Photo Credit: Mike White
Because I grew up 20 minutes away from where Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter are from in West Virginia, I’m morally obligated to love Bloodkin. Even though most of their tunes can be described as Black Crowes-lite, I still get a kick out of hearing great made-for-radio pop. From their grey hair to the way they hold their instruments, you can tell that the guys in Bloodkin are veterans. The band took the stage right at 4:30 p.m. and busted out a solid hour of tunes from their almost 20-year career.
As soon as Lera Lynn hit the stage, I began to wonder why so many Athens-based musicians were packing up and heading to Nashville. It isn’t as though Nashville is a terrible music town (it certainly can hold its weight among every other great music town in the country), but I still can’t fathom why folks from Athens want to move to a more saturated scene. In any case, Lera took the stage and did what she always does, I guess. It isn’t that I don’t like her music—I do. It’s just that an outdoor setting during the middle of the day made her music sound a little flat. The 10 minutes of light rain in the middle of her set didn’t help the mood, either.
After a 30-or-so-minute delay, Patterson Hood and the Mystic Downtown Rumblers hit the Pulaski Street Stage around 7:30 p.m., a move that signaled the end of this year’s AthFest. It could’ve been the ridiculous humidity, but I felt like Hood and his bandmates had a little trouble getting in lock-step with one another at the very start. After a few tunes in, though, it seemed like they really found their groove. David Barbe traded off with Patterson’s father, David Hood, on bass for some of the more rocking songs on the setlist, like “Pollyanna” and “Heavy and Hanging.”
Although the set was culled from all three of Patterson’s solo records, the songs from Hood’s latest effort, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, sounded especially refined. The real highlight of the set, though, was a cover of the relatively unknown R.B. Greaves tune “Take a Letter, Maria,” a song that Patterson’s father recorded the day that the Rolling Stones laid down “Brown Sugar” at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. I love ridiculous rock trivia, so the story behind the song was just as entertaining to me as the soul-driven horn parts that were played during the cover.
After a few more covers and a love song dedicated to his wife and children, Hood wrapped up, and AthFest had ended. I’m sure vendors and volunteers had their hands full cleaning up the mess that was made over the weekend, but as the crowd made it’s way off Washington Street with smiles on their faces, it’d be hard not to call the weekend another success for Athens.