If Maggie Renfroe pursues guitar playing and singing as other than an avocation, she already has one item on her resume’ that will stand out for a 16-year-old entertainer.
On the evening of Oct. 1, Renfroe opened for Chuck Leavell at a concert at Idle Hour Country Club, playing familiar ballads and others she has written in the eight years since she first picked up a guitar.
Sheila and Bob Johnson and Mimi and Drew Schillng were part of the crowd watching Renfroe, whose youthful persistence did not let the background conversation of people milling about the ballroom distract her -- something seasoned performers are inured to with rhythm and blues fans who rarely stay in their seats.
With a voice that reminds one of a young Taylor Swift, she covered the singer, one of her favorites, on “The Best Day,” finally hushing the audience with Leonard Cohen’s 1984 sleeper, “Hallelujah,” which became a hit with the release of the movie, “Shrek,” in 2001.
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Her mother, Julie Renfroe, who never misses one of her performances, knows her daughter could achieve success with her original lyrics, having written songs with ease from the time she caught her parents’ attention with her guitar. With the sage advice of an old soul, she introduced one of her compositions, “Living in Our Prime,” and pointed out that each phase of life has a prime time.
Renfroe works with a coach in Atlanta and continues to reach for the stars while she completes high school at First Presbyterian Day School in Macon.
After Renfroe’s hour-long performance, Leavell, acclaimed author, conservationist and, in his spare time, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, took the stage. Before the applause ended, the gentleman with the laughing eyes asked for another round to recognize Renfroe’s opening act -- pretty heady stuff for a teenager.
NEVER ENOUGH OF LEAVELL’S MUSIC
In this intimate setting, Leavell shared a little background on the program selections, some performed with the Allman Brothers Band, for which he was the pianist for several years in the early 1970s, others from his Sea Level band days from 1976 to 1981.
Few people remember that “Georgia on My Mind” was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael, with lyrics by Stuart Gorrell, because Ray Charles made it famous in 1960. Leavell’s version of Georgia’s official state anthem was a bluesy, gritty homage to this native Alabaman’s adopted home.
Although he moved to Macon to join Capricorn Records in 1970, three years after Otis Redding’s death, Leavell routinely covers his songs, like “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay,” which he saved for last, the textural chords what Redding might have heard when he wrote the lyrics while visiting the California coast.
After a standing ovation, Leavell erased the melancholy mood with the raunchy Rolling Stones track, “Honky Tonk Women,” an encore that had the crowd joining him on chorus and wanting more.
THE NUMBERS CANNOT LIE
According to Betty Sweet Ladson and Sarah Evans, veteran volunteers for the Historic Macon Foundation’s 38th annual Flea Market, last weekend’s event broke all records. The big sale, and one of the major fundraisers for Historic Macon, was moved several years ago to the old Karsten-Denson building on Third Street, a more centralized and easily accessed location in downtown Macon.
Ethiel Garlington, executive director of Historic Macon, said that donations of furniture, Christmas decorations, outdoor accessories, art work, antiques and kitchen utensils started filling the space after last year’s sale closed, taking over the rest of the former hardware store’s half block building.
Since every piece has to be cleaned, priced and arranged, it is not surprising that 69 volunteers spent almost 2,000 hours getting the store ready for the preview party last Friday night, where patrons could take advantage of bargains ahead of the shopping frenzy last weekend.
After her shift on the floor ended Friday night, volunteer Barbara Boyer was strolling through the aisles wearing her new treasure, an authentic Mexican, hand beaded, felt sombrero -- purchase price $3. Sales were brisk at the preview party, fueled by hors d’oeuvres and beverages to maintain stamina.
After tallying the final figures, the foundation reported a net return of more than $34,000 and attendance records for the preview party a whopping 258. Before the sale opened that Saturday morning, the streets were lined with anxious flea market lovers, armed with empty boxes and ready to fill them up the minute the doors opened.
This year, several pieces of furniture, with design pedigrees, sold in the thousands, giving credence to stories on the PBS series “Antiques Road Show,” that rare and valuable collectibles can be found in flea markets.
Congratulations to Historic Macon for a blockbuster flea market!
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or email@example.com.