Chamblee54

Great Southeast Music Hall Stories

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, Music by chamblee54 on December 22, 2015

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Chamblee54 posted a tribute to The Great Southeast Music Hall a few years ago. This was a concert venue, with no hard liquor and a 500 person capacity, next door to a bowling alley on Piedmont Road. It was about a mile north of Piedmont Park, and in front of the dirt road that became Sidney Marcus Boulevard. GSEMH hosted some great shows. This was when record companies would invest in new bands by putting them on promotional tours, and Atlanta was a popular stop.

The chamblee54 post attracted 85 comments. This is a slow day for Matt Walsh, but is a record for chamblee54. Most of the comments were boring … great place to play, I saw Steve Martin there and drank too many buckets of beer. A few of these comments tell stories. This post puts the best of the GSEMH comments in one place. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. See if you can guess which one was taken at GSEMH.

Neal B. – Som Records June 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm Great reading! Brought back some memories. I saw three shows at the Music Hall – The Dixie Dregs, Elvin Bishop and David Allan Coe. I saw Coe the night before my SATs in 1978 or ’79 and it was (and still is) the most bikers I’ve ever seen in once place. Elvin Bishop just tore it up, really good.

jake lamb May 17, 2011 at 11:34 am Great stories of our past. I can’t remember the shows I went to, but after reading your post it certainly helps clear the fog. As I went thru the list I noted, “Yep I was with CG at that show, that one too, oh yeah, I remember Al saying to you what time it was but didn’t you delete the expletives? Odetta blasting the audience for not showing her the proper respect…what a crybaby! The autographed Marc Almond Album, meeting them backstage to learn how the finger was ripped from Jon’s hand after a tree limb caught on his ring finger when he jumped out of a tree during a photo shoot, resulting in having to learn how to play the saxaphone with one less digit ala Jerry Garcia, and the Hot Tuna Show with Papa John Screech. Flora and Eye Ear Toes logo on his equipment. Was it there that we went on Halloween, me dressed as a bagman for Nixon (A paper sack over my head) and you going as a Bee-keeper (a vegetable strainer over your head)? God we were hilarious! It’s all beginning to come back, but what never went away was remembering the great friend I went with.

Eugene Gray June 24, 2012 at 11:30 am I grew up in Atlanta so thanks for the memories about the shows at The Great Southeast Music Hall. I attended numerous shows between the years 1974 and 1977. From what I can remember (I do have “70s Memory” after all), here’s some highlights: Kinky Friedman — Smoked a huge cigar throughout the show and tipped his ashes in an ash tray attached to his microphone stand. Brought the house down with ‘Sold American.’ David Allan Coe — Played the first half of the show in his “Country Crooner” persona wearing a white suit and white cowboy hat; then played the second half as The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy complete with rhinestone jacket and black mask. Played a hard-rockin’ version of ‘Bossier City’ to close out the show. Best memory: New Riders of the Purple Sage Show opened late with only John Dawson (acoustic guitar) and Buddy Cage (pedal steel) taking the stage. Seems their limo made the right exit off of 285 but the other limo kept going. After Dawson telling us that, he said, “Well, you might not have all of us but you do have two.” He and Cage then played a short set together including a beautiful version of ‘Gypsy Cowboy.’ The other members trickled in and started playing, all having a good time with the audience about their site-seeing tour of Atlanta via 285. Fantastic show and my best memory of The Hall. Weirdest experience: For lack of something to do, went to see the New Zealand group Split Enz. A fun but bizarre show with a group outside my typical taste. Sort of a cross between Devo and Bowie and the Bay City Rollers. Truly a strange show. Worst experience: Pure Prairie League — I was always, always let in and served beer before I turned 18 in ’76. Except for one time. Missed Pure Prairie League because we were all carded; the only time I was ever asked for my ID here. Always regretted missing them since the original band broke up right after this tour. Damn. Thanks again for a spot to remember one of the best concert venues (ever) in Atlanta.

Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm Saw many great shows at the Music Hall; Leon Redbone, Don McLean, Bruce Cogburn, but the funniest thing was at Darryl Rhoads show. My girlfriend (now wife of 30 years) went missing when she left to go make the parent check-in phone call. I found her coming around the corner in the hallway, mad at some guy who wouldn’t get off the phone in the lobby. The “guy” was Darryl and he made a few comments to her from the stage during the show just to keep her pissed. It’s funny now, but I could have died then…

Pharmacist Jim April 28, 2013 at 12:01 pm How about when Jimmy Buffett opened for Billy Joel there in 1974. I was a Pharmacist at Eckerd Drugs in the plaza at the time when Jimmy called me and asked me to call his physician in Key West for a prescription–a musician who wanted to get a legitimate prescription, unheard of!!! I was already a Buffett fan, but this just made me respect him that much more and I’ve been a “Parrot Head” since, now so more than ever since I live in Florida.

Anonymous October 23, 2013 at 8:29 am My best friend and I moved to Atlanta (on purpose) for just the summer of ’73 and attended MANY MANY great shows at the Music Hall. It was SO awesome. Saw Billy Joel right around the Captain Jack release time and he asked me out after the show. Of course, I answered with a resounding “NO! Thank You!!” (you see, I was ABSOLUTELY too cute for him…hehe — not to mention, I thought his nose was entirely too big.) Also, saw Jimmy Buffett who talked to us from the stage because we were from Hattiesburg, MS and he had gone to school there at the University of Southern Mississippi. SOOO COOL!!!

Rod Pearman May 28, 2015 at 10:00 am Couldn’t help but have a smile on my face as I read all these comments. THE Great Southeast Music Hall and Emporium………man, the memories. Sometimes I think I could write a book. My roommate and I lived at Bordeaux Apts. on Buford Hwy, which was just a hop skip and jump over to The Hall via the dirt road which is now Sidney Marcus……..we lived there from 1972 to early 1980, which might be a record for two dudes that were party animals to have survived that long in one apartment complex. Anyhow, we frequented GSEMH about once a month when an act we wanted to see was to play there. A couple of my fondest memories now that I’m in my mid 60’s is, it had to be sometime in ’75. We went to see The Dirt Band (one my favorites of all time) The opening act was this guy named Steve Martin, who at that time, no one on the planet had ever heard of him. Well he comes out, and within 30 seconds he has us so cracked up we’re shooting beer out our noses from his comedy. Really funny stuff, and had no idea it was coming. Well, he does his gig, then the Dirt Band comes out. They play a great set, take a little break, and when they came back out on stage, here comes Steve Martin with a banjo over his shoulder. So we’re all thinking this will be something funny, this guy with a banjo. This guy took off on his “ban-jer” and everybody’s jaw hit the floor. He really tore it up. Then the Dirt Band joined in and he played a few tunes with the band. The guy was incredible on the banjo. Then a few months later, Saturday Night Live did their first show, and there’s Steve Martin on TV. I look over at my roommate as he’s looking at me, and we’re both saying in unison, hey, that’s the guy from The Great Southeast Music Hall. Pretty neat that we got to see him when nobody had a clue of his talent. … I got home later that night, and my roommate (yeah, the same guy I mentioned in earlier chapters of this book….) said he saw something on TV that I wouldn’t believe. Turns out, one of the local TV stations (2, 5, or 11) had sent a reporter over to cover the final show of The Great Southeast Music Hall, and while reporting out front of the establishment, there were about a dozen folks standing there sorta behind the reporter. Well, this one fair lady decided to nonchalantly pull a boob out of her tank top and display it for all the world to see, right there on live TV. My roommate said it was something he’d never forget, and we tell the story often. (I wonder who that young lady was sometimes……) but I digress……..

alun v September 23, 2014 at 11:54 am As the Audio Engineer and last guy to walk out the door @ the Lindbergh (and Cherokee Plaza) locations, the walls, painted and autographed by many of the acts, were destroyed; (legal issues I guess). I still have the door to the tech room, signed by Cowboy, a personal favorite. BTW, I saw the concrete sidewalk @ Peaches, with hand / foot prints and signatures, also destroyed and hauled off………lawyers.

julia guthrie November 26, 2015 at 10:38 pm I just caught the 50th anniversary! of Alice’s restaurant masacree on pbs. Brought back the memory of seeing Arlo at the Great Southeast Music Hall. I was drunk(and maybe other) and it was my birthday, so my bf said I should try to talk to Arlo because my name is Guthrie! I was just drunk and young enough to do just that. I finagled my way to the tourbus door(was pretty good at talking my way into things back then), announced that I was a cousin, and ended up sitting at the little bus table, smoking and talking with Arlo and fam. Pretty sure all I added to the conversation was a shit-eating grin, but it was one of the highlights of my youthful escapades. Loved going to the Music Hall! Ah…youth and happy times. I also lived at Bordeaux apts for a while! Peace:)

Rod November 27, 2015 at 11:06 am You can’t beat Alice’s Restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. I used to have an annual tradition of listening to that song on my Technic’s turntable for probably 30+ years, but somehow that tradition faded out a few years ago. (Maybe because my turntable is sitting on a shelf in my closet Definitely great memories at the Hall. Hard to believe it’s been 40 years ago, give or take. I lived at Bordeaux for 7 years through the ’70’s, which might be a record. We were in G building, and had some of the best parties in NE Atlanta. It was standing room only, kegs on the deck, music crankin’ just below distortion level. Those were the days!

BRIAN HOLCOMB June 19, 2015 at 6:00 pm I was a freshman student a GSU in 74 After one of the shows( can’t remember who) I was standing outside in the corridor waiting on some friends. When out the door came my General Chemistry Professor Dr Sears arm in arm with the best looking girl in my class. They turned beet red turned and got away from me as quick as they could. I often wonder if I could have went and bribed an A out of him. LOL

SideShow Bennie December 1, 2015 at 5:24 pm I just stumbled across this article when I Googled GSMH. I lived in Atlanta in 1972-73 and attended a lot of shows at the Broadview Plaza location. I was at one of the Howdy Doody Revival shows that is on the poster pictured in the article. I remember Bob Smith hitting a bad note on the piano, reaching inside and pulling out a pack of ZigZag rolling papers saying, “Clarabelle leaves these things everywhere.” Other shows I remember seeing were Johnny Nash with Sons of The Jungle (The first actual Jamacian Reggae band I ever saw) John Hartford, The Earl Scruggs Revue, Joe Walsh with Barnstorm, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Doc Watson, The Hahavishnu Orchestra, Martin Mull, Doug Kershaw. I am pretty sure I was at the Ellen McIllwain and the Breakfast Special shows you mentioned but there were show where a lot of beer buckets were emptied so a lot of those shows are a little hazy. I still have a bucket or two around the house here somewhere. Thanks for the memories!!

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  1. […] Georgia State University Library”. As a bonus to the reader(s) here, we are reposting Great Southeast Music Hall Stories. It is a collection of comments from an earlier posting of this […]


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