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Thursday, January 27,2011

Athens Music Scene

By Eric Leighton

Photo Caption: The Alwood Sisters
I was prepared to go into a fascinating spiel about a number of arcane and interesting things, but unfortunately the winter funk has come over me with serious strength, rendering me considerably less useful than I’d like to be. I am certain (at least sincerely hoping) that this bout will be but a memory by the time that you read this.

I (knock wood) do not get sick very often. Being sick sucks. The best part is that you have an excuse to lie about all day. I’m milking that one. As a result of this glancing blow with infirmity, I have grown more compassionate for those whose health is less robust than mine. I am lucky, I realize, and I definitely push that luck to its very edges.

I have always, retrospectively, enjoyed a good fever. Fevers are the real deal. The body raises its temperature to the point that the offending organisms are made uncomfortable and die or leave, whatever it is they do. I’m no doctor. It’s the return to health that is the exciting part. It’s like a death/rebirth thing.

Since I am not really making any sense, I will switch on the Articulator 1400 and let it finish the article. I bid you good health and may the return of the spring to my step be the spring that is chasing this winter down and severely beating it with flowers and sunshine.

Casa Cantina

Tonight you can catch an excellent free show when Wheels on Fire rocks the Cantina. The Brian McGee Band brings their excellently rocking Americana up from Asheville, N.C. Bram Riddlebarger and His Lonesome Band (featuring Johnny Borchard and Thom Hirbe) kick things off with sorrowful country a la Hank Williams and Wynn Stewart.

Natty Nation (Madison, Wisc.) invades the Casa Friday night with their special blend of hard roots-rock reggae and dub music. In order to help celebrate the life of Bob Marley and his pending birth anniversary, they will blend Bob’s music into their vast catalogue of tunes.

The Alwood Sisters weave their musical magic for you on Saturday night. This sister duo is joined by a brother duo (including Jovan Karcic, late of Gaunt and others) and together they carry on both families’ long musical heritages. Their music is winding and ethereal, and the harmonies are spot on. Tin Armor and our own Hex Net (featuring members of Dragline Bros., Rattletrap and more) will open the night.

Jackie O’s

Constant Gardener Karaoke takes it to Jackie O’s tonight, much to Ted’s approval. If you like to sing your heart out, ably backed by recorded tracks, tonight’s your night.

Poobah has been honing their heavy psychedelic rock for years. This small band out of West Virginia has gained national and international recognition, and is featured in numerous magazines, the most recent mention being in Rolling Stone, in senior writer David Fricke’s “Top 10” list. They will rock your socks off Friday night in the Brewery.

Terrapin Moon keeps the music of the Grateful Dead alive, and they will perform many a favorite song at Jackie O’s on Saturday night.

The Rumpke Mountain Boys are out for a little tour with their friends The Congress, and they are stopping into Jackie O’s on Sunday. Rumpke does original bluegrass in a fairly traditional manner — with a twist — which is always a delight. The Congress is on the road out of Denver, and they have a varied sound that encompasses the Rocky Mountain experience; nice organ sounds, good guitar work and great vocals. Good stuff for a Sunday night.

The Union

Hiphopalooza II is happening tonight at the Union. Last quarter’s event was a huge success, so when this quarter’s lineup of local and regional MCs and DJs take to the stage, great things are going to happen.

Final Friday is back at the Union. This free show starts at 6:30 p.m. and takes place downstairs, featuring a “fine bill of acoustic and semi-electric acts.” It’s always a fun time with an Open Stage-y vibe, hosted by Scott Winland and Nate Brite.

First Street Heat takes it upstairs at the Union later on Friday night. These folks are a lot of fun with horns and good songs. Dysfunktional Family opens the night with their hip-hop-flavored grooves.

Dave Rave celebrates a one-year anniversary Saturday night with DJ B-Funk spinning a special trance set and a champagne toast at midnight. Dave Rave lays claim to being the No. 1 dance party at the No. 2 party school. Find out for yourself.

Constant Gardener Karaoke will light up the Union on Tuesday night for free, downstairs. Sing it!


The Aquabear Legion has been promoting local and regional music since 2004, working with countless bands, artists and filmmakers through its website and various compilations (new one due out in the spring). On Sunday they will have their annual Pancake Breakfast at ARTS/West from 1-4 p.m. featuring food from local producers and music courtesy of Matt McElroy and Tim Peacock and their extensive collection of 78 rpm records. This will act as fundraiser for the Legion, so a moderate fee will be extracted from you with additional options for “bacon upgrades.” I like the sound of that.

Smiling Skull

Broken Ring brings their alt-country rock stylings to the Skull on Friday night. Zach Parkman takes his country-blues songs and enlivens them with a band called the Damaged Goods.

Backwords is one of the longest-running bands in Athens, making appearances at different intervals and playing long, long sets of classic rock and oldies. Saturday night’s show will benefit the Athens Area Vietnam Veterans of America scholarship fund.

Donkey Coffee

The Drenched Earth Tour makes a stop at Donkey on Friday night featuring Chris Castle and the Womack Family Band. Castle worked with some of the best songwriters in Nashville when he was just a teenager. He is a master craftsman. The Womack Family Band builds stark, austere and beautiful songs, wonderfully arranged and with inspired vocals. Dawn Parker along with the duo of Turner Mathews & Jenny Vandeman will open the night.

The Tempo Tantrums are OU’s all-female a capella singing group, and they are gathering at Donkey on Saturday night. They take contemporary tunes and create lovely arrangements with them. Colleen Carow leaves the Broken Ring at home and performs a soaring set of originals and more.

Court St. Grill

Are you ready for some Japanese blues? Well, how’s about American blues as interpreted by a Japanese band that now lives in Boston? The Tokyo Tramps won last year’s River City Blues competition, and are stopping by the Court Street Grill, a true American juke joint, on Saturday night on their way to the International Blues Competition in Memphis

Fluff Bakery and Catering

In case you don’t walk down North Court Street very often, or perhaps for the chronically unobservant, there is a new bakery in town. Fluff has been open and nurturing people’s sweet teeth for a few months now, but they are just now getting around to having a Grand Opening on Friday, all day. To help celebrate their confections they are bringing in some musicians. Starting at 5 p.m. you can hear, on the hour, the likes of John Healy, Corbin Marsh, Alan Marsh, the Paranormals and Scubadog. Free.

OU Inn – Cutler’s

Steve Zarate will be performing instrumental music at Cutler’s from 6-8 on Saturday night.

That’s all for this week, according to the Articulator 1400, give or take 131 words. May good health be yours so that I can see you at the gigs! Bugout.


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