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Downtown space opens for music, more
Home Sweet Georgia talent, Chason Flanders, plays first gig in The Loft
Home Sweet Georgia plans to open The Loft on the second floor of their building. Simply follow the signs to the bathroom to get there. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

There's a rising star in the kitchen at Home Sweet Georgia, and his specialty is not pastries.

Rather, Chason Flanders bakes by day and makes music by night, playing - he tries for, anyway - four to five gigs a week after rising in the wee hours of the morning to help create the tasty baked goods at Home Sweet Georgia.

Flanders' talents will help christen the new performance space above the restaurant on Sept. 20, when owner Tanvir Panjwani said he hopes to have his certificate of occupancy approved and will be able to hold two to three special events each month. (If not, he said, the concert will move to the first floor of the restaurant.)

"We're going to try to do events at least twice, if not three times a month," Panjwani said. "For example, this Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. we have local author Homer Myers. He's coming down to do a book signing. So we'll try to do at least two to three events, usually closer to the end of the week, maybe on a Friday."

Myers' new book, a biography of poultry giant Jesse Jewell, is called "Pass the Chicken Please: The Life and Times of Jesse Jewell."

Last Friday, Flanders performed his first concert with his band at Home Sweet Georgia. Panjwani said he's hoping to move upstairs for the Sept. 20 show, to take advantage of the comfy couches and loft-like atmosphere.

"It's a fairly high ceiling and it is an historic building, so the actual walls are a couple different colors. But I think that kind of adds to the feel," he said. "The seating, there are actually couches or love seats that are set up throughout the area, so instead of having standard chairs - we do have some of those - we also have couches. So it's more of a relaxed environment."

There are actually two rooms in the upstairs area of the restaurant; one holds up to 25 and is usually used for small parties or showers. The larger room, already outfitted with a stage and speakers from a church that uses the space on Sundays, can hold up to about 150, Panjwani said.

The stairs leading up to the loft are located to the left of the main doors to the restaurant.

Panjwani said despite Flanders' hectic schedule, he feels privileged having him in the kitchen.

"We kind of stumbled upon him when we were looking for somebody, and he was more than willing to come in and help and whatnot," said Panjwani, whose wife, Noreen, is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, specializing in pastries. "But music is his main focus, so if he ever has an event, he lets us know ahead of time. We kind of work around his schedule."

Flanders, who was signed to the record company One Deaf Ear Entertainment before it went bankrupt in 2001, has also called Nashville, Tenn., and New York City his home. But now that he's back in Northeast Georgia, he's been able to corral some top-notch musicians to play gigs with and said he's really happy with the talent he's found.

His drummer, Myles Mattison, has toured with Michael McDonald, Mariah Carey and Ray Charles. And the alternating bass players in Flanders' band range from mastering cover tunes in local bands to previously touring with Roy Orbison.

"We try to do like once a month here at home Sweet Georgia just to promote the bakery and also, it's just a neat little venue," Flanders said. "So we get a pretty good crowd out here."

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