Kool Kat of the Week: Nine Inch Neils’ Cage Loves Like Diamond and Hopes to Give You a Holly Holy Dream of a Time Rocking Around the Christmas Tree This Saturday Night

Posted on: Dec 15th, 2011 By:

Cage. Photo courtesy of Nine Inch Neils.

Forget the Elvis impersonators. The Rocking Around the Christmas Tree benefit on Sat. Dec. 17 treats you to a rarer form of superstar tribute and a delightfully different holiday party courtesy of Nine Inch Neils, who channel Neil Diamond in his ‘70s heyday, and Jagged Stones, whose name should give away the act they idolize that also came of age in the late ’60s/’70s. In addition to two rockin’ fun bands, a humble cover charge of just $7 and one can of food entitles each guest to one complimentary Chick-fil-A sandwich, unlimited sodas and a free dessert bar. Those 21 and older can enjoy up to two glasses of complimentary beer or wine. Such a deal! Proceeds benefit the House of the Rock (also the site of the party;731 Peachtree St., NE) and Lutheran Community Food Ministries, which do amazing work feeding Midtown’s homeless five days a week.

ATLRetro caught up with Cage, lead singer of Nine Inch Neils, to find out what made him and the band a believer in Neil Diamond, where Neil fits in the wacky world of rock tribute bands and what they have planned when they rock around the Christmas tree this Saturday night.

ATLRetro: When’s the first time you heard Neil Diamond and was it love at first listen?

Cage: I think it was “Love On the Rocks” and yes. I remember seeing it performed as well in some GLEE-like show and thinking, “I can do that song. …It’s in my range.” And his voice has a kind of a growl to it unlike the pop icons of that era. While the other songs on the radio at the time were all for tenors, that was something I could sing.

There’s got to be a great story about how you came to found a Neil Diamond tribute band?

It is a long story, but it starts with a picture in some magazine of this ’60s pop star playing a small club in England. He was dressed to the nines in his glitter and glam, but his back-up band at that particular gig were punk rockers with the spiked hair and dressed in all leather. The picture was priceless.

Cage performs with Nine Inch Neils. Photo courtesy of Nine Inch Neils.

What about the name, Nine Inch Neils? Goth-industrial doesn’t seem very Neil, or do you ever perform Diamond songs with a Reznor edge?

Guitarist 211 came up with that name after we decided to change the band’s name from Hot August Knights. There is a Neil Diamond tribute band in Canada that took that name this year, so there is no going back. It was funny at the time, and you have to admit it’s catchy. It also gets us gigs at some rock clubs who otherwise would snub their noses at a Neil Diamond tribute no matter how much it rocks. Our renditions don’t go the Goth way. It has the edge of the classic rock gods of the ’70s.

How many Neil Diamond bands are out there and where do you fit in?

In a quick estimation, there are about a dozen bands here inAmericaand others abroad and maybe 50 individuals using background tracks. The well-known acts are traditional acts that use the synthesizers and female singers and everyone knows what to expect. There are very few, if any, that do it the way we do. I think that with exposure on a wider level, we could be one of the top.

What can audiences expect from Nine Inch Neils at Rocking Around the Christmas Tree? Diamond holiday favorites? Greatest hits?

We’ll perform two sets. The hits, of course, gems as always and a couple of new songs for us as a band not covered on any of Neil’s albums. They were popularized by the Monkees but written by Neil Diamond. “Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow” and “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You.” We “Neil” them up, and rock them out. We haven’t found the right holiday song to perform. Maybe next year.

Some people might think the event can’t be hip, because it’s at a church. But to us this just tells us the House of the Rock is mighty hip. Tell them why they’re wrong.

The House of the Rock is a great venue. It is set up for live music. The sound will be amazing, plus it’s smoke free and clean! I hope they keep having shows there. Give it a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

What do you do beyond the music to perfect your Diamond impression?

I honestly don’t think of it as an impression. I do what music and lyrics move me to do. Beyond the music I draw inspiration from some great picture books of early Neil Diamond at live shows. The photographers seem to capture the emotion on his face and passion in his contorted body in those still shots. I listen to early live recordings and imagine what was happening on stage, what he was doing, feeling and thinking. I read and listen to interviews he’s done in the past and research the meanings and inspiration of the lyrics. It’s like an actor studying a role. The good ones embody the spirit of the person they portray.

What’s the coolest part about being a Neil Diamond impersonator?

The hair.

What’s next for you and the Nine Inch Neils in terms of gigs? Any recordings?

Cage. Photo credit: Lindsay Appel.

We hope to record something in the near future to give to fans. Nothing over-produced, just a live studio session. There will be a few festivals and events in the coming year along with some local bar gigs. We will keep you posted on facebook/nineinchneils.

What do you do when you’re not impersonating Neil Diamond?

I like to DJ weddings, mix music, run sound for bands at private events, and encourage my talented friends to pursue their dreams.

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Weekend Update, June 3-5, 2011

Posted on: Jun 3rd, 2011 By:

Be sure to check out this Weekend Update even if you read This Week in Retro Atlanta for even more great vintage-inspired things to do on a very busy Retro weekend.

Friday, June 3

The 4th Annual Psychobilly Freakout Revival swings into action at the Star Bar as Rev. Andy Hawley gathers up some of Atlanta’s best bands in the genre, including  Rocket 350, McPherson Struts, and Hard Luck and TroubleLoysville Atlanta will also be there selling her delightful Dia De Los Muertos-inspired wares.

Hey, hey, it’s The Monkees 45th Anniversary Tour starting up this summer’s Delta Classic Chastain Series. Reggae legends Toots and the Maytals plays Variety PlayhouseJoe Gransden and his 16-piece big band team up with blues chanteuse Francine Reed at Eddie’s AtticAtlanta Botanical Garden launches its Concerts in the Garden summer series with blues guitarist extraordinaire Jonny LangCallanwolde’s Jazz on the Lawn 2011 summer outdoor series begins with high-powered jazz by Nick Longo. Electromatics merge Chicago/West Coast Blues, Blue Eyed Soul and an essence of Standard Jazz and Sinatra at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX.

Plus the 15th Annual Atlanta Tattoo Festival gets rolling at Crowne Plaza Hotel Atlanta-Perimeter Northeast. The three-day event presented by Sacred Heart Tattoo attracts thousands to see world-class artists, live tattooing, seminars, contest, unique vendors, and live music.

Saturday June 4

During the day, browse and buy art, eat and listen to live music at Virginia-Highland Summerfest, a street festival in one of Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods. The whole family will enjoy a vintage Locomotive Celebration at the Southeastern Railway Museum. The 15th Annual Atlanta Tattoo Festival continues with a bikini contest at 6 PM and live music by Six Shot Revival, Killer and the Savage with Cool Breeze from the Dungeon Family, and Kadense.

At night, The Official Monster Bash Pre-Party rocks the Star Bar. Get revved up for a horror-ific Sunday at the Starlight Six Drive-In with bands MC45’s (The Forty-Fives all MC5 set)BitersBoozeThe CluttersThe Brimstones from New Jersey and Dusty Booze & the Baby Haters.

Andrew & the Disapyramids, featuring recent Kool Kat Joshua Longino, will be surfing it up with Fishhawk and Modern Paranoia at the Drunken Unicorn. Bluegrass meets rockabilly with a punk attitude at Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge tonight in a triple-header show featuring Hymn for HerI Want Whisky and Barebones BettiesBareknuckle Betties playing as a duo with pal Johnny McGowan. DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno.

Andrew & the Disapyramids

Sunday June 5

Gates open at 10 am at Starlight Six Drive-In for the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Monster Bash. The all-day party is a Retro horror fan’s righteous nightmare with live music, vendors and movies. Bands this year are Super X-13Brimstones, LUSTRadio Cult and Spooky Partridge. At dusk, the reels roll with GODZILLA 2000, RINGU and crazed J-horror classic HOUSE. Check out a scary sneak preview from Kool Kat of the Week and “Horror Host with the Most” Professor Morte himself Shane Morton here.

Legendary blues performers BB King and Buddy Guy begin the Georgia Natural Gas series at Chastain Park AmphitheatreNathan Nelson & His Entertainment Crackers headline blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. Also continuing today is Virginia-Highland Summerfest and the vintage Locomotive Celebration at the Southeastern Railway Museum.

Opening this weekend:

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s newest special exhibition opening on Sat. June 4, 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 MODA 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 ever irreverent Dad’s Garage Theatre takes a stab at the ’80s horror genre of camp slasher films in SLAUGHTER CAMP about a homicidal maniac terrorizing a theatre camp. June 2-25 on the main stage.

Get a rare chance to view original manuscript pages from the last four chapters of ATLANTA’S BOOK: THE LOST GONE WITH THE WIND MANUSCRIPT at 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.


See the original images which inspired Ray Harryhausen‘s amazing stop-motion cyclops, centaurs and other mythological beasts in the special exhibition, MONSTERS, DEMONS AND WINGED BEASTS: COMPOSITE CREATURES IN THE ANCIENT WORLD at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. The exhibition of monstrous art, drawn from the museum’s permanent collections, shows how the ancient Greeks were inspired by other Middle Eastern cultures in developing a vast repertoire of richly imagined creatures.

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


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This Week in Retro Atlanta, May 30-June 5, 2011

Posted on: May 31st, 2011 By:

Lots going on this week & still catching up after a Bubba-licious holiday weekend, so expect a few updates as the week goes along…

Monday May 30

Every Monday, find out if Kingsized and Tongo Hiti lead singer Big Mike Geier will croon a tune or two for tips during his second week 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 31

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 June 1

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 June 2

Spanky & The Love Handles brings the blues to Clarkston-based Kathmandu Kitchen & Grill‘s Thursday free concert series.  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 Cologneat Aurum LoungeBreeze Kings and Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.Bluegrass Thursday at Red Light Cafe presents Country Fried Karaoke Night with Red Light All Stars Band.

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