It’s Saturday night in Atlanta. The city vibrates with anticipation of the many events the night holds in store. Myself, I’m heading down Memorial Drive to a place called WonderRoot for the 8th Annual Homebrew Hootenanny, a yearly benefit for the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Arriving just in time, I make my way into an unassuming house, the main floor of which has a library, computers, and several other community resources contained within its rooms. I’m first greeted with the smell of a home-cooked buffet, the scents of pulled pork, roasted vegetables, and mac and cheese filling my stomach with longing as I make my way past several small groups of 20-30 somethings eating the delicious spread laid out in the main room.
Climbing down a narrow staircase into the basement, I am met with a packed room full of music lovers, partaking in an excellent selection of donated local homebrews and jittery with excitement for the concert about to begin. The music starts and I am lost, pulled along by the foot-stamping, thigh-slapping sounds of some of the best folk music this city has to offer.
The night begins with the bluegrass and rock stylings of Blue Blazes, getting everyone’s blood pumping and toes tapping. From there, we are treated to the bluesy folk lyricism of Hothouse Peaches followed by Appalachian bluegrass by the Shoal Creek Stranglers that would make Earl Scruggs stand up and applaud. Lily & The Tigers enter next, uplifting the crowd with their indie folk reminiscent of Nora Jones. The evening reaches its pinnacle as the headliner, I Want Whiskey, takes the stage and the audience can’t help but dance and sway furiously to their modern interpretation of classic bluegrass chords and rhythms.
As the concert finally ends, the audience slowly straggles out, music still melding with our minds and melodies still drifting through our hearts. And, with all of the proceeds going to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, this is a benefit surely worth revisiting year after year.
Christina James, freelance writer and blogger, is a closet culture-vulture and appreciator of all things interesting.