Since UGA is doing a tribute to Otis Redding this Tuesday and I was asked to interview the family onstage, I thought it best if I head down to Macon and look at the Otis Redding: Dreams to Remember tribute to gain some insight for questions and context. Always one to mix business and pleasure, I made sure to visit our Athenians’ exhibits too.
Got up this morning to the B-52s’ Love Shack. Very appropriate. 1) Valentine’s Day = Love = Love Shack. 2) B52s played their first gig on Valentine’s Day, 1977. The time was 6:30 am. After finishing some research and printing out directions, I drove off towards my friend’s house to pick him up and ride out to the great Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The mist was sitting heavily on my windshield and the music from our ipods was providing an oddly appropriate soundtrack to the morning. A bit of Ween, some Television, and then Tom Waits. THAT was creepy to drive to.
A little outside of Macon, I got caught behind a tour bus touting “Athens Own! () Brothers”. I forget the name. It was interesting to think about what music these brothers play and why they’re on the road to Macon from Athens. For the most part, I was just miffed that their bus kept misting up my view.
We got to the Hall and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. To be honest, my expectations were pretty low beforehand. I was expecting a few cardboard cut outs, a sequined outfit or two and that’s about it. For a small space, the GA Hall was pretty cool.
We took a spin around the R&B/Blues lounge first. Outkast, Usher, Jermaine Dupree, and such were in there with James Brown, Wayne Cochran, Ray Charles, Little Richard, and Otis Redding. Kind of an odd juxtaposition to me but I guess it works. I spent a long time staring at this one Otis picture. He’s getting off a plane, striding, with a guitar in his hand like a cowboy would hold a pistol by his side. Very striking. Then some more tourists came in.
“Wow, look at that picture of Ray! He looks just like Jaime Foxx.”
I kid you not. *SIGH*
We went over to the backalley area where the producers and such are honored. I’m still waiting for our John Keane to be placed in the hall. But the Athens band stickers on the door was a nice touch. Then on to the country area where we laughed so hard at some of the pictures I was nearly in tears.
Then there was the “record store” area. Alongside the Allman brothers and the Black Crowes were our Athens bands. A pretty sizable portion was dedicated to the B52s with outfits from Cindy and Fred and a guitar from Keith. All sorts of posters from Love Tractor and Vic Chesnutt and so on. A few guitars and pictures from Widespread Panic and Drive By Truckers and a very large area for Pylon (yay!) then….R.E.M. In a small little corner. Hmm. That was weird. Arguably the most famous band to ever come from Georgia and they’re in an area the size of a dorm room closet. Now, there were signs saying that stuff was being moved, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here. Otherwise, WTF?
We glanced over the other attractions like the Gretch display and the kids education area but I was headed towards the Otis exhibit. Anything to try and shake these nerves a bit. And man, that display was something else. Records, telegrams, letters, receipts, photos… you name it, it was there. I learned a lot just walking around and staring. He seemed so solid. Here’s a guy whose career was 6 years long but his record was the 7th most played song ever. He swaggered but he hugged. What an incredible life. So while it did put any informational nerves to rest, the sheer magnitude of this venture is finally starting to wear on me.
I think the final straw was reading the guest book they put out for people to sign. While a lot of signatures were very stupid (dead serious, someone wrote “First!”), the vast majority were long thank you passages to Otis and his family. I wrote my small bit in there, thanking him for “Dock of the Bay,” which holds a very special place in my heart. As I was signing my name, I just had to think about if anyone would ever see it. What if someone came in and recognized it? That would be really cool. I hope it happens one day.
We hit the gift shop and came across a Cigar Store Indians release and couldn’t help but take a peak at ol’ Keith Perissi’s photo in the sleeve. Nice one. There were a lot of local Athens artists available there and we noticed an ad for Packway Handle coming to the Hall.
Pulled out of the parking lot and headed back home, stopping by a Wendy’s for food. Overall, I think that the Hall is pretty cool for what it is. I’d love to see bigger areas for artists like Widespread and REM and the producers and talent agents who get a very small amount of credit. Maybe some more interactive stuff. But overall, it was a great trip and worth the small admission price. I loved how the people at the front desk kept going, “Have you heard of Widespread Panic?” “They’re from Athens dear.” “Oh, have you heard of R.E.M.?” I’m still laughing at that. ME? Not hear of R.E.M. and Widespread?
It was a great trip back as well. We listened to a bit of Bambara’s newest and some Sleepy Horses. We got back in time for the basketball game and for my shift at WUOG at 10pm (with Michael from Pylon! Post on that coming soon). Great day. Get yourself down there if you can.