Russell Gottschalk, Atlanta Jewish Music Festival

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Russell Gottschalk is the Founder and Executive Director of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (AJMF), which opens their Spring festival tonight with a show  featuring the Afro-Semitic Experience at Steve’s Live Music.  AJMF is an incredible, one-of-a-kind festival, and Russell is an incredible, one-of-a-kind dude.  Get to know Russell and more about the festival…

Q. What is the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival?

A.  The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (or AJMF) is the pre-eminent producer and promoter of Jewish music experiences in Atlanta, providing opportunities for musicians and audiences to strengthen their connection to Atlanta’s Jewish community through the power of music. We program events year round, including artist residencies, teen open mics and collaborative concerts, but focus on our signature program, a multi-day, must-attend Spring Festival (3/20-29, see for full details).

 Q. The keys to Philips Arena and an unlimited budget- go!

 A.  I’m not sure we want to be in the Philips Arena as I question our ability to unify enough of our communities to create a vibrant and social atmosphere in such a large space. But if we had unlimited funding (the holy grail for non-profits), we would certainly be able to expand existing programming and add another full time staff. And I guess the “”key”” to obtaining such a windfall lies in engaging the right philanthropist. There are a few Jewish supporters (some here in Atlanta, others on the national scale) that have the capacity to give at astronomical levels. The key to ‘unlimited’ funding would be finding the right mission overlap between our impact and the desired outcomes of a large philanthropic foundation.


Q. Last meal in Atlanta: where are you going, and what are you ordering?

A. Definitely chicken and waffles. Obviously there is Gladys Knight and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles but recently I discovered Bantam and Biddy, who are giving Gladys and Ron a run for their money. If I want to stay close to home, the Majestic does a respectable chicken and waffles dish too.


Q  Favorite neighborhoods? 

A. I’m a Candler Park resident so I’m partial to Decatur, Virginia-Highlands and Little Five Points. But I also love to go down to East Atlanta for the nightlife and I could see my fiancee and I settling down further north (Brookhaven is really making some moves) or on the West Side. As an Atlanta native, I love the diversity and appeal of our distinct neighborhoods. All we need is a bit more public transportation to tie them all together.

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