Category Archives: Community

“…he not busy being born is busy dying…”

The Great Speckled Bird 5/12/69 vol 2 #9 p11

[The layout of the following article and lyrics was nonlinear, with sections and paragraphs arranged around photos and other graphics.]

 “I will secretly accept you,

And together we’ll fly South.”

 “Leave your stepping stones behind

There’s something that calls for you.

Forget the dead you left, they will not follow you.

The vagabond who’s rapping at your door

Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.

Strike another match–go start anew,

And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.”

 “And I’ll tell it and speak it and think it and breathe it

And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it.

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’

And I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.”


“In a soldier’s stance I aimed my hand

At the mongrel dogs who teach.

Fearing not I’d become my enemy

At the instant that I preached.

My existence led by confusion boats

Mutinied from stern to bow–

Ah, but I was so much older then,

I’m younger than that now.”

 Bob Dylan chronicles a newborn musical soul in fetters: hillbilly theatrics and black-face minstrelsy stifle its expression and obscure its real identity. The guitar is raucous and untutored, its forms a parody of the strengths of black bluesmen and white troubadours who sang of hard times. Only the harmonica sings. A rough, fresh humor explodes through all the tradition and the intense preoccupation with death. The sound is uptight, confined. Woody Guthrie is mentor.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan begins the pendulum swing away from the experience of the black man. Traditional white folk and “topical” forms are explored and expanded in a relaxation of the musical tensions of the first album. Interaction between voice and guitar is the keystone–both rough, both searching for a style and a form, but this time creating music in the process. Superlative harmonica offerings continue to hold the straining parts together. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” presages the sounds to come: a perfect musical and lyrical creation with guitar, vocal and harmonic textures intermeshed in an autonomous unit. The humor is still present, tempered by a growing bitterness.

 The Times They Are A-Changin’ continues the reformulation of the topical “protest” song, but this time the humor is absent. The singer becomes a preacher. The harmonica is distilled sadness and anger and fear while the guitar learns discipline.

 Another Side of Bob Dylan is the nadir of instrumental and vocal performance. Previous song forms are now totally inadequate: the new wine is bursting the old skins. The voice is increasingly strained and laden with self-pity, the instrumental accompaniment demoralized.

The next album is Bringin’ It All Back Home, but the trip is not into the past, but forward into the present. The sound turns on. Electric instruments are added. The total music is more alive than ever before. The term “folk music” is reinterpreted: the sounds which once came from the broadside now emanate from the jukebox. Teenagers all over the world have the subterranean homesick blues. There is a force, a fire long absent or suppressed. The harmonica soars, the electricity flows freely through the new expanded instrumentation, and the voice begins to work within the path created for it by the music: Guthrie has become the tambourine man.

 Highway 61 Revisited lets it all hang out. The musical psyche of youth weeps, laughs and lashes out violently at the absurdity of the old forms it has inherited. Freedom is not a goal to be won; freedom lies in the struggle against these old forms. It is a personal as well as a collective thing.

 Blonde on Blonde expands the electric sounds further and mellows them. Musical subtleties abound. Everything bristles, everything sings; the song, the singer, and the sound find a new realm of wholeness where they can move together. The turn-on has proved permanent and produces a vibrant palette of tone colors.

 John Wesley Harding is a distillation of all that has gone before. Instrumentation is simpler, more pungent, the song forms less complex and more elliptical. The sound plunges deep into the roots of white country music, and the voice handles its new eminence with grace. The forms are more regional, yet, mystical, more traditional, yet freer, pop but earthy. The voice evokes, it does not preach.

Nashville Skyline is the birth of a new voice: Dylan sings! Both the harmonious and discordant elements latent in the first album are now fused and reintegrated into a new sound. Johnny Cash joins Woody Guthrie. Humor returns not as an imp but as a lover. The old has produced the new. Dylan is now the country cosmopolite. Another struggle, another cycle begins.

The young Bob Dylan is full of words, but they are not his, nor are the forms in which they are expressed: the song is either “to Woody”

“Here’s to Cisco and Sonny and Leadbelly, too

And to all the good people that traveled with you;

Here’s to the hearts and the hands of men

That ‘come with dust and are gone with the wind”,

–or the experience it speaks of belongs to the black man.

“I’m walkin’ kinda funny, Lord,

I believe I’m fixin’ t’ die.

Oh well, I’m walkin’ kinda funny, Lord,

I believe I’m fixin’ t’ die.

Well I don’t mind dyin’ but I hate t’leave my children cryin’.”

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan begins to make his own personal statement, but the old forms continue to dominate. Enter the “message”. Even here “issues” become a cul-de-sac, and moralism gives way to a desire for change itself. Former issues of Right vs. Wrong are compressed into one comprehensive issue–new vs. old: “Get out of the new road if you can’t lend your hand/ For the time’s they are a-changin’.”      

This new emphasis upon a radically altering universe of values opens a door to a whole new experience. A verbal manifesto is required as a ticket to ride.

“Good and bad I defined these terms

So clear, no doubt somehow:

Ah, but I was so much older then

I’m younger than that now.”

 Love is impossible. “Go away from my window.”

 Bringin’ It All Back Home: Rock and Roll brings it all back home to the 20th century. Folk means pop, and the lyrics become looser with greater room for complexities and shifting priorities of meanings. The new freedom allows a place for love minus zero, no limit.

 Highway 61 Revisited submerges the Word, now harsh and biting into an orgy of imagery and electric sound: “the songs on this record are not so much songs but rather exercises in tonal breath control (B.D.) “‘Message Man” is now the villain of villains:

“You’ve been with the professors

And they’ve all liked your looks.

With great lawyers you’ve discussed lepers and crooks.

You’ve been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books,

You’re very well read, it’s well known–

But something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is,

Do you, Mr. Jones?”

The word clusters are now too dense and evocative for any “message” Mr. Jones the Print Man might be able to seek–“There oughta be a law against you comin’ round/ You should be made to wear earphones!”

Blonde on Blonde accepts the new complexity as basic. The savage humor is mellowed and the love strain is amplified. The sprawling, inward turning images can construct a hymn to a “sad-eyed lady of the lowlands” or say simply, “I want you”.

John Wesley Harding compresses the lines into stark, enigmatic song forms in which “Nothing”–and everything–is revealed”. The simple eloquence of country music lyrics is inspiration. Song and setting are one and the same. Words are a means of expression for the voice, now used as an instrument within a total sound.

Folk, pop, country, rock – Nashville Skyline reformulates all the lyrical ingredients of all the previous verbal concoctions into a new, whole in which the voice supersedes the song–“love that country pie”.

 Bob Dylan is schizoid, an explosive energy source of youth in a new age struggling to express itself in old forms. Black experience is exploited ruthlessly and wars with the spirit of the dust bowl. A young soul is stretched taut between competing masques. Intuition and fear of death is accurate, but it will be a psychic death, a destruction of the ego. Precariously balanced equilibrium.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan has some room to walk around. The mannerisms and affectations of false experience are channeled into more accommodating vessels. Preoccupation with death becomes horror at the condition of man in the 20th Century, and fear of The Bomb. White folk forms are infused with humor and the balance is maintained.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ tips the scales to the dark side. Humor is gone. Despair, outrage, protest, even vengeance come to the fore. Change is seen as an end in itself.

 The split occurs in Another Side of Bob Dylan. Uncertainty rules. The old answers become questions. Withdrawal, beginning of psychosis. Turning inward. There is only one issue now: being “hung up.”

Bringin’ It All Back Home discovers a new source of strength with which to face the trial ahead: electric rock, a new folk music for a new age. The door to the unconscious is opened, the past is irrevocably past.

Highway 61 Revisited gets down in it. All travel is within the psyche. The outside world is a manifestation of the horrors within. Chaos reigns, humor is savage. New forms, new shapes, all is accepted.

 Blonde on Blonde reveals a psychic implosion. Dylan gracefully rides the crest of his own mind wave. He has found his own frequency, and the love and humor can again have free play. The conscious and the unconscious are opposite sides of the same experience.

John Wesley Harding forms a synthesis. The wounds begin to heal, and a new vision appears. Rage and humor mellow into wisdom. White soul roots are deeper, flight is unrestrained. Passage from within to without is smooth and free. The Self.

Nashville Skyline is the birth of a new voice. All elements are balanced. Free-flowing sound. Wounds have become strengths. All blends into the love strain. Integration of the individual into the world. A new cycle begins.

“Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet

We’ll sit here stranded, though we’re all doing our best to deny it

And Louise holds a handful of rain tempting you to defy it

Lights flicker in the opposite loft

In this room the heat pipes just cough

The country music station plays soft,

But there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off

Just Louise and her lover so entwined

And these visions of Johanna that conquer my mind.”


“Now the moon is almost hidden

The stars are beginning to hide

The fortune telling lady

Has even taken all her things inside

All except for Cain and Abel

And the hunchback of Notre Dame

Everybody is making love

Or else expecting rain

And the good Samaritan he’s dressing

He’s getting ready for the show

He’s going to the carnival

Tonight on Desolation Row.”

                                                                        –miller francis, jr.




Jimi Hendrix Blows Atlanta’s mind

Poster Hendrix68atl

Soft Machine, Amboy Dukes, Vanilla Fudge and Jimi Hendrix Experience’s two shows at Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium blew away Atlanta’s collective mind on Saturday August 17, 1968. Have you ever been Experienced? Now we could answer in the affirmative. Musicians in particular talk about this show nearly 50 years ago!


How about a horrible Jimi Hendrix at the Auditorium shot. It gets worse than this........helps if you are in closer, right? Bill won’t like I included this, but It was often my vantage
How about a horrible Jimi Hendrix at the Auditorium shot. It gets worse than this……..helps if you are in closer, right?
Bill won’t like I included this, but It was often my vantage

A few remembrances :

Harry Demille

Rupert Fike

Bucky Weatherall


Harry Demille

Harry Demille bridges from The Strip community where he worked at the 12th Gate harry2 to the Little Five Points community where he co-founded Wax and  Facts.harry


12th Gate

Patti and Judith move from Florence, Alabama to Atlanta

Moving into the 12th Gate

The house of 12th Gate

Little Feat

DeMille’s Garrett

Great houses of the area gone with the wrecking ball

Finding new housing in Little Five Points

Learning about Inman Park

Wax and Facts

cheap housing

Little Five theaters

The Redwood Lounge -dangerous to pass


Starting  Wax and Facts

Sarah and Sean

New Wave

Hendrix blows Atlanta’s mind

Roy Orbison’s appeal to all ages

Coming to Seminole

Patti and Judith story


Headshop depends on your frame of reference

Atlanta musicians of the time

bad memories and aging

WRFG blues

Piedmont Park


































Debbie Eason interview

shapeimage_2 shapeimage_4Debbie Eason is a Creative Loafer extraordinary.

Debbie Eason came up with the idea of a FREE newspaper about all the activities in Atlanta, paid for BY THE ADVERTISERS!  For a mother to work was still shocking. To be an editor was unheard of in those days.  From her efforts was born Creative Loafing. Debbie was all over the area and has some interesting tales. Give her a listen.

All recordings copyright the strip project

Creative Loafing

Women in the 50s

Loaf rising

More Loafing


Little Five Points

Walking The Strip

Atlanta’s growth

Lane Mills

her sons



Bongo Interview

bongoBongo, Peter Jenkins, was Atlanta’s digger who fed the masses in Piedmont Park, ran crash pads for transient kids, and mediated between bikers and hippies.

He has some interesting tales.


  All recordings copyright the strip project

Hello from Bongo!

An outside agipotato







Coming to Georgia from Texas



Feeding the people

Reverend Bongo

The Zoo 8th at Penn

bongo-71_44 copy-1
Photo courtesy Carter Tomassi







Bongo the biker

Bongo Busted!


Hard Drugs


The Strip rules

Tree Climbers International

The Allman Brothers

Bongo meets Gov. Maddox

Chit -chat


Peter’s new life

Peter and Patti at the Bird Bash 2008



Joe Shifalo (Pig Iron) and Toni Shifalo (La Banana)


Pig Iron aka Joe Shifalo
Pig Iron aka Joe Shifalo

Joe Shifalo, aka Pig Iron, loved music and played guitar and harmonica. He was a lawyer and civil rights activist, and he retired as executive director of the Little Five Points Community Center. The unofficial ‘Mayor of Little Five Points’. (photo on right by Boyd Lewis)

RIP Pig Iron March 2009
Toni Shifalo (aka La Banana

Joe’s partner Toni Shifalo is a local celebrity in her own right as La Banana.

Among other accomplishments she founded the Groundhog Day Juggler’s Festival. She  was interviewed a year after Joe’s death and  gave an interesting counterpoint to Pig Iron’s story. Amazing how they parallel.


  All recordings copyright the strip project

Coming to Atlanta – Joe

Coming to Atlanta – Toni

Living on 15th Street – Toni

Walking The Strip – Joe Shifalo

Toni on The Strip

A headstart trippin’ through the delta – Joe Shifalo

Shifalo Druid Wedding on 15th Street

Druid Wedding by the High Museum – Toni

Leaving The Strip area

Toni’s bad experience

The Allman Brothers in Piedmont Park

The Piedmont Police Riot – Joe Shifalo

Rebellion in the park and the streets – Joe Shufalo

Toni on Piedmont Park

Music in Piedmont Park – Joe Shifalo

Toni on Richards

Toni’s Woodstock Tale

The Woodstock album cover – Toni Shifalo

Little Five Points – Toni

Acid Sun – Toni

Joe on Toni

Robert ‘Joe’ Shifalo, musician, ‘mayor’ of Little Five Points
By HOLLY CRENSHAW The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday, March 29, 2009
There were too many forces pulling at Joe Shifalo — too many battles to fight, too many songs to sing, too many passionate pursuits to take up — for him to settle into a predictable life.
The unofficial mayor of Little Five Points, Mr. Shifalo was a lawyer with a beat poet’s soul. He battled poverty, spun blues records and folksy Southern tales on the radio, and championed the underdog whenever he could.
“If he could have made a living from music, he probably would have done that,” said his wife, Christena Bledsoe of Atlanta. “But he often said that then he would have missed out, because he also was very much the social activist.”
Robert M. “Joe” Shifalo, 65, died of a heart attack March 22 at his Atlanta residence. The body was cremated. Memorial service plans will be announced. R.T. Patterson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
The Florida native lived in New York City in the late 1960s, where he fell in with Dave Van Ronk and other Greenwich Village folk singers. He sang, played guitar and harmonica and performed jug band music and blues songs for the rest of his life.
Most Atlantans knew him under the stage moniker of Pig Iron, but after a bout with lung cancer, he jokingly referred to himself as the bluesy-sounding “Half-Lung.”
He recorded two albums and six CDs, appeared at festivals, coffeehouses and blues clubs, and often performed with his former wife and still-close friend, Toni Shifalo, holding down the beat on her washtub bass.
When the listener-supported radio station WRFG launched in 1973, Mr. Shifalo served as one of its original on-air personalities and launched its long-running “Good Morning Blues” program.
He persuaded the Atlanta Board of Education to rent an abandoned school building for $1 a year and transformed it into the Little Five Points Community Center. The building now houses WRFG and a handful of other arts and community nonprofit groups that help give the neighborhood its bohemian character.
He volunteered with the Atlanta Planning Board, spearheaded neighborhood groups and helped save the Candler Park golf course, on top of his career as an attorney and civil rights activist.
Armed with a degree from John Marshall Law School, he fought poverty through his work with Economic Opportunity Atlanta and battled discrimination as executive director of Metro Fair Housing Services.
“Joe was a child of the ’60s,” said Foster Corbin of East Point, the current executive director of Metro Fair Housing. “He thought all people should have equal access to housing and to the law and to all the things that white, straight males get in this country.”
Mr. Shifalo was free-thinking, unconventional and unconcerned with how people dressed or looked, his wife said. He created folk art paintings and loved to study the exotic birds near his second home in Cedar Keys, Fla. He gravitated to science-fiction novels, she said, because they made him think about the future.
“Joe really believed in social change,” his wife said. “He thought by now we’d be further ahead than where we are, but he loved to talk about how much things had changed since his childhood.”
When he retired in January as executive director of the Little Five Points Community Center, his send-off was a sprawling, sentimental shindig. When his death was announced on WRFG, admirers lit up the phone lines.
“Joe was a performer, but on a private level he was very tender,” his wife said. “After they told me he had died, I was touching him and could still feel all of this love coming out of him, because he had so much love for so many people.”
There are no other immediate survivors.

You survive in the folks of Little Five Points, Pig Iron.


The Bird Reviews Cream at Chastain

After Jimi Hendrix we really felt excited about Cream coming to Chastain park. This was among the most memorable moments for many, and is still a touchstone for many memories today.  My understanding mother brought a carload of folks for my going away to college concert. Hope you were lucky enough to have been there.


Apologies – have misplaced credits for the pictures of Cream in Atlanta. Contact if you know.

cream chastain cream3 cream2

Major Events in the community


The Beatles came to Fulton County Stadium.  For most of my generation this event put Atlanta on the map; we mattered down here in the sleepy South because The Beatles came here. And had their first experience with stage monitors thanks to an Atlantan.

When Jimi Hendrix played the chitlin circuit, he’d had an apartment on Pine St. near Auburn Avenue.   Hendrix had played Atlanta opening for The Monkees, but was booted from the tour after the afternoon performance as judged not suitable for children.  Now he took the Municipal Auditorium with The Experience.

How about a horrible Jimi Hendrix at the Auditorium shot. It gets worse than this........helps if you are in closer, right? Bill won’t like I included this, but It was often my vantage
How about a horrible Jimi Hendrix at the Auditorium shot. It gets worse than this……..helps if you are in closer, right?
Bill won’t like I included this, but It was often my vantage

CreamPosterCream at Chastain Another concert that people use as a marker in their lives. My mother brought a crew of siblings and friends to join me from college. She’d lived with my brother’s and my band practicing at the house and said Cream was loud, but good. She said she was glad I had not had a set of drums as complex as Ginger Baker.

The Bird review






Stomp Atlanta’s Texas Hair, a hippie musical put on by a combine of musicians, actors, and craftspeople. The performance at the Arts Alliance ended with the whole audience led outside holding hands with The Combine members to form a huge circle around The High Museum. They returned to Atlanta in an old church in Buckhead, which was soon firebombed.

stompad   2001 was the movie that launched a thousand trips, most without chemical aids. The ending ride was indeed psychedelic and beautiful. At that time 2001 seemed infinitely distant when computers like HAL ran things. The movie was shown in a theater on Peachtree. When you left HAL there was the big IBM, the newest in computers  on display in the window next door. Move IBM back a letter each and get HAL?

2001New band Little Feat woodshedding in a small club, the 12th Gate!  2 shows nightly! 3 nights!    A buck a show!!!lilfeat
























































Ike and Tina rocked out the Auditorium to an integrated crowd. Later they returned to open for ZZ TOP on a makeshift stage near Lake Spivey. Carter Tomassi took some great pictures here.