Buffet ~ A Decadent Week of Entertainment Feasting around Atlanta ~ A Nickelback Concert with MDD, Bush, Seether, and Author Kimberly Brock’s Delicious Book Launch for THE RIVER WITCH

Posts | May 9, 2012 | By

I’m thinking of last week as a series of grand buffets.  I had no idea it would end up that way or that I could very nearly have too much of a good thing.  It fit perfectly with my “all or nothing” personality.

It started with the early birthday present my husband gave me a few months early.  I wanted to see the band My Darkest Days play again if they toured in our area because I was so impressed by the quality of the lead singer’s voice when I heard them open for another headlining band I heard last year.  Matt Walst, the lead singer, has a voice that is pure and beautiful and I’m impressed any time a live performer can actually sing well live, without a lot of studio editing and dubbing, though his voice is out of the range that I usually prefer in a singer.  Well, here they came, bringing Seether, Bush, and Nickelback with them.

I wasn’t a big fan of music in the 90’s.  I was busy having babies and whining about my 80’s music fizzling out and didn’t get the whole grunge rock thing.  When a friend helped me put two and two together to see that Gavin Rossdale was Bush, I realized that I’d always liked Bush songs just didn’t know who the heck was singing them.  I have a real soft spot for Seether songs, and Nickelback was one of the bands who started me loving modern alternative rock, so I knew this concert was gonna be a kicker!  And it was.  I am still trying to recover.  It was a long, long, sticky hot fabulous night.

Halfway through, it occurred to me that the concert was like a fantastic brunch buffet complete with all-you-can-eat prime rib, yorkshire pudding, and mimosas.  When one band would finish, and I was sure that at that point I could just walk away and go home happy, I’d realize that another of my favorites was about to come out on stage and it was simply mind boggling.  It went on and on and on so that by the time Nickelback came out and everyone around me was wild and drunk out of their minds I was wondering how I was going to be able to continue standing there.

Nickelback was the dessert at the end of the buffet.  You just can’t do it, can’t eat another bite, but you have to because it’s there in front of you and it looks so good and you know you can’t eat like that every day so you stick it out and you know each bite will be worth the ache in your belly on the way home.  Yup.  Exactly like that.

And there were fireworks, which I despise, and these were launched indoors, and some guy wanted to “hang on to my shoulder” until I told him to “GET OFF!” which very quickly turned “dessert” into one of those cheap, country buffets where the waitstaff comes out twelve times singing “Happy, happy birthday, today’s your special day…” to different patrons bringing a piece of cake that they pulled off the annihilated dessert buffet and stuck a candle in.  Really.  But we were so close to the stage, thanks to my wonderful husband who bought the tickets for me the moment they went up for sale.

What I didn’t know until the day of the concert is that the friend I asked to go with me is a huge Bush fan.  Bush was to her in high school what Def Leppard was to me.  When she turned to me a moment after Gavin Rossdale appeared out of the darkness and said, “My fifteen year old heart’s heart is happy.”,  I remembered the first time Joe Elliot came out on stage at my first Def Leppard concert, which I’d waited over 20 years to attend, and I was SO glad I had asked her to come.  And boy, that man did not disappoint!

Seether was Seether.  Sad, sad beautiful man with the resonant voice.  I loved every minute of it and savored the opportunity to hear Shaun Morgan singing and playing right before my eyes.

Nickelback?  Great!  But it’s all kind of a blur since they played last.  I do distinctly remember the steampunk guitar, drum, and of all things, a steampunk UFO.  The UFO was awesome.  But please, please don’t shoot fireworks indoors!  Oh, my poor ears!

My Darkest Days was the first band to play.  I was very excited, but disappointed that they were only able to fit in four or five songs.  But it was great to see how far this new band has come in the last year.  They are getting this touring thing down pat.  Someday they will be selling out arenas on their own.  I betcha!

What I learned most at the “concert buffet” is that I love music and concerts but am NOT a party girl.  I love standing room only concerts and the “we’re in this together” connection with the other concert goers but after almost 5 hours this introverted old fart was really getting tired of being packed in like sardines with a bunch of squishy, sweaty, screaming humans.  “I really don’t like ’em…”

But…I’d do it again tomorrow.

After a day of recuperating and trying to rehydrate, I was back on the road headed south with my family.  What was supposed to be a relatively quick drive down out of the mountains to a friend’s book signing, turned into an Atlanta rush hour traffic nightmare thanks to Tom Tom who I almost tossed out the window several times.  I kept saying to myself, “The next time I see a semi coming in my rear view mirror I’m tossing her in front of its front tires.”  “She”  the Tom Tom She-devil as I’ve been calling her, guided us far south into the thick of rush hour traffic, then west past the town we were aiming for, through more rush hour traffic, and to the completely wrong town and address.

Our day was to consist of a leisurely drive to the hotel we had planned to stay in, an afternoon by the pool and then showers, dinner, and an evening at the book signing.  As it turned out, I almost had to change my clothes in a Taco Bell bathroom to make it on time.

We gave up on Tom Tom and stopped to ask directions.  Hubby wanted to stop at Hooters to get directions (So it’s not true about men and their reluctance to ask for help.  Apparently, with the right motivation…) but I figured he wouldn’t remember anything he’d been told if he asked there, so Ingles it was.  A very helpful clerk got us on the right track and we pulled into the Microtel with thirty minutes to spare.  No time for pool lounging, dinner, or even showers, but I did get my clothes changed, hair fluffed,  perfumitized and deodorized and was only three minutes late to the function.

I wasn’t in the book shop for more than five seconds when my very thoughtful childhood friend, Misty Barrere, spotted me and approached, then blessedly asked if I “needed” wine.  Boy did I ever! I gratefully accepted the plastic cup of merlot she poured for me, but had completely forgotten that I hadn’t eaten a carb., other than squash, lettuce greens, and cruciferous veggies for almost two weeks.  As I sipped I realized it was going right to my head and simultaneously causing a carb. crash which led to my bright idea of nibbling crackers to get something in my stomach which added to the funky white carb. feeling.  Did you notice, Misty, or am I as good an actress as I thought I was at the time?  The rosacea flushed face and beads of sweat forming on my brow should have been a good indication that I was under duress.

But eh, I figured if she was watching me melt before her eyes the last thing she would wonder is if I was going nutso on her.  I mean, she’s the elementary school friend whom I used to ride imaginary horses with around the soccer field.  Mine was named Clyde.   We also worked tirelessly together to solve the mystery of a missing local girl by investigating as many clues as we could find on the school’s playground at recess.  Too many Nancy Drew and Bobsey Twin books, I guess.  She already knows I’m bonkers and probably saw it coming in fourth grade.

Go check out her blog and read some her fabulous writing.  Her novel, the one she has already won an award for, will be published any minute now, you watch.  But in the meantime the world can experience her unique talent by reading the short story that is soon to be published in the latest Sweeter Than Tea anthology.  I’ll post more info. about the book as the publishing date approaches.

In spite of my discomfort, the book signing and reading by Kimberly Brock was fabulous.  I had already read her book, “The River Witch”, when she had allowed me to check it out while it was in the editing phase, an honor I still cherish.  It was very moving to see her on the other side, presenting her published book to the world and speaking of what had motivated her to write the story.

I didn’t realize until this morning, because I’ve been a terrible friend and have neglected to visit her new blog site, that she actually has a wonderful new book trailer.  Go watch it, it’s great!  Beautiful.  And for heaven sake, go to Amazon and buy the book!  You won’t regret it, especially if you have a fascination with Southern living, islands, folklore…

She has such a unique way of expressing thoughts, I find myself laughing through her writing when I shouldn’t be.  Just this morning, when I finally got around to starting the book in its published, paperback form, I was giggling at her description of the island in the book and I thought to myself, genius.

If it’s there at all, if a person isn’t careful to inspect, it’s likely to be mistaken for a coffee stain or the remains of an unfortunate insect.” ~ Kimberly Brock, The River Witch

Not to make light of Kimberly’s writing.  The book is intense and her writing will punch you in the gut several times before you reach the last page.

The book signing turned into Grand Buffet #2 of the week.  I didn’t see this one coming.

Apparently, another great author, whom I was already curious about, was going to be coming to the book store the following afternoon for a book signing of her own.  It fit in perfectly with our plans so we decided to stop by the shop before leaving town.

I arrived early and another author was pointed out to me, standing in a corner of the shop.  I had been eyeballing her book, “Ghost on Black Mountain”, the night  before because I am obsessed with ghost stories and the paranormal and used to live right down the mountain from Black Mountain.  I decided to go ahead and buy her book, too.  My second trip to the buffet on my little book signing spree was having the author, Ann Hite, tap me on the shoulder when I was sitting waiting for the featured author’s reading to begin, and introduce herself and ask me if I wanted her to sign her book.  I suppose she had seen that I had purchased it.  We talked for a minute and I decided that I wished I had a  mama like her.  We are now friends on Facebook and her sweetness has continued as she encourages me with kind words and inspiration to keep working on the novels I have begun, even offering to critique one for me if I wish.  And all with that mama-like quality of hers.  I guess that was dessert.

The book itself is a genuine page-turner.  I read it in three days, something I never have time to do, and hibernated until it was finished.  I was tired.  It’s one of those.  You know, the kind you just can’t put down.  My poor neglected children and husband.  Oh, they were fine!  In fact, I may just do it again some time.  😉

The featured author at Saturday’s book signing, Karen Spears Zacharias, began speaking and threw me right for a loop!  I had already spoken to the book shop owner about Karen’s book and she assured me that “it was a story that everyone needed to hear.”  I purchased it, believing up until that point that it was a work of fiction.  It is not.  A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder is the true story of the torture and murder of a child the author knew.  Her reading and speech were heartbreaking, so much so that it was difficult to sit through.

I don’t know how I’m going to get through the book and find myself putting it off, hemming and hawing, trying to get up the nerve to just do it!  It’s important, Karen says, that everyone read it and know the true story so that we can all see where the government is failing to protect children from abusers in this country.  I’m already sick about it and don’t know when I will finally crack open that big, hard cover book.  I keep telling myself that for Karly, the little girl whose life was taken from her, I will start the book on Mother’s Day.

As I shyly approached the book signing table and Karen finished speaking with the person in front of me, I was thinking that I wanted to hug her after hearing all she had been through in writing this book and doing what she can to get the laws changed.  She turned to me and said, “HI!”  I was taken aback by this boisterous, kind greeting. Then she said, “Do you want a hug?!”  She wrapped me in her arms and squeezed me hard.  I said, “I think you have me mistaken for someone else.”  It seemed as if she thought she had met me before.  She said, “No you just walked in so quietly and sat down and listened…”  And you saw that I was fighting back tears through your entire speech, I thought to myself, a little embarrassed.  I don’t know what she saw or thought, and though I am not a real touchy-feely person and am a bit of a germaphobe I will never forget that meeting.   You find mamas in the darndest places in the south, I think.  So Karen was the icing on my dessert buffet that weekend.

Isn’t this a lovely picture with the sunlight steaming in on them all? And Fox Tale Book Shoppe is gorgeous! From the left is Misty Barrere, Kimberly Brock, and Karen Spears Zacharias.

And all this talk of buffets and I haven’t even mentioned food…and this is a FOOD blog!  So here you go.  Some wonderful eats from my buffet week.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Well, it’s 11:09.  I guess I should think about having breakfast some time today…

On the afternoon of the “concert buffet”, Unlabeled Mama and I walked to the Montana Grill for a late lunch.  She, a former wait person, wasn’t happy with the service, and I totally agreed, but the architecture and food really made up for it.  No wonder that little girl server is put on a mid-afternoon, mid-weekday shift…

You get a paper straw at the Montanan Grill, and not one of those wimpy ones that fall apart after three sips. Cool!

You don’t have a basket of rolls or biscuits or cornbread placed in front of you when you sit down at the Montana Grill in Atlanta, you are given homemade pickles. Yum. I said, “Oo! I’ll bet those are sweet bread and butter pickles of some sort.” before I popped one in my mouth. You’ll have to visit the restaurant so you can find out just what they taste like. It’s right across the street from Olympic Centennial Park. I had a delicious black and bleu salad for lunch, and boy was I glad later on when I was melting in the arena that I had sipped lots of iced tea and didn’t stuff myself with a burger!

I love an original tin tile ceiling. The restaurant also featured original hex tile floors and subway tile bathroom walls with one of those old “Boraxo” powdered soap dispensers and a hand crank paper towel dispenser. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to crank that darn paper towel handle with my elbow like I do with the modern ones. I ended up giggling.

At Kim’s book signing, there was a pumpkin theme because a giant pumpkin plays a major role in the climax of The River Witch, as do pumpkin seeds.  Southern lemonade and crudite were served along with, what I can only guess, was Damascus’ pumpkin cake, another integral part of the book.  And there were those crackers that sent me in a tizzy along with the wine, and a delicious cake that turned my boys’ lips and tongue blue.

Cake before dinner is a bad idea, but my boys always want delivery Papa John’s Pizza when they stay in a hotel room because we don’t have Papa John’s in our small town and we don’t have delivery at our house because we live so far out of town.  So, after calling several different stores in Woodstock, GA, one finally knew where our hotel was and was able to deliver a pizza.  Happy boys!  Happy mama who was already way too carbed up to decline pizza.  Even Hubby had a couple of pieces.  Heaven for him since his diet has had to be curbed so severely.

After Saturday’s book signings, we decided to find a great and unique place to have lunch before we headed for the hills.  Can you think of a more fabulous place to dine in than an old restored train station?  I cannot!  The big surprise was how GREAT the food was.  My goodness!

Get this…I had a crab cake sandwich that tasted like the best Florida conch fritters, and a side of macaroni and cheese.  I can’t even describe the mac n’ cheese!  It was made with cavatappi and I know I tasted beer in the sauce.  Now, of course, I will have to try to duplicate it.  Dessert was homemade donuts.  NOT cake pop maker baked, fried in real fat.  Oh my!  The waiter said the cook who was on duty couldn’t get them to turn out well so they had to wait for the expert to come in and do them right.  Now that’s good service!!  Plenty of sweet, Southern tea was just the thing to wash it all down.  Uncomfortable 2 1/2 hour ride home, let me tell you!

And, oh darn it!  I just realized all the food pics. from that meal were taken on my husband’s phone which is at work with him.

Oh well.  The name of the restaurant was The Freight Kitchen and Tap and was seriously so good that we will be driving all that way in the future just for a sandwich!

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