It was deja vu all over again. With a moniker like Roadkill Ghost Choir you might expect grunge tracks, but these guys are smooth as silk with their own anthems to rock ‘n’ roll. To partner with Historic Macon Foundation for a concert benefitting preservation of historic structures was fitting for a band that is preserving the traditions of the ‘60s and ‘70s with a little less chaos. Sean Pritchard, senior editor of www.blueindian.com, has brought future legends in his favorite genre to Macon and invited friends to join him celebrating his birthday for the past two years. However, he decided this year there was no better way to let the younger demographic know the importance of their involvement in HMF’s preservation efforts than staging a concert they couldn’t ignore. The Moonhanger Group, which manages the Cox Capitol Theatre, agreed and the magic happened. Roadkill’s path north from Florida is a road taken before. Andrew Shepard, lead vocalist and a dynamite songwriter, is joined by brothers Zach on bass and Maxx on drums plus Stephen Garza, lead guitarist, and Kiffy Meyer, master of the pedal steel who also plays the banjo. Sound familiar?
Opening for the headliners was Macon’s sunDollars, whose mastery of the Latin beat caught my attention a couple of years ago when they played “On the Pavement” in the alleys of Milledgeville. Joining the trifecta of indie alternative rock was T. Hardy Morris and the Hard Knocks, who hail from Athens, a town where Widespread Panic launched its career. Morris’ “Audiotapes” album is a compilation of his recordings on location throughout Georgia at places vulnerable to demolition or neglect and listed on Places in Peril on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation website. He has received recognition from the Georgia Trust for putting the face of stark reality on what may not be part of our historic landscape without significant pressure on communities to value local history with their sweat and their pocketbooks. Molly Wilkins, who keeps her friends abreast of the happenin’ scenes in Macon, was in the crowd of fans that were paying the old-fashioned price of $10 to hear original music from talent we will have on our watch lists for a while.
FOSTERING CULTURAL PROGRESS AND COOPERATION
Although the Kwanzaa celebration has been held in this country since 1966 when it was founded by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, professor and chair of black studies at California State University, Long Beach, the festival in Macon has been held since 1993. According to biographical information, Karenga’s efforts were a response to the unrest of the 1960s, which he hoped would bring African-Americans together to promote a sense of community for their mutual benefit. The origin of the name is the harvest or, in Swahili, the season of “first fruits.” The traditional dates for Kwanzaa are Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 with the first day dedicated to unity, symbolized by a black candle in the center of a seven-candle candelabra, one of which is always lighted by a child each evening. There are several misconceptions about Kwanzaa, one being that it is a substitute for Christmas or Hanukkah. However, it is an important part of the holiday season for people of many faiths and does not purport to be a religious ceremony.
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The Kwanzaa Cultural Access Center sponsors the event in Macon each year and has done an admirable service to Middle Georgia, educating the public on the mission and principles of the seven days of commemoration of African-American heritage. The symbolism is spiritual and emblematic of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. On the fourth day, representing economics, there were lectures on business startups, displays of locally produced wares and services, and a job fair. On one of those days Rudy Mendez, who could be the spokesman for creativity, was enjoying the activities. Mendez, a Connecticut transplant, is a prolific artist who is well-known in educational circles for his work with the Tubman African American Museum as a mixed media outreach teacher. His works reflect his zeal for combining artistic disciplines in energetic and provocative compositions and keeping alive the rich history of textile arts tied closely to African culture. Kwanzaa has become an integral component of the holiday season in Macon, one which is informative and a welcome respite from fruitcake and eggnog.
AULD LANG SYNE
Things were dropping from the sky on New Year’s Eve. If you wanted a change, Dublin had the first Shamrock Drop. Closer to home, Perry once again dropped that buzzard, honoring the bird that never gets any respect but flocks through Perry on its annual migration south. And, of course, there was the most venerable, Macon’s own Cherry Blossom Ball Drop. Hope you were there!
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.