Save the Georgia Theatre!

When the Georgia Theatre re-opened its doors in October 1989, it quickly became known as the home of Athens ’ favorites Widespread Panic.  The band had far outgrown their old home around the corner at the Uptown Lounge, making the coupling of Panic and the Georgia Theatre, with nearly ten times the capacity of the old Uptown (not to mention their world class sound system unlike any other in town), a match made in heaven. 

Panic would soon outgrow the Theatre as well, but not before playing 39 shows over four years, along with a number of legendary performances under such aliases as These Few Songs, Bar Tab, and brute.

At the time, the Theatre was, without rival, the finest musical venue in Athens.  Over the years, the toll of playing host to hundreds of rowdy, drunken college kids every night left the Theatre run down and in serious need of a face lift. 

When Wilmot Greene took over the Theatre from the previous owners, he launched a campaign in late 2004 to renovate the glory of the venue’s past.  Wilmot was successful in having the venue designated as an official historic building earlier this year, leading to the formation of the Friends of the Georgia Theatre, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of the property.

In an effort to lend a hand to these efforts, members of various local bands will join forces on Thursday, May 24 to donate their time and talents to Dancing for Architecture, the first of many events planned to benefit the Friends of the Georgia Theatre ’s attempt to “bring back the art deco glory of the magnificent Georgia Theatre.”

The idea behind the Dancing for Architecture series was to bring together the city’s finest musical talent to recreate some of the magic that existed in the Theatre’s fabled hall in those early years, when many members of the musical community would join members of Panic under the Bar Tab name to debut new songs and to perform cover songs that were never played before or since.  Music was made that became part of the folk lore of the band’s early history. 

Tishamingo, who will be making their final public Athens appearance until the Fall, will headline the evening’s festivities, along with their friends that will include Justin Brogdon, Jason Fuller, Benji Shanks, and former bassist Stephen Spivey.

The organizers of Dancing for Architecture are especially delighted to welcome Danny Hutchens and Eric Carter of Bloodkin to the show, as they were the only musicians other than the members of Panic to have appeared at each of the Bar Tab performances. 

Organizers are also hard at work on a documentary, tentatively titled “Live from the Georgia Theatre,” documenting the history of a venue that promises to soon regain its’ status amongst the nation’s premiere live music halls.  The DVD release should be available late this year, and will include footage dating back to the original These Few Songs show, of note due to the fact that it was while watching footage of this show that the members of Panic first decided to begin performing Bloodkin’s tune “Who Do You Belong To.”

Fans can expect a very long evening of tunes, with the stage set up to allow near non-stop performances, without much need for loading in equipment as the musicians rotate on and off stage.  Festivities get under way just after 9 PM, and will continue as long as the crowd responds. 

While the evening promises to be filled with many surprise guests not mentioned below, a tentative schedule for the event is as follows:

9:15- 10:00  – Samurai Trout

10:00 -10:15 – Cameron Williams acoustic

10:15 -10:30 – The Alternators (Jess Franklin and Chuck Thomas of Tishamingo)

10:35 – 11:20 – Justin Brogdon Band (featuring Stephen Spivey, Benji Shanks, Jess Franklin, and Carlton Owens)

11:30 – 11:45 – Jason Fuller & Friends

11:50 – 12:30 – Danny Hutchens & Eric Carter of Bloodkin

12:30 – 2:00 – Tishamingo & Friends

2:00 – ??? – Encore Jam Session