Monday, August 25, 2014



 By Doc Lawrence

DECATUR, GA-Once a lovely town noted for a remarkable school system that actually educated students and the home of Agnes Scott College, it is today one of the South’s enviable centers of prosperity with acclaimed restaurants popping up almost weekly, busy city sidewalks, comfortable park benches, wine and gourmet kitchen stores and much more. Decatur is an urban showcase of excellence.

It’s also home of the annual Decatur Book Festival, an event that today proudly claims to be the largest independent book festival in the United States.

For three days beginning Friday August 29, readers throng to listen to author legends like Joyce Carol Oates who is launching her newest short story collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep at the festival keynote event at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.

The festival includes author forums at various locations with discussion topics including the Civil War (July through September 1864 saw the area under siege by the forces of General Sherman), food and wine, the farm-to table movement. Of course, everything is celebrated with a parade beginning at the beautiful Old Courthouse.

Authors and more authors dominate the festival. Thousands will meet Pat Conroy, the beloved novelist who maintains deep roots in Decatur and the Atlanta area. Others include Gail Sheehy, Dr. Louis Sullivan, Karen Abbott, Ron Rash, Lev Grossman, Michael Pitre and many others.

Decatur gives meaning to multiculturalism. The event, just like the city, is inclusive. It is a forum for discussions, debates and the introduction of new ideas. It is also one of the friendliest places anywhere.

The festival crowds are different that those common to food and wine bashes: Family-friendly, a welcome absence of boisterousness, a comfort zone for three days when you have no hesitation to strike up a conversation with total strangers.

Decatur has a long history with books. Mary Gay’s classic Life in Dixie During the War is a first hand account of the sufferings 150 years ago during the siege and occupation of the area by General Sherman, and a favorite son, the great Roy Blount, Jr. began here before writing countless books that prove smart folks know how to inspire laughter.

No matter their age, those who read are after all, a special breed. Cerebral gatherings refresh the soul and stimulate the mind.

The Decatur Book Festival is a perfect way to ease into autumn.

More information: 

NOTE: Southern Thymes Shared now available at ART STATION adjacent to Stone Mountain Park.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Painting by Missionary Mary Proctor

By Doc Lawrence

NORCROSS, Ga-No better event any time of year. But during summer’s Dog Days, Folk Fest, the annual celebration showcasing over 100 galleries exhibiting the works of America’s self-taught artists in air conditioned comfort has little competition. It’s one of the proven ways to beat the heat, have fun with friends and family at a budget friendly price. Folk Fest, now celebrating 21 years and billed as the world’s largest indoor folk art show, has become one of the most popular events in the South.

Visitors to the Atlanta area this weekend can expect more joy from the colorful, family friendly paintings, wood carvings, face jugs and decorated found objects. Folk Fest often hooks adults and children with the magic that comes from talking to artists and gallery owners. It’s contagious, like a celebration loaded with joy.

Folk Fest provided thousands the opportunity to meet Reverend Howard Finster, the sage of Summerville, Georgia who painted according to God’s instructions. The great Myrtice West began painting scenes based on the Book of Revelations after her daughter was murdered. O. L. Samuels, once a prizefighter from rural South Georgia, said he could walk through the woods and certain sticks and fallen limbs would “talk," He took them home, carved images based on these messages with a pocketknife. Each artist has works in the Smithsonian and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

Many of the artists are from highly inaccessible parts of the rural South. Their art is inspired by spirits and an environment most would never experience. Homogenization of their culture hasn’t yet happened. Many, however, are on up in the years and their talents will drift away as they leave this planet. America and in particular the Deep South will be the lesser.

Collecting folk art is an adventure that can be a profitable. Those who purchased early works of notables like Ms. West and Reverend Finster own art that has appreciated exponentially in value.

Parking is free. Talented musicians perform crowd-pleasing blues.  Food and beverages are available. The facility is very comfortable and you’ll be hard pressed to find anything other than smiling faces.

North Atlanta Trade Center
1700 Jeurgens Ct. Norcross, Georgia (I-85 & Indian Trail Rd. Exit 101) 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Theresa Hightower Returns to Stone Mountain

By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA-When she takes the stage, Stone Mountain shakes and rattles. Add some virtuoso piano styling and the nearby mighty granite monolith might turn into Jell-O. It’s Blues, Jazz and Broadway this Saturday night at Art Station’s Trolley Stop Cabaret.

Theresa Hightower is Georgia’s unofficial diva of song. Long thejazz club's main attraction in Atlanta’s Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, thousands enjoyed her interpretations of standards by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Aretha Franklin and other legends. Having the truly great pianist S. Renee Clark on stage makes the two-hour performance one of the most memorable evenings anywhere in the South.

On par with greats like Errol Garner, Gene Harris and Nina Simone, S. Renee Clark thrilled audiences with her gospel accompaniment and acting performance with Bernardine Mitchell in the acclaimed musical Mahalia! the story of Mahaila Jackson and her music that transformed much of America.

An evening at the Cabaret is about as near to the clubs and show bars in the French Quarter or downtown Savannah. as possible without being there.

The Cabaret is intimate, the stage elevated, the food and beverages delicious and the music is world class.

The fun starts Saturday around sunset. Parking is free and the audience primed with goodwill and joy. It’s the best entertainment bargain during the Dog Days of August.