The Arts Scene in Your Backyard by Cassi_Costoulas
Roots Music in Marietta
April 05, 2012 12:00 AM | 7153 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Roots Music in Marietta
by Cassi_Costoulas
April 04, 2012 11:56 PM | 1756 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

There many different reasons why people choose to live, work, and play in Marietta, but two of the big ones seem to be the desire for a small-town community feel and a love of history. It makes sense, then, that the growing "roots music" scene would find a comfortable and welcoming home in this city. The idea of roots music changes a bit depending on who is defining it, but it generally refers to the Americana influenced music of bluegrass and alternative country. So that usually means Yes to banjos and No to expensive cowboy hats that have never seen a speck of dirt. In addition to getting your roots music fix at the now infamous Tuesday night bluegrass jam sessions at Australian Bakery, here are two like-minded musical acts that hail from Marietta that will set your bare feet a-tapping.

Rolling Nowhere

This band sounds like a back porch party gone right. Their songs are a perfect combination of working class frankness and inspired hootenanny, guaranteed to provide outlet for your daily grind woes. Currently recording a new album, you can catch Rolling Nowhere playing inside and outside the Metro area.

Video: Rolling Nowhere sings "Keep on Walkin" - Live at The Strand

Packway Handle Band

With 4 out of 5 band members growing up in and around the Marietta area, this alternative bluegrass band first found fame in the Telluride bluegrass competition in 2002, and has been receiving awards and recognition ever since. Packway Handle mixes originals with an extensive catalog of modern covers, traditional bluegrass tunes, and gospel. The band has quite a few local shows a year peppered in with their regional tours.

Video: The Packway Handle Band - BBC Travelling Folk - Part 6 - "Worried Man Blues"
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Sounds good
April 05, 2012
Roots music sounds good. Bottom line. It isn't pretentious or corporate, just fun.

And kudos for using the word "hootenanny!"

The Arts - Who Needs'Em?
by Cassi_Costoulas
March 01, 2012 06:01 AM | 2209 views | 5 5 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

There has been a lot of talk recently in the city of Marietta about the value of the arts. Are they worth keeping around? Do they depend too much on “hand-outs” from others? These are  good questions and indicators that we have a strong community that is involved and interested in the inner-workings of the world around them. I think I can help answer the first questions about the value of the arts in this city, and hopefully shed some light on the other.

I’m going to go ahead and disclose that I am the Director of Business Development and Marketing at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre. That means that I have a vested interest in the success of the arts in this city, but it also means that I have an insider’s look and numbers and facts to throw your way. If it offends you that my view might be slanted, please feel free to stop reading at any point. I hope you don’t, though, because these knowledge bombs gonna blow your mind! 


(People and Money)

The Strand alone sees around 70,000 people a year walk through its doors. From over 200 different zip codes. The Atlanta Lyric consistently pulls patrons from ITP and shows them how hip hoppin’ OTP can be. On Monday, Palmer Wells of Theatre in the Square told the story at the City Council’s meeting about the arts of a couple that frequently drives down to Marietta from Chattanooga for their shows and stays in a hotel for the weekend.

That equals money for the community. Big money for area restaurants, and money from outsiders paying our sales tax. If you like numbers, and I have only Strand numbers here, but The Strand with the aid of its resident Atlanta Lyric Theatre generates and estimated $71,274 in local tax revenues A YEAR.  That of course doesn’t include Theatre on the Square, the museums, Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre, and the numerous art festivals and walks that happen on the square.

If you don’t believe me about restaurants benefitting from local arts functions, check out the mass exodus that happens from the dining establishments around the square Friday nights around 7:45. It’s like an ice cream truck sounded outside a tee-ball game. 

(Quality of Life)

Aside from it being nice to have a center of town that people actually want to go to, the arts in this city consist of a lot more than just the theaters that people go to on weekend nights. Students are able to supplement their often bare-bones arts education within the school system with dance classes, acting classes, summer camps, or art classes in Marietta. Students who participate in the arts have higher test scores and are more engaged students. The arts are helping create kids with super quick brains that are probably going to be out there creating robots or something someday. See how important that is?

Adults need art, too. We’re in tough economic times and people need outlets and escapism. After a tough day at work, there is absolutely nothing like allowing oneself to enjoy someone else’s story for a while and the arts let us do that. Let the arts die and you lose what keeps a lot of people sane during tough times. And then what happens? Zombies, obviously. Or a bunch of people that have nothing else to talk about at dinner than the news. And that might be worse. 

The Question of Handouts

So, I’m going to tread very lightly on this subject because I understand that as individuals, we value things differently and have a variety of opinions on charity and where tax dollars are spent. I will give three quick facts on this subject.

  • The average arts organization in the United States depends on donations to cover over 50% of its budget. Many of the arts groups in Marietta operate with significantly less outside support.
  • Many state government and grant programs that have been operating for years are no longer giving ANY money out to anyone.
  • Donors that pledge an amount and request payments over a period of time are not in any way bound to complete payments.

So go ahead and plug those items into your brain when you’re reading all the back and forth about the situation that your community is in right now.

I think it is easy for some to become dismissive about the cultural establishments in Marietta. Either because they don’t frequent them or they don’t understand how these organizations affect the overall community. My hope is that people can start looking at this situation as it concerns the community as a whole, not just their particular circle of friends. And to the haters who don’t feel like looking at the situation in a positive and constructive way, I hope you all get big hugs. Because your negativity is giving you wrinkles.

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Mary Ladd
March 04, 2012
Nicely said, Cassi.

On the Record (Store)
by Cassi_Costoulas
February 16, 2012 10:41 AM | 1516 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
As the number of things you can play digital music on grows, so grows the (vinyl) record business. That’s right, records aren’t just for hipsters with their parent’s record player any more. More and more this business has picked up steam thanks to people who yearn for a more tangible connection with their music. Locally, we have two fantastic record stores, both of which will save you a drive downtown and the judging eyes of some young artsy know-it-all. I’m allowed to say that, being a young artsy know-it-all myself. I promise that a visit to one of these fine establishments is going to yield much more satisfaction than your next trip to the iTunes store.


Sounds Good

There is probably no one in this fine city that knows more about vinyl-era music than Sounds Good owner, Rich Wright. In fact, I’d recommend putting aside some time for this record store visit, as it’s almost impossible not to get into a friendly conversation with Rich, and the cast of locals that hang around make the store feel less like retail and more like the set of Cheers. After slimming down to one music store post-Napster, Sounds Good boasts one of the largest vinyl inventories around, with a substantial collection in-store and even more in storage, keeping the store chock full of great finds. 


2692 Sandy Plains Road Suite 2200 

Marietta 30066

Open: Saturdays 


Sweet Melissa

Located on the Marietta square, Sweet Melissa is relatively new on the scene, but has quickly gained steam thanks to its location within one of the best antique stores on the square, its selection of new releases, and its high quality listening stations. Sweet Melissa does a great job of bringing the analog world to the digital one- selling its selection online and stocking vinyl releases of radio-current artists. This store also rocks a lot of quality audio gear so if you’re looking for new turntables or speakers, they’re probably going to have something in your price range. 


Antiques On The Square 

146 South Park Square 

Marietta Georgia 30060

Open: Tues-Sun 
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Positively Hip Hopping
by Cassi_Costoulas
January 30, 2012 10:55 AM | 2085 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Marietta native, Ronve O’Daniel, recently released a music video for “I Do This” from the album “He Speaks So Well.” Check it out below: I dare you to watch this video and not smile. I don’t care if you aren't a fan of hip hop or rap, this song and its message of strength and personal accountability are universal.

“I Do This” isn’t the only song on “He Speaks So Well” with an uplifting tone. The entire album has a light, at times danceable feel, with Ronve’s story telling ability shining through and creating an honest and open connection with the listener.

“The overall theme and vibe of the album is very positive and I purposely steer clear of anything offensive in terms of misogyny, violence, and other negative issues that hip hop is often associated with,” says Ronve. “I wanted to create something that gears more towards people like you and I who are regular everyday people who deal with everyday issues - working/bills, conforming, self-identity, following your dreams, parenting/childhood, etc.”

Ronve’s album is available for free download at There are quite a few Cobb County and Atlanta references in there for those who might be interested in a little Easter egg hunting.

Also, ten high-fives to the first person who guesses what the title of the album is referring to without cheating.


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Alligators, Baby Farms, and Movie Stars
by Cassi_Costoulas
January 23, 2012 11:03 AM | 2293 views | 2 2 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Alligators literally snapping at the feet of a distressed movie star carrying a REAL LIFE BABY for the sake of a movie shoot? No way! There are laws against that sort of thing- rules, regulations, lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes. That’s what Mary Pickford braved for the 1926 film, Sparrows, forced to share the set with alligators by the director against her protests for the safety of the child.

If the whole situation seems a little overdramatic even for old Hollywood, you might be picking up on the fact that this story has only been told in this way by the star herself and has been denied by all other crew members associated with the project. So I might have suckered you in a bit. Sorry, this post is about silent film and I wanted all you “blockbuster only” haters to get far enough into the intro to feel committed. You’re here now. Stick with me.

Mary Pickford’s Sparrows will be playing at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre on the Marietta Square with live organ accompaniment by Ron Carter. That means not only do you get to sit in a theatre that was built just a few years after the movie came out, but you get to experience the movie like a patron of 1926 would: with live music by a dude sitting at a theatre organ at the bottom of the screen. The Strand is the ONLY theatre in Georgia that presents an annual silent film series with live theatre organ accompaniment. And it’s in Marietta. How special!

In case the novelty of it all didn’t sell you on this, here is the breakdown of the story of Sparrows. Molly is a 16 year old girl charged with taking care of something like a million children, I kid you not here, on a “baby farm” that a mean old man runs; baby farm like children work the fields, not like children grow from them. And where is this baby farm located? Next to an alligator infested swamp of course! Although you might assume from this premise that nothing but hijinks would ensue, the story is actually quite heart wrenching. Molly tries to keep the spirits of the children alive as their situation worsens and eventually plans a daring escape in an action scene where Indiana Jones himself might have a hard time keeping up.

Sparrows is going to be playing on January 29th at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre at 3pm. This movie is guaranteed to have you gasping at the action and thanking the heavens that you live in modern times, far away from the baby farms and snapping alligator stunts of yore.
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Ron Carter
January 23, 2012
As the Theatre Organ "dude" I want to add my personal invite to this show. It is my hopes that the score will both "tug" at the heart strings and keep you on the edge of your seats. We have a beautiful print of the film that will be run at the proper speed and the Strand's Mighty Allen theatre organ will Literally ROAR through the chase scenes. Come early for the pops pre-show and sing-a-long at 2:30 !!!!

Two Photographers: One Home
by Cassi_Costoulas
January 16, 2012 09:39 AM | 2717 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Justin Hadley and Rickelle Gurell are two talented Marietta photographers who have recently gotten engaged.
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Dating artists is tough, but two artists dating each other? Terrifying. So you would think if you haven’t met Justin Hadley and Rickelle Gurell. Justin and Rickelle are two talented Marietta photographers who have recently gotten engaged. While the delicate art of mixing work and home life might seem treacherous to some, Justin and Rickelle take this on naturally, letting each other grow independently while somehow not turning the whole relationship into a giant competition of flashes and f-stops. Below, the duo talks about photography and lets us in on how they are able to grow as artists and as a couple without letting one mess up the other.

Give me the quick and dirty description of your photographic styles.

JH: It kind of depends on what I'm shooting. I really like people and stories. If I can work an implied narrative into a shot, I'm a happy camper. 

RG: I enjoy shooting in many different ways. I also think that I have been growing and changing with my style a whole lot lately. I've been trying out new things and experimenting more with light. I have had people look at my images and say, "I could tell this was yours." I'm not sure how they can place that, but it's pretty interesting to me. 

How do you influence each other's work?

JH: Rickelle really pushes me to come up with better concepts. She's way better at that than I am. We spend A LOT of time throwing ideas back and forth to solidify them - which is really fun. We'll talk about different concepts for shoots and ways to compose and light them. I think it kind of bugs some people when we geek out on photo stuff in front of them. 

RG: When you are really close to someone that is in the same line of work, it's inevitable to not influence each other in some way. I'm sure there are things we pick up on in our everyday life that influences the other without us even knowing. Generally, though, when I am working on something (especially something that is very time consuming) I always get his opinion. He is a fantastic photographer, editor, and artist so I really value his opinion. I also love to collaborate. After a while it's not his influence or mine. It's just a jumbled mass of ideas that becomes this one project we work on.

How do you keep your own style or voice unique from each other?

JH: I don't think it's really something that we think too much about. It kind of just happens. If one of us has a shoot and that is specifically ours, the other will be there to help with suggestions as it goes, but for the most part will just sit back and let the other work. We kind of take turns being each other's assistant and learn from each other that way. 

RG: We are still two separate people that have to do our own stuff. We have our own computers and our own software. We both have stuff we work on for ourselves. I guess we keep things separate just by being ourselves. When we do share ideas, it's typically an idea the other didn't have and a direction the other wouldn't have gone in. This is why I enjoy when we do work together.

What is your must-have lens or accessory?

JH: I'd be lost without my Pocket Wizards. They are radio transceivers that send a signal from your camera to fire your off-camera flash. I've been reading a lot about new lighting techniques lately so they are a must have for me. Also, I just got a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens that I'm having a lot of fun with.

RG: My "must-have" is just my camera! Any lens you give me would be fun to try out. I love have a speed-light or a reflector with me just in case I need light, but shooting with available light, when done right, is always really nice. I guess my "must-have" would be a spare, fully charged battery.

Tips for artist couples who are in the same line of work?

JH: I would say that you really need to have an open mind to each other's style. Don't try to make both of your work look the same because then what's the point? Where's the fun in that? It's not important that your work looks similar, it's important that you can work both together and off of each other to produce unique work. Don't try to force it. Just because you are in a relationship and are both photographers, doesn't mean you will work well together. You know, kind of like how not all friends should be roommates. 

RG:  I guess I have more of a reminder than a tip: It is just so nice to have someone there to help you carry all of that equipment!

Check out more of Justin and Rickelle’s photos at and

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Of Motorcycles, Music, Marietta, and Mikie: A Holiday Story
by Cassi_Costoulas
January 05, 2012 08:50 AM | 2590 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Blair Crimmins and the Hookers
Blair Crimmins and the Hookers

A few days before Christmas, Marietta local, Mikie Webb, had his brakes go out on his motorbike, sending him through a traffic light and into oncoming traffic. Luckily, Mikie made it out with no head trauma, but racked up quite the significant hospital bill. Former soldier and current artist at Memorial Tattoo, Mikie walking up to you in your friendly neighborhood pub might scare the pants off ya, but  you would quickly find yourself charmed by a friendly guy who loves talking to new people and breezing past stereotypes.  It’s no surprise, then, that as soon as the word got out that Mikie had been hurt, support came quickly for him and girlfriend Pippin Sheehan.

Two Marietta musicians, Travis Cottle and Dustin Barclay, met Mikie through a situation that I’m guessing was not too different than the one above and once hearing about the accident, arranged a benefit concert in record time. Within a few days a lineup had been established and Johnnie MacCracken’s had offered their new non-smoking side up as a venue for the event.

Dustin Barclay, who plays weekly at MacCracken’s, played the first set. This guy sings like Freddie Mercury and Jeff Buckley had a baby and raised it on cornbread and whiskey from the bottle. His original music has a folk rock foundation with clear, catchy melodies and he isn’t afraid to tackle unexpectedly fun cover songs like Sisqo’s The Thong Song.

Blair Crimmins and the Hookers also played a set for the show. Travis Cottle, their trusty trombone player, is a Marietta local and helped organize the night’s events. The Hookers play New Orleans ragtime and jazz like they casually stepped out of the 20’s and into today’s music scene without batting an eye. And get this- they play mostly original music. In a shameless plug for my place of work, I have to mention that they’ll be playing at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre this year as part of the music series. 

I had the pleasure of attending that show last week. The place was packed and the donation jar was filled by the time I got there. Even though the show was a few days after Christmas, it topped the whole rest of December as the best example of holiday spirit I have seen this year: a group of musicians and a community of people coming out to support a friend in need.

(You can still donate help out Mikie Webb by clicking here!)


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by Cassi_Costoulas
December 21, 2011 06:40 PM | 1355 views | 2 2 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I’m only 27 years old, and I already feel like I might be too old for the internet. It seems as though daily I read about hip new online programs and technology that I had no idea existed and already have over 2 million users. Last week I discovered that a “vlog” is not just a clever term for a video blog, but is a phenomenon that has grown into a form of digital expression that could easily be labeled as Art (by those of us who aren’t terribly pretentious about that sort of stuff). There are some vloggers that make their living by just talking about their lives on Youtube. WHAT?!  Has the internet always been this big that something with such impact could totally slipped by me? Is this what it felt like to be 40 in 1996?

Last decade I totally ruled the internet.  I was one of the first people I knew to have an e-mail address, I understood how to get information off, and I could even custom edit my angelfire website in HTML if need be. I spent an absurd amount of time on forums, IMing people I didn’t know, and reading webcomics. All quite secretly, might I add, lest the world think I was so out of touch with reality that I couldn’t live in it properly. If 15 year old Cassi had been told that 10 years later she’d be posting a video blog on a social media website where everyone she has ever known (the cute boys from High School, her teachers, her GRANDMOTHER) could see it, she probably would have settled herself in for a life of shamefully living in her parent’s basement.

But things have changed- the Era of the Nerd is here and closeted weirdos like myself have been given a free pass to experiment with technology in a highly public fashion. Makes me wish I had really pursued those budding SNES talents. The shift in how much interaction one can have with technology and still be accepted socially is all very exciting, but it does make me a little nervous. Nerds are fast, and young nerds even faster. People are living longer, but the young people are the ones doing all of the innovating and creation. How hard am I going to have to work to keep up with all of these changes? How long until I’m too old for the internet? I’m hoping that I’ll make it to at least 30 before being put out to pasture. Cross your fingers.

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January 11, 2012
welcome to my world.

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