"The Newest Athens Music Collective"
March 16, 2010
by Jordan Stepp
The Newest Athens Music Collective
Featuring Over 30 Musicians From 11 Bands
In an incestuous college music town like Athens, collaborations and collectives aren’t that hard to find. Someone can be playing piano in one band on Tuesday and then hop onstage to play guitar with a different band on Wednesday. It’s one of those little quirks that drives a sense of community in a scene and allows for new and interesting things to appear suddenly, as if they were just drawn from the ether. But most of these gatherings are informal get-togethers, often one-night/record/tour-only shots. So, what would happen if a collective sprung up with the specific purpose of connecting musicians and working to get an entire musical community involved? Enter the Athens Music Collective.
“It was started as a way to tie the knot between all these Athens musicians, artists and associates,” says Jefferson Taffet, lead singer of local jam band Lionz. “Essentially, we started connecting with all of the people who sat in with Lionz, then all the musicians that they had played with, and on and on. We’re just trying to bring together all these different people in town who are professional-minded and who are interested in doing something.”
Soon, word got out about the AMC, and people who hadn’t played with any of the musicians before expressed interest in joining forces. Anyone who’s become a fan of the AMC Facebook page saw the project grow larger by the day. Constant updates from the group have revealed a barrage of new music from the members of the Collective as well as various new partners joining in on a pretty regular basis. As more and more bands and artists began joining, the group decided that it needed some direction and formed a board of directors. From there, the group began forming some loose plans. First on the agenda: a benefit concert.
The AMC is taking over the 40 Watt for what is the first in a hopefully long line of Athens Music Collective showcases. There are enough shared bandmembers among the bands that the night will be presented in a “round robin” format. Once a group gets through with its set, a musician or two from that band will swap out with others to form the next band on the bill, creating a tapestry of interconnected artists.
The lineup is definitely a diverse one, ranging from the Americana sounds of the Bros. Marler and The Burning Angels to the bluesy finger-picking of Mad Whiskey Grin. Throw in the hard-rockin’ and quirky Shitty Candy & the Circus Peanuts, add some soul courtesy of The Lefty Hathaway Band, then grab some country attitude with Betsy Franck & the Bareknuckle Band. As if that weren’t enough, the showcase also features rock acts Thieves Market, Boo Ray & the Bad Beat Kings, the funk-tronic sursievision, and, of course, Lionz.
All these artists are performing as a means to give back to the music community, says Taffet. All proceeds from the benefit show go to GoARTS! and other local programs designed to bring art and music to underserved children in the community. Bringing people together through music is what the Athens Music Collective is all about. There will also be a drawing during the show for a chance to win a guitar signed by R.E.M.
Taffet thinks that some future projects for the AMC might include an album featuring the Collective’s numerous bands and some more benefit showcases at the very least. Maybe even a festival one day, but that’s a ways off still. They are ambitious goals, but the members of the AMC are making sure that they don’t get ahead of themselves.
“A lot of it depends on who joins in and what they feel like doing,” says Taffet. “We’d love to get some record labels and lawyers and others on board, too.”
For now, though, the dream is being pieced together one day, and one band, at a time. Taffet says, “It’s all still really new, but the possibilities are endless.”
WHO Betsy Franck & the Bareknuckle Band, Boo Ray & the Bad Beat Kings, Bros. Marler, The Burning Angels, The Lefty Hathaway Band, Lionz, Shitty Candy & the Circus Peanuts, sursievision, Thieves Market and The Woodgrains
WHERE 40 Watt Club
WHEN Friday, Mar. 19, 9 p.m.
HOW MUCH $5 (21+), $7 (21+)