Category: music

GMOA Museum Mix features Pylon, Athens cultural scene exhibits

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A late-night art party at the Georgia Museum of Art this Thursday night from 8- midnight will harken back to the 1970s and 1980s music and art scene here in Athens and is surely not to be missed.  Known as Museum Mix, this free event will feature snacks and refreshments, access to all of the museum’s galleries until midnight and a DJ set by Michael Lachowski, co-founder of and bass player for the seminal athens band Pylon.

The summer Museum Mix is inspired by the exhibition "Shapes That Talk to Me: The Athens Scene, 1975-85." The DJ will be Michael Lachowski, co-founder of and bass player for the seminal Athens band Pylon. Lachowski will play records that Pylon members and others listened to during the early years of the Athens music scene, including music by Pere Ubu, The Ramones, Public Image Ltd, Talking Heads, Cabaret Voltaire, Elvis Costello, Suicide, Kraftwerk and many more.

Lachowski, who also handles public relations for the museum and helped organize "Shapes That Talk to Me," said, "The social scene that the early Athens music scene came out of was based around art students, art faculty and visual art itself-but our parties were also fueled by new music from outside Athens. Because access to new music was always a challenge, the communal sharing of new acquisitions in social contexts was taken seriously. While we were dancing and cavorting, we were absorbing an education in music-the influences that shaped Pylon and other bands-and that's the music I want to revisit at this hot summer Museum Mix."

The “Shapes That Talk to Me” exhibit and the Museum Mix event are being held in conjunction with Art Rocks Athens, a festival exploring the works of art and music that established Athens as a cultural center.  Art Rocks Athens and the accompanying exhibits and events is continuing the tradition of UGA and the Athens cultural scene influencing each other. Through December, venues across Athens are taking part in the collaborative celebration with exhibitions, films, lectures and more.  View more about Art Rocks Athens here.

Art Rocks Athens

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SeansArt2.jpgAthens and the University of Georgia enjoy a world-renown that far outstrips the dimensions of the Northeast Georgia town itself or even a major American university. Why is that? How is it possible that this local symbiosis produces acknowledgement and acclaim from every corner on the globe? Artists ansd supporters have been unpacking this question in a series of arts shows that continues through July 26.

Athfest 2014

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woman outside, with stageOne of the many great things about UGA is its symbiotic relationship with its hometown of Athens, Ga. The great intermingling between town and gown creates a constant fecund season for creative collaboration in arts, entertainment, education and all the related enterprises that group up around these activities. One of those is Athfest, and our students, staff and faculty will be well-represented this weekend as spectators, organizers, volunteers and performers.

The Athfest Educates program also does a great job of supporting music and arts education for Athens-Clarke County children. Another terrific initiative that, while not a direct UGA collaboration, is born of the ingenuity of our community-inspired thinking and talent that flows to and from our campus. See you this weekend.

Alums We Love

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chris-bilheimerWe love all of our alums and play no favorites here - and we especially love when our graduates and their exploits find their way into the media, as is the case today with great friend of the blog, Chris Bilheimer:

For more than two decades Chris Bilheimer has designed album covers, concert posters, rock T-shirts and more as art director for R.E.M. and freelancer for other bands, notably Green Day, Widespread Panic and Neutral Milk Hotel. Now he’s entered the fashion realm as the creative force behind Helm Boots’ redesign. This spring, the Austin, Texas-based brand unveiled a new logo, website, packaging, store signage and point-of-sale materials. “The original look had a pretty heavy Americana feel to it, and part of the vision was to move away from beating you over the head that it’s made in America,” said Bilheimer, whose wife, Hillary, is Helm’s brand manager. “With what they plan to do in the future, I tried to give them an identity that has a more modern feel.” Bilheimer studied drawing and painting at University of Georgia in Athens...

It's short, you can read it all. The Lamar Dodd School of Art has brought many great people to Athens and UGA, acted as a petri dish for their talents, and loosened them upon a the wider populace to achieve great success. We're proud of Chris and so many others. The people who come here to live, study and work are what make our town and the university what they are.

Art Rox at LDSOA

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TwoWomenThreeQuilts.jpgBeginning May 23, 2014,  the Lamar Dodd School of Art will host a retrospective exhibition of art from the period 1975-85, presented by the Art Rocks Athens Foundation:

Athens, Georgia is well known for its vibrant music scene. What is less known, however, is that artists from the era of 1975-85 gave rise to the music, and then their music went on to influence the art. Art Rocks Athens Foundation, a non-profit organization, was formed to explore and document that time period, and to present a retrospective of the work of artists who were living and making art in the vortex of creativity that centered on Athens. Through the conservation of both artworks and music-related artifacts, Art Rocks Athens Foundation seeks to make a verifiable record of this history and its lasting importance to the town so many people love.

To bring in the wider world, he invited nationally known artists like Elaine de Kooning, and Phillip Guston who became artists in residence. They brought not just knowledge, but also a willingness to share their experiences, that only became more precious over time. When the Art Department began teeming with students, Lamar Dodd persuaded downtown business people to rent the empty spaces above their shops for use as artists’ studios. Thus, town united with gown, and from this atmosphere where innovation and collaboration were the order of the day, the Athens artists gave form and substance to the Athens music scene.

Many campus entities - the Special Collections Librairies, Willson Center, many Franklin College departments and individual faculty members - have been doing yoeman work to re-assemble many of the principles and tell the stories of the Athens music scene. As this picture takes shape, we re-affirm what's been obvious all along - that the art scene and the music scene continue to be mutially informing, supporting and essential to each other and the wonderful musical and visual art that gives this little town its flavor. This exhibition at Lamar Dodd should be great. Support the Art Rocks Athens. And don't forget to enjoy the show.

Image: "Two Women Three Quilts," 1975, 66" X 88", Oil on canvas, Neill Slaughter.

Spring Commencement 2014

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stadium_commence.jpgIt's a great week on campus. The 2014 Spring Undergraduate Commencement exercise will be held on Friday, May 9, 2014 at 7 p.m. inside Sanford Stadium. Athens is beginning to flow with excited and proud parents, family members as well as the graduates themselves. An exciting time for all involved, and the reason at the center of all activity at the university.

Commencement itself then is a spectacle equal to grandeur of the occasion. And in that spirit, this year will also feature a special musical premiere:

The University of Georgia Wind Ensemble will present the world premiere of "Declarations," a new composition for wind band, during the university's spring undergraduate Commencement on May 9. The piece, composed by past Hugh Hodgson School of Music professor Steve Dancz, will commemorate the final performance of departing director of bands John P. Lynch.

"Steve and I thought it would be particularly meaningful to mark this occasion with a new commission," Lynch said. "We were aiming for something akin to American composer Aaron Copland's ‘Lincoln Portrait': regal, epic and concise, for maximum impact."

So true. 5, 374 students are eligible to walk this spring, and we wish every single one of them the very best in their future endeavors. And as we bid Lynch farewell along with this spring's graduates, the premiere takes on that much more significance. Here's to a great night, to be christened with beautiful new music played by our students.

Image:  Commencement 2010, when UGA moved the Spring Commencement ceremony to an evening event, culminating with a fireworks celebration. Courtesy UGA Photographic services.

 

Athens Music Project Symposium April 17

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Pylon-40Watt-1979Besides providing a gratuitous opportunity to post this phot of Pylon from 1979 (wow), the Athens Music Project, a Willson Center Research Cluster featuring Franklin faculty, is presenting the community with signifciant cultural dividends:

The Athens Music Project will hold its first symposium April 17 from 4-8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries at the University of Georgia.

The AMP is a Faculty Research Cluster of the UGA Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and is co-directed by Susan Thomas, an associate professor of music and women's studies, and Jean Ngoya Kidula, associate professor of music and African studies. The event is co-sponsored by the Willson Center and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

The AMP provides a platform for research, creative development and shared expertise in, about and for Athens' diverse musical communities. 

...

Michael Lachowski, a member of the Athens band Pylon and currently the public relations coordinator at the Georgia Museum of Art, will give a keynote talk on "How Art Turned Into Music: The ‘Athens Music Scene.'" The talk will be followed by a roundtable on "Hearing the Past and Seeing the Future: The 40 Watt" that will feature Lachowski, 40 Watt Club owner Barrie Buck and Velena Vego, the club's talent buyer. Christopher Lawton, director of the Georgia Virtual History Project, will moderate the discussion.

To find out more about other parts on the program, see here. But I highlight the keynote as a point of emphasis: the Athens music scene enjoys a kind of mystique that flows from and into its world renown. But the mystique is difficult to quanitfy so hasn't been to any great extent. So good for Kidula and Thomas for presenting a platform to delve into these mysteries further - may the best parts remain shrouded, but let us enjoy the discussion and perhaps further celebrate this catalyst for the rich pageant that surrounds us.

Image: Pylon plays at the original non-commercial location of the 40 Watt Club (Myers Building, third floor, 171 College Ave.) in 1979.

African American Choral Ensemble: 25 Years

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A special concert upcoming:

The University of Georgia African American Choral Ensemble will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reunion concert April 12 at 7 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

 

"There is a lot to celebrate at this concert," said Gregory Broughton, the ensemble's director and associate professor of music in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. "Some outstanding leaders and musicians have come out of this group."

UGA students originally founded the African American Choral Ensemble in 1972 as the Pamoja Singers, named after a Swahili word for "together." Two years later, the program spawned the Pamoja Dance Company, a student organization that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Our campus and university has come a long way in terms of building a diverse student body over the last quarter century. There remains a long way to go to open up more opportunities across a broader spectrum of Georgia and American society for people of color, of various religious faiths, of different sexual orientations. But it what we do and who we are as a country, and nowhere is this more telling than our arts traditions, established as well as new. The African American Choral Ensemble is a great tradition at UGA and we are proud to celebrate this wonderful anniversary.

Protect Athens Music Conference 2014

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Just before Spring Break, students, academics, nonprofit organizers and Athens-area musicians had an opportunity to listen to a set of discussions at the annual Protect Athens Music (PAM) Conference, presented by the UGA Sports and Entertainment Law Society. Discussions on earning money as a musician in the digital world, obtaining health insurance and health care as a musician, and a survey of the local music landscape made for an interesting afternoon this year. The event showcased the unique presence of artists and academics in Athens who hope to help this town not just be known as a “music town” but as a “music business town.” The conference featured many UGA-related panel members including David Barbe, director of the UGA Music Business Program; David Lowery, of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker and a UGA music business lecturer; and Jeremy Wheatley, a longtime local drummer, songwriter and academic advisor for the UGA Honors Program.

This year’s conference was organized by Michelle Davis, a UGA alum (ABJ ’05) and former Flagpole music editor now turned University of Georgia law school student. We caught up with her to ask her more about her background, her path to her career choice and what this year’s conference was all about.  Find a link to this year’s conference blog and video of the discussions below.

Q: You organized this conference. Where did your background interest in music and law come from?

A: I've worked in the music industry in various capacities for about 10 years. I am just a huge fan of music—much of that love was instilled in me my by dad who played in rock bands for many years. While in college I interned with radio station 99X in Atlanta, spent a summer with Warner Bros. Records, and interned with publicist Michelle Roche. After college I started my own music PR firm, representing mostly Athens and Atlanta bands. My first full-time job was with Ticket Alternative, where I worked as a marketing coordinator, setting up box offices for venues and promoters. I then moved back to Athens where I served as music editor of Flagpole Magazine for three years before going to law school. That's the short version of my resume, but the main point is that through all these experiences I've always strived to be an advocate for artists. After seeing so many bands' careers cut short by bad contracts and bad management, I felt like I could have a greater impact as an attorney. I'm particularly fascinated by the intersection of law and technology, and my goal is to help artists navigate the ever-evolving digital marketplace.

Q: Why did you get involved in organizing the conference?

A: I was first invited to be a panelist with PAM in its first year. I was the [music] editor of Flagpole Magazine at the time, and I spoke about promotion and publicity. The event itself started as a student project under David Barbe's direction in the Music Business Program, but they joined forces with the law school student group UGA Sports and Entertainment Law Society (SELS). I wrote about PAM's second conference for Flagpole, at which point I already knew I had plans to go to law school. When I started law school in 2012, I knew right away I wanted to be part of SELS, as entertainment law is my passion. I assisted in putting on the event as a 1L, and then I ran for the office of VP of SELS in my second year, allowing me to take the position of chair of PAM. I am a huge supporter of any event/organization that serves to bridge the gap between town and gown. I think it's essential for the music scene to integrate with the University and vice versa, because the two can support each other.

Q: Why is it important to hold a conference on the topic? What is the value of having UGA be a part of the discussion of the Athens music scene?

A: The music industry is increasingly complex, and there is a not a lot of transparency as to how things work. Unfortunately, all too often artists are left out of the conversation entirely when it comes to debates about fair pay, copyright and technology.  I spent an entire semester studying nothing but the music industry as an extern with the Future of Music Coalition in [Washington]  D.C. last fall, and even I still don't understand all the intricacies of this industry. That's a lot of pressure to put on a creator— to expect a musician to know not only his/her craft but the way this incredibly convoluted system works. So, that's why it's important to bring artists together with the experts—lawyers, managers, academics and experienced artists—to discuss the issues that affect artists' livelihood.

Additionally, my goal is that PAM will serve to put a new spotlight on Athens as not only a music town but a music business town. This year we covered three pressing issues: making money online ("Demystifying Digital Revenue Stream"), getting health care coverage, and brainstorming ways to help our local music community grow more sustainable and successful. A cross-community dialog like this helps us share ideas and move things forward. UGA can provide some of the financial backing to make these things happen, as well as access to some of the experts and academics that we rely on for guidance. For students like me who are interested in working in the entertainment industry, events like this are integral to our education. If we want to learn to work in the field, than there is no better place to start than the music scene right in our backyard.

 

Want to see video footage of this year's conference? Visit www.protectathensmusic.com.

 

--Jessica Luton jluton@uga.edu

 

Patel Professorship: Zakir Hussain

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Zakir-Hussain- tablaThe 2014 Gordhan L. and Virginia B. "Jinx" Patel Distinguished Visiting Professor in Indian Musical Arts in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music brings what may be the world's best tabla player to campus on April 2: