Blair Crimmins Releases the Kraken at Fernbank’s Martinis & IMAX Tonight

Forget Hollywood’s cheesy 3-D CLASH OF THE TITANS. In fact, ATLRetro hopes you already have. Instead you’ll have much more fun at this week’s Martinis & IMAX at Fernbank Museum of Natural History, redubbed “Night of the Kraken,” which promises to be fantastically out of time and marvelously in tune with the recently opened MYTHIC CREATURES: DRAGONS, UNICORNS AND MERMAIDS special exhibition. Attendees are encouraged to compete in a fantasy-inspired costume contest hosted by Professor Morte, “ghost host with the most” of the Silver Scream Spookshow. Bartenders will be serving up mythic-themed cocktails including a Krakentini, featuring Kraken rum. And playing in the shadow of the skeletons of the world’s most gigantic dinosaurs—primeval beasts whose bones perhaps inspired medieval belief in dragons—fittingly is one of Atlanta’s most imaginative bands, Blair Crimmins and the Hookers.

You might think of ragtime as kind of quaint, but you wouldn’t be talking about Crimmins’ take on this 1920s form of jazz. Remember that they didn’t call the Twenties Roaring for nothing. In fact, you might even describe Crimmins’ high-energy style as “in your face” as rock ‘n’ roll. Except the groupies would be flapper girls, and the band is playing instruments your grandparents would approve of from banjo to accordion, saxophone to piano, trumpet to trombone—and may be accompanied by antics inspired by the best vaudeville comedy. What does this have to do with mythic monsters? Well, let’s just say in the midst of the madcap mania, some of the lyrics are also decadently dark.

ATLRetro caught up with the mastermind behind this one-of-a-kind act for a last-minute preview of this not-to-be-missed hootenanny themed around a giant monster of the deep.

1. What drew you personally to the ragtime, 1920s sound?

Early Ragtime jazz and Dixieland represents a time when jazz was brand new and exciting. People [were] taking classical instruments and making these wild sounds with them. It’s like the first time someone turned up the overdrive on their guitar amp. It made people turn their heads and say “What the hell is that sound?!”

2. With a concept as unique as yours, there must be a great story behind how the band got founded. Can you share a bit of it?

I was possessed by a ghost a few years ago when I moved into my 100-year-old house. Suddenly I was a stranger in my own time and had no place in modern music. I had to do something that kept me in my element and I found that comfort in my old record collection. I was listening to these old tunes that I’d never heard before but the sound and style felt so familiar to me. Eventually I started writing and it came so naturally as if I had been doing it my whole life. That’s how the sound started and I’ve been playing it ever since

3. A Blair Crimmins and the Hookers gig is more than a concert. You incorporate a cabaret/vaudeville ambiance, have even used puppetry and circus antics, and I hear that things can get pretty rowdy. What can audiences expect at a typical show and where do you get your ideas?

I do try to make each show unique even if it’s for my own amusement. You can play a gig and walk away saying “Great show guys” or you can walk away saying things like “Can you believe that guy ate an entire light bulb?” or “Man that puppet had a dirty mouth!”  I’m also really lucky to be in a town with so much talent. Actors, performers and dancers are all around and generally love to bring their art to a venue they normally wouldn’t perform at. All you have to do is ask. I just like to put my hands in everything. Music allows me to do that.

4. This Friday’s Martinis & IMAX is provocatively themed “Night of the Kraken,” which to me conjures up Jules Verne, steampunk and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Can you give a sneak preview of why nobody should miss it?

Oh, man. This one is out of my hands. We played the Halloween party at Fernbank and had a blast. I couldn’t believe things got so wild at the museum. For “Night of The Kraken”? I’m just glad I have a front row seat, right in front of the crowd!

5. What’s your personal take on MYTHIC CREATURES, the current exhibit at Fernbank?

I can’t wait to check it out. I’m fascinated. The creation and consistent idolatry of these creatures gives a great insight to the psychology of man. Their features, whether it be breathing fire or a huge phallic horn on their head, are all so deeply rooted in our most primitive instincts of fear and sex.

6. What’s next for Blair Crimmins and the Hookers?

I just released my new single, “State Hotel,” on vinyl 45 and made a music video. Now I’m going to scratch my head for a few days and start writing a new album.

7. What should I have asked you but never would have thought to?

Yes, I do accept drinks on stage. Preferably something brown. I’ll be the guy in the polka dot tie playing banjo.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the fun continues up until 11 PM when costume contest winners will be announced. Find out more info here.

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