Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival Includes Performances By Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Music Review: Alan Jackson adds new facet to his sound with ‘The Bluegrass Album’

Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya Monday Sept. 23 2013. Multiple large blasts have rocked the mall where a hostage siege is in its third day. Associated Press reporters on the scene heard multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.  (AP Photo/ Jerome Delay)

While there were introspective lyrics and moments on Take Care, the album was filled with songs meant to be played at top volume with the windows rolled down. The party is over now. Nothing is for dark rooms and headphones. There are few hooks here, almost no choruses, not much to sing along to. The heart-on-his-sleeve rapper with a million friends and the tightest of crews seems all alone here after ridding himself of fake friends, trying to sort out why all the success, the money, the drugs and the women leave him with a hollow feeling. He tells us over the course of the album how his relationships with his family and friends, like Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, have been strained. The only pleasant memories seem to come from his childhood represented by that chubby-cheeked cherub in the cover painting and the 90s are all over the album, serving as touchstone, reminder and measuring stick. He references the Wu-Tang Clan in the song Wu-Tang Forever and in a half-dozen other places. Nothing is full of the kind of studied minimalism and sped-up soul vocal samples favored by RZA and his acolytes like West, who well get back to in a minute. But hes not aping the game-changers as much as using them as a landmark. So the biggest star in the rap world retreats. Ive been plottin on the low, he sings on Furthest Thing, Schemin on the low, the furthest thing from perfect like everybody I know. Its moments like this that differentiate Nothing Was the Same from the years other releases in the three-way battle for king of the hill. Where Yeezus shows us West has turned confrontational in the post-fame portion of his career and Jay Z has become condescending with Magna Carta …

Heavy smoke rises from the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya Monday Sept. 23 2013. Multiple large blasts have rocked the mall where a hostage siege is in its third day. Associated Press reporters on the scene heard multiple blasts and a barrage of gunfire. Security forces have been attempting to rescue an unknown number of hostages inside the mall held by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.  (AP Photo/ Jerome Delay)

By Associated Press, Alan Jackson, The Bluegrass Album (ACR/EMI Nashville) Veteran country star Alan Jackson ranks among the most tradition-based singers of his generation. Most of his influences are on the surface: honky-tonk, swing, blues and songs both romantic and social that draw on details from his personal life. Looking for things to do? Select one or more criteria to search Kid-friendly Get ideas Jacksons new The Bluegrass Album, much like his two collections of gospel hymns, brings out another form of American roots music that he loves. With characteristic laid-back charm, Jackson applies his sweet baritone to the hot acoustic picking and soaring harmonies that characterize bluegrass. What Jackson brings to the table is outstanding songwriting an area where contemporary bluegrass can be lacking. The 54-year-old contributes eight original songs, including the standouts Blacktop and Lets Get Back To Me And You, as well as two by his nephew Adam Wright, who co-produced the collection with Jacksons longtime studio collaborator, Keith Stegall. Jackson tips his hat to bluegrass history by covering Bill Monroes Blue Moon Of Kentucky and the Dillards great There Is A Time, and he runs John Andersons Wild And Blue through a mountain gap without losing its soulful strength. To Jacksons credit, he doesnt aim any of these songs to fit country radios format. Instead, he concentrates on making a solid string-band album for the ages and succeeds. Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

It rained much of Saturday, but conditions improved to simply overcast skies by the time Imagine Dragons’ performance began around 5:45 p.m. some five hours after the festival began. Acts from Capitol Cities, Weezer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Neighbourhood kept the crowd going despite afternoon rain. “I see the weather has cleared up,” said Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons. “I guess we came at a good time.” Reynolds also gave a shout out to the band’s drummer Daniel Platzman, who is from Atlanta. Reynolds also expressed his appreciation for being a part of the festival. “There are so many great bands at this festival,” he said. “I’m just glad to be on stage to perform for you all. Thank you for live music. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of you” By nighttime, Red Hot Chili Peppers was the main attraction. The veteran rock back didn’t give much commentary during that performance.

Loving Music Midtown and Piedmont Park shouldn’t be mutually exclusive

As best I can remember, festival organizers are responsible for returning the park back to its pristine condition. Yet even with deep pockets and great intentions, it will take time for the grass to take root and be accessible to the public. After the rain stopped on Saturday, fans turned out for Red Hot Chili Peppers (Photo: Amy Wenk) Another concern is the total disregard by Music Midtown patrons to respect the park and to keep it clean. The amount of trash left behind on the ground creating a grotesque mix of mud and debris at the end of Saturday night was disgusting, showing how oblivious music fans were to their environment. In their defense, the number of garbage and recycling receptacles were few and far between giving people few options of what to do with plastic bottles, cans and trash. By comparison, when the Piedmont Park Conservancy used to put on its Green Concerts (remember Dave Matthews, Paul McCartney and the Eagles) great attention was made for people to clean up after themselves. Those concerts were used as teaching moments on how we can live in a more environmentally-sensitive way. Music Midtown fans sort through trash Saturday night (Photo: Amy Wenk) The Green Concerts also raised about $1 million each for the Conservancy money that was reinvested in the park and its expansion to the north. What is unclear to me is how much the Piedmont Park Conservancy is receiving by hosting Music Midtown. What I do know is that since the return of Music Midtown, the Green Concerts appear to have been discontinued. I also know that the previous community that hosted Music Midtown the area around the Civic Center going toward North Avenue and Renaissance Parkway received direct cash contributions to maintain their parks and that the close-in residents received passes to the festival. Close of up Music Midtown trash and mud (Photo: Amy Wenk) Back when there was an active citizens group looking out for Piedmont Park, we used to say we were loving the park to death. There was a sincere attempt by the City of Atlanta and the Friends of Piedmont Park to limit the number of events and festivals in the park. Now from early spring to late fall, every weekend there are multiple events in the park often making it almost off-limits for nearby residents who want to ride their bicycles or walk their dogs or simply be enveloped by an oasis of green in the middle of the city.