It’s the concert series you’ve been missing — but needing — and it’s in a place you might not expect: Woodstock, Georgia.
Launched by the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village last summer, the Lantern Series brings artists from across the country and around the world to perform at the Event Green, a 4-acre greenspace just off downtown Woodstock.
The musical variety on tap is dizzying. There are standbys like indie rock, bluegrass and jazz plus mind-boggling blends like Afro Celtic funk, sacred steel and Irish folk. It’s music that stretches you out of your comfort zone and surprises you. Go with an open mind and you’ll find new favorites.
“Atlanta doesn’t need another concert series that replicates the previous,” explains Elm Street’s Executive Director, Christopher Brazelton. “Atlanta needs a place for different genres, ideas and cultures to come together and find common ground.”
What it’s like
I attended a recent concert starring Break of Reality, the classically trained quartet of YouTube fame. While the music was incredible, as you’d expect from an internationally touring group named music ambassadors by the State Department, the setting added to the experience. There’s a buzz of conversation at intermission. You can see the sun set as artists jam out on stage. There’s a sense of community.
Speaking of community, the Lantern Series is more than just concerts. For example, the duo performing Saturday, Violet Bell, will also lead a free workshop on songwriting at 4 p.m. before their show at the City Center Auditorium in Woodstock. If you miss Violet Bell, The Lee Boys take the stage later in June.
For the shows, you’ve got different options for seating. Splurge on a table to split with friends, and decorate it to vie for prizes. Or lounge on the lawn with general admission, which tends to be around $15 — super affordable given the acts.
Bring a picnic
Enjoy dinner with your concert on the green. It’s just a block from Main Street, lined with every type of restaurant you could want.
The 2-minute walk to the Pie Bar is perfect. This shop serves up handcrafted pies to make you swoon: bourbon chocolate pecan, key lime, their best-selling apple streusel. It’s hard to leave with just a slice after seeing the display case.
But their savory pies are beyond incredible. Maybe that’s because you’re really not expecting to be wowed when you dip your fork into a chicken pot pie. I think of pot pie as a comfort food, not a culinary experience — or I used to until the Pie Bar’s take on this classic dish opened my eyes. The filling is perfectly seasoned, and the crust is rich but not too flaky. They’ll package it all to go for you, making it the ideal picnic option.
Oh, yeah, and they also care about community, too. Check out their 30 days of kindness in June. Turns out, people who eat pie are happier and therefore more generous (probably, anyway).
Another less obvious but no less delicious option is a counter service Venezuelan restaurant called Cylantros, about a mile from the Event Green. You might know them from their location in Kennesaw, but their Woodstock restaurant is the original, attached to a gas station and beloved by locals. Seriously. A line forms outside the door during peak hours, so it might be wise to call your order in ahead of time.
They serve Latin American staples like quesadillas, burritos, tacos and tostadas. But you really want to fill up on the authentic Venezuelan fare: tequeños (cheese sticks), patacones (fried plantain sandwiches) and arepas (stuffed corn patties). The empanadas are great, but the cachapa might have been my favorite, a massive corn pancake decadently topped with heaps of mozzarella cheese.
It all comes with their signature Cylantros sauce, which is good for dipping absolutely everything in. You can have a feast for under $20 and you’ll be the envy of your neighbors.
For drinks, you can bring your own non-alcoholic beverages to the concert, but they also have wine and craft beer for sale without a special event markup, a nice touch.
They have the Lantern Series lineup set through June 2020, so it’s not too early to check out the groups coming next year, which include everything from quick-foot variety to a cappella. Here’s what’s on tap for the rest of 2019:
- June 1 – Violet Bell, modern bluegrass
- June 22 – The Lee Boys, sacred steel
- July 27 – House of Waters, world
- Aug 17 – The Lone Bellow, alt/indie country
- Sept. 7 – Soulsha, Afro Celtic funk
- Oct. 5 – Gina Furtado Project, bluegrass
More about Elm Street
If you like art or culture or creativity, check out what’s happening at the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village. Started as a community theater back in 2010, this nonprofit dabbles in drama, comedy, painting, pottery, music and more. They even have plans for an edible garden on the green to foster the culinary arts.
Feature photo of Soulsha, courtesy of Mike Green and Associates