Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dunwoody Music Festival proves little town is growing up - AJC

Blind Crush - Local Dunwoody Band
By Bo Emerson of the AJC

Look at Dunwoody, only two years old, and growing up fast.

Having acquired all the trappings of a modern urban center, now Dunwoody is stepping up to give Atlanta a run for its money.

So, you miss the Midtown Music Festival, which disappeared five years ago? Come to the Dunwoody Music Festival, a two-day smorgasbord of musical acts playing country, rock and roll, jazz, a capella vocals, bluegrass, beach music, folk, opera, flute choir, big band, percussion and pretty much every musical form except polka. The festival begins Saturday, from 10 a.m. to dusk, and continues Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Organizers expect up to 20,000 visitors to Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park, also known as Liane Levetan Park, with events also staged at Georgia Perimeter College and some churches.

They describe the festival as a good way to grow the community. But there is also the suggestion that Dunwoody will jump in if Atlanta offers an opening.

The absence of the Midtown Music Festival, "is a void that we have in the metropolitan area," said city councilman Danny Ross. "And we’re filling that void."

Ross met with the organizers of the 17-day Savannah Music Festival for advice about Dunwoody's efforts, and hopes to grow his own two-day event "incrementally" each year to resemble that city's extravaganza.

Of course, Dunwoody still has a way to go to catch up with Savannah. The budget for Dunwoody's festival is small, and much of the production is being accomplished through donated labor.

"People who just love music and love Dunwoody are doing this, and that’s what’s made Dunwoody what it is," Ross said.

Among the volunteers: the musicians. "They're not even paying gas money," said one musician.

As a consequence, the inaugural festival will offer no national acts, and the offerings will include avocational groups, including church choirs. Yet the festival has had no trouble attracting participants, and began turning away musicians when the list grew above 55 acts.

While many of the musicians come from as far afield as Mississippi and Florida, more are from close to home.

“We are blessed with truly an amazing amount of talent,” said festival director M.J. Thomas.

One homegrown performer, singer-songwriter Julie Gribble, grew up in Dunwoody, moved to Los Angeles, but has been back and forth between the two cities, snapping up movie roles and music gigs. She recently acted in the filmed-in-Georgia "Quarantine 2″ and sang one of her songs on the "Late Late Show" with Craig Ferguson.

One thing she’s noticed about the new Dunwoody is the traffic. No surprise. Another change: the nightlife.

“There’s a cool bar, a tavern that the old people and the young people can hang out at, and there’s a music venue here ... with a nice stage and a good sound system,” Gribble said.

In short, she said, Dunwoody is acting like a real town. About playing for free, Gribble has no quibbles. "It's fine with me, I don’t care. You've got a built-in crowd, which is worth every minute. Please somebody show up."

Dunwoody has cultivated outdoor events, including Lemonade Days and Light up Dunwoody, and Ross sees much bigger things in the city's future. He'd like to have a music festival with events all over the city, stretching over two weeks.

"We've got 5.5 million people within a 30-minute drive of Dunwoody," he said. The festival is "evidence of Dunwoody becoming a city and being able to have local control and being able to control our own destiny."

“It says a lot” about Dunwoody’s maturity that it’s putting on a music festival, said Debbie Fuse, deputy director of the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce. Visitors will “see what Dunwoody has to offer.”

The Dunwoody Music Festival

Saturday, 10 a.m. to dusk; Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; tickets: $10 to $50; Brook Run Park; 4770 North Peachtree Road, 30338. Information: 678-244-9700.


SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions said...
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GaryRayBetz said...

Just an FYI, do not miss the Nick Edelstein Band; the man is masterful! An intuitive musical genius!!!