As a festival promoter myself, I understand the inherent difficulty in packaging and promoting one’s product to guarantee a crowd for your show. Getting the word out for a roots music festival – especially one with a slate of bands low on the visibility totem pole – is no easy task. With that in mind, I absolutely love what Athfest – a longtime music festival in Athens, Georgia, that showcases the talent of, perhaps, the South’s greatest musical city – is doing with their latest CD sampler.
While at the top of the Athfest bill there are names recognizable to most appreciators of the Southern music scene – Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Centro-Matic, Bloodkin, Kevn Kinney Band – much of the line up is fleshed out by bands that fly below the radar of listeners outside of the Athens area. In fact, I recognized exactly zero bands on the sampler. Because of that, I couldn’t wait to get the disc into my player. Every band on the sampler was going to be new to me, a discovery, a new treat for my ears.
I love the idea of the sampler as a way for me to pick and choose the bands I want to see before I ever hit town for the festival. Without a doubt, I would be front and center for The Knockouts, The Burning Angels, Monahan, and The Welfare Liners. Many others – Spirit Hair, The Spinoffs, Free Mountain – would certainly warrant a drop by, too.
Like all great roots festivals, Athfest has a lot going on at any given moment – many stages, many bands – and such diversity presents the festival goer with the ultimate dilemma . . . . “Where do I go now?” This sampler, thankfully, gives attendees an inside track on where they want to be just a wee bit early.
Athfest 2011 is out now on Ghostmeat Records.
Athfest will take place in Athens, Ga., June 22-26.