DISCLAIMER

"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.





Monday, April 26, 2010

ImprompATL

We took an impromptu trip to Atlanta this past weekend. What started out as a mistake, turned into a nice little trip and the discovery of yet another great band out there that no one's ever really heard of.

The mistake was that a band we like a lot out of Canada, Blue Rodeo, recently announced on Facebook that they would be playing in Atlanta on Friday night, April 23rd. Note to selves: don't trust Facebook announcements until you actually see the tickets go on sale...turns out its June 23rd. By the time this correction was made however, we had already used the great new Travelocity feature: Top Secret Hotels to secure a room in the downtown 4-Star Holiday Inn for a mere $42. The one catch to Top Secret Hotels is that once the rooms are bought, you can't change the date or get a refund. At first we thought of just having to eat the $42 and chalk it up to a lesson learned, but after a little more thought and a call to our friends, Terry and Rex, who live in Atlanta, we decided that a quick trip might be worth it to visit some friends, plus Rex said a good band we had never heard of - The Bridge - was playing at Smith's Olde Bar (this is where Blue Rodeo will be playing) that Friday night and he had read glowing reviews of their shows. In addition, we thought it would be a good opportunity on Saturday to tour one of our favorite regional breweries, Sweetwater, which is also located in Atlanta. So off we went.

We left after work Friday afternoon for the easy 3.5-hour drive to Atlanta. Rex picked us up at the downtown Holiday Inn after we checked in. This was our first experience using Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels and we could not be more pleased. We got a nice non-smoking room on the 8th floor with a queen bed. The location is perfectly situated downtown within walking distance of Phillips Arena, the Georgia Dome, the Tabernacle (another great music venue) and Centennial Olympic Park. We are using this service again for upcoming trips to Las Vegas and Louisville and are really saving money. Probably even more so than our Hilton loyalty program.
The drive over to Smith's Olde Bar was quick and we found good parking nearby. We have been wanting to check this place out for a while and almost came down for another show a month or so ago, but got lazy in the end. Now we wish we had made that trip because this place is an excellent music venue with great acoustics and good sight lines. The three-level bar is non-smoking upstairs where the concerts are held and that's very important to us. It's a general admission venue with mostly standing room only, but we were able to secure one of the few tables available as we walked in while the opening act, Danger Muffin (great name), was well into their set. "The Muffin" was good with their laid-back beach bum inspired original tunes plus a solid cover of Seal's "Crazy,"
The Bridge came next and this quintet from Baltimore was extremely impressive. Granted, these fellas are not the best looking dudes in rock-n-roll by far, but they are gifted with a lot of soul and a lot of talent on a wide variety of instruments from the dobro to the mandolin. Their original music is strong and melodic and their closing cover of The Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post" was dead solid perfect. It's a shame there wasn't more of a crowd for them as the turnout was a bit sparse, but they mentioned the first time they played Smith's Olde Bar seven years ago only 3 people showed up, so this was a great improvement. We got to meet a few members of the band after the show as they handed out posters and signed them for us. We found out when talking to them that they just recently added a late show at Bonnaroo as well. We told them we would definitely see them there! After the show we did a bit of bar-hopping downtown and wound up at Rex's very cool loft near our hotel for a nightcap. His loft home is in a converted gasket factory building with exposed original brick, huge windows, high ceilings and a private roof-top patio with amazing views of downtown. Thanks for a great evening, Rex!
We slept in the next morning and soaked up our $42 room for all it was worth. We met Rex again and our old friend, Terry, for lunch at a pasta/pizza place that was very good. We sat and chatted for a long time as thunderstorms and rain showers passed through clearing just in time for us to head over to Sweetwater Brewing Company for a mid-afternoon tour and some tastings. The brewery is on a dead-end road in an industrial park next to I-85 and you have to be looking for it to find it, but we were definitely not the only ones seeking it out this rainy afternoon because the place was packed when we arrived. We got a souvenir glass and 5 tasting tickets each and while it was crowded in their tasting room, their expansive bar and numerous tap stations made it easy to grab some brew. See Rob's beer blog for more info on the beer we had. We jumped in the 3 PM tour line and got a quick run through of their fairly large (but regional) facility. Our tour guide was more of a glorified bartender and seemed limited on his knowledge of the brewery and it's processes, but it was still an enjoyable look-see behind the making of one our favorites regional brewers (Ashlee loves the Sweetwater Blue - a malted wheat beer with a hint of blueberries and Rob loves their Sweetwater IPA claiming it to be the best bottled IPA he's ever had...and he's had a lot of IPAs...again see the beer blog for more on that).
We headed back to Chattanooga after the tour to visit family and spend the night before heading back home on Sunday. Just outside Atlanta on the way back north we stopped at Pappasito's Cantina in Marietta, Georgia. Our friend, Brenda, had suggested this place for dinner and she was right on the money. Excellent fresh, high-end (without a high cost) Mexican food. The place was jam packed for a Saturday evening and we got lucky and were able to get in quick and grab a table next to the bar for dinner. Delicious fajitas and grilled fish tacos were the choices and both were fantastic.

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