It was 2005, and a friend and I were standing in a torrential downpour listening to John Fogerty and Tom Petty, back to back. Hit after hit after rockin’ hit. Fogerty appropriately sang “Who Will Stop the Rain?” Petty, who I think was just about to release Highway Companion, was in top form. I tried but couldn’t completely ignore the rain, but I thoroughly enjoyed the concert anyway. We managed to catch a few other acts between the rain drops: The White Stripes, Counting Crows, Lou Reed.
And then it was gone. Music Midtown, this giant three-day Atlanta festival that drew upwards of 300,000 at its height, just vanished. Atlanta’s signature music festival was history. The festival that brought us Petty, Fogerty, Cracker, Robert Cray, Bob Dylan, George Clinton, Iggy Pop (This old man can rock!), Sponge, Live, Train, Collective Soul, Joe Walsh, The Foo Fighters, Willie Nelson, The Smithereens, and many others, was now just a memory.
Until this year! Yes Music Midtown has returned. It’s a downsized affair — two stages, one night — Saturday, September 24. (Though it’s reported that concert organizers are trying to corral a single act for Friday night. Prince?) The venue will be fantastic: The Meadow at Piedmont Park. Music Midtown will actually be in Midtown. How about that? The headliners are Coldplay and The Black Keys. Granted, not Petty, but not bad. I especially want to see the Keys.
I’ve read that some are unhappy with the smaller size. I for one am just happy to have it back. It’s not unlike the early days of the festival. The very first time I went to Music Midtown was 1998. It was small, and it was in Midtown, in the park across from the Margaret Mitchell house, where now sits a federal reserve bank. So in many ways, it’s like a rebirth. Here’s hoping for a new tradition.