After Hours: Rendezvous with the Wet Willie band

Fans who had packed the balcony at the City Auditorium for the Macon Pops performance in February were thrilled to hear that Jimmy Hall, who appeared as a guest artist with the Pops, would return for a concert with his Wet Willie band at Cox Capitol Theatre on March 27.

With inclement weather predicted, the concert was predictably sold out for this old Capricorn favorite. Hall had the audience on the verge of tears with his tribute to his late father, “Same Old Moon,” and dancing in the aisles when he took us on a nostalgia trip to the early ‘70s and those ubiquitous bell bottoms, with “Grits Ain’t Groceries.”

Joyce Sharp, David Byrd and Kathy Kennedy were a few of the Wet Willie enthusiasts who enjoyed their trip down a lane of carefree memories of rowdier concerts at the gazebo in Central City Park.


How many gardens in Macon still have a garden witch warding off evil spirits -- like aphids and white flies -- in their flower beds, arms akimbo as if saying, “Hallelujah! Spring has sprung!” These winsome concrete sculptures mounted on iron legs are happy miniatures with full aprons and forbidding faces, probably the first sculptures many Mulberry Street Festival attendees ever have purchased. They make great gifts for gardener friends, so it is always a treasure hunt to find the location of the artist who created these cheerful sprites among the rows of dealers.

Unfortunately, that artist was not found this year, but Mark Ballard, whose name is synonymous with arts and crafts, has been a fixture at the two-day fiesta of creative vendors since its inception. First to catch our eye years ago were outlandish sunglasses adorned with rhinestones in a tiny booth displaying original crafts or repurposed items we never knew could look so glamorous. In the ensuing years, Ballard’s larger booths have featured more of his art work and crafts, which push the limits of the imagination with his flights of fancy -- all of which has increased his fan base, anxious to see what’s new at the Mulberry Street Festival.

Preparation for the annual event is monumental, but Ballard doesn’t have to worry about packing up at the close of the event -- he almost sells out. His commemorative Cherry Blossom Festival plates are in demand long after the festival’s close; his hats and other clothing accessories, festooned with cherry blossoms, are wearable art you will see on lakes and around pools this summer.

The repeat vendors who come to Macon year after year for the festival and other events have become friends and we always look forward to renewing those acquaintances.


Reggie Darling’s lifestyle blog, beamed on the Internet from New York, is on hiatus for a while. His readers, needless to say, are distressed, for his delightful commentary on life in New York and weekends near the Hudson River transport his devotees to the rarefied world of fashion, glamour and design, which only an insider would know.

However, Darling and his partner Boy Fenwick were in Macon for the glorious last weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival when the gods smiled on a sun washed city. Having never been to Macon, their whirlwind visit was engineered to impress upon the duo the historical, architectural and economic significance of a town they will never forget.

Tagging along for the grand tour arranged by their hosts, Carey Pickard and Chris Howard, was an experience in heart pounding scheduling precision. In a three-day visit, they were stunned by the treasures of Hay House, spellbound by the three story circular staircase of the Carmichael house at the corner of College Street and Georgia Avenue, and were enthralled by the Italian Villa Albicini on Tucker Road.

Jim Barfield arranged a Rose Hill Ramble to inform the visitors that Macon has been home to world renowned artists, inventors and captains of industry. Our guests from the North could not believe the array of locally owned restaurants featuring haute cuisine and, like so many strangers to our city, did not know that Macon boasts more Yoshino cherry trees than Washington, D.C.

Observing two visitors’ reactions to what is the norm for our daily routine criss-crossing the city, was a lesson in appreciation for the intrinsic value of our monuments to history and our effusive embrace of fresh ideas and plans for a town we call home.

Do not despair, for Reggie Darling will be back -- verbally drawing pictures of life at the top and, back to Macon. So reluctant were he and his partner to leave behind a charmed weekend, they barely made their flight out of Atlanta.

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or