Friday, June 19, 2009

Burning down the house: Fire at the Georgia Theatre

A rude awakening: CNN showed video of a fire that started early this morning at the Georgia Theatre, one of Athens' premier music venues. Word is that the interior was gutted and the roof destroyed, leaving only the exterior walls intact. (Fortunately the place was empty and no one was hurt.) Current owner Wilmot Greene says he intends to rebuild if his insurance coverage is sufficient, but right now things don't look good for the Athens landmark.

[Smoke pours from the Theatre]

The first concert I attended after moving to Athens in 1991 was a showcase of local bands at the Georgia Theatre. Over the next eight years, I saw many shows there, my favorite being the Cowboy Junkies (one of several Junkies concerts I've attended) in support of their album Pale Sun Crescent Moon. There was a lot to like about the Theatre, from its architecture (solid oak doors, Art Deco fa├žade, pressed-tin ceiling, comfortable old movie-theater seating) to the variety of music that could be heard there (rock, blues, country, bluegrass, reggae, funk, hip-hop, etc.).

[Happier days]

One could easily spend all day watching YouTube videos shot at the Theatre, but this one by Sleepy Horses captures both the arpeggiated "Athens sound" and some of the sadness I'm feeling this morning. Best of luck to Mr. Greene, his staff, and the city of Athens—long live the Georgia Theatre!

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