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Isom Center, Arts Council and Southern Foodways Celebrates Cabbagetown

photo courtesy of Kerry Lurcasse
photo courtesy of Kerry Lurcasse

The Southern Foodways Alliance and Sarah Isom Center are partnering to host “Cabbagetown: a Retrospective on Space and Place” at the Powerhouse on Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Cabbagetown was a town for workers in the textile industry towards the end of the nineteenth-century. The citizens were mostly offspring of dwellers in the Appalachians who came down to work for the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill. In 1978 the Mill closed but the workers and their children and grandchildren considered the neighborhood their home. The sentiment didn’t hold Atlanta government from selling the property.

Decades later in early 90s the neighborhood was a haven to aspiring artists and musicians. Atlanta’s counter-culture music scene welcomed bands such as Smoke, Opal Foxx Quartet and the Rock*A*Teens. Singers like Cat Power’s Chan Marshall and Kelly Hogan also actively contributed the scene.

Cabbagetown’s narrative showcases social, economic and cultural influences on demographic changes. The music was an accepted space for society’s outcasts. An example is Benjamin Smoke, the front vocalist for Opal Foxx Quartet and later Smoke post-demise of some of the band members from the quartet. Smoke himself grew up in Cabbagetown where he was free to express himself outside of society’s accepted norms which led to his influence on counterculture in the South.

Here is a video by smokescreened’s channel featuring an unpolished track from Smoke’s album My Lover the Matador, Hot Pearl Button.

Even then Cabbagetown was seen as an unsafe place due to its placement outside of social norms. With each change the neighborhood faced uncomfortable questions and discussions as class, gender and race and sexuality and foodways intersected in the passing times. A look at Cabbagetown’s history reveals a long series of events that arose from such demographic changes from social, economical and cultural influences.

The Powerhosue will have a photography exhibit by Oraien Catledge, a native Mississippian who documented the Cabbagetown neighborhood and its people from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. There will be a screening of the documentary Benjamin Smoke (2000). The documentary is an intimate exploration of the band Smoke and its members. Smoke member Bill Taft will perform his music live.

Poet Caroline Young, a longtime member of the community, will read. Geographer Edward H. Davis, co-author of the forthcoming book Collards: A Southern Tradition from Seed to Table, will discuss foodways and place, focusing on the humble ingredient that gave Cabbagetown its name. Chef Corbin Evans of Oxford Canteen will have a themed food tasting.

Information courtesy of Sarah Isom Center

Callie Daniels is a staff writer for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached by callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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