Athens Community Music Festival









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Thursday, July 8,2010

Athens Music Scene

Brutal heat makes me take all the more pleasure in my recent decision to scale back musical involvements. I’ve been hard at music for about 23 years, ratcheting it up and up and up year after year. This year I decided that it was making me crazy and warping my relationship with music. I wanted to stop that as best I could.



My musical apex was the year I played some 250 odd shows while working a 40-hourper-week day job. The last few years I’ve been (barely) supporting myself as a musician/ writer/booking manager. I was pleased to be able to do that. It felt good and pure to be able to somewhat earn my keep doing things that I loved.

The reality, however, is that I was really happy to get a job as a baker when it came along. The entertainment industry is a cruel bitch goddess, or something like that.

The thing is, playing all of those shows might have proved something to me, but it certainly didn’t make me rich or leave any lasting impact on anyone. It was good (for me) to prove to myself that I could do it, but on the far side of it, so what?

I’m a funny guy like that. For some reason I am still that 15-year-old kid, holding up unreasonable ideals that I made up for myself in the thrall of some rock and roll fantasy. I am happily peeling those apart right now.

Far and away from staying apart from music, I am gathering my energies. I am being choosy about projects and learning to appreciate the joys of staying home at night. It’s grand.

I look forward to setting up a studio space and recording.

That’s another sad face of it. After all of these years of playing live shows, I have little to show for it but several handfuls of bad live recordings. Not that there needs to be proof of anything, but I have a feeling that leaving a more listenable record behind when that final fader pulls to a close will be a more satisfying accomplishment than not.

I suppose that’s at the root of a lot of things — feeble attempts at immortality. Somehow we would like to think that the world will remember us when we are gone. Well, I don’t know too much about that; I just know that I am happy to pick up my instruments and play them. That for me is enough for now.

The fifth annual Ohio Brew Week kicks off this weekend. A Craft Brew Night is set for the Southern Ohio Copperheads game on Sunday, along with some doings at the Dairy Barn (go to the Brew Week schedule at www. for more info). You can catch music all week long at a variety of locations, so keep your ears peeled. Good luck to you all. I’ll catch you next week and see how you are faring mid-fest.

Red Brick Tavern

Rave on with DJ B-Funk and DJ Time Traveler tonight at the Red Brick Tavern at a party they are calling Red Zone. Techno, house and trance music are yours for doing whatever it is you do with them.

Casa Cantina

Tonight the Casa has a free show featuring the 65’s (Zach Oden, JJ Reed, Tommy Tritone, Matt Box and more) with HexNet (members of Dragline Brothers, Rattletrap, Never Evers) and the ubiquitous TBA.

Cantina Karaoke is back at the Casa featuring the Constant Gardener tending his crop of singers on Friday night. Do you water them with beer? Free.

Marvin Berry & the New Sound are an energetic young band from Brooklyn. Jangly and melodic, I think these guys sound fantastic. They will appear Saturday night with the Sandworms, who are either from Brooklyn, in which case they have a similar jangly appeal, or they are a surf-rock band from San Antonio. They are definitely NOT the Giant Sandworms, a Tucson band from the early ‘80s that evolved into one of Editor Smith’s faves, Giant Sand.

I am guessing the Brooklyn option. Whale Zombie looks to be headlining this musical affair. From what my aged ears have heard, they seem to fall somewhere between Sonic Youth and Jesus and the Mary Chain. Not a bad sound at all.

Jackie O’s

Jackie O’s is happy to host a Caravan reunion on Saturday. This band was one of the original jam bands in town, and they kicked hard and happy back about 10-plus years ago. Corbie, Joe, Amy, Mike, Blaha(?), Bailey(?) and more will gather themselves together and let loose with a wide array of music. Woot, woot!

Ohio Brew Week kicks off Monday at Jackie O’s with the official keg tapping of the famous festival brew, the Sparbock, brewed in honor of festival founder the late John Sparhawk. There will be an All-Star Open Stage following the opening ceremonies. This will begin at about 7 p.m. and feature the Paranormals, John Wetzel (Whip & Tickle), JJ Reed, Steve Zarate and many more.

Tuesday night, the Brewery features the return of Holy Ghost Tent Revival, a North Carolina-based band that features high-energy tunes and a trombone. They remind me a bit of Larry & His Flask. Pearl & the Beard will join them on Tuesday. This New York-based trio features a guitar, cello, glockenspiel, melodica and a variety of percussion instruments.

Quiet and beautiful music will prevail during their set.

There will be a special Ohio Brew Week Celtic Jam in the Public House on Tuesday.

Wednesday Jackie O’s features an early show (7 p.m.) with piano wizard Josh Charles pounding out New Orleans-style music on the piano in the Brewery. There will be limited seating available for this show, so be sure to show up early. This guy studied with Dr. John when he was a mere lad of 14 — if that gives you any indication of his level of badassedness.

Wednesday night, Zach Deputy will be back in the Public House being his one-man band. He utilizes loops to craft his funky songs right in front of you — sort of live multi-tracking. He also records every show so that you can take home a version of the show you just heard. He may be a big bear of a man, but he sings so sweet for you.

The Union

Burning Itch bring their Killed By Death-inspired punk-rock sounds up from Knoxville to the Union on Friday night: tight, winding rock and roll. Joining them will be Valley Boys, the newish Saturn Missile Batteries and 1/2 Man, a Wheels on Fire side project that touts a lo-fi, stripped-down R&R approach.


Aquabear Live returns to ARTS/West Saturday night at 8 with a show from Moon High, a Columbus-based new-folk band. Pretty songs with a variety of instruments for you to peruse. Whale Zombie is back in action, as is the elusive Weedghost, purveyors of an improvisational musical conversation coaxed out of the void.

Smiling Skull

Friday night, the Skull lets it get loud with a metal show of Skull-splitting proportions. Empirian will headline the night and be amply supported by Time of Harvest and Without Bleeding Ears.

Saturday’s musical focus shifts slightly over to hot punk-rock action with the glorious We March, who will be supported by Skumplast and Punishment. Perfect.

Monday, you can celebrate Ohio Brew Week with Katty Whompus, a sort-of bluegrass band from Granville, Ohio. They have some great picking and singing going on.

JJ Reed is the new host of the Open Stage on Tuesday nights at the Skull. Stop in and get you some Black Box brews and pick some tunes.

Stuart’s Opera House

The Fishtank Ensemble better have their gills working if they’re going to make it through tonight’s warm and muggy gig in the parking lot of Stuart’s Opera House (though the fruits of the beer garden will go a long way toward ameliorating the heat). This free show features the exciting sounds of this truly energetic and unique crew. Two fiddles, a monster bassist and fascinating front woman make this California crew a blast to watch and listen to. They swing gypsy music from across the world with tango-tinged enthusiasm. Just go.

Donkey Coffee

Broken Ring will take their alt-countrytinged music to the Donkey Friday night, fresh off a high-profile gig in Columbus. They happily present Donald Lee, a bluesy gent from Columbus.

Option 22 hails from West Virginia and seems to be gaining ground with their socially conscious “progressive, world-music sound.” They will perform at the Donkey on Saturday night along with spoken-word artist Bethany Francis.

Rhythm on the River

The Coal Men return to the area on Friday evening for this week’s installment of Rhythm on the River. I saw them when “Mountain Stage” came to town and recall that they had a readily accessible country sound that reached out to both straight country fans and the more alt-country/roots-rock folks. Good guitar work and strong vocals. This show is free.

Abrio’s Brick Oven

Steve Zarate will appear during the cooking competition at Abrio’s Tuesday at about 6 p.m., and again on Wednesday for Comedy night at 9 p.m.

Dairy Barn

Steve Zarate will perform for the Dairy Barn’s pre-Brew Week warm-up on Sunday. His set begins about 1 p.m.


Dale Kulchar will hold down two nights of instrumental music both Friday and Saturday at the Rhapsody from 6:30 to 9:30.

Cutler’s at OU Inn

Steve Zarate is performing his melodic music at Cutler’s in the OU Inn Saturday evening from 6-8:30 and he will also perform for the Cheese Tasting at the OU Inn Wednesday evening at 5:30.

Restaurant Salaam

ReelBop is back at Salaam on Sunday evening. Zeke Hutchison wields the mandolin in a masterful fashion as he leads the band through a variety of tunes that range from gypsy jazz to bluegrass and beyond. This show runs from 6-8 p.m.


That’s all for this week. This article is brought to you by the Dash — bringing together words and phrases for years.


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