“It’s a scorcher out here!” Vanessa Briscoe Hay says playfully, fanning herself with her hand on a 93 degree Saturday afternoon in downtown Athens. In an effort to beat the summer heat each week in July, the Pylon and Pylon Reenactment Society vocalist will introduce Eldredge ATL readers to one of her favorite Athens watering holes and her bartender friends.
Up first is Dottie Alexander who is a mixologist at The World Famous at 351 N. Hull Street downtown in Athens’ historic Hot Corner neighborhood. The address was previously the home to Wilson’s Soul Food.
“The name just intrigued me,” explains Hay. “Plus, this place is right next door to one of my favorite bars, The Manhattan Cafe. The food is great and there’s a stage for musicians to play. [Pylon bassist] Michael Lachowski had an art show here and he performed wearing headphones listening to Pylon songs while playing the bass parts live. It was a wonderful art piece and very brave. People love performing here because it’s an intimate space and you can be right next to the audience.”
Alexander is perhaps best known to music fans as a keyboardist who toured the globe for 15 years as part of Of Montreal. “It’s almost impossible to go into any bar or restaurant in Athens and not run into a musician or an artist moonlighting,” Alexander explains, laughing. “The hours are flexible and there’s an element of creativity that we enjoy.”
As a 16-year-old living in North Carolina, Alexander admits she may have borrowed her parents’ car without their permission to drive two hours to sneak into her first Pylon show in 1989. She immediately knew she had to move to Athens and attend the University of Georgia. “Little did I know, 30 years later, I’d be good friends with Pylon!” she says. Alexander and Lachowski even host game nights now where they challenge each other in Yahtzee.
“The thing about Vanessa,” Alexander explains, “is there’s never been an once of pretension there. As a member of one of the founding bands in this scene, she goes out of her way to nurture and support other bands here. Athens is a very collaborative place. We support each other. I don’t see that in other music scenes. It makes us unique. Vanessa has been a hero to me ever since I was 16-years-old.”
Now, Alexander is becoming a hero to the city’s next generation of hip-hop artists, including Mariah Parker, by helping to popularize monthly freestyle performances, including the Hot Corner Hip Hop events hosted at The World Famous.
Dottie Alexander’s “Gardening At Night” Summer Shandy cocktail
2 oz. organic gin (such as Prairie Gin)
one can of Creature Comforts Athena beer
freshly squeezed juice from one orange
3 to 4 cucumber slices
Pour the gin into a tall glass, add ice, cucumber slices and juice. Let it sit for one minute. Top with beer and stir. Add a cucumber garnish and enjoy!
Richard L. Eldredge is the founder and editor in chief of Eldredge ATL. As a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta magazine, he has covered Atlanta since 1990.