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Listen up: Music venues close to home
Music venues

About this article

This article was originally published in the March/April 2016 issue of M: North Atlanta magazine, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.

While I might not say it is difficult to find live music in the suburbs of Atlanta, I have found it challenging to come across a venue that isn’t just trying to sell seats and cocktails by hiring a loud cover band that covers “Hotel California” or “Sweet Caroline.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with cover bands or restaurants that have live music. But the reason most of us suburban residents travel inside the perimeter to catch a show at Chastain Park or Variety Playhouse, isn’t just to enjoy a beer while the music plays in the background.

We want to enjoy the overall experience of the music itself. To absorb the lyrics word for word, savor the sound of the harmonies, feel the rhythm and lose ourselves for a time. That is what live music is supposed to do.

Eager to find local venues that were more music-centered, I asked around to friends and colleagues. One of the first places I heard about was Matilda’s Cottage Market and Music Venue in Alpharetta.

Visiting the website and realizing that it is both an art gallery and music venue tucked on the side of South Main Street in a little old cottage was intriguing. I arranged a meeting with the owner (her name isn’t Matilda) Mary Jane Potter.

Mary Jane, a lover of art, music and Alpharetta, opened Matilda’s 17 years ago to be a place for local and national artists to exhibit and sell their work and to give musicians a place to share their craft and talent in an intimate outdoor setting.

The music venue is around the back of the cottage and the first thing I thought when I saw the stage and venue was, “Whimsical Hideaway.”
I really can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this place sooner.

“It’s like an outdoor listening room. The people who come here are here to listen to the music” Mary Jane told me as she showed me the stage. The rustic back porch has plenty of stringed lights and faces a lawn full of vintage furniture, waiting to be filled with music fans.

The concert season kicks off in May and you can catch a show every weekend until October. One of the best parts? Bring whatever you want to eat and drink and dogs are welcome.

“When you step outside to where the stage is, you feel a world away from the highway, it just has a whole different feel,” Mary Jane said.

This is an all around experience for fans of folk, Americana, bluegrass and alternative music focused on heart, lyrics, and acoustic roots. Check out the website for the 2016 concert season lineup, you’ll definitely catch me at some shows.

Another local venue with less of a family/outdoor feel, but more of a romantic “date night” getaway (without actually getting away) is The Velvet Note off of Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta. I don’t really want to call it a jazz club, because it is so much more.

The setting is intimate and as comfortable as your own living room. The listening room was designed for musicians by musicians and has live shows every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One quirky thing I loved about The Velvet Note, is their complete respect for musicians.

For the lineup of 2016 shows and performers, visit The Velvet Note website at