The world under our feet - Greg Gelpi


Mute the music television. Tune out the static radio.

Just beneath the vast rolling plains of pavement with lumbering stacks of bricks upon bricks.

Just beyond the layers and walls of sterile suit after suit.

Gurgling and flowing in mixture of blues and browns and pumping through the veins of the city.

The lifeblood of the city seeping through manhole covers and bubbling up a street off of Main Street.

Unaffected by outside forces. Unharmed by popular opinion. Unchanged by its environment.

Splashing the mix of varying shades of grays with dashes of color and sprinkles of sound, the art breathes life into the city.

Yet, it's shoved into the corner, blanketed in advertisements, drowned in corporate chatter.

Performers playing for the next meal, but exorcising the creativity from a need and deep-seeded desire. Audiences witness the birth of art. Audiences attend for the artist, and not the artist for the audience.

Plop me in the heart of any downtown, I will turn about and not recognize one American thriving metropolis from another.

Blindfold me and drop me in the back streets of these same cities and I can name the city. Perhaps that could be a new reality television show.

What separates one glob of concrete from another is its arts and culture.

Picture New Orleans and you hear jazz. Think of Seattle and you hear grunge.

A current of artistic energy electrified the crowd in a dark theater on a side road in Little Five Points a week ago. With the power of one voice, one guitar and one person, the crowd sat entranced as if plugged into an electric socket and getting renewed to reenter the other world that exists outside the theater.

A crowd as mixed as a bag of jellybeans shared the common experience of art and culture. No business or entity spans the generations, the socioeconomic standings as art and culture.

Literally singing with all his soul and giving his vocal chords for his fans, the artist could barely voice a thank you following the show.

Just recently, the NBA playoffs roared on muted television screens in round after round of bracketed competition. All the while, a similar format of competition pit local musician against local musician.

Far from the glitz and glamour and beautiful look of popular music, musicians performed (a distinction from played) original music they composed.

An incredible voice is one thing, but the voice, accompaniment and creativity of writing encapsulated in one person is on its own plane.

Dozens of musicians fired off original song after original song in a night of dueling guitars and artists to win prizes but more importantly to earn respect for their creations and add one more beat to the heart of the city.

But the scene is not unlike many throughout the area. The lifeblood of the city pumps throughout the city. It flows and circulates and makes Atlanta Atlanta.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.