Ever since class ended for me in May there has been one glorious week in June that I have kept marked on my calendar….
Even the name is friggin cool. That’s to be expected though because this wonderful festival of sight and sound is the brainchild of Jared Bailey, the Keeper of All Things Athens Music. This man knows more Athens music history and lore than I can really ever hope to try to grasp. His love for this music town runs so deep that in 1997, he helped throw the very first Athfest to bring people to his beloved musically inclined town.
And you know what?
Athfest continues to grow each year by leaps and bounds usually reserved for less area oriented festivals like Bonnaroo or the like. The fact that the whole thing revolves around a TOWN and not a certain type of music or act is amazing. Parts of Athens practically shut down just to accommodate the huge amounts of people coming through. And this year is already looking like a record-breaker.
There’s something about Athens that allows it to support so many bands in one little space. You can’t even walk out your door without running into a musician or artist of some sort. It borders on ridiculous at times. Of course, Athens is more than the music scene. And Athfest takes that into account and blows the lid off the “secret” that is the Athens art scene.
Yes, music is art. But I’m talking the visual art scene. Part of Athfest this year is the screening of several awesome Athens films (Yeah, Athens GA: Inside Out too!) and some interesting panel discussions. Not to mention the whole Artfest part of Athfest. Local painters, sculpters, photographers, and more set up shop on Saturday to sell/show/buy interesting pieces.
The schedule is hectic and due to the sheer amount of bands, chances are that you’re going to have to miss one band to catch another at some other club. Don’t despair though. These are Athens bands that will show up in town again and again, so you’ll see them soon if you have to miss their Athfest set.
LOVE MUSIC? SIGN UP HERE.
I wondered how in the world does all this get set up? There’s a huge list of bands playing at least 7 different venues at different times. Not to mention the swag selling and the security. Well, if there’s one thing Athenians are good at, it’s coming together for a cause. Most of the people you’ll see selling you wristbands, drinks, and t-shirts are volunteers. Yes. Workin’ for free.
100 Degree Heat? Manual Labor? And I do it for free? Sign me up.
In a meeting in May, it was explained to us that we’d be doing things such as the swag selling or direction finding. I lucked out with my previous experience as exploited roadie so I’m currently assigned to the outdoor stage on Friday night among other things.
SO, I’M GONNA NEED SATURDAY OFF……
I volunteered to help every night of Athfest….except one. After the big meeting was over, I talked to my “supervisor” about times to work.
“When can you work?” she asked so cheerfully.
“Every day!” I said. “Except Saturday.”
She looked at me for a second. “That’s great. But why not Saturday too?”
“Because I have a prior commitment……In Atlanta.”
I’ve had a lot of awkward moments in my life but this was one of the worst.
“It wouldn’t have anything to do with THAT BAND, would it?”
At this point, I’m blushing. “Uh, yes’m. It would.”
“That’s great!” she laughs. “Is this your first time seeing them?”
I’m stunned momentarily but recover enough to say that yes, it is.
“Say hi to the guys for me then.” And she walks away, laughing.
ATHFEST is JUNE 18-22nd. For the full line up and schedule, all the great items for sale and auction, go tohttp://www.athfest.com/index.html
. You can sign up to volunteer at a booth or stage as well. I highly recommend it.