny, plastic King Cake baby sealed inside the body of the guitar. Bowers, originally from New Orleans, has had the guitar since he was 17, and he put the little naked babe inside the guitar as a nod to his hometown and “for mojo or something.” Next to it hangs a purple and reddish woodgrain electric guitar. It is one of the first guitars Bowers made and is crafted out of purpleheart and mahogany wood. Running his hand over the strings, Bowers proves that the hollow guitar sounds as good as it looks. A warm tone emits from the vibrating strings and echoes in the concrete room. “It sounds awesome,” Bowers said. “It’s pretty much become my favorite guitar, and it’s even more fun because I made it.” After the luthier delivered a bass guitar to a musician friend in New Orleans, they sat down to jam with some buddies. Bowers looked around and realized that
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said. “If someone is going to spend the money on a custom guitar, I’m going to give them everything they want and more.” A custom guitar by Bowers starts at $1,000. In his former career in the freighting industry, Bowers often bought broken guitars off eBay, repaired them and flipped them for a profit. It was his family and this creative time that got him through the day-to-day drudgery of a nine-to-five. “I sat behind a desk. I punched numbers into a computer and I felt like I was dying,” Bowers said. “It just wasn’t fulfilling.”
Bowers in the basement of his home. At top, he holds the first acoustic guitar he made while attending Atlanta Guitar Works. Above, he talks to Boone, his loyal companion who often keeps the couch warm when Bowers is hard at work.
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everyone in the room was playing one of his hand-made instruments. “I thought, ‘Man, how cool is that?’ ” Bowers said. He’s not into mass production and insists on a quality, hand-made product. The selfproclaimed guitar nerd takes his time with each instrument to ensure his client is “wowed.” His first customer and friend, New Orleans musician Matthew Macloud, was exactly that when he was given his custom bass last year. He wanted a specific Z shape carved into the semi-hollow body of his bass guitar. Other luthiers said the Z hole couldn’t be done, but Bowers proved them wrong. “Not only did he do exactly what I wanted, but he impressed his whole school,” Macloud said. “I have bass guitars that I spent a lot of money on that I don’t even play anymore. I’m very happy with it.” Bowers’ shop is full of guitars in various stages of completion. It takes about a month to finish a custom guitar from woodwork to paint. Bowers starts by sketching a template for the guitar. Next, he cuts a slab of wood with a bandsaw into a curvaceous body and sands it smooth. After it’s clamped and glued, Bowers paints it with lacquer — which can take several weeks to dry. Also a musician, Bowers understands what musicians need, and part of the job is figuring out the tonal qualities a client wants from their instrument. Adjectives like “buttery” and “crunchy” take on new meaning in conversations with bassists and guitar players. “I spend a lot of time talking to people,” he
Last year, he and his wife talked it over one day during lunch, and she gave him her blessing to start Guitars Akimbo. He enrolled in school at Atlanta Guitar Works and finished the program last November. Since then he’s been marketing “like crazy,” often having to explain the meaning behind the name of his business. It’s derived from Stephen King’s “The Gunslinger,” a novel in which the main character, Roland Deschain, is always packing two pistols with his hands and arms at the ready to pull them from their holsters. During his sleeping-in-a-van-with-atraveling-band days, Bowers and a bandmate created a five-minute, instrumental guitar duel they dubbed “Guitars Akimbo.” The name stuck with Bowers. Bowers isn’t interested in being the next big boy guitar manufacturer. “That’s not really my bag,” he said. He is interested in working up to a storefront, though, for increased foot traffic, but all that “will come in good time,” he said. Until then, clients can get in touch with Bowers through his website at guitarsakimbo.com. And he’s optimistic about his career change, knowing that with hard work he’ll build a successful business. Quoting Henry David Thoreau, Bowers said, “ ‘Most men lead quiet lives of desperation.’ I’m not everybody. And while that may be great for them, I refuse to admit that’s it.” NCM
Moving historic homes a challenging, rewarding endeavor for several Cowetans
Written by Jeff bishop | Photographed by AARON HEIDMAN may/june 2014
Georgia Shapiro was house hunting in the 1970s when she discovered the long-lost Male Academy Museum, a 19th-century school for boys, on College Street.
It wasn’t a house. She knew that much. “Something came on the market that piqued our interest,” said Georgia Shapiro, recalling a time she had been house hunting in Newnan in the 1970s. A building on College Street just “didn’t make sense.” “I stood on the sidewalk looking at it, and it had a row of windows going down the side,” Shapiro said. “That wasn’t like any house in town that I’d ever seen. I remember thinking to myself that this wasn’t a house. This was something else.” Not long afterward, Shapiro was thumbing through The Newnan Times-Herald “Centennial” book when she was struck by an old photograph. “There it was,” she said. “This was the same building I had seen on College Street. I was dumbfounded.” She got into her car and raced to the 48 | www.newnancowetamag.com
building. “I counted windows. I checked their position and size. I counted the boards, from the base of the building to the window. There was absolutely no doubt about it.” What she discovered was the long-lost Male Academy Building, a 19th-century Newnan school for boys. Determination pays off She ended up buying the building, hoping she could interest a local group in restoring it back to something resembling its original condition. “The historical society wanted nothing to do with it,” she said. “I spoke to all the local civic organizations. I even talked to the Kiwanis Club in Hogansville. Someone drew a rendering of how it would look with a rebuilt cupola. I just couldn’t get any excitement out of people beyond something like, ‘Oh, that’s a wonderful project. Good luck!’” Meanwhile, she continued paying the
local attraction “It was a source of great entertainment, especially when the houses they were moving just collapsed into a million pieces. And yes, that did happen. – Georgia Shapiro
$80-a-month mortgage for two years, “as a single mother with two little boys, sometimes using the grocery money.” Eventually, the city found money for the project, Shapiro said, and the building was relocated to its current location at the corner of College Street and Temple Avenue, serving as the home of the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society. That was close to what was thought at the time to have been the building’s original location. “In the 1880s, the school had been located at the crest of the lot, where the fountain is now, in the park,” Shapiro said. “It sat on the high point. But the city, in the 1970s, wanted to put it at the corner because they wanted at that time to build a fire station on the highest point of the lot.”
Through Shapiro’s efforts, the museum eventually was relocated to its current location at the corner of College Street and Temple Avenue, close to what was thought at the time to have been the building’s original location. may/june 2014
“It’s not the distance you travel with the house that’s the tricky thing — it’s getting it up in the air to get it on the truck that’s the problem.” – Tom Camp The academy had originally been moved to make way for the Temple Avenue school, which was later torn down. Research has since revealed that the Male Academy had actually been relocated even before its use as a school, beginning its life as a church building at the corner of College Street and Wesley Street. “It was very common for houses and other buildings to be moved around from lot to lot in the early days,” Shapiro said. “Sometimes houses would just get moved over to the next lot, and sometimes they would be taken great distances. It wasn’t that unusual.” Shapiro’s great-grandmother’s house, for instance, was originally located out of town on Corinth Road. It later got moved into town for use as a hotel. “It was for people going to the spring. 50 | www.newnancowetamag.com
You know we have that street in Newnan, Spring Street? There was a spring there, until the spring got paved over. The springs were famous. My greatgrandmother’s house was moved into town by a Mr. Kirby, to serve as a hotel for the people who went to the spring. Now we have tennis courts.” There are old newspaper articles that mention homes and other buildings being moved from place to place, Shapiro said. “It was a source of great entertainment, especially when the houses they were moving just collapsed into a million pieces. And yes, that did happen.” To prevent such a thing, Shapiro worked with an expert named Homer Marchman to move the Male Academy to its current location. “That was so fun,” said. “Nothing is
more exciting than having a project like that.” A tricky undertaking Exciting, yes. But moving something so large can also be dangerous, and depending on how you do it, even illegal. “According to the house-moving guy I worked with, it’s not the distance you travel with the house that’s the tricky thing — it’s getting it up in the air to get it on the truck that’s the problem,” said Tom Camp, owner of a relocated historic home that now sits at the intersection of Christopher Road and Ga. Hwy. 54 in Sharpsburg. Camp first noticed the home, originally located near the Greenville Street/Corinth Road intersection, when he was a boy. “Just riding by there, I’d always noticed it,” he said. “The weird thing I’d notice
After much research, Tom Camp decided to save the historic home that now sits at the intersection of Christopher Road and Ga. Hwy. 54 in Sharpsburg from demolition.
every time I’d go by is that you could tell they had put a Victorian front porch all the way across the front that covered up the windows and the doors.” T.W. Bolton was the original owner, and Camp believes it may have originally
served as a hotel, possibly as early as the 1830s. “I was doing research at the Genealogical Society and saw a newspaper advertisement. They were encouraging the drovers of cattle and pigs to use the
property.” Camp describes the house as a raised cottage. “I crawled under the house, and the ceiling of the crawl space is plaster, where there used to be rooms down there. Evidently, the bricks had gone bad and
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Tom Camp says his home in Sharpsburg may have originally served as a hotel, possibly as early as the 1830s.
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they lowered the house around the turn of the century.” Camp said it was quite an ordeal moving the house 15 miles to the east — but it was necessary in order to save it. “Georgia Power had an office next door and they wanted to expand,” he said. “So they were going to tear that house down.” When he hired an architect to come see if the relocation was feasible, he said, “You can’t do this — it’s crazy.” Camp decided to do it, anyway. He put in his bid and soon had the house on the road. “They crawled under there and put these metal beams going crossways, and then they had metal beams underneath the house, where it was resting on them, and then he just starts jacking it, and jacks the truck up under it. “I followed the mover. They had a guy on top that had greased this board and made it curved so the telephone lines would go up over the house. They had another guy standing on top who had a stick, and he pushed up the electric lines and walked them to the back. I think the house was a little too wide for state specifications, actually. So we took the back roads.”
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That didn’t help them when the truck suddenly broke down, however, halfway through the trip. “We completely blocked the road for four hours,” Camp recalls, saying he cut through a nearby cornfield and hoped for the best. Preserving the past According to scholars like Charles H. Faulkner, moving entire buildings was a common occurrence in the past — much more so than today. Log buildings were easily tagged and relocated, sometimes multiple times. Sometimes structures were built with the deliberate intention of moving them later. Log buildings were taken apart from the roof down, with most everything — even the floor joists — being salvaged and reused. But little documentary evidence was recorded about this practice, and sometimes buildings have been moved from their original location without current owners ever
having realized it. “It’s a lot of work to move a historic home, and it makes it so that it’s out of its original context, in a different location, but it does save the home,” said Dorothy Pope, who lives at a relocated home at 20 Fontaine Drive (originally at 5 Perry St., where the old front steps remain). “It’s better than the home not being anywhere at all.” Shapiro was also involved in saving the Fontaine Drive home. “The home was behind First National when I heard about it,” Shapiro said. “It was just going to be torn down. But it was an early house, a pre-Civil War house. And there were only about 15 or 16 preCivil War houses left in Newnan.” This particular relocation proved to be controversial, resulting in “massive lawsuits,” Shapiro said. “They didn’t want that old house moved into their neighborhood. They wanted nothing to
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do with it. But we persevered. I was really involved in that.” By the time Laurie and Dorothy Pope moved into the home, the lawsuits were over and the historic home had been successfully integrated into the neighborhood, just north of town. “It was charming,” Mrs. Pope said. “It was move-in ready, with five bedrooms, and we had four children so everyone had their own room, plus a living room.” Pope said that the home “doesn’t have much historic significance,” beyond being “one of the original homes in the original boundaries of Newnan.” “But it’s still special to people like us who love old houses,” she said. “One imagines those who have walked the same floors, painted the same walls, and that kind of thing.” Pope said it is “rather out of place” in its current neighborhood, but that doesn’t bother them.
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Maintaining structural integrity and preserving original features are key facets of relocating old homes, including the Pope home on Fontaine Drive.
Weighing the pros and cons “But that is one of the reasons why it’s important to keep structures in their original location, as it maintains the integrity of the place as well as keeps the buildings in context,” Pope said. “You absolutely lose that historical integrity when you move a home from its original site,” Shapiro agreed. “It’s difficult to get it onto the National Register after that. You absolutely lose its context. 54 | www.newnancowetamag.com
It’s really the last thing you’d ever want to do. But if it’s an important house architecturally, then at least you’ve saved the architecture. And that’s something.” Historic homes, no matter where they were located originally, also add to the “character of the community,” Shapiro argues. And she said, from her experience, they’re not any more expensive to own and maintain than other homes. “You ride through all these little towns,
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and so many of them have lost their soul,” she said. “You don’t understand the community because their neighborhoods are gone.” She recalls one movie production company that drove from Charleston to Newnan and was “dumbfounded that Newnan is so unique” in having so many old homes. “They thought every Southern
town looked like Newnan,” Shapiro said, and were shocked to discover
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in the Family
An interview with Robbie Hines, owner of a relocated historic home. 1. How did you discover your home? My mother, Georgia Shapiro, found it in 1990. She is a real estate broker and a local historian. I was ready for my own place. She kept her eyes and ears open. We went over and looked and discovered it was very old — round log floor joists, hand-hewn logs throughout. I paid $1. 2. How did you come to the decision to move it? Papp Clinic wanted a parking lot where my future home was sitting. I had to move it. We were lucky to still have the Marchmans available to move the home. They were a fatherand-son team that prepared the home to move — just the two of them.
Dorothy Pope says her love of her Fontaine Drive home includes “imagining those who have walked the same floors, painted the same walls.”
56 | www.newnancowetamag.com
3. Was it a difficult home to relocate? What were some of the challenges? To me it seemed an amazing task done by a detailed plan that went fairly smoothly. The skeleton of the home was mortise and tenon construction, huge beams fitted together with pegs. It was solid. The Marchmans removed the chimneys and surrounding brick foundation and placed railroad tracks under the home, jacked it up, rolled a trailer under it and lowered it onto the trailer. They had to remove the peak of the roof because of
the height. Besides that, it was about a 42-by-36 foot structure about to roll down the road. They installed two pieces of siding on the top of the house in front with a rope from each tied to the trailer. It made the wood bend a bit. As I came to find out, this was to help power lines and branches go over the house as it was traveling through the streets. They had one guy in the upstairs (no roof, remember) that would say “Whoa!” when a traffic light came up. He would grab it, say “OK” and walk it down then let go after passing under. It was all new to me, and crazy. They decided a Sunday morning would have the least traffic. It headed up Elm Street to Jackson, took a right, took a left over the bushes in the middle of Jackson/Clark intersection and headed out Highway 34. We had police escort. We took a left at KFC and headed down the bypass. We took a right onto Highway 16 and one of the railroad tracks scraped an 18-wheeler. My home had just been involved in a car accident. The Georgia State Patrol came, etc. We headed to my current road and they very slowly inched into the driveway. The truck got stuck heading up the freshly graveled drive — they were able to get another truck in front to pull. After a few hours, they placed the home in between four stakes I had placed. They built piers, lowered the home onto the piers, and the renovation
began. I had no roof for about two months. Every time I heard thunder or knew the rain was coming, I would drive out and hold the tarp and drain any collecting areas in the tarp.
Atkinson. Facing the back of the brick church on Jackson Street. It’s now on 16 gorgeous acres in Coweta.
8. How is owning a historic home different from owning a more recent or new home? 4. Would you To each his own. My wife recommend moving a historic home to others? and I talk about buying a new home. Again, Of course. My mom and we’ve been here for 22 I both saved these old years. We may sell one homes. That’s the main day. Sometimes the grass reason why we did it. is greener. But to see 5. What do you enjoy the worn flooring where most about owning a people have walked over historic home? 200 years is amazing to Charm, unique, it has me. The craftsmanship character. It’s an old of the builders with the farmhouse. The floors trees they had to cut squeak, there’s not a and hewn and put into 90-degree angle in the place. The roof burned house. I married three in 1916 and there are years after moving it, so charred reminders in my wife and I worked some of the floors and together getting it the walls. To me, that’s a way we wanted it. It’s a story, character. work in progress even 9. What is the story of after 22 years, but it’s a your house? When was comfortable home in the it built. Who originally middle of the woods. We owned it, etc? love it. Again, my mother is a historian and she did 6. What would have research. It was a church become of the home parsonage. The upstairs if it had stayed in its is a 18-by-36 foot room. I original location? know the Hopkins family Hopefully someone else lived here because would have saved it. relatives visited while we Otherwise it would have were moving and told been torn down for a us stories. My mother parking lot. wrote an article for the 7. Where was the home local paper on the home originally located? about 30 years ago. We Where is its current estimate it was built in location? the early 19th century. NCM Corner of Elm and
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Off the GridOff the Grid Inventive farmer proves sustainable living easy to master
Standing in his small kitchen in tan overalls, a cap, and untied boat shoes, Joshua Garner talks about his family’s journey to sustainable living with the same ease he displays chopping the acorn squash he selected for a baked vegetable dish. He appears ordinary enough, but as he pushes up the sleeves of his thermal top to mix in extra virgin olive oil and seasonings with his bare hands — all the while speaking of organic nutrients, the science behind proper soil maintenance, and the streamlining capabilities of modern technology — it’s apparent that Garner is as multi-layered as the red candy apple onions that are sprouting in his backyard. Garner, owner of JW Squared Farm, makes
his living selling his organically grown food at market and, as a consultant, teaching others about organic farming and sustainable living. “I’m most passionate about teaching people organics,” he said. “Why organics matters. Where food comes from. The effects on the environment and on personal health.” Garner learned to garden during the summers he spent on his grandparents’ South Carolina farm. Raised by a single dad on a shoestring budget, he also learned to be resourceful. “Growing up economically challenged, I always had that ‘figure it out’ mentality,” he said. If he wanted something, he had to get creative or go without. For Garner, mistakes and failures had silver linings and became lessons
Written by MEGAN ALMON | Photographed by CHRIS HELTON
58 | www.newnancowetamag.com
Living more sustainably is possible for anyone —
“Just take what we waste and use it.”
Joshua Garner checks the broccoli plants sprouting through the white “plastic mulch” that serves as a pest deterrent while also conserving water usage by 70 percent.
60 | www.newnancowetamag.com
and opportunities. Additionally, an insatiable curiosity for learning â€œhow things workâ€? and a knack for understanding the same served him well. A stirred interest in his own Native American heritage drove young Garner into his elementary school library, where he learned that the Native Americans 62 | www.newnancowetamag.com
used natural fertilizers when planting their crops, like fish and animal waste. By the age of 8, Garner was visiting local fish farms and catching brim and carp, then mucking stalls to gather horse manure. He used both in the soil of the garden he and his dad planted, and was amazed by the results.
“We went from eating Laura Lynn canned foods to amazing, fresh-grown vegetables,” he said. He didn’t realize at the time that he was growing organically. He just knew he had an alternative way to garden when they couldn’t afford synthetic fertilizers. As a young man, Garner worked a number of different jobs — fishing guide, electrician, plumber, pipe-fitter, welder — all from which he gleaned knowledge he uses today. He earned a degree in botany from North Georgia College and State University. Garner enlisted in the United States Navy, working as a nuclear engineer before transferring to fleet operations. Traveling in the service taught him, among other things, about different foods and how to prepare them. Since then he has continued dabbling in various fields, including biofuel and hydroponics (a hybrid between raising
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Digging into a new way of life He and his wife, Whitney, an art teacher at Smokey Road Middle School, married in 2008 and moved to Newnan. It wasn’t until Whitney was pregnant with their son, dubbed “Bullfrog,” that Garner’s interest in organics blossomed into a full-fledged passion. The couple began buying organic foods, then planted their first organic garden the next year. “One of the things that brings me the most peace using all organic nutrients is that my son can’t get into anything dangerous,” Garner said.
He described what he calls an “Ah-hah!” moment when he spilled a container of gardening nutrients on the kitchen floor one night. He initially panicked, knowing the floor is a favorite play spot for his son and dog, and aware that most fertilizers contain strict warnings about exposure to children. Then he realized that what he spilled was nothing more than a "mixture of good bacteria and carbohydrates.” “The Formula 409 I used to clean it up was more dangerous than it was,” he said of the spill. Garner did his research, reading books and studying online as well as systematically testing lines of organic nutrients (used to treat soil for plant growth) on his own. Most of what he learned, however, came from the network of other organic farmers he met at regional markets. Garner put his keen observation skills to good use, arriving early and
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fish — aquaculture — and raising plants in soil-free environments — hydroponics — that creates a symbiotic relationship between fish and plants), and is currently enrolled in machinist classes at the University of West Georgia to hone his skills as a tool-maker.
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“Growing up economically challenged, I always had that ‘figure it out’ mentality.”
departing last on market days and watching the vendors and their products. His natural curiosity took over, and he asked an abundance of good questions that were graciously answered. “You can’t get into this just a little bit,” he said. “It becomes a lifestyle.” His greatest teachers continue to be Nancy and Jacque Garry of Garry Farm in Bowdon, Ga. The Garrys taught Garner how to rotate crops — potatoes, for example, can only be planted in a given spot every third year — as well as how to use natural products to control pests. They also taught Garner a great deal about 64 | www.newnancowetamag.com
raising and breeding farm animals that make a sustainable lifestyle possible. Garner’s increased knowledge fanned the proverbial flame. “I’ve had jobs my entire life, but now I’m living my passion — my dream — to be a farmer,” he said. And with every person he educates, inspires or inadvertently offends — “People don’t want to admit that what they provide to feed their family is not healthy” — it’s another step toward revolutionizing the way the food industry operates. Garner rinses his hands and covers the vegetable dish he’s just finished building
to accompany the Boston butt he has slowcooking in the oven. He takes the scraps from his chopping block — things most people would consider useless — and drops them into a ziplock bag. It’s not trash; it’s worm food. When the bag is full, it will go into the freezer, then thawed and left to decompose for a day or two. Then it’s run through an inexpensive blender and placed into ice cube trays. Every so often, a few cubes go into the worm box. In his garage, Garner removes the lid from a refurbished styrofoam cooler to reveal rich, black soil and a culture of
wriggling worms that are feasting on decomposed scraps. The worms digest the material and release broken-down micronutrients known as vermicompost. That vermicompost is transferred to the garden, where it nourishes the plants. Nearby, a box built from deconstructed pallets seems to be chirping. Closer inspection reveals newly hatched chicks under heat lamps that will be sold in a few weeks. Sub-zero freezers hold ready-to-eat vegetables and meats, especially venison. As Garner strolls his 6-foot-plus frame into the yard, he pulls his shoulder-length hair back into a band and replaces his cap. His back deck is pleasantly crowded with various clay pots housing a variety of herbs, the green shoots an echo of the flats of seedlings that have temporarily taken up residence in his dining room. The seeds are planted indoors yearround so that they can be transferred
to the garden with root systems already established. Pots of citronella sit at the bottom of the stairs. Garner demonstrates how he takes a couple of leaves, rubs them between his hands, and transfers them to his sleeves, etc., to keep bugs away. What would MacGyver do? He gestures to a pile of twisted scrap metal, broken pallets, and spare parts from old machines and, in MacGyverlike fashion, describes the potential use of each piece. • A washing machine drum that is slated for modification into a chickenplucking machine Garner is developing. • A toilet pump that — with a little ingenuity — will finish off a water filtration machine and provide fresh water to the animals. • Pallets that will be disassembled and used to build more animal housing or
Worms eat decomposing scraps and produce nutrient-rich vermicompost, which nourishes an organic garden.
raised beds for planting. The blueprints for each are already laid out in his mind, and the evidence of successful repurposing is all around. Rabbit housing consists of plastic blue drums that have been sawn in half to create dome-like living quarters, each with its own fresh water supply. The domes are three across and rest on two levels — a rabbit hotel. Lush lettuces — kale, spinach,
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“I’ve had jobs my entire life, but now I’m living my passion — my dream — to be a farmer.”
Animals are a vital component of the organic farming business. Chickens are good for more than just eggs and meat. They can be raised and sold for profit. Goats contribute a valuable resource for sustainable living — milk.
romaine and buttercrunch — thrive in what Garner calls a mini “hoop house,” white plastic stretched across arches of PVC electrical conduit that creates a greenhouse-like effect. The lettuces grow in black plastic produce bins that local restaurants set out by their dumpsters, perfect holders for the fibrous coconut coir that is used instead of soil. The same hoop house design can stretch hundreds of feet, and Garner has plans to install some on his land next year. In the barn, refrigerators Garner collected as previous owners gave them away serve as incubators, simulating cooler weather 66 | www.newnancowetamag.com
environments so that cold-weather crops can be grown year-round. Garner approaches a small pasture where a variety of goats and chickens mingle. They approach him with a sense of familiarity and he greets many by name — the nameless ones are slated to be sold. Each animal serves a purpose. The milk goats provide the key ingredient for cheeses, yogurts and soaps. The chickens provide eggs and meat. The rabbits are profitable at market and, while they can be eaten as well, offer another extremely valuable resource to the organic farmer. Rabbit manure, because of the chemistry
of the rabbit’s digestive tract, is uniquely suited to be used immediately as fertilizer. Beyond the animals is the garden. Row after row of prepared soil is ready for spring planting. The rows are covered with white plastic — “plastic mulch” — put in place by a machine Garner designed. The brightness of the plastic reflects intense sunlight, and its insulating effect cuts water consumption by around 70 percent, Garner said. Additionally, the glare off the plastic acts as a pest deterrent. Small holes in the plastic allow for transplanting baby plants, made apparent by some sprouting onions on one row. Garner is a stickler
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for planting in mid-April and, since freshness is key when dealing in organics — within days of harvest, fruits and vegetables lose a considerable amount of their nutrient content — he harvests the day before each market. What isn’t sold gets preserved for personal use. Garner stands by his produce and is a walking testament to its quality. “I’ve never been healthier,” he said, and claimed that, as active as he is from sun-up to sun-down, a regular salad from his garden keeps him fueled from lunch until supper. Living more sustainably is possible
for anyone, according to Garner — “Just take what we waste and use it.” Newnan patrons may sample some of Garner’s fresh produce at local restaurants, including The Cellar and Rednexican, and can purchase directly from Garner at the Peachtree City
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For more information about Garner, go to www.americanags.com may/june 2014
side note FROM THE WRITER
he blessing that led me to love magazine writing is simultaneously the curse, so to speak, that makes the job so difficult. Curiosity. The difficulty comes in being immersed in these individuals’ worlds for a short time, just long enough to whet the appetite to learn more, before having to return to my own. I’ve come home telling my husband I’m ready to leave writing behind and become anything from a forensic artist to a blacksmith. But as human nature would have it, I
always leave my interviews taking little pieces of those encounters with me. Joshua Garner, my introduction to the world of sustainable lifestyles, is no exception. Passion is contagious, and his passion for organic farming and its impacts on food, Earth, and the health of individuals was enough to have me reevaluating some of my choices and considering new ideas. — Paying closer attention to the scraps of food I set aside as garbage, and thinking of the kick my kids would get out of a worm box and a raised bed of home-grown produce. — Spending a couple of extra dollars on certified organic cheese sticks and apples. — Saving bags and cardboard and other odds and ends for reuse. — Looking at various items around
my home with new eyes as I ponder their alternative uses. My creativity was piqued. Meeting Garner was a little like discovering a walking, talking Pinterest for farm life. Tasting the kale and spinach he grew in recycled containers in his back yard has left me dissatisfied with every salad since. I learned that the changes I can make — that anyone can make — don’t have to be drastic, but the impact they have can be, and for the better. And so I go, back to my own world but having learned something new, and still just curious enough to take that knowledge and use it well. I hope you, reader, are inspired to do the same. — Megan Almon
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Couple finds niche amid ‘Walking Dead’ fanfare nyone can fall in love with a popular television show about a zombie apocalypse, but Marlene and Jimmy Littlefield are tour guides who can lead people into the very heart of “The Walking Dead” fandom. As the hit AMC series continues to film in and around Coweta County, the Littlefields are connecting fans to their favorites by taking them beyond what they see on their screen to what’s really underneath the makeup. They’ve rubbed elbows with enough stars to know the Governor really is a lovely man, for instance; Daryl is humble, Michonne shy and Hershel approachable. Merle has quite a sense of humor. Jimmy, a custodian at Newnan High School, started watching the show when it filmed at the school at the beginning of Season 2. He encouraged his wife to check it out. “I’m not into zombie stuff,” she said at the time. But Marlene’s friends talked her into visiting the set when the show was being filmed at Caldwell Tanks in downtown Newnan. She got to meet Laurie Holden, who played the alluring Andrea until her tragic demise at the end of Season 3. Marlene also met four zombies that day. “At that point, I figured I might as well watch the show — and I was instantly hooked,” Marlene said. Because the show films locally, the Littlefields took advantage of a unique opportunity to get involved behind the scenes. They’ve proved persistence pays off. Marlene and Jimmy, like many Cowetans, routinely visit filming locations. As a result, they’ve “gotten in with the walkers (zombie extras),” according to Marlene, and often get to visit with several of the show’s stars. At left, Marlene and Jimmy Littlefield stand in the Grantville apartment used in episode 12 from Season 3 of “The Walking Dead.” At top, from top to bottom, the Littlefields pose with stars IronE Singleton (T-Dog), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Norman Reedus (Daryl).
Written by ELIZABETH MELVILLE Photographed by JEFFREY LEO
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Jimmy’s assertion is evidenced by their impressive collection of photographs with the cast, autographs, and entertaining stories of their celebrity encounters. There’s even a YouTube video of Andrew Lincoln, who plays the show’s hero, Rick Grimes, chatting with Marlene’s mom on Marlene’s cell phone. The Littlefields got VIP access after helping work the first annual Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta in November 2013. Marlene worked Lincoln’s fan line that day while her husband handled crowd control. Lincoln later took time to visit and sign items for them. “They were all really nice and humble,” Marlene said. She and Jimmy are already planning to making new memories at the next Walker Stalker Con in October. They’ve also captured video of Michael Rooker (Merle) crashing IronE Singleton’s (T-Dog) book signing for his autobiography in May 2013 in Morrow, Ga. Afterward, Rooker hung out and
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signed fan paraphernalia. Being on the inside isn’t without some heartbreak, though. On a couple of occasions Jimmy and his son had the opportunity to meet Scott Wilson, who portrayed Hershel Greene on the show. During filming for the midseason finale of Season 4, Jimmy recalled that their conversation seemed oddly like a goodbye. “I called Marlene as I was driving away and said, ‘They’ve killed Hershel,’” Jimmy said. And he was right. Hershel was killed gruesomely and shockingly by the Governor at the conclusion of that episode. Jimmy said his coworkers have learned not to ask if they don’t really want to know. Marlene and her husband are quickly becoming famous in their own right. Marlene has even had at least one star of the show follow her on Twitter and share a picture of her on location. In addition to being a hardcore fan, she also now acts as an agent for local extras who’ve taken part in the wildly popular show. She shifted into this role
by befriending former “Walking Dead” walkers through social media and helping them line up follow-up gigs — like local signings and conventions. Most of these extras are either friends with Marlene through Facebook or now follow her on Twitter (Twitter handle: @deadlookdiva). “I am able to help them get licensed as an official zombie,” Marlene said. Four years ago, Marlene moved from Las Vegas to Newnan. “I’ve been having the time of my life,” she said. Perhaps ironically, Marlene and her Newnanite husband have a fondness for small towns. Local filming has brought a lot of attention and tourism to Senoia — aka Woodbury — but Marlene and Jimmy fell in love with Grantville and Haralson and have made it their mission to draw even more attention to these smaller towns. Marlene started leading the Grantville Dead Walking Tour when the tour was in its infancy. Now she works at Zombie Geeks in Grantville and has watched the tour grow. She’s also started hosting walker signings every two weeks. The
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couple plans other events that capitalize on the show’s popularity in order to bring people to Coweta’s small towns. “I fell in love with Grantville,” Marlene said. She and her husband are also affiliated with the Walkin (sic) Dead Haralson Tour. “My biggest passion is the tours. I love to draw attention to the lesser-known towns.” “Grantville was a dead town before ‘The Walking Dead’ showed up — no pun intended,” Jimmy said.
When the “walkers” call for Marlene every few weeks asking her to represent them, she coordinates signings for the actors. If they’re looking to take part in larger signings or conventions, she passes them along to her contacts. Her first client was Travis Charpentier, who portrayed a prominent walker who was killed by Andrea on the show when he climbed into her RV and was stabbed through the eye socket with a screwdriver.
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At top, Marlene and Jimmy Littlefield pose behind a signed poster with local zombie extras, including Chris Thompson (Deathmatch Arena Walker), Jordan Scott (Stunt Walker), Andrew Jenkins (Gas Mask Walker), Mike Mundy (Season 3 Walker), Joel Studer (Seasons 3 and 4 Walker), Melissa Cowan (Bicycle Girl), Don Teems (Seasons 3 and 4 Walker) and Michelle Flanagan-Helmeczy (Seasons 1-3 Walker). Above left, Cowan mans an autograph table during an event in Senoia. Above right, Penny Blake, aka the Governorâ€™s daughter, is eager to talk to fans during an autograph session in Grantville. 74 | www.newnancowetamag.com
She also represents Greg Cruise, who played “Snoring Guy” on Season 4, Episode 2. Cruise’s character was bitten in the neck by a zombie while he was asleep in the prison. To the person who dreams of becoming a walker for the day, Jimmy warns that it’s actually hard work. You typically sit around all day in the heat under layers of makeup and wardrobe. But for the undeterred, Extras Casting Atlanta handles casting calls for “The Walking Dead.” The Littlefields speculate that for next year’s filming it will be increasingly more difficult to be on location as the show’s popularity continues to grow. “The crowds continue to increase and it was harder this year than last year to go to set,” Jimmy said. “But it’s still a lot of fun,” Marlene said. “For some people it’s about the competition. For us — we get to hang out and have a good time.” “This is eventually going to die out,” Jimmy said. (Again, no pun intended.) Marlene said Grantville is already planning to open itself to other productions. The Littlefields aren’t sure what they’ll follow next, with a handful of local productions to choose from. But they have their eyes on a few. As “Walking Dead” viewers endure another off-season anxious to know which major character is going to die next and eagerly awaiting the full storyline surrounding the show’s mysterious Terminus, zombie aficionados Marlene and Jimmy Littlefield are a great local resource for rabid fans dying to pick their brains in the interim. NCM
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In this corner
Proud to Praise the Beatles
“Elvis, I remind you, mostly shook his pelvis and stuck to singing about other people’s blues.”
Leverett Butts has suffered from a lifelong incurable case of Beatlemania. Though he has worked here, there, and everywhere, he is currently a tenured assistant professor of English at the University of North Georgia. He is also a paperback writer.
In a deleted scene from “Pulp Fiction,” Mia Wallace claims “there are only two kinds of people in the world: Beatles people and Elvis people … nobody likes them both equally.” I am unabashedly a Beatles man. Ask any Elvis person who’s known me my whole life, and he or she will claim it is because I was nurtured on the Beatles, having listened to them from the cradle. However, the truth is the Fab Four are just better than Elvis the Pelvis. While Elvis is often credited with creating rock & roll, this is factually incorrect. Elvis simply imitated the style of lesser known black bluesmen, such as Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup (who wrote and originally recorded “That’s All Right,” Presley’s first hit), and made the music palatable for a larger, white audience. He did little, though, to innovate the music. He wrote none of his own songs, and his use of the blues remains fairly consistent throughout his oeuvre. While no one is going to confuse “Hound Dog” for “Heartbreak Hotel,” delve deeper into his catalog and you’ll find a different story. The music of “I Was the One,” for example, sounds almost indistinguishable from “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” or “Playing for Keeps.” But I am here not to condemn the King, but to praise the Beatles. The Beatles tinkered with and improved their style. I can cite anything from “Honey Don’t” to “Run for Your Life,” from “Yer Blues” to “Let It Be.” Each one is clearly blues-inspired, each one is decidedly different in tone, and each one is clearly recognizable as a Beatles tune. More importantly, the Beatles wrote all but a handful of their songs, but their covers of already famous songs were so good that most fans forgot they were not Beatles’ originals to begin with. For instance, how many know that “Twist and Shout” is a song originally written and recorded by the Top Notes, or that the Isley Brothers had a hit with the song before the Beatles? From a technical standpoint, the Beatles changed popular music forever. With producer George Martin, the band changed how music was recorded and arranged, pioneering such now common practices as artificial double tracking, distortion, stereo effects and multi-
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tracking. They invented new ways to deliver music, too. With “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band,” they created the very first concept album. Before that, a short film based on “Paperback Writer” as a promotional alternative to live appearances became the first music video. The Beatles’ chart success was unprecedented. Yes, Elvis was popular in America and England (all the Beatles idolized him, in fact), but the Beatles were popular on every continent. In 2000, when the band released its collection of singles, titled “1” (referring to the number of No. 1 hits the Beatles had in America), 27 tracks were listed, the most of any recording artist. Elvis is a distant second with 18, and he’s tied with Mariah Carey, who probably makes no one’s number three in this discussion. The Beatles released 16 consecutive No. 1 singles. Elvis topped out at five. The Beatles are the only act in Billboard magazine history to frequently hold the top three and the top four positions on a week’s chart. In fact, during one week in 1964, they held an unprecedented top five positions — “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me,” respectively. Finally, as recently as last August, Billboard listed the Beatles as the No. 1 act of all time. The Beatles innovated fashion as well as music. Yes, there is “the Elvis” haircut. But before it was “the Elvis” it had been “the Pompadour” for about 200 years. The only moptop before the Beatles was at the end of a stick in a janitor’s closet. They were also the first band to print their lyrics on their album sleeve or in an insert. They were the first band to sell out stadiums. The list goes on and on, but what matters most is the music. Initially, the group was the best rock & roll band ever assembled. Then they naturally progressed as a band and recorded “Revolver,” thus inventing psychedelic music. Elvis, I remind you, mostly shook his pelvis and stuck to singing about other people’s blues. NCM
The King is King The subversive nature of his overt sexuality and cultural synthesis foreshadowed the sexual revolution and inspired countless teenagers, including the Beatles, to disobey their parents, to listen to forbidden music, to grow their hair, and to form their own rock & roll bands. How am I supposed to compare Elvis to anyone else, must less a band from Liverpool who came to America during Elvis’ sad but profitable movie years — before the King reinvented himself, launched the phenomenally successful ‘68 Comeback Special and triumphantly returned to the top of the charts and to live performance? Elvis had to be allowed to grow up. The America that greeted the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” was not the America that greeted Elvis on that same landmark television show. It was almost a decade later and Young Elvis was gone. The girls who screamed for him and the boys who wore their hair in pompadours were grownups. In fact, they were now the Beatles. I can see comparing the Beatles to another British Invasion band. The Beatles vs. Stones debate will rage on into infinity, but to compare the Beatles to the King of Rock & Roll? Elvis opened the door for the Beatles and for the 1960s as an age of free expression, passion and rejection of the status quo. His synthesis of gospel, hillbilly and AfricanAmerican cultures is reflected in the Beatles’ reinterpretations of Motown hits in their early years and their exploration of traditional Indian instruments and melodies in their later recordings. I love the Beatles and recognize their cultural and musical achievements, but to once again quote John Lennon: “If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been the Beatles.” NCM
In this corner
My 2-year-old loves Elvis. That’s not intended to be an expert endorsement, as I’m not even the one who introduced her to his music. “Lilo & Stitch” get that honor. It’s simply to illustrate the pervasive popularity of an artist’s music almost 50 years after his passing. Today, Elvis Presley remains the best-selling musical artist in history, with more than one billion records sold. His estate is priceless, his music helped change our society, and his influence is felt throughout the history of rock & roll. I find it difficult to conceive a world without rock & roll as a musical genre. Not only for the love affair I’ve had with music throughout my life, but for the social changes instigated by the gradual inclusion of African-Americans and their music into mainstream popular culture. Elvis Presley’s music, gaining popularity in the strictly segregated mid-1950s Western world, challenged segregationist views and opened the door for black artists to receive recognition for their artistic achievements and subsequently for their other accomplishments. Imagine in 1954 America a white Southerner singing blues mixed with country, flaunting black and hot pink clothes and sporting a greasy black pompadour with long sideburns, gyrating his hips with an uninhibited freedom and challenging cultural mores left and right. He must have been a sight to behold for young teenagers across the world. Here was something new, something incredibly different, something that could belong to them! John Lennon said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.” There was no rock & roll. The standard radio station selection across the dial consisted of jazz vocalists, big bands or country. More adventurous stations dabbled in “race music,” including some of Elvis’ African-American influences: Arthur Crudup, Big Mama Thornton, BB King, and Fats Domino. Elvis himself was a humble, wellbehaved mama’s boy with no real concept that he was revolutionizing music worldwide. He was just playing the music he loved, dressing how he wanted, and dancing how he danced. Other artists like Little Richard recognized his impact: “He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn’t let black music through. He opened the door for black music.”
“Elvis opened the door for the Beatles and for the 1960s as an age of free expression, passion and rejection of the status quo.”
Gayle Thrower Rej of Atlanta is a
with a past. Formerly a music booking agent, a high school theater teacher and a classic movie theater owner, she now spends her days washing clothes and playing with dolls. There’s still a glint in her eye and a spring in her step. There are still books to be read, Elvis records to be heard and places to be visited.
Original works by local poets and writers
Jack & Jillian
by Sean Stewart Jill hit Jack with a fryin’ pan, they both fell down and it all began ... Jack picked a flower for every hour he did love his Jill. Two dozen daisies, he must be crazy, Jack went up the hill. Jack asked, “Dear Jillian, how do I begin to tell you how I feel?” Jill said, “Let me stop you there because I don’t care.” Her heart was full of chill. Jill hit Jack with a fryin’ pan, they both fell down and it all began. Unrequited, Jack had been slighted, for his love loved him naught. Love is a thing, that truly can sting, for we don't always love who we ought. So down the hill fell Jack because Jill did smack him hard across the head. And down the hill followed Jack’s love Jill because he that loved her so ... was dead. Jill hit Jack with a fryin’ pan, they both fell down and it all began.
My Mother Tells Me About Granny Alice and Poor Essie (Bless Her Heart), Who Lived a Block From Here, Winter 1951
by Melissa Dickson Jackson The moon was closer then, she says. A fact half true, as facts tend to be. Who would notice that cosmic hair — an inch and a half each year — the moon edging faintly from her orbit as Poor Essie hung cut-paper stars from the porch rail of 32 Second Avenue. Whatever was wrong with Essie, a six-year-old couldn’t see no matter how near the moon. They shared the stone-worn shears, trimmed each star with ragged fringe. Granny Alice harvested the waste and tucked it into the mattress where she’d honeymooned her husband, and where, of necessity, she bore her nights, late and passionless, twinned to his sister — a child eight decades old, who played “house” in the shadow of the ice box that I’ve imagined empty, the ice and the ice man’s fee an extravagance till spring. East from my home and over an invented divide, that cabin stands with tenants warmed by a wood-burning stove, a Frigidaire where a porch swing should be. Somebody bricked up the front as if that would plum the whole of it, and painted the stairs a carnival hue. What remains is the same coarse complaint in a new strain so the stars recede into darkness as I think of it — my orbit an earthly strand removed — between our gates a length of thread could run and still not come unspooled.
Writer’s note : The moon was, in fact, closer in 1951—by about 94 feet, if scientists’ estimates are correct. The distance from my present-day home to the cabin where my great-great grandmother, Alice B. Sewell, lived and died while caring for an incapacitated sister-in-law is approximately 700 feet. A spool of Guterman Sew-All Thread contains 819 feet. The address of the cabin has been fictionalized in the poem with sincere apologies to my historian cousin, Elizabeth Beers. 78 | www.newnancowetamag.com
Brief Bookstore Encounter by Marc Honea
I handed the girl my books and my discount card. She looked the titles over as she rang them up — a bit too much attention for my taste. Then, yes, a remark; I was tuned to its inevitability and tightened up a bit. I don’t remember it exactly: “I love this one. ‘Jane Eee-ree.’ Have you read it?” My discomfort was then instantly doubled, and I choked out something like: “It’s on my daughter’s summer reading list.” She made another comment as she handed me my receipt, but I had withdrawn my attention at that point, and her curious speech patterns had garbled it anyway. I was dizzy with awkwardness. Was it a response? Something new? Taking it further? I smiled and offered a placating nod as I headed for the door. Oh, the thoughts I had. Oh, the comments I formulated. Oh, the irony I mustered. And, of course, it was a chain store, a floating ship of corporate mega-death. And so on. It’s been three days and I can't forget her smile. It was ceaseless, endless. It was present, fixed, from the moment I saw her see me approach the counter. It was, to use the formerly fashionable poststructuralist phrasing, “always already there.” And it was obscenely authentic. Not polite. Not professional. Joyous. She seemed happy to be there doing what she was doing. Happy helping me. Happy to talk with a stranger about books. She loved “Jane Eee-ree.” I have no way of knowing what reading is for her. Because, for one thing, I didn’t ask her, even though I had the opportunity. She spoke of love. I offered distracting excuses for being there. Something about her radiated a truth about bookstores and why people read and why reading is a way to love. I’m the one who wanted the corporate exchange: just give me my empty abstract product and leave me alone. I told myself she was in some way a “special needs” person, as if I needed to give myself a satisfying and condescending explanation of why I was so uncomfortable. But, really, after three days to think about it, I’ve stopped plugging up my feeling with that kind of explanation. She was memorable. Fiercely memorable. I can’t forget her smile. Her profession of love. Her Jane Eee-ree. And as my misery wells up I tell myself other things. I can’t leave it alone. I know she is too happy with what she does and with her Jane Eee-ree to ever start wars, cheat people out of their money, snub, back-bite, hold a grudge. A philosopher and sage had the good sense to hire her for that job. On and on I go with the things I tell myself. I know I’m still being condescending, but guilt does that. Not really fair to her. Truth be told, all I really know is what she told me: she loves “Jane Eee-ree.” That prompts me to offer one last truth: I have never actually read “Jane Eee-ree.”
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Index OF ADVERTISERS Amazon Stone....................................... 12 Arbor Terrace........................................ 63 Atlanta Market Furniture...................... 29 Atlas Integrative Medicine & Spine Center................................. 69 Bank of North Georgia......................... 84 BB&T..................................................... 45 BeDazzled Flower Shop....................... 52 The Bedford School.............................. 52 Binion Tire............................................. 73 Carriage House Country Antiques & Gifts............................................... 68 CareSouth Home Health...................... 57 Charter Bank......................................... 27 City of Grantville................................... 29 Cosmetic Laser & Skin Care Center....... 3 Court Square Cafe................................ 52 Coweta Medical Center........................ 72 Coweta-Fayette EMC........................... 83 Dogwood Veterinary Hospital & Laser Center.................................. 79 Double Bar H Stables........................... 68 Farm Bureau Insurance......................... 73 Foot Solutions....................................... 37 Forest at York.......................................... 7 Georgia Bone and Joint......................... 5 Georgia Military College...................... 39 Habitat for Humanity ReStore.............. 72 Heritage of Peachtree.......................... 68 The Heritage School............................. 21 Hollberg’s Fine Furniture...................... 79 In Stitches too....................................... 65 Kemp’s Dalton West Flooring............... 45 Lee-King Pharmacy............................... 53 MainStreet Newnan.............................. 19 Massage Envy....................................... 19 Newnan-Coweta Board of Realtors..... 13 NuLink....................................................11 OutPatient Imaging................................ 4 Pain Care................................................. 6 Piedmont Healthcare.............................. 2 Plum Southern...................................... 51 Savannah Court of Newnan.................. 31 Skin Cancer Specialists, P.C. ................ 75 Senoia Health & Wellness.................... 63 Southern Crescent Equine................... 25 Stemberger & Cummins, P.C. .............. 31 StoneBridge Early Learning Center..... 65 Surgical & Cosmetic Dermatology....... 21 Thomas Eye Group............................... 55 Treasures Old & New............................ 57 Uniglobe McIntosh Travel..................... 25 Vinewood Plantation............................ 15 Vining Stone.......................................... 67 West Georgia Health.............................. 8 82 | www.newnancowetamag.com
next Night Life
Newnan once was a sleepy town that rolled up the sidewalks early and called it a day. If residents wanted a night on the town, they had to hit the road and drive north on Interstate 85. A lot has changed in the last decade or so and Newnan now offers a variety of fine dining, watering holes and live music. In the July/August issue, NCM will explore how much things have changed since the days of eating pizza and going to see a movie at Shannon Mall.
Heated Debate Grilling. Barbecuing. Smoking. It’s that time of year — time to put on the outdoor apron and break out the Weber — so we’ve decided to tackle an age-old question: What’s better, gas or charcoal? Die-hard cooks typically have a preference, and we’re going to find out what local grill masters have to say. And maybe they’ll share a recipe or two.
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