Ever stumbled upon something – a person or a book, maybe, or a place – and everyone you know is like, ‘oh yeah, that’s fabulous’ and you feel like an idiot because you’re just now reading/meeting/going to this fabulous new to you thing.
That was my experience last week, when I attended an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert at The Fred.
Okay, first: Atlanta Symphony is fantastic. World Class. We’ve only attended a couple of concerts since coming back home to Georgia and every single time we look at each other and say, ‘Why don’t we do this more often?’ Of course the answer is, because the drive up to the city is a pain.
So when he asked me a few months back if I’d like to go to a Symphony concert FEATURING THE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS – which is basically the soundtrack of my life – and moreover, it was going to be DOWN HERE, I said, “Ah. YEAH.”
The place was The Fred, a decades old outdoor amphitheatre in Peachtree City. Husband remembers it from it’s origin story: it was built in 1976 to house a new outdoor drama, ‘The McIntosh Trail’. Outdoor dramas, well, folks they were once a thing, a huge thing in 1960’s and ’70s – think ‘Unto these Hills’ (about the Cherokee Nation), and ‘The Lost Colony’, a Roanoke colony story. ‘McIntosh Trail’ had a great pedigree; it was written by Kermit Hunter, the same playwright who penned ‘Unto These Hills’ and 40 other outdoor historical dramas – it was his thing. But the show only lasted a season. Not enough people made their way down to the woods and the Fred became a multi-use venue with bluegrass bands, clogging and something known as ‘The McIntosh Opry’.
After a fire did significant damage in 1989 The Fred got a restoration. More renovations in 2018 included a new roof. What I loved – what I suspect many people love about The Fred – is the three options one has for seating: regular theatre seats, lawn or table.
We had a table, right up front and it was glorious. Packed a cooler with wine and noosh and had a great time. Our friends came with a nice tablecloth, fresh flowers and a candle – I think we had the fanciest rig in the place.
Which was great… but then the music started. The Fred’s acoustics are just outstanding.
The rest of this summer season has shows like ‘Zoso’ – a Led Zeppelin experience; Boz Scaggs and The Atlanta Rhythm Section. Programming is clearly slanted towards us aging boomers. Gone are the bluegrass and cloggers. And bring your wallet: Georgia Shrimp has the concessions if you don’t bring your own and yeah, it’s pricey.
But it was a glorious night under the stars.