Photo Credit: Jessica Silverman
Editor's note: Athens singer-songwriter Emileigh Ireland contributed this list to this week's year-end music feature, and elaborates on it here.
Jan. 16: Pinky Doodle Poodle at Go Bar
Blake Stewart (Tabloid) had played a show with Pinky Doodle Poodle a few weeks before and said they were incredible. I definitely wanted to see them, but I'd worked a 12-hour day that Wednesday and had to work early the next morning. I finally saw them at the Flagpole music awards—only a six month delay.
Mar. 8: Sydney Morse, Cortez Garza, James of Mosaics at Flicker Bar
I'd played Liam Parke's Best of Unknown Athens with Sydney in 2017 and wanted to see her play again. Weekends I'm almost always working double shifts, so Friday nights have been nearly impossible for me to see things lately. If it was a Friday show, I probably wasn't there.
Apr. 6: Linqua Franqa, Taylor Alxndr, Lambda Celsius at Nowhere Bar
Linqua Franqa and Lambda Celsius on the same bill?! Saturdays are usually a night I try to go and support folks, since I can usually sleep in a bit on Sundays, but I can tell by my schedule calendar that I'd put in 70 hours of work that week, so I guess that's what I did with my time.
May 11: Hannah Jones Open Studio, John Fernandes, Goddess Complex at Wonderbarn
What a great night this was! Or, at least, I'm sure it was. I wasn't actually there. Hannah's organic leaning, technologically infused art is delightful and pairs well with John's clarinet loops that naturally phase as he wanders through the space he plays. Cloud Powers' Goddess Complex fits in beautifully with that, too. I'd have been there, but my rent has literally tripled in the past three years and my wages have, well, not, so I work a few jobs to pay the bills, and between them, I end up working almost every day.
Aug. 2: Catenary Wires at Nowhere Bar
I remember missing this show. I was trying to rally myself after practice with my Face/Off band, The Joy of Division, but, yeah, Fridays have been tough. Athens is really a unique place to live and create. So many great performers come through town, and it's impossible to catch all of them, even at the best of times. Before I moved to Athens, I'd sometimes drive the three hours to Grand Rapids, MI, and even make the eight-hour round trip drive to and from Detroit for a show. When I think about that, it blows my mind that it can be so hard to make it to a show a scant 20-minute walk from my house. But back then, I just worked one 40-hours-a-week job— and had two days off each week, too! So, I could make stuff like that happen.
Aug. 2: Motherfucker, Multicult, Super Thief, Waltz at Caledonia
Man, a lot of great things can go on on a single night. It's incredible. It's also incredible how little wages have moved over the past decade. Do you ever stop to think how long you have to work to buy things? A nice six-pack of toilet paper takes me about 40 minutes or so to earn at one of my hourly jobs. I’d've been happy to pay the cover for this show, though, since I know that paying a cover helps to supplement our local and touring artists' income so they can, ideally, spend more of their time doing the creative work we all enjoy.
Aug. 13: Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Thrüm, McQQeen at Caledonia Lounge
I've really loved seeing Thrüm. Jessica Smith's flute adds the perfect soft, loungy balance to Kris Deason's psychedelic guitar and Evan Leima's heavy drumming, but I've assuredly missed them more than I've been able to see them. I love seeing live performances, and being there is one of the best ways I know how to support the incredible performers that live and work in this town. Of course, it's getting harder and harder to do either of those things. I know I mentioned this before, but rents have risen pretty drastically. Even though I'm one of the most well paid employees at one of my hourly jobs, and even with all the overtime I've had to work this year, just the one income doesn’t meet the financial requirements my rental management company asks for in order to rent from them. I wish the rent I was paying was extraordinary, but it's become pretty average.
Sept. 20: Tabloid, Harry Carey, Balding, Donny Knottsville At Flicker Bar
I've yet to see Tabloid with Chris Ellenburg on drums, and the wildness of Harry Carey never disappoints. Donny Knottsville's sharp banter would have transitioned all these bands together as a beautiful full bill. I've really enjoyed the bands Max Talkovich has been in, but have yet to see Balding, the newest band he's playing with. The more I’ve looked over shows that have happened this year, the more I see that I've missed with local bands—lets not even touch on touring acts. I use to be able to attend more shows, and I sometimes start to wonder if I'm just getting, you know, old. But then I remember that the average hours I work a week have increased 40% to meet the rising cost of living.
Nov. 7 Timothy Eerie, Calico Vision, Hot Fudge at Flicker Bar
I'm really glad to have had the chance to collaborate with creative powerhouse Naoko Uno through Marie Uhler's bi-monthly Experimentique Nights, which focused on experimentation and collaboration between female, non-binary and gender-non-conforming individuals. It's unfortunate that Athens lost some creative entrepreneurship when Marie moved a few months ago, but I'm glad I was able to participate with a lot of wonderful artists, including Naoko. I did go to Calico Vision's show Apr. 20, which had some blazing, unique, holiday themed stage decoration. Their visuals and costuming bring some added joy to their stage performance and make each live show unique. I wish I could have seen what they incorporated into their set for this show.
Nov. 13: Bao, Health And Beauty, John Bohannon, Garden Portal Pond Band, Johnny Tsunami at Go Bar
I ran in to Kathleen Duffield (Papa Legba, Crunchy) a few months ago, and she was telling me about Bridget Dooley's druming skills, and I was real excited about her working with Ariel Ackerly in Bao for this show curated by Frank Hurricane. Kathleen and I both taught music together a few years ago—a second job I started when my single income wasn't keeping up with the bills. As much as this new economic climate has me, in modern parlance, hustling, I really enjoy most of the work I do—particularly teaching. It's just the volume that's taking me away from taking in and adding creativity to Athens' unique music scene. I know I'm not alone in missing things. It's not just shows that I'm missing, either. It's the chance to see people I've worked with grow their skills and show their new material. It's the chance to create new connections and collaborations. The biggest thing that's missing is the time to do those things. An ever-increasing number of folks around have more than one job, and I just wonder how the creativity this town claims to celebrate can last when the creative class, through income stagnation and cost of living increases, is pried out or snuffed from overwork.