Living Columns & Blogs

Macon Pops indulges in Beatles reverie

In its second program for the fifth season, on Friday, Nov. 17, the Macon Pops continued its “top to bottom” series with the performance of two albums by the Beatles, “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver,” which followed each track from beginning to end.

Although the Cox Capitol Theater does not seat as many concert goers as Hawkins Arena or as Middle Georgia State University’s scenic lake side, the intimate arrangement of patrons seated at the edge of the stage for this performance, generated a rapport between audience and performers that is rare in larger venues.

Kevin Spencer, standout guitarist and writer with the band, Sugarland, who appeared at the opening concert last season at Middle Georgia State University, was in a Beatles groove for an evening saturated with favorites from the most popular band during the era known as the “British Invasion” in the 1960s. With his short, striped coat and sunglasses, in a Beatles-state-of-mind, he and co-founder, Matt Catingub, had fun with Steve Moretti’s miscues on a couple of songs.

Spencer joined fellow guest artist, Patrick Bettison, who plays bass and chromatic harmonica, for an evening filled with manipulation of instruments, which closely mimicked the studio antics of the Beatles during the recording of both albums in 1965-66. This was the psychedelic era of music when musicians experimented with the sounds of instruments such as sitars and harpsichords, that are rarely heard in a studio.

With students from the McDuffie School for Strings adding their talents to the orchestra, Catingub, also artistic director for the Macon Pops, wrote the arrangements to reproduce, as closely as possible outside of the studio, the extraordinary sounds made by the Beatles at the Abbey Road studio.

Despite the limited dance floor, before the night was over, the aisles were full of nostalgic dancers, singing along to “Michelle” and to “Paperback Writer.” Get tickets for the last performance of the season, “Latin Pop Revolution,” on the web site, maconpops.com.

National recognition for Kirk West’s new book

Kevin C. Johnson, pop music critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, covered the opening of Kirk West’s photography exhibit at St. Louis’ National Blues Museum on Nov. 9. The collection of black and white photographs taken during West’s life on the road as a manager and as a photographer are featured in West’s new book, “The Blues in Black and White,” which is available at Gallery West and will be celebrated at a sale and book signing on December’s First Friday.

West earned the respect of blues musicians and, in turn, has fond memories of many of the genuine blues musicians he has met and photographed. West’s first photographic journal, “Les Brers,” which covers his years on the road with the Allman Brothers Band is still available in the gallery, a good destination for Christmas gifts. If you are traveling to St. Louis, the photography exhibition is in the gallery of the National Blues Museum until February, 2018.

Coulby Glen features the Ocmulgee Painters Society

On Thursday, Nov. 16, a reception and exhibition opened at Coulby Glen on Price Road in Macon, for the Ocmulgee Painters Society. The show was open through Nov. 19; however, all of the artists’ works are on the Coulby Glen web site, coulbyglen.com, for viewing and purchasing through the holidays.

There are familiar painters featured in the exhibition — Daly Smith, Joy Stanley, Mary Wain Ellison and Maureen Persons, to name a few. This year, Joseph Ott, who recently moved back to Macon, participated in the show with his studies in charcoal and pencil, a refreshing addition to the oils, watercolors and acrylics represented by the other artists.

Charley Causey’s paintings, inspired by a road trip to the western mountain ranges, include images of snow covered peaks he and his family have known for years as favorite ski destinations, and the pastels of the warmer ranges where the Rocky Mountains glow under the sun.

Some of Persons’ paintings were a departure from her traditional style to a more contemporary genre, a daring evolution from the safety of realism to the interpretive experience of abstract forms. She will collaborate with Mary Dawson Pinson at her floral studio on Forsyth Street on First Friday in December.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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