By Rebecca Beato
The warm and kindly spirit of the group is apparent as I enter the home of Walden’s four band members, Eric Hangartner, Richard Becker, James de Lange, and Andrew Mendel. As soon as I walk in, Hangarthner offers me some green tea. Snarky Puppy, a jazz band the group listens to, plays in the background as we settle onto the living room couches. Immediately, the band made me feel welcome.
These guys don’t fit into the usual rock-and-roll stereotype that once made parents fearful of youth’s corruption. Understanding Walden begins with the band’s genre – the group calls it “Nice-Guy Rock,” which can be considered more of a soft rock. Through an aversion to the typical rock stereotypes, the band created this paradoxical title. From meeting the band or attending one of their shows, it’s evident how different they are from the iconic “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle. “You can be a normal guy who’s not this crazy ego maniac but perform for a bunch of people, share your music, be down to earth and not fit any of those molds,” Hangartner says. For the bandmates, playing their music is about bringing a great show through well-written songs and the energy between the four of them.
Walden’s original genre and unique purpose can be associated with the origin of their name. The group connected with the transcendentalist movement of the 19th century, as well as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Like those within the transcendentalist movement, the band works to distance themselves from conformity and stigmas, especially those that come along with being a rock ‘n’ roll band. The group highlights the importance of messages within songs. As Becker points out, “for us, the point of music is to make someone feel something.” Each song is a snapshot of a time, place or experience the band has had. Walden uses the “here and now” to teach the listener something they didn’t know at that time.
As an up-and-coming band, Walden has fought to find their sound. There comes a point as artists when the work produced reflects the group and doesn’t rip off other musicians. Creating a unique sound for the band has been about finding a healthy mixture of all the musical influences around them and incorporating those influences in Walden’s way. Everything the guys listen to goes “right in there” as Becker points to a region on the back of his head.
Their newest EP that came out in April is “the most Walden album” the band has yet to produce. The group has never been more confident about anything they have done. This pride comes from producing songs like “Fools Gold,” which came together in only two hours. “Fools Gold” embodies the dynamics of the band as they each contributed their own part to the song. The best way to describe Walden’s new sound is “raw.” When asked further to describe this “raw,” sound guitarist Becker says, “Just listen to it.”
For this group, the most important aspect of playing is the live performance. In their shows, the guys do their best to reach out to each audience member and make the concert as enjoyable as possible. Hangartner says, “We understand that not everyone standing in the audience knows us or likes our music – maybe they don’t even like coming to live concerts. Whatever it is, everyone has their own story.” No matter who is in the audience, the band focuses on creating the best experience for each person. Walden makes their concerts about connecting with the audience and showing each person a good time.
What are the band’s summers plans? Honestly, they aren’t sure themselves. Of course they plan on playing a concert back home in Marietta for all their friends. The network of friend-fans has been a large part of the band’s success as each friend shares the music with another friend and thus spreads the music like wildfire. We can expect to see great things come from Walden as these four guys continue to polish their passion for music. This summer as you’re relaxing by the poolside, be sure to look Walden up on Spotify for their new EP.
By: Camren Skelton
With spring and summer rapidly approaching, so is every music-lover’s favorite time of year. Festival season—and the crazy shenanigans that come with it—is upon us. If you’ve never had the opportunity of seeing your favorite artists live, surrounded by thousands of fans just as dedicated as you, then the feeling can only be described in one way--euphoric. Whether you spend a day, weekend or entire week winding your way around the grounds to find your favorite acts, the experience is one that cannot be replicated anywhere else. And the best part? Many of the best festivals are right at your doorstep.
Music Midtown — The Athens crowd is no stranger to this Atlanta-based festival. Held every year in September, Music Midtown falls at the perfect time to take that much-needed break from classes. In the past, Coldplay, Third Eye Blind, Lana del Rey and Young the Giant have headlined, and the2016 lineup is sure to be just as impressive. “I got the opportunity to work at Music Midtown last year because of my music business class,” says Tina Banjo, a junior finance major from Atlanta. “I’ve been in the past, but this time I actually got to go backstage and get autographs from some of the artists, so that was a really cool experience.” While not everyone will get to experience the festival that up close and personal, Music Midtown is definitely a must to check off your bucket list.
TomorrowWorld -- If Electronic Dance Music is what calls your name, then TomorrowWorld is the festival for you. Hailing from Belgium, TomorrowWorld is an extension of one of the biggest electronic festivals in the world—Tomorrowland. But you don’t need a passport to discover the magic this festival brings. Deep within the forest of Chattahoochee Hills, in a land hidden from civilization, it will be hard to remember you’re still in Georgia. However, as with any outdoor event, Mother Nature might not always be on your side. “I was at the festival for four days,” says Haley Leonard, a senior fashion merchandising major from Warner Robbins. “I was camping, and the rain was unreal making the entire place a muddy mess. But we embraced it and still had a great time.” Rain or shine, TomorrowWorld is sure to be a festival you won’t forget.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival — For those music connoisseurs, Bonnaroo is sure to be at the top of any bucket list. With a diverse array of musical styles ranging from indie rock, classic rock, folk, Americana and hip-hop, there is a stage at this festival that is sure to satisfy any taste. Notable acts in the past have included Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Kings of Leon and Kanye West, and 2016 will bring even more. Bonnaroo stems from a Creole slang word meaning “a really good time” and that is just what you’ll have when you step foot on the grounds in Manchester, Tennessee.
The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience -- Also known as Voodoo fest. If New Orleans isn’t enough to spark your interest, then the impressive past lineups will be sure to leave you begging to go. Foo Fighters, R.E.M., Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem, Modest Mouse... and the list goes on and on. Held every year on Halloween weekend, you might feel chills from more than just the music pouring from the stage.
Hangout Music Festival -- Held every year on the beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama, Hangout is unique amongst its festival counterparts. “Hangout stands out as one of the most fun festivals I’ve gone to,” says Leah Honkanen, a health promotions major from Huntsville, Alabama. “It combines everything I love from a beach trip with everything I love from a festival. I got to swim in the ocean, eat great food and get a good tan all while listening to amazing music.” And amazing is right. Past lineups have included Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews Band, Imagine Dragons and The Killers. The 2016 lineup is no different—if you’re dying to see Cage The Elephant, Alabama Shakes, The Weeknd and even Athens’ favorite, Moon Taxi, all in one place, then Hangout is one festival you will not want to miss.
Music has a way of bringing together diverse groups of people, and festivals are the perfect opportunity to see this at work. While it may seem impossible to pick just one, rest assured that no matter where you go, great talent, great music, great atmosphere and—in the words of Bonnaroo—“a really good time,” await you.
By Kelsey Green
Many up and coming bands have called Athens home, bands like R.E.M and the B-52s. The members find each other, build up a sound, and then make their debut here. Athens’ newest progressive rock star, Honeywheel, is no different.
The members of Honeywheel are the University of Georgia’s own Jacob St. Amand, a 20-year-old economics major from Sandy Springs, Georgia, Blake Kole, a 20-year-old marketing major from Johns Creek, Georgia, Jake Pokalsky, a 20-year-old finance and management information system major from Atlanta, and Shaubam Kadam, a 20-year-old public relations and political science major from Johns Creek, Georgia.
St. Amand and Pokalsky have known each other since sixth grade, but it wasn’t until the Sigma Kappa formal last spring did they find future band mate Kadam. During some small talk, they discovered that Kadam and St. Amand both played guitar while Pokalsky played bass, and they would be living near one another starting that summer. Then the all too expected phrase, “we gotta jam,” was exclaimed by Kadam, and they did just that.
Then, a few jam sessions later, Kadam brought long-time friend and drummer, Kole, to play as well, and the group fell into place. “We had no intention of forming a band, but it happened so naturally” St. Amand said. So, in May 2015, the band Honeywheel was born.
Since then, the guys have been working on their music non-stop. Picking up gigs wherever they can, and, when they can’t, they go to Live Wire to help get their name and music out to the Athens community. At their first gig, Honeywheel had a crowd of 20 to 30 people, “which for a first gig is pretty incredible” said Kole.
When asked what inspired their music, a range of answers were received, from soul to pop and rap to bluegrass. “We see ourselves as a melting pot,” Kadam said. “The commonality in our music, [progressive rock] tastes helps us make a base layer for our music, and then our extreme tastes influence us and our unique individual style within our songs,” said Pokalsky.
New fans can find a taste of their original music through their newest demo, called “Desert,” on the official Honeywheel facebook page.
Hoping to minimize outside influences on their music that might come with a manager or studio manager, Honeywheel looks at the band as a start-up business and divides up the duties within the band. For example, Kadam follows through with his training from Grady and handles the band’s public relations affairs, St. Amand runs the financial side of the band, Pokalsky works to find gigs in and around the area, while Kole runs their social media sites.
The band even goes so far as to self-produce their own music. Through their side business, Ruth Street Productions, Honeywheel hopes to have an EP out sometime around February 2016. Right now, they are working on their fifth original song, and, when they aren’t playing gigs downtown or practicing, they are working on recording, not only their own material, but also helping other new bands as well. Honeywheel opens Ruth Street Productions to other Athens bands to come in to mix. “It’s a tough industry; not a lot of money is made off loyalties. So this is our way of trying to help other great bands to start recording,” Pokalsky said.
With aspirations of one day playing at the Georgia Theatre and hoping to be able to go on a tour before their senior year, Pokalsky explains that Honeywheel is willing to take it “as far as we can go,” but, as long as the fans come, they promise to stick it out. For now their hopes are to continue to draw crowds and have their fans leaving their show with a strong, positive emotional response.
For more information, visit the bands Facebook site and look forward to their new EP in 2016!
By Ashley Dozier
New Year resolutions always follow the same routine, every year we focus on getting slimmer (for about a month), changing our styles, and letting go of stressors. As 2016 rolls around, try breaking the cycle and finding a new perspective this year through the unique Art museums and studios that Athens have to offer. Immersing yourself in art and art culture is a great way to relive stress and expand your knowledge of new and classic artists, learn a bit of history, and get in touch with your creative side. Candace Ibori, a freshman, Biology major, from Asheville, North Carolina, says, “Art is important to me because it’s a constant reminder of the beauty of the human mind and the blend of cultures that surrounds us today.” Get to know some of the up and coming artist of this year; and who knows, you might even get inspired to become the next great artist of Athens yourself.
Here’s a list of five Art Museums and Studios around Athens to help you see and understand art in new, creative perspective for the New Year.
By Emma Korstanje
The Classic City has made a name for itself in the history of Georgia in many ways, the most obvious being that it is the home of the beloved University of Georgia. For many people, the knowledge of Athens ends somewhere between football and education related statistics.
This limited view of the city leaves out one of its main contributions. With a history dating back to the 1950s, focusing especially on the 1980s when two bands pulled the city to the forefront of the rock music scene, the Athens music scene is not one to be ignored.
With this history in mind, it is understandable to want to explore the live music scene in the New Year. By visiting any of the following five venues, from the well-known to the hidden gems, a curious listener will easily be able to discover new music and possibly even stumble across the next B-52s or R.E.M.
After finally settling on a location off of West Washington Street in 1991, the 40 Watt Club quickly made a name for itself in what could be referred to as Athens’ underground music scene. In the years since, the club has hosted a slew of local bands and emerging artists, as well as many highly popular artists such as Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, Run-DMC, Dierks Bentley and John Mayer, to name a few in a list of many. “It’s one of those hidden nooks of Athens that is such a unique wealth of life,” says Ruth Ann Traynelis, a freshman public health major from Atlanta, when asked about her experiences in the club. “I am so impressed by the wide variety of music that is shared there.” Regarding the music played, Traynelis is entirely correct as a night in the entirely general admission, standing room only venue could be spent listening to any of the multitudes of genres classifying music today. After basking in the dimly lit, mysterious atmosphere that radiates history, a music fan may just find themselves checking the venue’s website for the next upcoming event.
Located in a parking lot behind 40 Watt and off of West Clayton Street, the Caledonia Lounge is one of the most physically unique venues on this list. “It’s a shady steel shed with rowdy punk shows, and that’s about the best you can ask for in a college venue,” says Brian Chenard, a freshman English major from Cumming. Chenard’s remarks form a fairly good description as the venue has been serving a unique sound to eager listeners, due to its metallic-influenced architecture and outdoor space, since forming in 1999. While it does welcome many different genres, this particular venue focuses on emerging, alternative bands. The venue’s website keeps an up-to-date list of upcoming events and pricing for those ready to experience new music.
Lumpkin Street Station:
As one of the newer venues to join the Athens scene, Lumpkin Street Station is a great choice for the live music fans who are fairly familiar with the town and are desiring a new location to visit on Friday nights. After the owners of Ashley Street Station in Valdosta purchased the building, located just off of North Lumpkin Street and previously known as The Green Room, the space was reworked to resemble its southern Georgia predecessor. As it is technically a bar, all shows have a minimum attendance age of 21 years or older, although the main focus of the site is live music rather than bar-hopping. This particular venue advertises a wide variety of acts, ranging from rock ‘n’ roll to singer songwriter and everything in between. For a full listing of upcoming events, visit the Lumpkin Street Station Facebook page.
Flicker Theatre & Bar:
For those looking to experience more than just a night of music, the Flicker Theatre & Bar located off of West Washington Street is the place to visit. Described as a bar that “just has a really cool aesthetic,” by Bianca Shamim, a junior mass media arts major from Lilburn, this venue’s unique interior of warm tones and ever-changing art displays creates a friendly, artsy and cozy atmosphere. A visit to Flicker could be spent in either of the two halves of the building: the bar side more aimed at socialization or the theater-slash-stage side where they show local movies and more often, bands. This particular venue has also built a name for itself in other mediums, such as poetry readings, art shows, local variety acts and of course, its famed free popcorn. Due to this variety, it is helpful to check the event schedule found on the venue’s website before planning a night on the town.
As one of the biggest and most popular indoor venues in Athens, the Georgia Theatre is a regular in conversations regarding the live music scene. With a history dating back to 1889, when the building located on North Lumpkin Street was first built, the venue served many purposes ranging from the local YMCA to a furniture store. After being rebuilt in 2009 following a fire that completely destroyed the interior of the building, the venue was redecorated using a creative juxtaposition of modern accents and classic exposed brick that acts as a reminder of the building’s rich history. As a larger, more well-known venue in Athens, it has built a reputation of bringing larger acts to the Classic City. Of these, there have been a wide variety of acts such as indie band, Moon Taxi, country star, Kenny Chesney, and metal group GWAR. A full list of upcoming events as well as past performers is available on the venue’s website.
From artsy to punk-rock, small-town to Top 40 hits and everything in between, there is a venue for every listener. With just a bit of research and inclination towards adventure, finding new music to accompany the New Year can be an easy task.
By Danny McArthur
It can be hard to find that perfect place between reality and fiction where you are so enmeshed with a book that you forget where you are. Between the stresses of school, extracurricular activities and the social scene, finding the time to sit outside and relax with a book can seem like an impossible task. Sometimes, however, it is just what you need. Think about the last time you sat outside and relaxed with a book. If you draw a blank, then here are seven books to get you out of the house and into nature.
“Grasshopper Jungle” by Andrew Smith: To say this book defies a category would be an understatement. Reading the very weird Amazon.com summaries might make some people reluctant to pick this book up, but those who are brave enough to give it a chance will not regret it. The premise is strange: a freak encounter with some bullies leads to protagonist Austin and his friend Robby accidentally setting off the end of the world. This could easily be scary, but Smith takes a humorous route instead. One would think that a literal bug apocalypse would be enough of a storyline, but Smith takes it further by making it a coming-of-age novel at the same time. Though the combination seems a little random, it actually works because it gets the reader inside the protagonist’s head. Austin has a distinct voice that makes one aware that the inside of a teenage boy’s head is a very scary, yet fascinating thing to encounter. This is definitely a book that will make you forget about your surroundings; just make sure no one is standing over your shoulder while you read it.
“These Things Hidden” by Heather Gudenkauf: This is one of those books that starts off with characters that seemingly have nothing in common and slowly shows the connections between them. The story revolves around Allison Glenn, who has just gotten out of prison for committing a heinous crime. Secrets abound in this story, forcing the reader to study the other characters’ point of view until finally, the truth is revealed. “She allows us to see two sides of the story,” says Arianna Smith, a junior psychology and criminal justice double major from Lithia Springs. The multiple perspectives provide a unique way to experience the story as you wait for all the loose ends to be tied up. This is definitely a book to add to your reading list, as it reflects the damaging effects secrets can have.
“Sweet, Hereafter” by Angela Johnson: At 128 pages, this book is one that won’t require a lot of time. All the same, this little gem makes use of every single word. Johnson’s main point of interest in the book is Shoogy’s relationship with a war veteran named Curtis, who is even more enigmatic than her. With short chapters and lyrical language, readers are forced to keep their focus on the characters rather than what is going on around them. The many scenes at Curtis’s cabin in the woods make you wish you had a similar place to disappear to; sitting under a tree would be a nice way to disappear inside this book.
“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty: Moriarty provides an interesting look at how one woman copes with being given the chance to start anew. “The story is about how she [Alice Mary Love] is thrown into the present while still acting like her past self,” says Jada Lewis, a freshman health promotions major from Marietta. As she navigates her new life, she must contemplate the choices she’s made. “It is really interesting seeing her try to fit inside the life she didn’t really think she wanted,” Lewis says. Moriarty designs this book to get you thinking. After reading, you will consider your own life and the directions you want it to take.
“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell: Rowell wrote the bestseller “Eleanor and Park.” Though that book had a very definite style, “Fangirl” is a little more down to earth. It follows protagonist Cather’s journey to find who she is without either her father to babysit or her twin to shield her, mirroring many other’s experience during their first year of college. Her passion with fanfiction makes her relatable to anyone who uses their creative talent as a way to cope. This book is one you want to pick up whenever you have a free moment and need a character whose problems will either mirror your own or make you feel less alone. For anyone who is really interested in the fanfiction itself, Rowell is releasing “Carry On” this October.
“Born Confused” by Tanuja Desai Hidier: If “Fangirl” is a find-yourself novel, then “Born Confused” ups the stakes by throwing culture into the mix. Protagonist Dimple Lala is an American born Indian who struggles with feeling both too Indian and not Indian enough. It is fascinating to watch her growth as she explores her culture and meets others who are doing the same. Hidier’s description of Dimple’s photography adds an extra element to the novel. It is through the lenses of her camera that Dimple is able to see the world for what it is. While it is a lengthy read at 512 pages, it can be spread out over a period of time rather than all at once. “Born Confused” is a book you will come back to again and again.
“The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man” by James Weldon Johnson: “The biggest thing about the book is that it talks about how socially constructed race is,” says Nicollette Lewis, a junior biological sciences major from Birmingham, AL. The book describes one man’s struggle with his black background post-Civil War. It is truly thought provoking, making you question what really defines race and how much society affects the way we view our own. If you are one of those people who likes serious reading, this is the book for you.
With all these choices, readers of all tastes have the excuse to lay out in a quad and enjoy the weather, so just pick one and enjoy!
By Katie Story
“Magic is a community of people who either like card games or like to be very competitive,” says Alex Cullen, a senior finance and management information systems major from Atlanta. “It’s kind of made up of all different kinds of people. It’s a very deep, intellectual game.”
Magic the Gathering is a fantastical trading card game that has been around for more than twenty years. Debuting at a gaming fair in Dallas, Texas in 1993, it was a huge hit among players. The language of the game is very epic. The website online talks about a “legendary story” and calls its players “Planeswalkers.” The game creates an aura of excitement, other-worldliness and fun. “I kind of figured it would be like chess where if you know how to play you’ll win 100 percent of the time,” says Alex Newman, a senior mathematics major and Magic player from Alpharetta. “There’s a lot of different combinations.”
Walking into the store on a Friday night, one of a few Magic nights hosted at Dragon Star Hobbies, the atmosphere is exciting. Tables are set up, mats are arranged on the tables to protect the cards and a large countdown clock is positioned in the corner to let people know when the next round will start. The store even has a special program to sort players. This is based on a system used nationwide. Theoretically, you could walk into any store and, so long as you have an account, could play with that rank anywhere. This creates a huge network of Magic players.
“Since Friday Night Magic is the most popular night, there will be about 45-50 people,” says University of Georgia alumnus and store owner Joe Teskey. The makeup of the crowd is usually locals and mostly males. Though Teskey says this game has a fairly better mix of people than other games, he would still like to see more students playing.
Another aspect of the atmosphere is the lack of hostility. People are friendly; the staff isn’t giving curious glances to a newcomer with a notebook asking questions to people and jotting down notes. Teskey explained that the store prides itself on being welcoming to everybody and having a friendly atmosphere. The store’s ambiance determines the clientele.
New players are especially welcomed. You can receive two packs of magic cards for free because the company that owns Magic, Wizard, wants new players. “Yeah, I was actually kind of surprised [at the friendliness]. I was intimidated to come here. Because we play this game, you start opening up to people. They’re really nice,” Newman says.
Going into Friday Night Magic at Dragon Star isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. Though professional players do play the games, this shop is very friendly to newcomers, and everyone is encouraged to come. There are about three gaming stores in Athens, but Dragon Star is the biggest.
Like any sport or pastime that develops a cult following, people bond over the experience and can vent over the frustrations of the game. This creates a community that, at least fostered at Dragon Star, is welcoming and open to new players and is a unique, interesting way to spend a Friday night.
By: Nick Seymour | Photography: David Barnes
Drilling holes in wood for three to four hours doesn’t sound like anybody’s typical weekend, especially when it’s not for profit, but for Ojaswa “Oj” Prasad, it’s a reality. Prasad, a junior biochemistry major from Johns Creek, makes two to three world maps made of different sized holes drilled into wood every weekend he goes home.
The sculptures are no small feat. They require hours of work and heaps of ingenuity from the design to the finished product. “So I can only make them at home at my parents’ place because I don’t have the tools here, and I’m pretty sure all my neighbors here would get annoyed if they constantly heard drilling, so I do it when I go home on the weekends,” Prasad says. He can’t go home every weekend, however, so there’s even less time to make each sculpture. That’s why the production has “protracted a bit.”
Prasad can only make about three or four at a time. “The first time I didn’t have a template board, so it took a bit longer,” Prasad says. “But I created a template board that’s about 32 inches by 48 inches. So I gridded it out, and I also had to have a projection for the population and landmass base.” The projection he used is called the Kavrayskiy VII projection, which is one of 60 ways in which cartographers have tried to flatten our spherical world onto a rectangle. It basically comes out as squares and is based on population relative to land mass and location. “I had to use that to figure out four different hole sizes.”
Making the maps is incredibly time-consuming and detailed work. Prasad has to buy special drill bits so that the wood doesn’t tear and so he doesn’t have to re-sand it all after he’s done. He buys his wood at Home Depot, but it doesn’t come in the right size, so he has to buy larger pieces and then cut them into thirds. Creating the actual holes takes the most time, though. “The holes take forever - at least three to four hours for the holes,” Prasad says. And since he has to make sure each hole is lined up exactly, he can’t use a work bench; he has to lean into every single hole he drills, causing his arm and shoulder to hurt. To counter this, he takes a break after he finishes each continent. “With the breaks, it’s doable.”
With the template Prasad has made, the work is considerably easier. By making the board, he has cut his work down from five hours per board to just three because it’s easier to see where the holes are and what sizes they need to be. “I have the template board and then I have two boards underneath. That makes it easier in terms of strain and whatnot, and then I have to sand down the wood. Sometimes I have to sand down the front because it does tear on the front and it needs to be smooth. I stain the front so it looks a bit nicer, and for that it needs to be a smooth surface. And then I add a trim to it, so it doesn’t look like plywood - it looks kind of fancy.”
Prasad gives a map its shadow-box effect by attaching four separate blocks of wood onto the back that hold the board off by four inches. Then he puts the wire across the top for hanging. As a bonus, he can add LED lights behind the board as well.
All of that is a lot of work for something that doesn’t make any profit for Prasad, but he’s not doing it for profit. He’s making and selling these sculptures to raise money for a second service trip with MEDLIFE (Medicine, Education and Development for Low-Income Families Everywhere). For his 2014 spring break, Prasad went with about 30 other UGA students to Peru. Each day they were there, they traveled one or two hours outside of Lima, where there are millions of people living in shacks. While there, they built an enormous staircase to help the people climb up and down an extremely steep hillside. They built a house for a single mother, and they set up a mobile clinic, which offered a variety of medical services from dentistry to gynecology.
And MEDLIFE wasn’t just “sticking a Band-Aid on it” like other volunteer organizations might. Even though the volunteers from UGA and other American universities have to leave after a week, there are permanent interns and doctors that stay in Peru to perform follow-ups on the patients. That’s what makes MEDLIFE different from other organizations and creates lasting and impactful change in the area.
Prasad’s experience at with MEDLIFE is by no means singular. “It’s inexplicable,” says Veronica Benedit, a senior biology major from Loganville and current Service Chair for MEDLIFE. “I’ve been to a handful of places, but this was the best kind of vacation for me, because you spend the day helping people with their lives, and then you have the evening to spend with friends seeing this beautiful country. And then the next day, you do it all over again. There was so much worth in a single day - it’s overwhelming.”
After the program was over, Prasad, Benedit and their fellow volunteers got an email that showed how many people they helped over the course of just one week. “We helped 2,860 people, but to me, that wasn’t enough,” Prasad says. He says that the best way that he could help those in need was to become a doctor so that he could stay there and give them all the time that they needed.
Prasad says that he wants to raise about $2,400 in revenue for his next trip, which would either be in Peru again or possibly in Ecuador. So far, he’s raised $600 selling his pieces to students for $100 each. He posted on various UGA Facebook groups in January saying that he was selling his sculptures, and he’s been working on them ever since.
By: Catherine Pierson | Photography: Laura Baker
Are you looking for a unique place to hang out with friends over the summer? Maybe you think the bar scene of downtown Athens has become overrated with a nasty smell of old Burnett’s shots scattered across the floor. The pool is always a fun atmosphere, but rain is a frequent occurrence throughout the summer, so why not try something new and creative?
ARTini’s is the place you want to be. Its location on West Broad Street allows you to continue to experience the popular nightlife of downtown Athens without the crowds. ARTini’s is exactly what it sounds like and a business that specializes in art and alcohol.
“It’s time to do something I love every day, and it’s time to use the gift I was given to give back,” says Kate Cook, ARTini’s owner/artist instructor. “It excites me to share art and bring it to everyone.”
ARTini’s is not just a business, but also a passion. Once you step inside, you will realize the hard work that Cook puts in for everyone to feel the same way as she does about art.
“I thought ARTini’s was a great combination of fun and chill with a side of cat[s],” says Ridley Griggs, a graduate student majoring in health policy and management from Cornelia.
ARTini’s is not just filled with paintbrushes, canvases and a lounge. Cats roam the place too. Penelope is one of the two cats that meet you at the door as you walk in. The cats are friendly and enjoy helping you paint, putting their little paws into the paint water. It is the perfect place to make some new furry friends.
The instructors are all very encouraging and take you step by step with every stroke and color of paint. The paint, brushes and canvases are all included in the cost. You don’t even have to clean up before leaving. The instructors use acrylic paint that dries very quickly, so you can take your painting home that same night. Then, when your beautiful painting is hanging on the wall, all of your friends will wonder, “How did you do that?” ARTini’s is a great place to show off your skills and abilities to everyone at home.
“I felt like I really did learn something,” says Sarah Ellen Williams, a junior biology major from Macon. “I would definitely go back and bring my mom because she would love it because it has her two favorite things: painting and wine.”
ARTini’s is great for when your parents and siblings make a visit. The atmosphere is better with a group because it is fun comparing each other’s paintings as the process goes along. People of all ages can enjoy painting and the process takes about two hours, which can then turn into a full night of fun. A girl’s night is definitely recommended at ARTini’s.
“If you’re looking for a chill place with cool beer and air conditioning, it’s the right place,” says Sami Netherton, a junior biology major from Alpharetta. “Plus, the free cups at the end were awesome for bringing to the pool.”
So next time you and your friends are bored or just looking for something new and fun to do, go check ARTini’s out, play with some adorable cats and even get a souvenir. Your time will not be wasted and you will be wondering why you hadn’t visited this place sooner.
By: Lauren Leising | Photos Contributed by: AthFest
What comes to mind when you think of Athens, Ga? The ever-expanding, bustling, beautiful city we call home is known for great food and drink, an incredibly diverse population, a tight-knit community and, of course, music. One of the most defining characteristics of Athens is its booming music and art scene. It it known for producing and hosting up-and-coming artists from around the country in its iconic venues, such as the 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre. The profound emphasis on music and art is felt throughout the city and has given rise to concerts and festivals year-round, including the annual AthFest festival that takes place each June and draws the community together to celebrate after the school year has come to a close.
According to Jill Helme, the current AthFest Executive Director, “[AthFest] started 19 years ago as a small festival on the steps of the courthouse with a few hundred people in attendance,” and has since “grown to a multi-day festival that spans four blocks and welcomes over 30,000 people to the city of Athens.” The festival celebrates musical and artistic talent from people across the country and includes several days of live music, artist booths and a two-night Club Crawl around Athens.
AthFest is organized and put on by AthFest Educates, which is dedicated to supporting music and art education for youth in the Athens area and to encouraging students to pursue their creative passions. All proceeds from the festival go directly to providing schools and organizations, such as Barrow Elementary School and the Lyndon House Arts Center, with funding for arts programs for young students and children.
At Barrow Elementary School, Leslie Sokal-Berg was able to purchase new instruments for her students and says that the school is “able to completely transform what [they] offer [their] students.” At the Lyndon House Arts Center, Didi Dunphy, the program supervisor, says that the arts center is using their first grant from AthFest Educates to purchase the equipment needed for a stop-motion animation program for fourth- and fifth-graders and to expand their program offerings.
Each year the Lyndon House Arts Center organizes week-long summer camps for the youth of Athens and is dedicated to showcasing the talent of young artists and to showing students the joys of art. The value that AthFest Educates places on the arts resonates with both Sokal-Berg and Dunphy, who believe that the arts offer students opportunities to excel in life by seeing the beauty and possibilities in art.
“Kids that struggle with reading, math or general studies can find success in the arts,”Sokal-Berg says. Didi Dunphy believes that art “is integrated into life” and that creativity is necessary for success in the future. Studying the arts allows students to fully express themselves and take pride in the things they have made, and that is something to be valued.
When discussing AthFest, one cannot forget the outstanding and diverse range of musical performances featured on the festivals’ stages. The festival has played host to local, regional and national performers and has offered many up-and-coming bands the opportunity to gain traction and expand their fan base. One such band is Seven Handle Circus. Shawn Spencer, a member of the band, has performed in three AthFest celebrations and will be opening the festival on the main stage this year. He explained that he enjoys coming back to the festival because of the enthusiastic audience, diverse crowds and the overall “culture of it.”
Noah Adams, member of Dirty Bourbon River Show, will also be returning to the festival this year and says that he enjoys playing AthFest because “they host a great range of acts in a wonderful setting.” He says that one of the best things about the festival from the perspective of a performer is “looking out from the stage and not being able to tell where the crowd stops.”
Ryan Price, a junior at UGA, was standing in the crowd at last year’s festival and loved it. “There was a very diverse crowd,” Price says. “Everyone finds their place and enjoys themselves.” He agrees that the festival truly offers something for everyone and that “AthFest epitomizes the college and music scene [Athens] has. It is a true Classic City event.”
Whether you stay in Athens for summer or not, coming downtown for AthFest is truly worth it, and you will be sure to leave enthused and excited. By fusing the art, music and culture of Athens, AthFest makes the crowd come alive. The festival offers each person something that stirs them, makes their heart beat fast and brings them into community with those around them. With the intention of furthering music and art education for students, AthFest succeeds in bringing people together to celebrate and educates us all on how to have a good time.
By: Brittany Bowes| Illustrations: Orlando Pimentel
It’s Thursday night, and downtown Athens is buzzing with energy. As you round the corner, you see a line forming outside the Georgia Theatre and the name of the showcase musician lighting up the marquee. From REM to the B-52s, Athens has always been a stop for budding artists. Upon closer inspection, however, it is evident that the Athens music scene is more than what you see downtown.
The Hugh Hodgson School of Music is home to much of this talent. A rising national leader in music schools today, Hugh Hodgson offers state-of-the-art facilities to help students in their dreams of performance careers in the future. The Performing Arts Center draws world-class artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Music students make up a large number of the patrons who attend these performances. Recently, Jazz at Lincoln Center performed at the venue.
“It’s ridiculous to see them live,” says Lauren Floyd, a junior music performance major from Marietta. “We even got a chance to have a private session with their drummer, Wynton Marsalis.”
Although Floyd has attended her fair share of concerts at the Georgia Theatre, many of her favorite performances came from the Performing Arts Center.
“I have a wide range of favorite artists,” Floyd says. “That seems to be a common trend in the music school.”
Others seemed to share this opinion. Chris Delmas, a freshman from Fort Oglethorpe, said that he “really likes all genres of music because they all tie into each other. All music comes from the same place.”
A double-major in music performance and education, Delmas hopes to someday play trombone for a symphony or philharmonic orchestra or teach. With this wide variety of tastes, Delmas says he tries to take full advantage of all the Athens music scene has to offer. He often ventures to the 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre to support his friend’s band. Decades after REM, Athens is still a hot spot for budding artists to discover, cultivate and pursue their passion in all genres of music.
In addition to being patrons of performances, the school of music gives students the opportunity to display their talents through their own performances. Music education major Lillie Smith, a sophomore from Thomasville, was given the opportunity to play the Battle Hymn during the Troy game this football season.
“The Battle Hymn is such a significant part of UGA football history, and it felt good to be a part of it,” Smith says.
She has played the trumpet for 10 years and hopes to someday teach music in a school. She also plays guitar, drawing inspiration from favorite artist Ed Sheeran.
So while the students of the school of music have a wide range of favorite artists, it is evident that they are all passionate about the same things – music and performance. Together they prove that the Athens music scene is more than just the venues downtown. In fact, talent can be found in every corner of campus, making the University of Georgia not only a venue for world-class artists to perform but a venue to produce world-class performers in the future.
by shakera lewis / photography by laura baker
Like everything else technology touches, the film industry as we know it is changing. In 2013, industry manufacturers stopped producing the previous method of release, 35 millimeter film prints, in favor of a digital option. As a result, movie theaters were forced to transition from film projection to digital cinema projection, and small and independent theaters struggled to keep up.
When hit by this crisis Athens’ local theater Ciné took action. The art house located on Hancock Avenue sought to stay open and remain the place for Athenians to see both classic and independent films. To do this, though, Ciné needed approximately $160,000 to pay for equipment to run these films.
Ciné used a Kickstarter profile to solicit the help of the community to raise $60,000 of the total, and got the rest from other generous donors. The Kickstarter ran from June 11, 2013 until August 18, 2013, generating $64,290. And while some small theaters choose to buy old digital projectors from larger theaters, the Kickstarter campaign and other fundraising techniques helped Ciné to buy all-new digital equipment for its theaters.
Co-president of Athens Film Arts Institute and film studies professor at the University of Georgia, Richard Neupert works closely with Ciné and recalls the decision to buy new equipment. “We actually had someone working for us for a while who thought going used would be a great cheap alternative for a small theater like us, and I rejected that immediately,” Neupert says. “You wouldn’t want to buy a five-year-old computer. Why would you want to buy a five-year-old digital projector?”
Alas, with all-new digital projectors Ciné would continue in its mission to “enrich the quality of life in Athens by presenting film and arts that inspire, educate, and build [the] community” with the means to show new films as well as classics.
Ciné’s new digital projectors present benefits both to film distributors to Ciné itself. Distributors reap a more financial benefit than small theaters. The expenses to make and ship 35mm prints is cut for distributors since they now must only ship hard drives to theaters compared to three or four 35mm reels per film. “It’s easier for them to make a whole bunch of hard drives and send out than to make very expensive 35mm prints that are good quality,” Neupert says. Conversely, small theaters benefit a consistency from digital projectors. With 35mm reels, wear and tear are common; however, with the digital system’s hard drives, this is no longer an obstacle. “Often we’ve had prints come in, where maybe the second reel out of six has a scratch in it and we have to quick[ly] send out for a new reel number two, and then we ship it back, and they ship us a new reel,” Neupert says. “That’s not a problem with digital. It’s all on one hard drive. When it’s there, it’s there. It’s all the same quality.”
Even with this new equipment, Ciné has no plans to abandon its 35mm projection system. Although the projectors take up more space than digital projectors, Neupert says they are still valuable. Keeping one 35mm projector “allows [Ciné] to show special screenings of things that aren’t on [digital cinema projection], and [35mm projection] is far superior than showing something on a DVD or Blu-Ray. And it allows special things, especially for retrospect.”
Under the direction of Pamela Kohn since January 2014, Ciné hopes to increase its showtimes with more late showings on weekends and more matinee showings throughout the summer and during vacation periods. “There is also interest in expanding with some specialized home-grown film festivals so that Ciné really is the hub of film activity in the Athens area,” Neupert says.
As for the film industry, Neupert says there is still a place for films shot on 35mm cameras. “Apparently there’s a huge resurgence, where people shooting on 35mm aren’t happy with the digital cameras,” Neupert says. So, some films like superhero summer blockbusters are shot solely with digital cameras, while some are shot using 35mm cameras but released on digital. Neupert says some cinematographers like using 35mm cameras “because you get the flexibility of post-production on digital, the ease and cheapness of having digital production, but you get a much more photographic image form 35mm cameras.” Still, some films are shot using a hybrid method, making use of both 35mm cameras and digital cameras, which is much more common, Neupert says. “There’s certain that are easiest to shoot digital [while] other scenes might be better in 35mm, so it’s become pretty normal.”
by Ryan Kor / photography by Mercedes Bleth
160 Tracy St
One of the best ways for local artists to be inspired is to view the work of others. At the Athica art gallery, viewers can enjoy a unique sensory experience with each new exhibit.
Located in the Chase Park warehouse district, Athica is a non-profit gallery that promotes innovative and contemporary art. The gallery’s urban setting adds to its charm. The building used to be a cotton storage facility before its renovation.
All artists are welcome to submit an exhibit to be featured in Athica’s gallery; however, Athica focuses on multi-dimensional displays that use several different mediums of art. Their current exhibit, “Advice from the Oceans,” includes interactive sound features from Elephant 6 recording studios, paintings, and sculptures. The exhibit will continue until November 16th.
“Athica did a very good job of giving the viewer a well-rounded and informative picture of the topic being presented and made me pleased that I went,” says Emma Price, a graduate student in the social work master’s program from Canton.
The interior of Athica is restructured for each new exhibit; walls are torn down and rebuilt, and artwork is sometimes suspended from the ceiling. The flexibility of the gallery is a testament to its love for innovative art.
A visit to Athica is a powerful artistic experience that will inspire local artists to think outside of the box.
237 Prince Avenue
Athens is full of musicians waiting to be heard, and Hendershots’ open-mic night is a breeding ground for up-and-coming talent.
Every Monday starting at 7:30 p.m., Hendershots hosts one of the most well-known open-mic nights in Athens. Local musicians flock to the coffee shop to get their ten minutes of stage time, during which they can play only two songs. One or both of these songs must be an original composition, but covers are also welcome. The popular café-and-bar features close to 20 acts every Monday night.
“Open-mic night provides a platform for both beginners and professional musicians to showcase new and old material,” says owner Seth Hendershot.
The warm and eclectic feel of Hendershots is the ideal creative environment for performers of all stripes. Soulful and folksy melodies fill the space and create an invigorating energy in the audience. How could a performer feel nervous with the amount of praise and support doled out by the listeners?
“I love Hendershots,” says regular customer Bob Brussack. “There is music here almost every night.”
Open-mic nights like these give Athens a voice. To perform, sign up the Sunday before between 6 and 9 p.m. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nestled in suburban Five Points neighborhood, the Poetry Post is an unassuming monument for passing poets.
The Poetry Post is a painted wooden sign that showcases a single poem in its glass display case. The handcrafted sign sits in the front yard of a beautifully manicured home. Lily, the owner of the iconic sign, was inspired by a similar sign in Portland, Ore. Her husband built the sign for her two years ago, and since then, Lily has posted a new poem every week for neighbors and artists to enjoy.
Lily’s goal is to brighten the mood of the few people who see the Poetry Post each day. The poems are usually themed around nature; a detail that is suiting for the organic setting of the sign. Local artists are encouraged to submit their work for Lily to feature. Just stick a poem in the mailbox.
“The Poetry Post is an intimate insight into the heart of Athens’ desire to create and share,” says Zachary Sins, a senior history major from Woodstock.
A visit to the Poetry Post is the perfect way for local artists to connect with nature and contribute to this artistic anomaly. Take a walk to Highlands Avenue and be inspired.
Artini's Art Lounge
296 West Broad St
Drink, snack, and paint all at the same time. Situated in the heart of downtown, ARTini’s Art Lounge is an oasis for all levels of painting enthusiasts.
ARTini’s painting soirées allow anyone to be an artist by creating an original masterpiece in a 2-3 hour painting session. Experienced instructors guide each guest, stroke by stroke, until they have created a piece of art worthy of hanging above the mantle. Guests can sign up for sessions based on which piece of art they want to create, and there are themes ranging from the UGA arch to a desert sunset.
All ages are welcome; however, to participate in the “drink” portion of the experience, guests must be at least 21. ARTini’s serves wine and beer -- a great compliment to the creative process. Guests are encouraged to bring their own snacks and food to munch on during the session. “Expect to have a good time,” says owner and instructor Kate Cook.
ARTini’s also offers open studio hours during the week where painters desiring more freedom can utilize the studio and paint whatever they wish. Artists who are interested in displaying their work around the gallery can contact the owner at email@example.com.
Painters of all skill levels have found a home in ARTini’s, so pick up a paintbrush and turn a blank canvas into a masterpiece of color.
Story and Photos by Lauren Leising
As I walk around campus, I can’t help but notice that the majority of people I see have their heads down, noses in
their phones and fingers tapping away. I’m guilty of it too. It’s so easy to whip out your phone just about anywhere,
anytime and have the world at your fingertips. We are wrapped around the finger of the digital age. While this ability to access information, stay in constant contact with people and keep up with what’s happening is incredibly valuable and helpful, our tendency to be glued to our phones is taking its toll on our community. With our eyes stuck on a screen, we overlook what is going on around us in the moment and often miss opportunities to make a new friend, help someone out or just take in the beauty of the day.
No one can deny that smartphones have begun popping up just about everywhere, especially on college campuses.
More and more teachers and students rely on their phones for tasks such as planning out their daily schedules. Freshman Alexandra Case says, “I use it every single day to plan out my classes, when I am meeting people and when I do my homework.” By combining a notebook, calendar, alarm clock and just about any other form of reminder system out there, smartphones are easily one of the handiest gadgets we have. Their capabilities to access
e-mail and the Internet are also very beneficial, especially in a classroom setting. Dr. Duncan, a professor at UGA, notes that in the great power outage of spring 2014, he had his students use their smart phones to access class material rather than cancelling class. In situations like this, having more than one way to view documents and emails allows students and teachers to remain connected and on-schedule. It is these benefits that draw us to our screens and often lead to crossing the blurred line between using our resources effectively and becoming addicted to the little gizmos in our hands.
In a recent paper called “Hooked on Smart Phones: An Exploratory Study on Smart Phone Overuse Among College Students,” the researchers studied how the rise in technology has impacted college students, especially in regards to their dependence on their phones. The study showed how regular use of smartphones often led to lack of self-control and addiction to the phones and the virtual world they created, disconnecting the students from the real world. When given the ability to connect with people at any time and anywhere simply with the tap of a screen, it is easy to become absorbed by virtual friendships and interactions with people who are far away. Though incredibly convenient, this can be perilous, as Dr. Duncan explains that he fears that “many college students are using social media to create digital friendships at the expense of meeting new people in person.” While networking and keeping in contact with old friends is
incredibly important and valuable, we can’t forget that there is a world of people right in front of us just waiting to
be explored. This time in our lives is crucial to meeting new people and having new experiences. Colin Fite, a junior at UGA, explains that “for the most part, the people I’m with at college are most important and relevant in my life.” There should be less of a need to seek companionship from those who are not here, especially when those friendships become mainly virtual. There are exceptions, of course, in regards to family or those who are and have been key in your life, but it is important to evaluate which relationships require constant contact and which ones do not. You don’t want to look back on college and realize that you missed out on some great opportunities and people because you had your nose pressed to a screen.
So, as this holiday season rolls around and you start preparing to go home to celebrate or stick around and enjoy the season with friends, I challenge you to stop looking at the screen and focus on who is around you. Put down the phone, bundle up, grab a friend or two and go out and enjoy the real world. Come on, I dare you.
The world was an oyster during the 1980s. At the time, music videos were a new thing that people were experiencing and anything was possible. The Cars 1984 video for “Hello Again” took that to new heights. Opening up with a campy talk show featuring teens discussing sex and violence in music videos, the clip goes on to feature tongue wrestling couples. The video was major for being one of the first to utilize computer graphics. Lead singer Ric Ocasek acts as an operator in front of a moving background of a TV control center. He also stands lip-synching in front of kissing couples. This now seems fairly simplistic, but at the time, it was revolutionary.
The advent of music videos is a revolution in itself. Some would argue that music videos began at the turn of the 20th century, when Thomas Edison recorded a violinist playing in front of a phonograph horn as two men dance in a film called, “Dickenson Experimental Song Film.” However, there were various performances recorded on film throughout the 1900s. Vaudeville shows and early forms of movie theaters called nickelodeons were mediums through which people viewed performances. “We have this film, we have this medium, so how do we take it to an audience?” says Jennifer Smith, a University of Georgia telecommunications professor in the Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “A lot of it was, how can we make use of a medium of film to get the audience’s attention?” Edison’s own kinescopes allowed people to look through a peep-hole of the device to watch a motion picture while listening to a phonograph, or sound recording, that came along with it through rubber ear tubes, according to Mary Bellis of about.com. This was something that had not been done before, and the fact that people could view the clips as individuals was something to behold.
Initially, music videos were mini-movies. The earliest form of what we consider a music video technically came to be in the late 1920s. Bessie Smith’s “St. Louis Blues” was released in 1929. The actual performance portion of the clip is simple. The camera pans across a crowd in a bar as they echo her vocals in a choral arrangement. Smoke billows from the ever-present cigarettes resting on the tables. The camera cuts to Bessie, singing at the bar clutching a frothy brew. It’s not the most sophisticated piece, with ample jumps from shot to shot, but it does show the origins of the modern-day music video.
During the 1960s, more progress was made. Music videos were performance based. They served as promotional tools or pieces the band could put together in place of going on TV shows like “The Ed Sullivan Show.” One of the Beatles first music videos is “Strawberry Fields Forever.” With clip, the band, “took feature film medium and the musical and put them together in a way that was targeted to the fans,” says Smith. “It was about the music and the band.” Though performance grounds the video, various visual techniques takes it to a higher level. In an era where widespread drug use prevailed, the visuals are fitting for the time. Color pinholes and warped imagery of the band racing towards the camera in hues of purple and green ground the clip as 1960s artifact. Still, it’s clear that videos have come a long way from “St. Louis Blues”, transitions are more fluent and creative, featuring cross fades between band members.
As time moved further from the 1960s into the1970s, videos continued to be visually alluring. Ryan Larkin’s 1972 video for “Street Musique” is an example of a psychedelic piece. A piece of living animation traces onto the screen, creating a hand and then slowly morphing into a teal, pink and blue pigmented feathery form. This differs from The Beatles clip since there is no live band and no lyrics to sing along to. Just in that short span of time, technology has developed to where video creators we’re able to show animation done without the hand of the creator present.
Even though music videos were being created, people didn’t really have any way to see them except before movies in the theater like in the early half of the century. MTV premiered in 1981 and it was then that music videos began to reach the masses. In the 80s, concert videos and narrative, artistic videos reigned. In 1982, Michael Jackson released “Thriller” and it set the stage for others. Videos weren’t just simply a performance piece. They became miniature movies. The use of make-up and special effect helps take the clip to Hollywood status—close-ups of Michael’s face sprouting hair and whiskers, his hands turning bulky and muscular, claws pushing from his fingertips. “Thriller” had significant attention to detail. “It seems to me that that the artistic quality of the video kind of reaches a peak about 1984” says Stephen Valdez, UGA associate professor in the Huge Hodgson School of Music, “where you’ve got some of the big name directors working with these pieces.” John Landis directed “Thriller” and had previously done work on the 1978 film, “Animal House.”
Aside from prominent Hollywood directors, technology helped these 80s videos be more massive than music videos had ever been before. A-ha’s “Take On Me” from 1984 used rotoscoping to create the now iconic imagery of lead singer Morton Harket adventures through animated and live-action scenarios to get the girl while escaping the enemies. This technique utilizes live actors on film and then traces over them in an animated fashion to capture realistic movements, according to about.com’s Nancy Basile. Peter Gabriel’s 1986 video for “Sledgehammer” used a variety of techniques in stop motion. Train tracks circle around his head as a toy locomotive rides around it. Clay bumper cars bump into the singer’s face and cotton candy crawls over his hair, giving him a clown-like appearance. The video’s technology shows it can me used in a whimsical, fun and even child-like matter, but still be engaging enough for adult viewers.
Music videos didn’t always use such animated techniques to capture audience attention. Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith teamed up for a new version of the latter band’s “Walk This Way,” which reflected the changing attitudes about music and attitudes towards rock and hip-hop music. As noted by both Valdez and Smith, the song helped the rap group by launching them into mainstream stardom. The rock/hip hop mash up literally broke down barriers—Steven Tyler bursts through a wall once he hears Rev Run and D.M.C. rapping to their track. There are no technological feats to this clip, but the cultural significance is apparent. Ever since then rap and rock and genres have crossed over, continuing to influence one another.
In the 1990s, music videos really helped artists establish themselves and launch their careers. By this time, MTV and VH1 had huge, concentrated audiences. Thanks to their emergence in the 1980s, rap videos became major business. When grunge music became popular, videos leaned towards the lo-fi/DIY look in response to the excess of 80s and early 90s clips, according to Steve Labate, contributor to Paste magazine. This is a time when things were changing and a variety of genres were emerging to become the most popular and the grimy, brooding looks of Kurt Cobain in Nirvana’s 1992 clip, “Come As You Are,” greatly demonstrated the attitude of grunge rock.
In contrast to lo-fi looks of the grunge era, videos in the 21st century have become increasingly sophisticated. Sponsorships have made product placements common in mainstream music video. It’s not uncommon to see an obvious shot of Beats by Dre Pill these days. In the two decades from the 2000s to today, videos have been decentralized. With MTV and VH1 no longer playing music videos, it reflects the change in culture and preferences towards reality TV. Now, videos are mainly accessed online on websites like YouTube, Vimeo and Vevo as well as niche music websites, according to Labte. A 2013 report by comScore Video Metric Service revealed that 183 million Americans viewed over 44 billion videos online during the month of June. Google Sites is the first in online primary content, due to YouTube, with 158.3 million unique views. Facebook followed, with 61.6 million, demonstrating the impact and appeal of social media for musicians and fans alike. The report also found that 85.2% of Internet users in the U.S. viewed music videos, so even though MTV is no longer “music television”, that doesn’t mean that viewership of music videos, is on the decline. On the contrary, it is alive and thriving.
Today, there’s still an air of an anything goes mentality that emerged in the 1980s. More access to resources by novice filmmakers means that everyone has access to creating clips for their respective bands. “In the 70s it would cost you a lot more money; equipment was owned by specific production houses where only certain people knew how to do [post production],” says local videographer Justin Rogers. “Whereas now you can get After Effects where it is more accessible.” Use of these kinds of tools means amateur musicians can feel free to use technology to make their unique visions come alive.
In the life of the music video, technology has been the one of the main elements of its development. Whether sophisticated rotoscoping or whimsical stop motion, videos have continued to transform. Home technology made accessible to newcomers combined with online outlets for release mean there’s plenty of room for music videos to continue their reign. Now, the universe can be an artist’s oyster.
It’s Thursday night at the Georgia Theatre, and the energy is palpable. Standing behind dueling drum kits, the two drummers (one shirtless, by the way) play a game of musical Ping-Pong, throwing solos back and forth, creating something reminiscent of a tribal gathering. A stand-up bass, electric bass, viola, skinny jeans and a couple of guitars fill the rest of the stage. Before the first song, the band joins in a huddle – this is their family – and the crowd, singing back the lyrics and waving their hands, those are their friends.
For this band, that’s what it is all about.
Friday afternoon at Walker’s Coffee and Pub, Mike Macdonald walks in wearing the same blue and white trucker hat from the night before. JP, Ryan, and Jamie come trickling in after him, all headed for the bar. Two coffees, one black, one latte, a peach ice tea, and an off-brand beer come back to the table … it’s 1pm. A few tag-alongs are hanging around, and it seems as though everyone who walks by knows the band. Walker’s, beer, coffee, plaid shirts, shaggy hair and a mustache: these guys scream “Athens indie-folk-rock band.” So meet the band, all past or present Bulldawgs, and you want to know them – Mike Macdonald (lead vocal, rhythm guitar), JP McKenzie (lead guitar), Tuna Fortuna, yes, that’s his name (stand-up/electric bass), Ryan Houchens and Jamie Rios (drums) and Maria Kindt (viola).
Immediately upon asking what their gig is all about, without hesitation Mike replies, “This is a community thing. We want everyone to be a part of it, to be on the journey with us. That’s what this band is about.”
And they mean it. For them it’s all about the music and all about the fans. To showcase this community vibe, their first gig was a potluck-kegger at the Chase Street Warehouse. The band says about 150 people came out on that early April night to see them rock out with a few other bands including Low Tree Grow Tall from Atlanta. It must have been quite the night, because ever since, Family & Friends has been the new buzz in town.
In music biz terms, they are very young as a group, with all the pieces coming together just this past April. But don’t let their “age” fool you. Their wheels are turning, and they aren’t slowing down. They plan to have their first EP finished by the end of October, and they have a Halloween show planned at the Green Room.
When self-describing their brand, they say it’s still in the making. Ryan says, “The fans shape the brand. That’s what we’re about, the fans.” JP adds, “We’re going for a unique vibe. We don’t want to just be folk.” Mike agrees, “The foundation is folky, but when everything else is added, it’s something different.”
Different they are indeed. Throw JP’s heavier, rock background in with Mike’s “Mumfordy” lyrics, Tuna’s cargo pants/electric bass/stand-up bass combo, Ryan’s high school drum-line experience, Jamie’s conga drums, Maria’s viola expertise, and you’ve got a pretty unique sound.
The band cites The Avett Brothers’ live performance energy, Modest Mouse’s songwriting, Reptar’s influence on the local scene and Typhoon as a few main influences.
What it boils down to for this band is the community. “Music is a spiritual connection between people,” says JP. “We are nothing without each other,” adds Ryan. What Family & Friends is really about is just that, family and friends. The band acknowledges music’s ability to bring people together, and its inexplicable way of bringing joy and building community. Their ultimate goal is to grow their band into a touring act, but for now you can find them rehearsing in the warehouse where the door is always open. Mike sums it up nicely, “If we play music at the warehouse and no one hears it, did we make a sound?”
Did they? Guess you’ll have to pay them a visit and find out.