For the past 11 years, the streets of downtown Athens have filled one weekend each June for AthFest, an event featuring hundreds of city’s talented artists. Music is the art form most commonly linked to this college town and for good reason, given the fact that it is estimated that at any given time, at least 200 different bands calls Athens home.
Yet, to truly celebrate all the goes on in this, the Classic City, one must also recognize the artist, the filmmakers, the history, and the family fun that go in to making Athens a town unlike any other.
AthFest 2007, named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, takes place from Wednesday, June 20th through Sunday, June 24th, and will feature 150 bands performing over the course of four days, as well as an ongoing art exhibit in the streets, a number of film series, the Athens Music Awards, a visual artist performances, KidFest, and the return of the Athens Music History bus tour.
AthFest happens throughout the town, with a number of free concerts on two Outdoor Stages located on Washington Street (just outside the 40 Watt Club) during the afternoon and evenings, then giving way to the infamous Club Crawl later at night. The Outdoor Stages will be headlined by some of Athens most popular acts, including Perpetual Groove on Friday, The Whigs on Saturday, and The Drive-By Truckers on Sunday.
Outdoor Stages are free, with an electric stage and an acoustic stage providing near continuous music in the heart of downtown. Music seminar panels, KidsFest, the Artist Market, other events and food and drinks are all conveniently located nearby. For complete listings, visit http://athfest.com/festival/geninfo.htm
While seeing some of your favorite local bands is for free is always a treat, Athfest is a great time to see new bands you’ve never heard of, or bands you’ve you may have heard of and never found the time to see live. Of all the bands featured on this year’s bill, there is one new artist that is creating quite a large stir, particularly amongst fellow musicians.
Since performing their debut show just two months ago, to a crowd of about 400 at the Georgia Theatre, few acts have shown the instant promise of the Justin Brogdon Band. Brogdon’s song writing gives Athens a true classic rock arena act, ala Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a sound not commonly associated with the city that gave birth to bands such as the B-52’s, REM, and Widespread Panic.
While Brogdon catchy lyrical hooks draw instant attention, and continue to play in one’s head for days, the all star band he assembled truly takes his music to a level few performers achieve in such rapid fashion. Led by Benji Shanks (Capt. Soularcat, Last Waltz) on guitar, Jess Franklin (Tishamingo) on keys and backing vocals, Stephen Spivey (formerly of Tishamingo, now playing with SNAP! and a number of other local bands) on bass, and Athens' own Carlton Owens (who’s played with a slew of acts, including Squat, SNAP!, John Mayer) on drums, this is a five piece ensemble with talent galore. For those that crave a vintage rock sound, with modern, infectious choruses, this band is sure to be an instant favorite.
Athens thriving downtown scene is in full swing each night during the Club Crawl.
Attendees can purchase a single wristband for just $15 that will allow unlimited access to 19 participating venues all over downtown, including the Georgia Theatre, the 40 Watt Club, Caledonia, The Melting Point, Tasty World and more. Performers will include Jack Logan, Southern Bitch, Don Chambers & Goat, the Bearfoot Hookers, Dave Barbe, The Squall, Time Toy, and more, allowing AthFest-goers the opportunity to see as many, or as few, as they wish. Full Club Crawl listings can be found at http://AthFest.com/festival/music/venues.htm
The special events during this year’s AthFest include: the Flagpole Music Awards at the Morton Theater on June 21st at 8:00 P.M; Sprockets Music & Video Show, presented by Film: Athens on June 20th at 40 Watt Club; Self Made, a touring group of three visual artists from San Francisco, presented by ATHICA, on June 21st; Teen Screen Film Fest and Benefit Concert, presenting a lineup of diverse short films made by local teenage artists; RockDocs, a series of documentary films covering a wide range of musical genres, at Ciné June 15th to June 26th; and a free Juried Artisan Market from June 22nd to June 24th.
KidsFest, held June 23rd and 24th from noon to 6:00 P.M. will include a stage for musical performances, Sam Path’s Petting Zoo, and a demo from the Classic Martial Arts Club. KidsFest is free of charge.
AthFest will also coincide with the debut of a new art exhibit, The Earth Will Swallow you, offering a visual insights in to town favorites Widespread Panic. The exhibition includes a wide range of media, sizes and styles, courtesy of the band and in cooperation with Nuci's Space, a non-profit resource center for musicians.
The exhibition will continue until August 25th open Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12 noon until 9 p.m. and Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Each year, Ghostmeat Records releases a compilation CD in conjunction with AthFest. This year will see two AthFest compilations – AthFest 2007, already available on CD; and AthFest 2007 Volume Two, which will be released on June 19, 2007, and will only be available via digital download at I-TUNES and other digital retailers.
For those traveling from out of town, AthFest offers special travel packages, including accommodations at Foundry Park Inn, Holiday Inn and Gameday Condominiums. Packages include AthFest 2007 CDs, club crawl wristbands, t-shirt vouchers, a $10 Downtown Athens Gift Certificate and tickets for the Athens Music History Bus Tour.
Complete details on the entire festival can be found at www.AthFest.com