Sunday, March 23, 2008

Funky Chicken Art Project

Back in the mid 1980s I had friends with a cabin on Cochran Creek off Wesley Chapel Rd. not far from Amicalola Falls. A group of friends and I used that property as an access point for camping in the National Forest and exploring Cochran Creek Falls on numerous occasions. I remember seeing an old chicken house that was being converted into an artists' studio on the way to and from the area. At the time I was in my 20s and didn't have much interest in art of any kind, so I never stopped to investigate. Since then I've at least become curious about art and interested in southern folk pottery.
Recently I was making my way from Dahlonega over to the Jasper area and decided on a whim to check out the old stomping grounds off Wesley Chapel. This is when I came across The Funky Chicken Art Project. The old chicken house is gone but it's the same studio I remembered from years ago. This time I stopped. I'm glad I did.
I browsed for a while, enjoying the displays of contemporary fine art, folk art, pottery..and some unusual exhibits that defy explanation, at least by me...but help was on the way. I introduced myself to Christina White, one of the owner/artists, and she very graciously stopped what she was doing and enlightened me on the transformation from the old chicken house to the current studio. She also explained the setup, various artists exhibited, and anything else I inquired about. The highlight was when she brought out a story jug from a potter I had expressed interest in from her private collection.
The Funky Chicken Art Project is, in my mind, a "must do" if you are in the area. It is truly a unique experience that is hard to describe or explain and do it justice.

The Funky Chicken Art Project
1538 Wesley Chapel Rd.
Dahlonega. GA

North Georgia Arts Guild Meeting

This photo of the mill on Raper Mill Rd. was taken by Lucy Venable

I was invited to attend the February meeting of the North Georgia Arts Guild as a guest of Lucy Venable, a local photographer and member. The purpose of the North Georgia Arts Guild is to promote artists and art awareness in the north Georgia mountains and surrounding areas. Since 1994 they have been a part of local fairs, events, art camps and charity in their community. Monthly meetings, which are open to the public, take place at 10 am. on the third Thursday of every month. The meetings are held at St. Helena's Catholic Church in Clayton and include demonstrations, art discussion and special guests.
The special guest at the February meeting was K. Terry Guthrie. Mr. Guthrie is a professional photographer specializing in animal and nature photography, and he brought along some of his work and equipment to display. He presented his photos with good humor and a wealth of knowledge. My favorite story was his description of a mother black bear and her three cubs showing up in the yard of his Black Rock Mountain Cabin....seems like by the time Mr. Guthrie had gone inside to fetch his camera the cubs had wandered over a ridge and the mama bear was inviting herself onto his front porch! He snapped some wonderful shots of the mother bear then urged her back into the woods with an air horn. The entire presentation was very interesting to the casual art fan like myself, and the technical knowledge about cameras, lens types and techniques generated a lot of discussion among the more serious photographers in the crowd. Mr. Guthrie has a website where you can view some of his work (including the mama bear photos)- He also shows and sells his work at local galleries and events.
The North Georgia Artists guild has quite a varied roster of artists representing a wide array of media. Membership is open to both artists and friends of the arts. Current and upcoming events are profiled in a monthly newsletter. For more information log onto -

Vintage Music-Dahlonega

Vintage Music started out in Dahlonega, Georgia 20 years ago and is known for high-end acoustic guitars. I found a very nice 1962 Gibson J-50 with an asking price of $1700. I thought that was pretty reasonable-the guitar was in very good shape and played great!
The whole shop is tiny. I mean it is smaller than my first apartment..and it has a mini recording studio inside. Ask John to let you hear some of the latest projects from the studio. It's kinda cool to hear new, fresh music from creative people. Granted, these are people are not likely to encounter on the radio, but they are for more interesting than most of what lives on the radio dial.
Musicians, you owe it to yourself to pick your way through this little place. It's loaded with character and a bargain or two. Stroll on over after you visit the Crimson Moon Cafe. The store is located just off the square at 37 South Park St. Just don't touch that J-50!

Rodney B.

The BBQ Place

The BBQ Place is tucked into the end of a small strip mall just north of the square in Dahlonega off Hwy. 19. The menu includes your basic bbq joint fare: Pulled pork, chicken and ribs cooked over hickory in an outside smoker, beans, slaw and stew. (For the full
My first impression as I walked in for a late Saturday lunch was "clean and friendly", which is always a good start. I ordered the pulled pork plate with Brunswick Stew, slaw, and some very tasty iced tea. The pork is offered in sauce or dry, and upon the recommendation of the owner I opted for "in sauce". The small portion of pork was excellent-very tender and smoky, and the sauce was a well balance vinegar based with a good amount of tang but not overpowering. The requisite slice of white bread was nice and fresh....This part of the meal was just fine.
I have had much better Brunswick Stew and cole slaw, these offerings were average at best. I'll admit that I'm pretty picky when it comes to my stew-and The BBQ Place is not far away from having a good stew. Something needs to be done, however, to balance the acidity and "tinny" taste of the canned tomatoes used in the stew-the aftertaste totally negated the seasoning and smokiness of the meat and what I think would otherwise be a nice flavor. The cabbage in the slaw is overprocessed and the seasoning is bland. Visually, the slaw could pass for a helping of greenish grits. A good dose of salt and pepper from the table helped out with the seasoning, but the consistency is that of a hot dog condiment rather than a side dish. I will give the stew another try when I return to The BBQ Place (and I will), but I'll opt for chips or beans instead of the slaw.
My total bill for the pork plate and tea was $8.50..which is about average for a good que joint in north Georgia. I do generally expect larger portions for that price based on my dining at other bbq restaurants.
The BBQ Place has very good, well cooked pork..which is the first priority for a bbq joint, and the service is efficient and friendly. A, a lot of attention to the side dishes would go a long way.


The BBQ Place is located @ 2065 Hwy. 19, Ste. B in Dahlonega
Phone- 706.864.8819

Crimson Moon Cafe

Crimson Moon Cafe is located in the old Parker-Nix Storehouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Parker-Nix Storehouse was a general store for nearly fifty years and is second only to the old courthouse as the oldest building on the town square.
The Crimson Moon Cafe bills itself as "The South's Most Intimate Music Venue". In fact, it hosts a Mountain Music String Pull every Sunday. According to the menu, you can just bring your instrument and sit in with everyone else. That isn't the thing that caught my eye, music wise, when I was there. I happened upon a handbill in the window advertising the appearance of Randall Bramblett. Not only has Randall played with some great bands in his time, including Chuck Leavell's Sea Level, his last solo album is some of the best music I've heard in a while. I became very excited about this place. Also, according to a placard on the table, the Crimson Moon will soon host the likes of Michelle Malone and Ellis Paul as well.
Now for the menu. The food is average sandwich shop fare with tourist trap pricing. I had a $9.00 blackened grouper sandwich with a small bowl of slaw. It was very tasty, but it was a $9.00 sandwich. On the plus side they do offer Sweetwater 420 and Anheuser-Busch's Organic Stone Mill Pale Ale (which is a decent brew) on tap.
All in all the food is pretty good, if not a little high priced. The beer is good, and the coffee is great. Combine all that with the musical offerings and the laid-back-semi-retired-hippie-chic atmosphere and it's not bad..not bad at all.

Contributed by Rodney B., Sugar Hill, GA

The Crimson Moon Cafe is located at 24 N.Park St. in Dahlonega
Phone- 706.384.3982

Lake Blue Ridge - Fisherman's Paradise

When it comes to variety, it's hard for the north Georgia fisherman to top Lake Blue Ridge in the mountains near Morganton, Georgia. In addition to most of the species found in other north Georgia lakes, Lake Blue Ridge has stable populations of both walleye and smallmouth bass, fish species normally found much farther north in the U.S. and Canada. With spring and better fishing conditions rapidly approaching we wanted to take a closer look at this sometimes overlooked gem in the north Georgia mountains.
Lake Blue Ridge was created when the Blue Ridge Dam on the Toccoa River was completed in 1930. The dam was built for both flood control and power generation, and is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The lake level can fluctuate as much as 20' over the course of the year depending on rainfall and dam releases. The Toccoa River flows northwestward from the dam and becomes the Ocoee River upon entering Tennessee. The 3,290 acre lake is 11 miles long and has over 65 miles of shoreline, much of which lies within the Chattahoochee National Forest.
For boaters and fishermen, Lake Blue Ridge Marina offers a fee boat ramp and marine services. Morganton Point Campground and Lakewood Landing are additional popular boat ramps providing access to the lake. Camping, cabin rentals, and boat rentals are readily available in the Morganton/Blue Ridge area.
The hot fishing this month is for white bass as they congregate at the shoals where the Toccoa River enters the lake. Points and rocky bars in the northern end of the lake can hold large schools of these feisty gamefish. White bass in Lake Blue Ridge can reach 2.5-3 pounds and can be caught using minnows, small spinnerbaits, small jigs, spoons and curly tailed plastic grubs. White bass provide excellent table fare and bag limits are generous.
As the sun stays up a little longer towards the end of March, walleye become a popular target of anglers. Cloudy days and after dark are choice times for casting small crankbaits, plastic grubs and nightcrawlers against shoreline rocks and over rocky points. Deep vertical spoon jigging is an option for sunny days. Huge walleye tend to inhabit more northern climes, but 2-4 pound fish are common in Lake Blue Ridge. Walleye is, in my opinion, the best tasting fish that can be pulled from fresh water...but just keep what you can eat when you get home because they do not freeze well and are a valuable resource worthy of conservation.

April and May can bring increasing catches of smallmouth bass on Lake Blue Ridge. These fish average a little under a pound, but pound for pound will match any other freshwater fish for fighting ability. #5 and #7 Shad Rap crankbaits retrieved across rocky points are a popular technique for catching smallmouth, but they will also hit plastics and spinnerbaits. One friend of mine from nearby Cherry Log, Georgia fishes for smallmouths almost exclusively with his flyrod and enjoys good success. As summer conditions take over anglers have more success targeting smallmouths early and late in the day. Don't be surprised to hook a spotted or largemouth bass while targeting smallmouth. While not as plentiful here as on most north Georgia lakes, there are stable and catchable populations of both species.

Panfishing is a popular late spring and summer activity on Lake Blue Ridge. Crappie, bluegill, yellow perch and channel catfish all maintain good populations in the lake. minnows and small jigs will entice the crappie, especially during their spring spawning period. In my experience, a yellow perch will bite just about anything-and are very under-appreciated on the table. They have a very sweet, firm flesh that is similar to walleye. Bluegills are caught in good numbers off or near docks and around TVA placed fish attractor structures using red wigglers, but they are not picky and will strike a variety of baits and small lures-including dry and wet flies cast by fly fishermen. Catfish are most often targeted along rip rap banks near the dam.
Mainly due to the inflow of the well-stocked Toccoa River, rainbow and brown trout are occasional catches on Lake Blue Ridge. Not many fisherman target trout in the lake, but they are landed on a regular basis while fishing for other species. Finally, there are rumored to be large Muskies (Muskellunge) roaming Lake Blue Ridge, which would make the lake the southernmost fishery for these northern giants. I have never seen a Georgia caught muskie or even a picture of one, so I cannot vouch for the possibility of landing one in north Georgia. I enthusiastically welcome any readers to provide with your stories, photos or reputable hearsay concerning muskie being caught in Lake Blue Ridge, along with any other outdoor adventures you have to share!