Vintage Vacation: Road Trips from Hell with Blast-Off Burlesque, Part 1: Blizzard in North Carolina

Posted on: Sep 8th, 2011 By:

With Blast-Off Burlesque’s World Tour about to take off this weekend at 7 Stages (if you haven’t bought tickets yet, book ‘em here,! Fri at 9 p.m., and Sat at 7:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.), we asked those gorgeous gals and guys about their craziest real-life travel experiences. And did they have some stories to tell—from wicked weather to dodgy directions.

In the first of this three-part series, the entire Blast-Off gang braves a blizzard but our intrepid entertainers know the show must go on…

In January 2009, Blast-Off was heading to Asheville to put on two nights of a “best of” show at North Carolina Stage Company. We were psyched about it, because it was the first time we’d really taken the show on the road, rather than traveling to guest in other folks’ shows.

As the date approached, we kept an eye on the weather. It was January, after all. And as luck would have it, a snow – and ice – storm synched up with our travel plans. We were planning on heading up in two groups, one on Thursday evening and one Friday. The storm had a similar plan of attack.

Sadie Hawkins. Photo courtesy of Sadie Hawkins.

Barbilicious and Dickie Van Dyke were first to make the journey from Atlanta to North Carolina. They made it just ahead of the storm. Sadie Hawkins had been in Washington, DC for her day job. It was snowing there, too, and she was playing the weather delay game with Delta. Finally, a flight got through, and she made it home just as Atlanta’s weather started to get exciting. She was scheduled to drive up to Asheville with her partner – and Blast-Off’s sound man – Bryant. The goings were slow, but they made it up there in the wee hours.

Now, when team Blast-Off goes to Asheville, we stay in a cabin in the woods. Seriously. Disastrid’s mother has a rustic place at the base of a mountain, off of a curvy road and next to a babbling creek. It’s remote enough that there’s no cell service. It has power and water – and a landline phone.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Shakin’ It Up with “Big Mike” Geier on His Burning Love for Elvis and Other Musical Matters

Posted on: Aug 11th, 2011 By:

"Big Mike" Geier don't need no jumpsuit to celebrate Elvis. Serenading the audience during last year's ELVIS ROYALE. Photo Credit: Laura Newman.

Over the past 14 years, Kingsized’s Elvis Presley tribute show has grown from a family affair at the Star Bar into ELVIS ROYALE, an always sold-out Vegas-style multimedia Retro extravaganza with a 15-piece orchestra and glamorous glittery dancing girls, aka the Dames Aflame, at Variety Playhouse. Forget Elvis impersonators. “Big Mike” Geier don’t need no jumpsuit—his deep baritone voice, wide smile and signature charisma are more than enough to rival the stage presence of the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, that is with that signature Geier twist. You’ll hear all the Presley hits with a sense of homage and humor, and some surprises along the way that Big Mike believes Elvis woulda sung had his life not been tragically cut short in 1977.

If you’re from Atlanta, skip on to the questions. If you’re new here or not from here, Big Mike has been big in Atlanta’s Retro revival scene since before we even knew we had one, and that’s not just because he’s six-foot-eight. He started performing in Richmond, Virginia, fronting the Useless Playboys, in 1989. That “swing noir” band attracted a national following and toured with Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids and El Vez. But the Playboys also used to play here at the Star Bar so often it was hard to know he didn’t live here.

Mike Geier and wife Shannon Newton of the lovely Dames Aflame. Photo credit: David Stuart.

Then Big Mike came to Atlanta in 1995 to host the city’s first full neo-burlesque show, Go-Go and Torchy’s Taboo Revue, and he never left. Instead, he launched Kingsized—arguably Atlanta’s  best known and most popular swing band. In 2004, he started a Polynesian pop lounge band, Tongo Hiti, who are now Thurs. night regulars at Trader Vic’s downtown. Along the way he hooked up with burlesque troupe, Dames Aflame, led by his wife Shannon Newton. And that’s not to mention a slew of side projects, such as voiceover and music work for Cartoon Network and Puddles Pity Party, a cabaret clown act that recently toured with AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE LIVE.

So what do Big Mike, Kingsized and the Dames have in store at this year’s ELVIS ROYALE. Heck, let’s ask him…

You moved to Atlanta in 1995 at a very pivotal time for the Retro revival here. Obviously the opportunities have grown immensely here for performers who embrace a vintage style, but do you ever miss those more pioneering days? And do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share with those readers who were too young or moved here later?

I miss being able to fill up my 1960 Cadillac Coupe De Ville for $21. Gas was $1 a gallon! My favorite memory would be filling up my 1960 Cadillac Coupe De Ville for $21, then driving out past The Starlight Drive-In to Rio Vista for mountains of fried catfish and sweet tea with my super hot girlfriend who is now my super hot wife.

Can you talk a bit about the Elvis Royale’s humble origins and how it grew into the Vegas-style multimedia extravaganza it is today?

Imagine 350 people crammed in the Star Bar. It’s August and 80 degrees at 10 p.m. Everyone is chain-smoking and guzzling Rolling Rock. PBR’s ironic comeback is just beginning. The Grace Vault is where ya go to pay your respects to the King, among other things. Tim Lathrop used to perform the séance at midnight. The show didn’t even start until 11 o’clock. I had to move the show or else it would have killed me.

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Weekend Update, July 22-24, 2011

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

Friday, July 22

Dig out the glitter bodysuit and platform heels and get yourself down to The Masquerade for Gilded Trash, a glam rock theme party to be remembered featuring live music from The Sexual Side EffectsThe Unsatisfied and Starbolt 9; classic hits from T. RexBowie to IggyEno; burlesque by The Chameleon Queen; the scandalous banter of Dax Exclamationpoint!; foot-pounding grooves by Glitterdome‘s DJ Tiny Tears; body-painting; gilded go-go dancers, glam-inspired art by Chris Buxbaum; glam-orous vendors; and much more. Get a sneak preview from Kool Kat of the Week Amber Taylor, show mastermind and vocalist/guitarist for The Sexual Side Effects here.

The Stumblers make it a rockabilly/Southern roots night in The Basement at Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta. Read ATLRetro’s Extra Kool Kat of the Week interview with lead singer/rhythm guitarist Keith Martin here. Eighties multi-platinum heavy metal band Dokken rocks Wild Bill’s in Duluth. Country chanteuse Emmylou Harris plays Concerts in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical GardenRod Hamdallah is at Fat Matt’sCallanwolde‘s popular Tango Night is back including introductory lessons in the sexy Argentine version from Tango Rio‘s expert instructors at 8 p.m., followed by an open tango dance party at 9:15 p.m. Catch an IMAX movie and dance to soulful jazz standards performed by The Kayla Taylor Quartet at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX. And last but not least, the wacky cast of Cineprov! bait and tackle Humanoids of the Deep, a sensationally schlocky 1980 horror flick about half-man/half-fish mutations starring then-hottie Doug McClure, at 8 p.m. at Relapse Theatre. Free admission if you wear a bathing suit!

Last but not least, a high school ritual gets an undead makeover in a ‘50s setting in ZOMBIE PROM, this weekend only at Fabrefaction Theatre. The girl-loves-ghoul rock ‘n’ roll off-Broadway musical is fun for the entire family and performed by actual high school students as the culmination of a two-week theatre education program. The opening night show is at 8 p.m., and additional performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sat. and 3 p.m. on Sun.

 

Saturday July 23

What’s that, Artie? A steampunk theme night with a Wild West twist? That’s the wild, wild premise behind The Artifice Club‘s Weird West Saloon, at The Solarium in Oakhurst. The frontier-inspired festivities begin at 5 p.m. with a Trading Post Market, with doors opening officially at 7 p.m. and entertainment lasting to midnight culiminating in an after-party at McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub. There will be gambling and a quick draw tournament to benefit the Dream Power Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and featured acts included Blair Crimmins and the Hookers (read an ATLRetro interview with Blair about this ’20s-ragtime-inspired band here), DJs Swivel and Doctor Q, emcee and sheriff comedienne Sabrina Pandora and a bevy of burlesque beauties…er sexy saloon dancing girls includingFonda Lingue, Ruby Redmayne, Tupelo Honey and Talloolah Love, who treats you lucky ATLRetro readers to an exclusive preview here.

Americana classic Dex Romweber and sister Sara throw a party mix of originals and obscure nuggets from rock n roll’s dusty closets at the Star Bar for the release of the Dex Romweber Duo‘s latest album, IS THAT YOU IN THE BLUE. It only gets better with local rockabilly faves The Blacktop Rockets, classic rock-inspired The Booze and Chattanooga-based garage rock band The Bohannons also on the bill.

Meanwhile over at the Plaza, Blast-Off Burlesque are throwing a BEACH PARTY tonight for their third Taboo La-La sin-sational film series. Much more than a rare chance to see the classic 1963 frolic with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in 35mm on the big-screen, there’s a zany and sexy preshow featuring special guests Grinder Nova and The Chameleon Queen as the float-tastic Alotta Wood, as well as a Twist-Off Contest, a Hula Hoop Contest, and Twister games and beach party-inspired cupcakes from Atlanta’s own The Sugar Dolls, who were kind enough to serve up a tasty sneak preview of the treats they’ll be bringing here.

Eighties hit makers Huey Lewis and the News try to take you Back in Time to when it was Hip to Be Square at Classic ChastainCapitol City Opera players sing Broadway standards in ON THE LIGHT SIDE, a themed night of lighter music that has become a 20-year tradition at the vintage Callanwolde mansion. The Reverb-O-Rockets deliver Chicago style-blues “straight, no chaser” at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. And of course, DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Loungeinto a ’70s disco/funk inferno late into the wee hours.

Sunday July 24

Alick Gerard & the Dixie LTD play blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. Learn Beginning Vintage Hair Styling from award winning pin-up girl D’lilah D’lite from 1 to 3 p.m. at SpinARella Pole/Dance/Fitness. The class is part of the Syrens of the South‘s ABCs & 123s of Burlesque Class SeriesGET DELICIOUS AGAIN at 8 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre as Jim Stacy (PalookavilleStarlight Drive-InAM Gold, Greasepaint, etc.)  samples Atlanta’s Asian eateries in the latest installment of his unconventional culinary series serving up Atlanta’s Hidden Restaurant Treasures. If you can’t make thisFREE screening with special foodie guests, tune in or set your DVR to PBA 30 also at 8 p.m. Nature is Dangerous and It will Hurt You: A Benefit for Jessica Miller features some a great line-up of local blues and rockabilly bands, beer specials, Fat Matt‘s BBQ, raffle prizes and more from 2:30 p.m. to late at Blind Willie’s, including Bill Sheffield, Rocksploitation, Nat King Coal Miners, Bob Page and Co., The Shadows, Rod Hamdallah, Joe McGuiness Trio, The Electromatics, and The Stooge BrothersBlair Crimmins and the Hookers headline Unplugged in the Park at the Park Tavern.

Ongoing

The latest revival of Tony Award-winning musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is at The Fabulous Fox through Sunday June 24.

VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE not only chronicles the life of the rock star hairdresser/artist but also features lots of ’60s/’70s fashions and hair styles. Playing through Sun. July 31 at Cinefest.

At the High, RADCLIFFE BAILEY: MEMORY AS MEDICINE, the most comprehensive exhibition of the Atlanta artist’s works to date, opened last Sunday June 26 and runsthrough Sept. 11. Read more about the artist and this powerful exhibition that in last week’s Kool Kat. JOHN MARIN’S WATERCOLORS: A MEDIUM FOR MODERNISM, a companion exhibit also at the High this summer through Sept. 11, surveys the work of the man named America’s number one artist in a 1948 LOOK magazine survey. While his name is not a household one today, this exhibition reminds us of his important place in the modernist movement and why watercolors became such a powerful instrument for avante-garde art in the hands of him and other artists in the Stieglitz Circle,including Georgia O’Keefe.

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s other Retro exhibition, celebrates three key moments in modern design and also the Museum of Modern Art, New York‘s (MOMA) collection history. The works on loan from MOMA cover “Machine Art” (1934), “Good Design” (1950-55) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972), with the latter addressing modernism in the context of 1960s and ’70s counterculture.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)‘s newest exhibit WaterDream: The Evolution of Bathroom Design, runs through Sept. 24 in the dynamic new Midtown space. Displays take visitors through a four-part journey into the bathroom from the birth of minimalist aesthetics in 20th century design to current concepts.

Get a rare chance to view original manuscript pages from the last four chapters of ATLANTA’S BOOK: THE LOST GONE WITH THE WIND MANUSCRIPTat the Atlanta History Center. The new exhibit, which opens today and runs through Sept. 5, is part of a series of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the international bestseller and also includes foreign and first edition copies, the desk Margaret Mitchell used while writing it and select images.

Tune back in on Friday for Weekend Update. If you know of a cool happening that we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com

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Kool Kat of the Week: Rockin’, Rollin’ and Raisin’ Japanese Monsters with Shane Morton at the Starlight Drive-In

Posted on: Jun 2nd, 2011 By:

What’s more Retro than watching a classic horror movie at the drive-in? Lucky Atlantans will get that rare opportunity this Sunday June 5 when the annual ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH invades the Starlight Six Drive-In, one of the country’s last remaining drive-in movie theaters. Even better, the eerie all-day extravaganza also features a frightening fantastic line-up of bands, a Miss Monster Bash contest, vendors of spooky merchandise, custom hearses and not just one but three Japanese horror classics, GODZILLA 2000 (1999), HOUSE (1977) and RINGU (1998). Gates open at 10 AM, live performances start at 2 PM, the movies roll from dusk into the wee hours of the morning, and for those who want to party all weekend, there’s even a Monster Bash Pre-Party on Saturday night (June 4) at the Star Bar with even more bands.

ATLRetro caught up with Shane Morton, the Silver Scream Spookshow‘s Ghost Host with the Most Professor Morte, musician (Super X-13/Gargantua/etc.), painter, tattoo artist, SFX artist, actor, all-around horror Renaissance man, and one of the mad masterminds behind ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH for a scary sneak preview…

How did the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH get started?

Billy Messina, Ben Armstrong and Tim Dolph of Netherworld fame were the original mad scientists that brought this thing to life.  Atlanta’s horror community deserves its own horror-themed DRIVE INVASION! they would always contact me for help in the rock ‘n’ roll dept. Billy and Ben are just too busy with netherworld—in my opinion, the greatest haunted house attraction in the world—so Tim, Jim Stacy [Starlight manager/ Palookaville mastermind/Greasepaint/AM Gold/etc.) and I took it over four years ago.

Professor Morte sings with the Silver Scream Spookshow band at Monster Bash 2009.

What’s the band line-up this year, and why should we be excited about it?

This is a great rockin’ line up this year with something for everybody! Spooky Partridge is a fun family band—[as in] Addams Family, ha!—that play a lot of punk covers along

LUST. Photo courtesy of Barb Hays.

with cute originals. The drummer is just a li’l kid, but he’s already one of the best in the city with all the stick spins and showmanship kicking already. It’s amazing to watch! Radio Cult is also a very visual band—almost like a fem-fronted ‘80s Van Halen! Big fun and way over the top! LUST needs no intro as they put on legendary and hilarious shows! [see ATLRetro’s Kool Kat interview with Barb Hays for more about LUST]. I love these gals like sisters, so it’s always a pleasure to have them on the bill. The Brimstones are New York City’s greatest spooky garage band. Trust me, when you see Justin’s Farfisa [organ] solos while in a headstand, you’ll know why they are so famous! Super X-13, ‘nuff said. This line-up of music is gonna tear your face off and rip up the pavement!

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, May 16-22, 2011

Posted on: May 17th, 2011 By:

Monday May 16

Andrew & the Disapyramids

Swing to Joe Gransden, trumpet player extraordinaire, and his 16-piece orchestra and special guest Jazz Tenor sax great Skip Lane this week during Big Band Night at Cafe 290 on the first and third Monday of every month. Andrew & the Disapyramids bring back the best of surf, doo wop, Mod, soul, sock hop and all types of retro rock ‘n’ roll during a free gig at Noni’s Bar & Deli tonight. Read the Kool Kat feature on band-member Joshua Longino here. Find out if Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier will croon a tune or two for tips as Monday night’s celebrity bartender at newly opened Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Parlor. Northside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday May 17

The Age of Aquarius rises again as HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical opens a weeklong run through May 22 at the 1929 Fabulous Fox Theatre. The legendary hippie rock opera follows a group of hopeful free-spirited young people as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn their draft cards. This production won a 2009 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Find out and see the winners of the 2011 Mid-Century Modern Georgia Photo Contest, during a reception at Gallery See in the Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta, Building C at 1600 Peachtree Street. Photos depict buildings or sites in the state that are part of the design movement that lasted from the 1930s-1970s, and attendees also will have a last chance to view the exhibition, “Capturing an Icon: Ezra Stoller and Modern Architecture,” featuring works by the celebrated American architecture photographer.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tuesday Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring live video mixes of ’80s, ’90s, and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday May 18

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Mission and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck bring on the blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday May 19

Iconic ’80s alternative and psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips play The Tabernacle. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge. Breeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe features Bluebilly Grit.

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Weekend Update, April 8-10, 2011

Posted on: Apr 8th, 2011 By:

Friday, April 8

Mike Geier and one of the lovely Dames Aflame.

Kingsized swings, lounges and rock and rolls the Star Bar in that wondrous way that only “Big Mike” Geier can.  Master mandolin player and one of the fathers of bluegrass music, Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder play Variety PlayhouseAlex Lattimore brings jazz, R&B and a light touch of blues to Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX.  Joe Gransden and Kenny Banks jazz up Twelve at Atlantic Station.

Film Love‘s Yoko Ono: Reality Dreams short film series concludes with a free screening of Bottoms at 8 PM at Emory University‘s White Hall Room 206.  Ono’s most notorious film literally reveals the backsides of several hundred “saints of our time. All Film Love events are curated by recent Kool Kat Andy Ditzler.

Saturday April 9

Celebrate the 19th birthday of The Highlander with a free concert by musical masters of the circus freak show, Greasepaint, featuring Atlanta’s own insane clown posse of Puddles, aka Big Mike Geier (Kingsized), and the Reverend Uncle Laffo, aka Jim Stacy (Grand Moff Tarkin). Also on the bill is Super X-13, featuring Shane Morton (Gargantua, Silver Scream Spook Show) on bass in a big hair wig and crazy Ultraman-inspired jumpsuit (well that’s the whole band actually)!

 

Cuba’s greatest rumba ensemble for more than 50 years, Los Munequitos de Matanzas proves “without rumba, there is no Cuba, and without Cuba, there is no rumba” at GSU’s Rialto Center for the Arts. Legendary ’80s industrial/ experimental rock band Savage Republic revs up The EarlBetter Than The Beatles pays tribute to the Fab Four at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Sunday April 10

Tinkerbell (Yetter) flies with Peter Pan (Ciaran Joyce). Photo credit: Ed Krieger.

Tom Gentry & Co. serve up the blues at “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. And today is the last day to catch KOOL KAT Emily Yetter starring as a precocious, politically incorrect Tinkerbell in J.M. BARRIE’S PETER PAN under the big tent at Pemberton Place, next to the World of Coca-Cola.

 

Ongoing

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died in 1901, but it’s not a stretch to say that his vibrant posters and prints of showgirls, nightclub stars and the café culture influenced the 20th century romantic view of Paris and still inspire today’s burlesque performers. The High Museum of Art’s dynamic new special exhibition, TOULOUSE-LAUTREC AND FRIENDS: THE IRENE AND HOWARD STEIN COLLECTION, runs through May 1. Also at the High through May 29 is the MOMA-organized HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: THE MODERN CENTURY, another blockbuster exhibit showcasing a photographer and photojournalist who captured on film many of the seminal moments  of the 20th century from World War II to the assassination of Ghandi, China’s cultural revolution to civil rights and consumer culture in America.

Tune back in on Monday for This Week in Retro Atlanta. If you know of a cool happening we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com.


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