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Wednesday, June 1,2011

Athens Music Scene (6-2-11)

By Eric Leighton

Photo Caption: James McMurtry plays Stuart's Opera House Sunday evening.
I've been writing this column for a long time. Like it or not, it is an indisputable fact, unless you think that something close to 10 years isn't a long time. Maybe you think like that, and more power to you. Being that the end of the world really seems to be coming soon, well, I've started to become a bit philosophical again.
If the end of the world is upon us and there are numerous prophecies and predictions at hand that point to the general time that we are approaching what I have decided is the most important thing is water. That's right, water.

I recently, in a heretical frame of mind I admit, considered a move to Colorado. Think of it: 300 days of sunshine, no ticks, no mosquitos. You have to admit, it's attractive, especially since I was there in March when we had crappy weather here at home, and it was especially pleasant there.

The deal breaker for me, though, is water. Granted, recently we have had several people's shares of rain here in southeast Ohio, but if we were in Colorado, we couldn't put a barrel under the gutter to collect any of it because we would be stealing someone else's water, someone "downstream." Someone in Arizona even. Too weird.

I live at the top of Athens right now, and an underground river through my backyard. It leaks out to the road and creates a marsh in the park. If things go all crazy on us, well, I can get myself some fresh water by digging in my backyard. It's a weird thing to be obsessed with, but there it is.

When I go out West, I can't help but worry about water. It is a deeply felt mammalian thing. I can't explain it, but I don't feel that I need to. I'm not sure if the world as we know it is coming to some sort of end (Mayan calendar, the return of the Christ spirit, pole shift; these and other things are all due), but I know that Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet, once said that the safest place to be when the shit comes down is in the Hocking River valley. He named it, though he had never been here. When I look at all of the (life) things that conspired to bring me (and keep me) here, well, I've gone along with it thus far, and frankly, I just plain love it here, so why mess with success? If the world is going to go all crazy (as it seems to be doing), I am happy to go through it with you folks, right here. Best of luck to us all. And then there's the music

Casa Cantina

It's time for Lobsterfest! It kicks off tonight (first of three) with a free show at the Casa. The folks at ACRN are bringing lots of bands out to play for you this weekend and tonight it looks a lot like Tin Armor, Scubadog, the Kyle Sowashes and Stomp the Condor.

Friday night The Royales are back on form, bringing you the finest funk-laden music that a crew of seasoned professionals can bring you. Be sure to check out that new horn section. Hot stuff!

Saturday, early evening like, one of the most obscure and lovable bands hits the Casa stage, The Randys. It is pret-nigh impossible to explain the music that they play, but I guess I would have to say that they are a musician's band. They manage to get all of the funny chords in there, yet still make you want to dance your ass off. It's fascinating and fun. It's also free, and I believe, mandatory.

Later on Saturday night an Open Doors Dance Night is on tap, likely the last one of the season.

Jackie O's

Tonight Fox & Hounds return to Jackie O's to let loose with some fine music that trends towards bluegrass. This band has some top-notch pickers.

Friday night the recently revamped Supermassive returns to Jackie O's Public House to get all things remotely reggae grooving and moving. Satisfying.

The 16th annual Gemini Fest takes place Saturday in the Brewery of Jackie O's. This messorama features The Paranormals (acoustic, then electric with compadre Stevie Blaha), JJ Reed's new rock and roll vehicle Supertape, and the super surf sounds of Bonzai! Geminis get in free, and it is highly likely that other folks will sit in on this somewhat casual affair! Heck, we'll probably start at 9 p.m.

In the Public House Saturday night is an event called Run 740, put on by Run 614, a conglomerate of world-class DJs out of Columbus. They'll be spinning fine and groovy music that will make you want to dance the night away, so do stop in.

The Union

This is a late entry since as far as Smith and I can tell, there was no advanced word sent out to the media. Anyway, Athens' own roller-derby team, the Appalachian Hell Betties, are holding their second fundraiser tonight at the Union. Bands will include The Bummers, Dawgtooth, Chickenpussy, The Valley Boys and Bonzai!

Lobsterfest hits the Union on Friday night. Another action-packed night is in the offing, especially when Detroit's art rockers Child Bite headline the night. Narrow & the Brights (featuring members of Russenorsk and Manor Animals) make it tight for sure, Cincy's Evolve keep things Darwinian, and Athens' own Vagrant Beat and Nurser set the bar high early on. This show is also free.

Saturday night Dave Rave finishes off Lobsterfest with the typical flair that is given this crew. Busted Bass and a heaping handful of ACRN DJs will assist. This will be your last opportunity (this spring, anyway) to grab you a handful of Dave Rave.

South Green

The big Lobsterfest day of music happens Saturday on OU's South Green. See the separate article in this issue for more information. Bands all day, with some big ones.

Uncle Buck's

Uncle Buck is continuing his current tendency to bring you some fine music to the Dance Barn. This Saturday we have the Professors, aptly named because the combined experience of band members could make for a Ph.D. level course. These guys play all of the best old music, and they do it with style and precision. Stop out and shake a hip or two.

Smiling Skull

It's happening. The folks who book the clubs are sending us their shows with nothing but Facebook links. Who'd of thunk it? Not the Skull of course. They wouldn't require me to get an account just to report on them, would they? OK, maybe they are more with the times than I am. When Detroit invites me to something, then I'll know the world is coming to an end!

Tonight the Skull hosts an InterActivist release party. This magazine is on the cutting edge of things, and a welcome voice in the public discourse. Some bands are helping them to celebrate the release: Flow Town Four, R.O.L., Bricks & Bones and Maritime Starline. Mighty fine.

Friday night the Skull kicks it with some of my personal favorites. Controlled Folly are a group that dares you to describe them. They have moves that would make Jack Black blush, and tunes that adhere to some mystic arrangement that only they can hear. Fascinating. Zach Parkman & the Damaged Goods are a mighty fine crew to enjoy, and Pretty Marge and Big Smiles make this a particularly interesting bill.

But wait! There's more! Saturday night the Skull brings you Dr. Beat & the Beatoffs (a name I cautioned against, especially because the band is good!). The Tailwinds will no doubt bring their full arsenal of rock, replete with new tunes, to the Skull stage, as will the Lorax Tree, a group I have yet to make an acquaintance with.

Donkey Coffee

The Donkey is taking a much-needed rest for the nest couple of weeks, musically anyway. Stop in to study and caffeinate.

Court St. Grill

The Sean Carney Band comes down to the Grill Friday night to play some blues. Carney received the Albert King Award, and he and his band won the International Blues Challenge, a monumental feat in and of itself. Whatever your taste in blues might run to, Carney has something to please you.

Red Brick Tavern

Dave Rave is kicking it out in style this weekend, starting tonight at the Redbrick in the Bullpen with a Thread Zone Dance Party, free if you happen to have enough years behind you. This is to help celebrate the release of Thread Magazine, so keep your quilts handy!


The Lost Flamingo Company brings you a variety of theater events each year, and they are doing "Rent" at Arts/West Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. What are you waiting for? Pay up!

Stuart's Opera House

James McMurtry is sneaking into Stuart's on Sunday, so prepare yourselves for a Sunday evening out. His father writes great western (and other) novels ("Lonesome Dove," "Terms of Endearment," "The Last Picture Show," "Moving On" editor Smith is a huge fan), and James is a first class songwriter who can pull up the essence of what it is to be a human and turn it into a song that engages you without beating you about the head or being overly poppy. Take two: He's a damn fine songwriter who puts on a great show, even if the dude can get a little surly (again, that's from editor Smith). You'll be sorry that you missed him if you've ever seen him before, and if you haven't heard him, then you're just going to have to trust me that you'll be thrilled to be there.

Union Hall Theater

John Wetzel has done it again, putting together another Ribs, Rhythm & Blues Festival Saturday at the Union Hall Theater, with a comma and everything. Chesterhill is closer than you think, and when something is happening at the Union Hall Theater, you should just go. That simple. Ray Fuller & the Blues Rockers have been around forever. They are a staple of the Columbus blues scene and are as fine a band as any. The Suffering Moses Blues Band are on their way up in the world, and you will enjoy them without a doubt. There will be ribs, pie and great music, so go forth and listen. The fun begins at 5 p.m.

Memorial Auditorium

The Ohio University Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band will give you one more free concert tonight. George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" will be the focus of the evening, and I say "Hell yeah!" There will be lots of other delightful offerings, and this free concert should be attended by you. It starts at 7:30.

That's all I have this week, though no doubt there is more to be heard. The Articulator 1500 is humming, but will be shut down soon. Bugout!


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