Basement sessions turn into local legends show at Donkey

Jimmy Smailes, Johnny Borchard and Mimi Hart, shown here, will be joined by J.D. Hutchison and Dave Borowski this Saturday in a show at Donkey Coffee.

If you're a fan of the Athens music scene writ large - meaning going all the way back to the late '60s and '70s - there's a show you won't want to miss this Saturday at Donkey Coffee.

A veritable super-group of Athens musical veterans are joining up for the performance. At the top of the list is J.D. Hutchison, the traditional bluegrass king turned left-field singer-songwriter-picker, all-round entertainer who's been playing southeast Ohio bars and venues since at least the early '70s. He'll be joined by his former Realbilly Jive cohorts Johnny Borchard, Jimmy Smailes and Dave "Bubba" Borowski (who all three also play in the legendary on-again, mainly off-again Wingnuts).

To top it off, Mimi Hart, another eternal veteran of the Athens music scene, will be joining the fun. Hart sings with the Local Girls, an Athens-based singing trio with an international reputation.

Hart noted that she, Smailes and Borchard (two of the Athens area's slickest guitarists) "have been playing together forever in various groups - Johnny and I began in '68…"

The live show will be a public outcropping of Hart, Smailes and Borchard playing privately together for the past three or four years at Borchard's house in south Athens.

"I wanted to sing with Smailes again because he never got to sing enough, and I wanted to do sweet, duet, acoustic stuff," Hart said. "John Borchard offered to join us and who could say no to that? This was years ago, and we have been (playing) quietly in John's basement for years. Nice. Simple. Quiet. But we thought we should play out and get J.D. out again."

Smailes, who played guitar in the Hotcakes, a late '70s era Athens roots-rock band that Hart fronted as singer, said the show Saturday will open with him, Hart and Borchard playing mainly acoustic-type stuff, with Smailes and Hart singing lead and duets. Then they, along with bassist Borowski, will back up Hutchison, whose local performance have been all too infrequent in recent years.

One of the highlights of the evening will be the guitar interplay between Smailes and Borchard, which was one of many highlights of J.D. Hutchison's two well-reviewed Realbilly Jive albums in 1998 and 2000, "Realbilly Jive" and "A Circus Jig," respectively. Hutchison's own estimable guitar picking added to the instrumental virtuosity.

The show at the Donkey kicks off at 8 p.m. This one should attract quite

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