A few weeks ago I gave a talk about the Athens music scene at UGA’s OLLI program. We did a rough overview of the history of Athens music as it’s generally known, along with some basic how to find music tips. But I enjoy talking about the philosophy of the Athens music scene the most. Namely, who do we consider to be in the Athens music scene and who we don’t.
Usually you can raise a few general questions like do we consider the Indigo Girls part of the Athens music scene? They fall in a grey area for me because I typically associate them with Atlanta but their impact here can’t be argued against. Discussions move on to things like “WHEN do we consider someone part of the scene?” I can point to Kishi Bashi as someone we definitely claim but who wasn’t always here. It’s an interesting exercise because we always get down to talking about sound as a major factor. Does the artist’s sound, well, sound like Athens? Spoiler alert for any who care: there is no one Athens “sound.”
Athens music is and always has been because of its people. The people who lived here for decades and spent time behind the scenes making it work without setting foot on stage, the folks who moved here and just started playing, the art school, etc. There’s no one Athens sound and no one Athens band to rule all Athens bands. The Redcoat Band is as much a part of the scene as anyone else. As are the local choir groups, step groups, classical musicians at the Performing Arts Hall. This isn’t new to anyone who’s been here on this blog for long enough. But sometimes it needs repeating.
The Athens Parade of Lights is this Thursday and I’d highly recommend attending if you can. Nothing says local music like it.
(don’t forget to vote)