Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reflections from 30 Years Later


Reflection One - Why Athens?
Athens was the first and most famous college music scene in the country beginning in the late 1970s.  The town has garnered national and international attention for its music for over 30 years.

But Athens seems an unlikely place for a rock and roll renaissance. A laid-back, traditional Southern small town is not a place you’d expect to spawn so many innovative and successful rock bands.  Music author Richie Unterberger said it well when he described Athens as a "sleepy [place where] it's difficult to imagine anyone working up a sweat, let alone playing rock music."

Certainly the University of Georgia, with the intellectual and creative energy fostered by any major university, played a contributing role.  But why did it happen in Athens and not some other college town?  Locals have often quipped that, in Athens, there’s something in the water…

Reflection Two - Legacy
The Athens bands featured here have all left enduring legacies.  Some are still together, most had long runs, and most of their members are still active in the music business.  They remain connected to Athens and support the town, its music life, and each other.  I don’t think they will ever be forgotten.

Reflection Three - They Were All Good
Although R.E.M.’s massive success overshadows the accomplishments of their Athens peers, the truth is that, at the time, the bands chronicled here were more or less equals.  Choosing which band to go see on any given night was a coin toss – they were all talented, innovative, and fun to see.  That so many great groups all came from the same place and time is simply incredible.

Reflection Four - It’s Still Going On!
Athens has continued over the years to produce talented and successful bands and remains a vibrant music scene today.  According to the Athens Chamber of Commerce, there are over 100 Athens-born bands still active.  The town is home to ten recording studios and several independent record labels.  Nationally known groups such as Dreams So Real, Widespread Panic, and Drive-By Truckers are further testament to Athens’ longevity as a music mecca.

So strong is the Athens reputation that some bands start in other places and then come to Athens to jump-start their careers.  These bands know two things: that being part of the Athens music scene will help them grow musically, and that having an Athens moniker will increase their chances for national recognition. 

Reflection Five…
Maybe Athens does have something in its water!

Postscript Sep 2018: I just uncovered a wonderful article that brilliantly captures the essence and uniqueness of the Athens Scene, then and now.
Only in Athens

Sources used for this blog: - - - - - The subjects’ websites, Facebook, and MySpace pages - A Facebook page about Tyrones OC - - - - Party Out of Bounds, by Rodger Lyle Brown - Google Images and Discogs provided most of the pictures and album art

1 comment:

  1. Hi David -- do you still tend this blog? I'm working on a book about this period in Athens and would love to talk to you. Could you write to me at Thanks!