Over the course of two, September weekends in 2019, The Patch Works Art & History Center (The Patch Works) — in collaboration with the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association (CNIA) and the Cabbagetown Initiative Community Development Corporation (CICDC) — revived Cabbagetown: 3 Women… an Oral History Play With Music, 41 years after its premiere at Atlanta’s Academy Theatre on May 21st, 1978.
Cabbagetown: 3 Women was written in 1977-1978 by R. Cary Bynum, shortly after his wife Brenda had presented him with an obscure cookbook entitled Cabbagetown Families, Cabbagetown Food. The cookbook was published in 1976 by Patch, Inc. (edited by Pam Durban, who went on to become an award-winning novelist) and contained oral-history transcripts of several Cabbagetown “Original” residents, three of whom Mr. Bynum chose for his play. Cabbagetown: 3 Women places the spotlight on the lives of three, real-life women: Lila Mae Brookshire (Joyce Brookshire’s mother), Effie Dodd Gray, and Beatrice “Aunt Beadie” Dalton. As Mr. Bynum writes in Foxfire Press’ 1984 edition of the play, he took the words of Lila, Effie, and Aunt Beadie “and arranged them into a dramatic format, careful to preserve as much of the original language as possible.”
Throughout the show, the three women talk about their backgrounds, daily routines, working at the mill, feeding their families, and dealing with life in the mill-village streets. As they explain early in the show, Cabbagetown (or Cabbage Town) was not the neighborhood’s true name, but instead a somewhat offensive nickname given to the inner-city community by outsiders for various different reasons.
In 1881, a new and eager workforce — many of Scotch-Irish descent — came down from the North Georgia Mountains and Piedmont to work at Atlanta’s recently opened Fulton Cotton Spinning Company, which was founded by a German-Jewish immigrant named Jacob Elsas. In order to house the workers, Jacob constructed rows of mill homes, originally known as Factory Lot. Years later, as the mill prospered and changed its name to Fulton Bag & Cotton Mills, the community also grew and became Fulton Mill Village. According to today’s Originals, the nickname of Cabbagetown didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1940s or even 1950s, and even then, quite a number of local residents refused to use the name.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Patch, Inc. was a Cabbagetown-based, nonprofit organization that provided socioeconomic support, creative outlets, and educational opportunities for the residents. It had a core staff of nine people and a Board that included founder Esther Peachey Lefever, Joyce Brookshire, Leon Little, Robert Price, and Dr. Louis Jacob (“Skip”) Elsas. Publishing Cabbagetown Families, Cabbagetown Food was the Patch’s way of preserving some of the unwritten tales about Cabbagetown, and when Mr. Bynum approached the organization with the concept for his play, the Patch warmly received the idea. Joyce Brookshire, a singer/songwriter and long-time resident of Cabbagetown, offered some of her songs to the production.
The original cast included: Doris Bucher, Annette Coleman, and Brenda Bynum. Joyce herself performed the music. As the Alliance Theatre wrote in its program for the 1979 presentation of the play, “Live music is movingly woven into the performance by Joyce Brookshire, accompanied by Fritz Rauschenberg, with songs she wrote about the families with whom she grew up, and originally were published in Foxfire Records premiere album, North Georgia Mountains.”
Cabbagetown: 3 Women is a heartfelt, sometimes comical, anecdotal play that celebrates the identities of a people in a tightly woven community.
Please note that on the following dates, The Patch Works will be adjusting its hours:
On Sunday September 15th and 22nd, the center will be closed, due to our 2:00pm Matinee presentations of the play Cabbagetown: 3 Women, which is taking place at Cabbagetown Park’s Joyce Brookshire Amphitheater.
The center will be closing early, at 5:00pm, on Friday September 13th, Saturday September 14th, Friday September 20th, and Saturday September 21st, also due to Cabbagetown: 3 Women, which has 8:00pm showtimes on those nights. All six shows are free and open to the public.
In addition, please note that the center will be closed on Sunday September 29th, as The Patch Works will be participating in Oakland Cemetery’s Sunday in the Park. This event is also free and lots of fun, so please swing by and visit our tent!
The Patch Works Art & History Center (The Patch Works) — in collaboration with the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association (CNIA) and the Cabbagetown Initiative Community Development Corporation (CICDC) — revives Cabbagetown: 3 Women… an Oral History Play With Music, 41 years after its premiere at Atlanta’s Academy Theatre on May 21st, 1978.
FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL (Open to the Public): Thursday, September 12th, 8:00P
OPENING NIGHT: Friday, September 13th, 8:00P
Saturday, September 14th, 8:00P
Friday, September 20th, 8:00P
Saturday, September 21st, 8:00P
Sunday, September 15th, 2:00P
Sunday, September 22nd, 2:00P
Joyce Brookshire Amphitheater
170 Kirkwood Ave SE, Atlanta GA 30316
Performances are free and open to the public. There will be beverages and souvenir stands where attendees may purchase items.
Cabbagetown: 3 Women, an Oral History Play With Music was adapted by R. Cary Bynum from “actual dialogues originally compiled by the Patch, Inc., and published in Cabbagetown Families, Cabbagetown Food, edited by Pam Durban Porter.” The play profiles the lives of three women, who were long time residents of Cabbagetown: Lila Mae Brookshire (Joyce Brookshire’s mother), Effie Dodd Gray, and Beatrice “Aunt Beadie” Dalton. The original cast included Doris Bucher, Brenda Bynum, and Annette Coleman.
“Live music [was] movingly woven into the performance by Joyce Brookshire, accompanied by Fritz Rauschenberg, with songs she wrote about the families with whom she grew up, and originally were published in Foxfire Records premiere album, North Georgia Mountains.” (produced in 1977)
(Source: an Alliance Theatre program from the play’s performance on September 12, 1979)
This presentation is funded in part by a grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
On August 20th, please join us at The Patch Works for the first evening of a unique and collaborative two-part event: Todd Mack and Music in Common are bringing together two organizations — The Patch Works and WERD Radio — to discuss not just their respective histories, but also the music and other elements that bind and unite our seemingly disparate communities.
WERD Radio is the first, African-American-owned radio station in the country, where Dr. Martin Luther King himself would broadcast sermons and civil rights’ commentary. After years of obscurity, WERD has been resurrected by Ricci de Forest, who will be our guest on August 20th and then our gracious host on August 22nd.
Also participating on August 20th will be our amazing friends Slim Chance (aka James Kelly) and Dr. Erich Nunn. Slim will perform examples of Hillbilly music, while Dr. Nunn will discuss the origins of such music in Cabbagetown and how it evolved from sounds being produced by African-American performers at that time.
If y’all are reading this, then y’all are already aware that our website is running just fine…once again…finally.
Nonetheless, we wanted to apologize for any inconvenience over the past few days — while our site was inaccessible. On the positive side, the site was down while we were transitioning to a secure website (to protect our visitors), so y’all’s “user experience” should be even better now! Thanks for checking out The Patch Works!
On January 31st, The Patch Works will be conducting a walking tour of Cabbagetown for homeschool kids ranging between the ages of 7 and 13. Oakland Cemetery’s Education Manager, Marcy Breffle, is organizing the event, which will offer Cabbagetown-themed, interactive projects that help the students learn local art and history.
For more information, email Marcy Breffle, or visit the Young Historians Homeschool Program website.
The Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association (CNIA) needs your help to keep Cabbagetown running! Find out about a variety of volunteer opportunities and talk to existing board members about life as a CNIA leader, as a CI board member, or as a Patch Works volunteer.
This event will function similar to a “speed-dating” social style meetup. Potential volunteers will get time to chat with current volunteers and board members in a casual environment.
Mhmm, yep, you read that event title correctly. On January 27th, from 12:30 to 2:30pm, Guac Y Margys is serving up ALL YOU CAN EAT BREAKFAST TACOS + ALL YOU CAN DRINK MIMOSAS AND BLOODY MARIAS for just $30.
On January 19th, it was another great “Unplugged” music event at The Patch Works!
“Slow Parade is Atlanta based psych-folk collective headed up by tune smith Matthew Pendrick. After nearly a decade spent soaking up the city’s rich blues and roots music scene, Slow Parade was formed out of the need for a new extension…”
BAND MEMBERS: Matthew Pendrick – Guitar Vocals Andrea DeMarcus – Bass Vocals Paul Stevens – Drums Keys Vocals
As for Chickens and Pigs, The Patch Works had the pleasure of hearing Jeff Evans play a short, impromptu set a couple months ago, and begged him to come back again!!! This guy’s legendary…
Chicken and Pigs for this gig was Jeff Evans, nobly accompanied by Mark Johnson from Delta Moon!
On January 17th, The Patch Works was filled with alumni from past Pecha Kucha Atlanta events. Amanda Plumb, the brains behind the local PK chapter, wanted to thank alumni for taking the time to create and deliver a presentation for Pecha Kucha Atlanta.
Past participants got to meet other PK presenters (a fascinating crowd), have a drink (or two), and check out the Patch Works Art & History Center. Party-goers also got to hear the themes for PK 2019.
On January 13th, The Jon Bekoff Project for the Advancement of Georgia Oldtime Music presented musician Max Godfrey, who lead a workshop in local Georgia tunes.
Jon Bekoff was a great Oldtime fiddler in Western MA who loved GA music and encouraged folks to play it (as a result, more players in Vermont and MA play GA oldtime music than in GA!!). Jon died young in 2015 and this JB project is an attempt to keep his GA oldtime missionary spirit alive.
The goal of these free workshops is to promote by-ear learning of oldtime music native to Georgia, with the hope that in the future, participants will go forth and jam these tunes with others.
1-2 new tunes were introduced and tunes from previous sessions were reviewed. The JB Project likes geeky participants who take the time to listen to the original tunes and practice between workshops, who are sincere about learning at least some of what is covered.
Stringed instruments only (no spoons, concertinas, penny whistles). Musicians are invited by Moonshineand need to RSVP by EMAIL to confirm a spot. Preference is given to intermediate musicians with leadership potential/who are committed to learning the local GA Oldtime repertoire. Please email fiddlerhiker if you want to propose another attendee, do not invite them yourself, please.
On Tuesday, December 18th, Eventide Brewing generously hosted a Totes Tuesday for The Patch Works!! Here’s their remarkably simple yet effective fundraising concept: You drink beer. Eventide gives back! All you have to do is drink beer! EASY! Each week Eventide has a different non-profit organization on site. On this night, The Patch Works received 10% of Eventide’s nightly sales AND cash donations collected in the tote bags at the end of the bar!!!
On December 15th, we hosted another awesome “Unplugged” musical performance at the center! The Porch Bottom Boys — performed two amazing sets!!!!
From their website: “The Porch Bottom Boys play bluegrass, newgrass, and other styles seasoned with the diverse backgrounds of their members…
“…They have also appeared in many nearby festivals, including the Decatur BBQ Blues and Bluegrass Festival, the Decatur Arts Festival, the Oakhurst Arts Festival, and Stomp and Chomp in Cabbagetown. Committed to the Decatur community, they frequently play for local fundraisers and other programs.”
THE PLAYERS Steve Gorbatkin – guitar Jim Thompson – fiddle Charlie O’Neill – banjo Joel Glogowski – bass Patrick Jackson – mandolin Denis Gainty – in memoriam
On December 9, Pecha Kucha Atlanta held a really cool event called “Atlanta: Past, Present and Future.” Along with several other presenters, The Patch Works was selected to give one of Pecha Kucha’s signature “20 x 20” lectures: each speaker shows 20 slides and gets 20 seconds per slide to address the topic. We called our topic Cabbagetown: Changing Atlanta by Preserving History.
There was a big turnout at Brother Moto, which kindly hosted the event. (Thank you, Brother Moto!)
On Saturday, December 8th, Evan Kinney recently led an intermediate Georgia Oldtime Jam at The Patch Works. Being our first time hosting a music workshop, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect. Suffice it to say, it was AMAZINGLY FUN! Watch this VIDEO (and remember: this group was learning the song on-the-fly and by ear).
A NEW Grant Award, MORE Scholars, and MORE Music! Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta awards us with a grant, and our third (and last) GA Humanities lecture is this month. Plus, another great lineup for our November Unplugged music event!!!
On Sunday, November 18th, join us as Rebecca Page, Ashley Cheyemi McNeil, and Brennan Collins from GSU’s Student Innovation Fellowship program speak about their mapping collaboration with The Patch Works on ATLmaps.org. They have brought together historical maps of Cabbagetown and stacked them with present-day interviews of long-time residents to uncover the original water sources that sustained the livelihood of the community.
There is no cost to attend.
TITLE: Re-Surfacing Cabbagetown: Mapping the Emergence of Waterways and Stories
PRESENTERS: Rebecca Page, Ashley Cheyemi McNeil, and Brennan Collins
INTERVIEWEES: Ronnie Edwards, Marshall Edwards, Sarah Knight, Margaret Long, and Leon Little.