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Piedmont Park welcomes Paul — private concert and all

By Maria Saporta

There’s a Beatlemania Breeze in the air.

Walking to Piedmont Park this morning among a hub-bub of activity, one of my neighbors had set up speakers on the front porch playing old Beatle songs.

At 10 a.m., a line of about 400 people already were camped out, some who had come as early as 2:30 a.m. to be one of the first to get into the general admission show.

The past week in Midtown has felt reminiscent of the build up before the Olympics — that feeling of anticipation that something big was about to take place.

Just watching the stage go up day after day was an event in itself. When does Atlanta close 10th Street for an entire week for a one-day event? Even the Peachtree Road Race doesn’t get that kind of treatment.

Every day, it’s become more challenge to maneuver through the park to get around the fences that have been put up enclose the show. But I keep getting drawn to the park to witness the preparations.

And that’s why it’s such a special treat to live in Midtown near the park.

Last night, I was on my way to drop in on a PATH fundraiser at the old Piedmont Park bathouse (now with the pretentious name of Greystone), when music started coming from the stage.

I asked a police officer sitting in a golf cart what was going on, and he told me Paul McCartney was about to start rehearsing for the Green Concert. As I walked to the PATH event, I could hear familiar tunes and that familiar voice.

The music filled the park. No one was more excited that my friend, Nancy Rigby, who works for the Coxe Curry fundraising firm and works closely with PATH. She is one of the few people I know who actually saw the Beatles play in the now-demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

McCartney kept rehearsing. On my way back home, a surprisingly small crowd had gathered behind the fences to watch McCartney perform on the gigantic video screens. We felt as though we had been given access to a secret show.

This morning I ran into Peter Conlon, who is putting on the show for the Piedmont Park Conservancy. Live Nation purposefully didn’t tell folks McCartney would do a rehearsal on Friday night because they didn’t want a mad scene to ensue.

So how were things going? “Great,” said Conlon, who was riding a bicycle to get around.

The concert is expected to raise more than $1 million for the Conservancy to help pay for the expansion of the park.

As conflicted as I feel about the Piedmont Park Conservancy these days, I couldn’t help but buy tickets to the show. Yes, I’ve seen McCartney before — decades ago. But who knows if and when I’ll get to see him again. And there’s nothing better than watching live music outdoors, even on a hot summer Atlanta day.

This is what living is all about.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. Crystal Turner August 17, 2009 2:59 pm

    Seeing as how “expansion of the park” is an Orwellian phrase for “paving the woods,” I was a tad apprehensive, too, about buying tickets. But it was Paul, so I tore through my reluctance with no regret. What a rare treat the concert was. This was the 3rd time I’ve seen him since 2002, and he’s always great, but this was extraordinary. I actually even feel a bit grateful to the Conservancy, but I’ve no doubt they will soon say or do something to snap me back to reality!Report


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