A ROUND OF APPLAUSE to all the new SCAD grads out there!

Thanks for leaving all kinds of slightly–used goodies in the lanes when you moved out — what didn’t fit in your parents’ car would make any freegan weep with wild hippie joy.

Even my uptight yuppie neighbors have been picking through all manner of furniture, books, art supplies and strange craft projects involving feathers and rusty nails. In fact, as soon as I finish writing this, I’m going dumpster diving with the dog. (If any other readers appreciated this upcycle bonanza, please post photos of your scores on Connect’s Facebook page.)

Also, much gratitude for the SCAD New Alumni Concert. Your gift from President Paula Wallace has become a first–of–summer tradition for the whole city.

Mostly, these free shows run fairly mellow, maybe ‘cause you new alumni are so exhausted from moving all your stuff out to the curb. The weather put a damper on Michael Franti & Spearhead in 2009, and last year’s Cold War Kids show was downright taciturn.Even when the names are kindofahugedeal (James Brown, ‘05) or bound to bring out the conspicuous drug users (cough, cough, Ziggy Marley, ‘07), it’s a family–friendly scene, if your family’s friends don’t see anything wrong with sipping a few beers and watching the kids do cartwheels into other people’s picnics.

Then there was English pop diva Natasha Bedingfield in 2008.

In spite of having been raised on a strict diet of old school ska and Led Zeppelin, my children are Top 40 groupies and “Pocketful of Sunshine” was burning up their clock radios that spring. I was charged with marking prime territory for the gig, so I headed out in the afternoon and set up a nice camp of four lawn chairs and Grandma’s knitted purple blanket.

At first, all was bucolic. I sipped a tall glass of tea and watched the crew unload. I counted birds. I conducted a conference call with my managing editor at the time, who did not need to know I was barefoot and smelling of sunscreen. I grooved to Ms. Bedingfield’s sound check. I napped.

Then, Forsyth Park became my personal Altamont.

(For the younguns, that’s the 1969 free concert at an overcrowded California race track where a bloody riot broke out during the Rolling Stones’ set. First bad idea: Hiring the Hells Angels as security.)

Around sunset, my husband arrived with the kidlets, so much smaller than they are now. The rest of Savannah sauntered in, rolling their coolers. The 20 feet between our chairs and the stage, so reasonably wide and grassy a few hours before, began to fill in with teenagers.

And then even more of them, elbowing past us. They stepped on my purple blanket. A lit cigarette grazed my daughter’s hair. This claustrophobic crush of so many bodies was dizzying, exacerbated by cheap cologne.(Really? The kids these days still wear Polo?)

By the time the music started, someone had swiped our snack bag, and my husband was hunkered like a 300–pound bouncer over our progeny, who had squeezed under everyone’s legs to the front of the stage.

I didn’t hear a single song as I was fending off an insane 16 year–old who kept calling me a very inappropriate word (it rhymes with what the batter does when he holds the bat in front of him to hit the pitch lightly) because she couldn’t push past the solid wall I had constructed out of my platform shoes and seething maternal ferocity.

Then she tried to bite me, stupid little zombie girl.

I finally sicced her on the guy with the cologne, reached over the storm of humanity and grabbed my husband by the collar. He pried our children’s fingers off the fence and we pushed our way out of the crowd, abandoning our chairs (I did rescue Grandma’s blanket).

Not my favorite experience. It took A LOT of yoga to get over it.

So you would think that when it was announced that our family newest favorite musical obsession, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, was playing this year’s SCAD Alumni Concert, I’d exercise some common sense.

And I did! I was out there at NOON skulking around the soundbooth. Soundcheck wasn’t until 4 p.m. (because duh, they’re nocturnal), but I scoped out a spot and prepared  a defense.

Don’t worry, this time I brought firefighters and a roll of yellow caution tape. And a taser. Kidding!

There were no swarms of feral teenyboppers to be seen, and in spite of the dire weather warnings, the only thing dark and stormy was in my red Solo cup (thanks to Kristin Harward–Grant for introducing Dark and Stormys, a fantastic concoction of ginger beer and dark rum.)

As far as this groupie is concerned, it was the best alumni show yet: Grace coated the sky with her honey voice while her night–loving band rocked with tunes new and old, then Florida homeboys JJ Grey & Mofro followed up with a soulful set of inspired blues.

Best of all, there was all the room anyone, of any age, could possibly need to dance. Turn a few cartwheels, even.


Friday’s concert in the park marked the first round of Chickenov, a greasy epicureal concours held in several parts to determine the city’s best fried chicken. Reigning champion Masada Kitchen at the United House of Prayer for All People in Garden City won in 2009’s inaugural double–blind tasting.

This year competition is already hot and greasy: A title holder in multiple Connect Best of Savannah categories, Sisters of the New South beat out Café Florie, Kennedy Fried Chicken and West Duffy Café on this qualifying turn. Other bracket winners will be determined in several events over the summer; the supersecret Chickenov Committee says the next one will be in late July and the definitive finals will be held during September’s Jazz Festival.

Ten bucks gets you four pieces of fried chicken and a ballot. Find out more on the “Chickenov II: Game of Bones” Facebook page and at Savannahfriedchicken.com.


About The Author

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Community Editor Jessica Leigh Lebos has been writing about interesting people, vexing issues and anything involving free food for more than 20 years. She introduces herself at cocktail parties as southern by marriage.

More by Jessica Leigh Lebos


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