Canopy is cool benefit (had an unexpected guest)

An unexpected guest came to the Canopy is Cool benefit. Well, unexpected as per a couple of weeks ago when the date was set.

Dennis the Menace.

No, we were not suffering major hurricane tribulation, we were just stormy, but many people had the impression it was an outside benefit and first it drizzled and then the winds blew and the rain drove in and kind of drove the benefit out, except that the people who were there–really nice adults and some really nice kids–had a great time inside the studio where it was nice and dry and cozy and there was wonderful music and lots of good food for different tastes that ends up being left-over good food.

Leigh and Tab prepped. There was a table with information. There were diagrams and blown-up photos of everything going on with the tree and the proposed house that wants to take out 35% of the tree’s root system and remove a limb that’s the size of a normal-sized tree. There were t-shirts designed and donated by Henry Patton of and CDs donated by the talent and a shoe box for contributions that Marie had covered with gold paper. There was drink of this type and drink of that type and veggies and cheese and for the meat eaters there were fat beef burgers and turkey burgers and hot dogs.

Solid State played–L.A. Tuten on bass, Jim Pierce on keys, Jay Norem on drums, Bob Lewis on trombone and Ken Gregory (co-hosting the benefit with Martin Kearns) on guitar and trumpet.

Sasha played material from his most recently released CD Percussionata Project and treated to some new songs that will be on the CD he’s currently recording. Incredible 7-string guitarist (extra bass string) from the Ukraine who studied with Marcos Cavalcante, he specializes in Brazilian Choro, and gathers around him phenomenal percussionists such as Juan Bonini and Bambam who were with him today. The kind of music that if you think you don’t have a life, put on a Sasha CD and a fully dimensioned one materializes in every tone the color palate has to offer, a serenade that carries from birth to death, through sun and shadows, laughter and tears. A communal music that drops the walls of isolated rooms to have everyone feast at the same table. And the insects sing. Doors open and close. Feet ascend stairs to the future and cars travel city streets through past intersections. Such a Common Story is from Percussionata Project, which Marty had the pleasure of recording. Please, go listen. You’ll not be disappointed. It was luxury listening around the months Sasha was in the studio, Marty bringing home tracks to play and testing them on my ears. Though all are exquisite, one of my favorites is “When the pain is gone”, a portion of which can be heard here.

Samba may perhaps not be what you believe it to be: there are many different styles. The Percussionata Project was sambas, while the next CD is going in the direction of a samba, rural Brazilian dance tunes, jazz and tango mix.

Heaven Davis performed, her band today being composed of Marty Kearns on keys, Rin Vinson on drums, Jerry Zalnoski on bass, and Oliver Wood on guitar with Adam Mcwherter from King Johnson occasionally sitting in on trombone. And, of course, righteously so, everyone was excited about hearing Heaven Davis because she’s just so good and happens also to be an incredible lady.

Tommy Dean (“The League of Decency”) was to play but was out of town rescuing relatives from the Gulf Coast.

Tab and Leigh, who are still in need of donations, had this flier to distribute. As it states, the fight to protect this tree has more to do with than this one particular tree, it is a fight for tree preservation in Atlanta which is experiencing a loss of 50 acres a day according to NASA, with 60% of Atlanta’s tree cover being removed in the last 20 years. Desired urban tree cover is 40% at about 20 large trees per acres and Atlanta’s has been reduced to 27%. (Source for stats: Trees Atlanta)


This benefit is to help Leigh Beilenberg and Tab Bottoms continue their efforts to preserve the Southern Red Oak tree located across the street at 795 East Avenue.

This tree has reached an age of approximately 180 years old, a height of 85 feet, a crown width of 120 feet, and a diameter at breast height of 59 inches. Officially this tree is the second largest SR Oak in Atlanta. Five arborists have determined this tree to be in excellent health. This tree, if allowed to survive, may live for another one hundred years! But its survival is in jeopardy.

A builder has purchased the 35-foot-wide lot adjacent to our property and the tree. He has demonstrated no regard for the health or life of this tree. 1) The builder rolled a heavy scissor lift across the root plate of the tree to see a potential city view. 2) One two occasions the builder hired crews to climb the tree utilizing spikes, and randomly remove major limbs with chainsaws (these actions took place well prior to the builder even submitting building plans for approval). The proposed building plans involve a 27 inch limb cut and a9 square foot excavation into the root plate of the tree as well as a huge impact into the critical root zone. 4) Last Wednesday, under the cover of darkness, we caught the builder pouring what we believe to be acid (substance burned the eyes, nose and skin) around the base of the tree.

The combination of a poorly enforced and ambiguous tree ordinance as well as a developer intent on maximizing his square footage has brought us to this point. This case is bigger than even this giant Southern Red Oak. It can set a precedent to require enforcement of the ordinance. It can make a statement that the severe loss of tree canopy in the city is not acceptable. Sometimes a tree is more important than a few thousand dollars in profit for a speculator. In this case, a profitable house can easily be built that will protect the tree.

Our efforts to preserve this noble, old tree began last January. Our actions have taken place at neighborhood association meetings, NPU land use committees, NPU executive level meetings, Board of Zoning Adjustment hearings, City of Atlanta Arborist Division, The Office of the Mayor, City of Atlanta Police Department, City Solicitors Office, Municipal Court, City Council Chambers, City of Atlanta Building and Planning Division, and at a hearing before the Tree Conservation Commission which ruled in favor of the tree. A Superior Court hearing may be in our future.

We intend to continue our efforts on all fronts. This has and will require attorneys and experts. If you feel as we do, please donate to this effort. All donations will be used in the on-going legal efforts to not only preserve this tree, but to assist in changing protection standards for all Atlanta Historic/Specimen trees. Any surplus donations will be forwarded to Trees Atlanta.

We deeply appreciate our friends and neighbors at 800 East and for their help. Thank you.

The first words of the developer to Leigh, with a pat on her back, were, “Don’t you worry little lady, I’m not gonna’ hurt your tree.”

Hmm, right. Red flags. And what a ride it’s been.

There is talk of future benefits. In the meanwhile, donations are still being accepted. Please send them in care of Ms. Leigh Bielenberg at 795 East Avenue NE Atlanta Georgia 30312.

Link to Memorial post for Leigh.

Published by

Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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