by Inlander Staff

Georgia on our Minds -- The rumor started somewhere in the middle of the Inlander's second floor -- Buzz Bin central, for faithful readers of this column. By the end of the week the news had spread all over the building and even out into the community. "Ray Charles is coming... Ray Charles is coming..."

The rumor is true. The legendary Ray Charles is coming to play with the Spokane Symphony on Friday, May 17. And although it's a last-minute addition to the Symphony's 2001-02 season, the new booking is anything but accidental.

"Part of our budget plan has a category headed 'Big Pops Special,' and we're always looking for the right person," explains Annie Matlow, publicity director for the Spokane Symphony. "A lot of those big guys don't book 15 months in advance the way we need to. So we just hold back and keep an eye on their touring schedules."

With an already scheduled May 19 date with the Tacoma Symphony, it made perfect sense to add a Spokane date to Charles' itinerary. The Northwest continues to holds a special place in Charles' heart; it was in Seattle that he recorded his first record and began to make a name for himself in the 1960s.

Tickets for Ray Charles' date with the Spokane Symphony go on sale to the public on Monday, Feb. 11. Call: 624-1200.

Decking Bush's Tree -- Wondering what ever happened to Rings & amp; Things, that beloved purveyor of all things funky? After closing its retail space last year, the homegrown business focused on its growing wholesale operation, and things have been taking off. Viewers of the popular Sex and the City show on HBO may have seen Rings & amp; Things stuff on an episode there, and if you happened to get invited to a tree trimming party at the White House, you'd have seen another vestige of Spokane's funky side.

Polymer clay and Austrian crystal beads from Rings & amp; Things were sold to the Paper Tole Originals company in Florida, which in turn crafted an ornament that made the cut onto the Bush family tree. But the best news would be if they reopened a new shop for us locals.

Missing Marquee -- Seems a controversy has erupted over the old Magic Lantern Theater in downtown Spokane. We've long bemoaned the lack of a true arthouse theater here, and now it doesn't look like one will return to the Atrium Building at 123 S. Wall. The current flap is over the marquee sign, which was removed from the building recently by Katherine Graham, former owner of the Magic Lantern, which she closed in 1997.

Graham says she owns the sign and wants to use it for the reincarnation of her theater in the Fuller Building on DeSmet this summer; the owners of the historical building say the sign belongs to them. Sounds like a plot for a good -- you guessed it -- arthouse film!

Spokane County Interstate Fair: Fair Food Drive-Thru @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fri., Sept. 18, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat., Sept. 19, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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