AthFest Music and Arts Festival
June 26 – 28, 2015
Combining the best of an free, outdoor, family-friendly street festival and evening club-crawl showcases, AthFest is one of the finest examples of a community coming together to support a good cause. In this case, all proceeds go towards AthFestEducates, a non-profit that “advances high-quality music and arts education for local youth and the Athens community through direct support of school and community-based programs,” including getting musical instruments into the hands of school-age children. So you can feel good about yourself while enjoying the many local and regional bands on the three outdoor stages during the day and the ten or so indoor venues at night.
Although the outdoor festival is free, the best way to truly experience the music is armed with a wristband so you can get into the clubs on Friday and Saturday night. Be warned, the more popular shows will be crowded and you may not get in, so plan your schedule accordingly. But even if the show at the 40 Watt that you wanted to see is at capacity and the line is stretched around the block, I can guarantee you can walk a block or less and find another band that will excite you and keep you entertained. In fact, I never come away from AthFest without unexpectedly finding some new favorite band.
This year’s performers on the outdoor stages include New Madrid, The Whigs, Sol Driven Train, Of Montreal, Ken Will Morton, Lona, We Love Tractor, and The Baseball Project. Indoor shows feature Cracker, The Whiskey Gentry, Contraband, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Ralph Roddenberry Band (featuring Ike Stubblefield), Barbara Cue, Five Eight, and Powerkompany. And if you’re into clever band names, you might want to check out Percy Sledgehammer or the West VirginiaSlims.
AthFest is easily one of my favorite summer festivals, so mark your calendars, grab the kids, sunscreen, earplugs, an appetite and a good attitude, and meet me there. As Todd Snider says in Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues, “Pack up the van, boys, we’re going back to Athens.”
Check out this promo clip from 2014: