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Best bets for festivals, events and concerts this fall

ACP 11, Atlanta Horrorfest, the Jesus Lizard and more

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DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL (SEPT. 4-6)
The largest independent book festival in the country brings authors from around the world — and around the corner — to celebrate all things literary. An opening day children's parade and interactive stage packed with illustrators and children’s authors will keep the kiddies at bay, while adults can enjoy author talks and signings, poetry slams, live music, cooking demos and wine tastings. Free. Decatur Square, 101 E. Court Square, Decatur. www.decaturbookfestival.com.

DRAGON*CON (SEPT. 4-7)
The convention of superheroes, geek rockers and bustiers returns to downtown Atlanta for its annual onslaught of sci-fi fantasy fun. The costumes are jaw-dropping, the parade is legendary, and the guest list (which this year includes William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart) is out of this world. Prices, times and locations vary. www.dragoncon.org.

DRIVE INVASION (SEPT. 6)

The 10th annual festival of movies, rock music and hot rods includes such low-brow film fare as the car-chase/R&B comedy The Blues Brothers, the nature-run-amok shlock flick Frogs, the sleazy Southern melodrama Shanty Tramp, plus a surprise showing. Los Straightjackets, the Psycho Devilles and nine other bands supply the sounds. $5-$28. Starlight Six Drive-In, 2000 Moreland Ave. 404-627-5786. www.starlightdrivein.com.

ATLANTA ARTS FEST (SEPT. 12)
This autumn, Piedmont Park sets the scene for a celebration of the arts. Local and national artists will showcase paintings, photography, sculpture, and various other crafts. The event also features kid’s crafts, food and beverages, and live music. Free. Piedmont Park, 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue. www.atlantaartsfestival.com.

EAST ATLANTA STRUT (SEPT. 19)
Now in its 12th year, this quirky one-day festival gives you an excuse to flaunt what you got. The event features a 5K run, live music, a parade, an artist market, food and drinks, and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit neighborhood charities and organizations and support for local businesses. 5K: $20-$25. Festival: Free. Glenwood and Flat Shoals avenues. www.eastatlantastrut.com.

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART (SEPT. 22)
New York-based the Pains of Being Pure at Heart shade pop naivety in subtle clouds of shoe-gazer noise. They’re a direct descendent of fey 1980s and early ‘90s pop-for-the-emotionally-wrought bands such as the Smiths, Lush, My Bloody Valentine and Black Tambourine. Likeminded Brooklynites Cymbals Eat Guitars and the Deprecation Guild open. $12. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.

HBCU STEP SHOWDOWN (SEPT. 25)
Hosted by V103’s (WVEE-FM) Ryan Cameron, the HBCU Step Showdown is part of one of the nation's largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities traditions, the Atlanta Football Classic. The 100-year anniversary of stepping continues, as various college sects sing, stomp, and distort their faces all in the name of $15,000 in cash and prizes! $15. Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Ave. 404-658-7159. www.atlantafootballclassic.com.

CASTLEBERRY HILL LOFT TOUR (SEPT. 26-27)

On the ground level, Castleberry Hill has established itself as one of Atlanta’s most prominent, and accessible, neighborhoods for the arts. Its monthly art stroll draws scores of visitors every fourth Friday. Castleberry Hill’s loft tour, now in its eighth year, focuses the attention upward into the distinct living spaces occupying the Westside neighborhood’s historic buildings. $10. Peters and Williams streets. www.castleberryhill.org/lofttour.

ACP 11 (OCTOBER)
Forget the costumes and the candy, October in the city means Atlanta Celebrates Photography. The 2009 edition features more than 150 photography events, including exhibits, lectures and an art auction. Prices and locations vary. www.acpinfo.org.

PSYCHEDELIC FURS (OCT. 2)
Born of London’s post-punk and glam-rock scenes circa ’77, the Psychedelic Furs charged into the ‘80s with catchy, scratchy-voiced, teen-angst pop anthems. The group scored major Trivial Pursuit points when their song “Pretty in Pink” became the inspiration for John Hughes’ film of the same name. And if their return to the stage wasn’t enough, Manchester hooligans the Happy Monday’s share the bill, adding a set of their own drug-addled rave pop. $26.50. Masquerade, 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. masq.com.

ATLANTA HORRORFEST (OCT. 2-4)
Ready the fake blood and eyeliner, Atlanta Horrorfest lurches into the Plaza Theatre and Lenny’s Bar for its fourth annual tour of gore. Come for the spectacle, stay for the bands, Buried Alive Film Fest, and the weekend’s highlight, the moan-tastic Zombie Walk on Sun., Oct. 4. Prices, times, and locations vary. www.atlhorrorfest.com.

OUT ON FILM (OCT. 2-8)
The annual “celebration of Pride at the movies” includes such films as Annul Victory, which examines the emotional disconnect between President Barack Obama’s inauguration and the passage of Proposition 8; the no-explanation-needed The Big Gay Musical; and the documentary Cross Burning in Willacoochee, about hate crimes against a gay couple in the small South Georgia town. $10-$20. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive. 404-671-9446. outonfilm.org.
 
MAXWELL (OCT. 5)
After a much anticipated comeback, Maxwell arrives in Atlanta with his Black Summers Night Tour. The sensual crooner who brought us “This Woman’s Worth” and “Lifetime” shares the stage with the poetic MC Common and songstress Chrisette Michelle. $20-$150. Phillips Arena, 1 Philips Drive. 404-249-6400. www.livenation.com.  

GRIZZLY BEAR (OCT. 5)
Grizzly Bear rolls through town in support of Veckatimest, the group’s latest collection of polite pop elegance. Their songs are breezy on the surface, but their otherworldly tendencies reveal gateways to all sorts of hidden dimensions in the music. Baltimore duo Beach House opens the show with a set of its own dreamy and ethereal pop crooner delights. $20-$23.50. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.

TASTE OF ATLANTA (OCT. 10-11)
Eighty of the city’s top restaurants such as 4th & Swift and Paschal's will set up stations at Technology Square this year for the eighth annual Taste of Atlanta. Prepare your taste buds for a diversity of dishes, celebrity appearances from Grammy Award winner and cookbook author Trisha Yearwood, "Top Chef" finalist Richard Blais, and acclaimed chef and TV host G. Garvin. The events also feature cooking demos and wine tastings. $20-$65. Fifth and Spring streets. 404-875-4434. www.tasteofatlanta.net.

CANDLER PARK FALL FEST (OCT. 10-11)
Atlanta ain’t hurtin’ for neighborhood festivals, but the Candler Park Fall Fest always manages to stand out. Its namesake turns 100 this year, and festival organizers have some big things planned. Two days hardly seems enough time for all bands (Kingsized, Col. Bruce Hampton, etc.), artists (more than 100 booths will fill the market), a tour of homes and a 5K. Added bonus: Baton Bob performs offstage between acts on Saturday. Festival: Free. Tour of Homes: $12-$15. 5K: $19-$24. McLendon Avenue and Candler Park Drive. candlerparkfallfest.org.

ROBIN WILLIAMS (OCT. 16)
Funny guy Robin Williams performs his new one-man comedy show Weapons of Self Destruction. Get ready for some sharp, fast-paced improv and on-point impressions 25 years in the making. $59.50-$99.50. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-881-2100. www.foxtheatre.org.

L5P HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL AND PARADE (OCT. 16-17)
Two weeks before the kiddies (and most adults) don their costumes, L5P celebrates Halloween's freaky style. The parade lays bare some of the season's most insanely elaborate costumes, as folks get morbidly creative with fake blood, moldy skin, fangs and mangled limbs. You can also expect a diverse musical lineup, kids activities, a movie screening, face painting, and more. Free. Moreland and Euclid avenues. www.l5phalloween.com.

DINOSAUR JR. (OCT. 17)
Who would've ever thunk that the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup (J., Lou and Murph) would reunite and release not one but two brilliant comeback albums. Farm is chock-full of signature Dino sludge pop and heart-breaking melodies that stand as a testament to the group’s Jurassic impact at a time when the prospects of a new Dinosaur Jr. should be horrifying. $28.50. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.

DECATUR BEER FESTIVAL (OCT. 17)
Ready to get your drink on? Well, leave the pets and kids at home if you're headed to the Decatur Beer Festival, where you can sample more than 100 international, domestic and regional beers. Kingsized and Alabama natives Act of Congress provide the tunes. $35. Decatur Square, 101 E. Court Square, Decatur. 678-553-6573. www.decaturbeerfestival.org.

LEONARD COHEN (OCT. 20)

Enigmatic songman Leonard Cohen returns to the U.S. for the final leg of his 2009 World Tour — his first performances on American soil in more than 15 years. The fan-revered and critically lauded Cohen turns 74 this year, and his massive trek across the country pays homage to his stark and pensive body of songs that spans his career of more than 40 years. $49.50-$252. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-881-2100. www.foxtheatre.org.

ISLANDS (OCT. 31)
Canadian duo Islands brings its brand of neo-psychedelic pop to town in support of its third album, Vapours. Brace yourself for a bright, prog-ish tussle between drum-machine freakouts and rich, pop guitar rhythms. Fellow Canadians AU blend elements of bluegrass, classical composition and indie rock into minimal, colorful flourishes of sound. Jemina Pearl of Nashville’s Be Your Own Pet also performs. $12. Lenny’s Bar, 486 Decatur St. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com.

PRIDE FESTIVAL (OCT. 31-NOV. 1)
Previously celebrated in June, this decadent festival has been moved to the last weekend of October. Leave your inhibitions at home and join one of the country's largest Pride celebrations. What's better than romping through Piedmont Park's sprawling lawns in the name of self-acceptance and good times. And if romping doesn't quite tickle your fancy, live music and enormous floats sprinkled with drag queens should do the trick. Free. Piedmont Park, 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue. 770-491-8633. www.atlantapride.org.

AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS (NOV. 4)

SCAD didn’t scrimp on its 2009-2010 Ivy Hall Writers Series, which includes appearances from Colson Whitehead, Ray Anderson and
Margaret Atwood in addition to Augusten Burroughs. Burroughs, author of the best-selling Running with Scissors (as if you didn’t know) comes to Atlanta with his new book, You Better Not Cry, in tow. Free. SCAD Atlanta, 1600 Peachtree St. 404-253-2759. www.scad.edu/ivyhall.

ATLANTA QUEER LITERARY FESTIVAL (NOV. 4-7)
For the third year, the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival has given LGBT writers some much deserved attention. Terry Galloway, author of the memoir Mean Little Deaf Queer, and Michael Montlack, editor of the critically acclaimed anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them are among some of the authors featured in the festivals diverse lineup. Prices, times, and locations vary. www.atlqueerlitfest.blogspot.com.

THE JESUS LIZARD (NOV. 6)
The Jesus Lizard rules today just as it did a more than a decade ago when the group changed the face of noise rock via pummeling rhythms and creeping, blues-punk guitar dirges. Frontman David Yow attacks his audiences like a naked Golem; manhood exposed and his voice primed for warbling antagonism. If you were buying good records in the ‘90s, you're already aware that the Jesus Lizard’s return to the stage is the comeback of the decade. $20-$25. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.

CHOMP AND STOMP CHILI COOK-OFF AND FESTIVAL (NOV. 7)
Don’t let the neighborhood’s name fool you. These days Cabbagetown’s more well-known for its chili than for any leafy greens. The annual Chomp and Stomp features beer, bluegrass and beans, as well as a 5K for the extra ambitious. Folks start digging in at noon, so put your game face on and get there early — the food goes quickly. $5. Cabbagetown Park, Tye Street and Kirkwood Avenue. www.chompandstomp.com.

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