10 Things to Know About Athens Music
1. It’s (Not) Only Rock and Roll
Athens is known for its contributions to the rock and roll canon—our lil’ town birthed R.E.M., the B-52s, Pylon, Widespread Panic, Neutral Milk Hotel, of Montreal and Drive-By Truckers, among others—but there’s a lot more going on locally. Hip hop continues to boom, and the Latinx scene is hot, too. Roots music, including country and Americana, can be found just about everywhere, as can experimental and genre-defying acts.
2. Music Venues Range in Size and Focus
Though the live entertainment industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic, Athens is still home to a remarkably high number of music venues, given its population size. The best bets for catching major touring acts have always been the 40 Watt Club and Georgia Theatre, while Southern Brewing Company, Flicker Theatre & Bar, Hendershot’s Coffee Bar, Nowhere Bar and The World Famous are dependable choices for catching local bands any night of the week.
3. Festivals Happen Year-Round
While the pandemic threw a wrench into many of last year’s traditions, most festivals were able to continue with virtual or modified protocols in place. Spring stays busy between Athens Human Rights Festival and International Street Festival. The hip hop- and gospel-centric Hot Corner Celebration takes place in early summer, followed by Athens’ flagship event, the AthFest Music and Arts Festival, which has been moved to late September this year. In fall, the North Georgia Folk Festival livens Sandy Creek Park, LatinxFest fills downtown with performances, Historic Athens PorchFest takes over neighborhoods and the Wild Rumpus Parade & Spectacle is a Halloween-time hoot.
4. It’s Kid-Friendly
As more Athenians start families, there’s been an increased focus on kid-centric music. The leader of the pack is Nuçi’s Space, a resource center that offers health services to musicians, plus rehearsal rooms and Camp Amped, where local youth learn to start their own bands. Girls Rock Athens operates a similar program for female and nonbinary kiddos, while Full Moon Studio serves nearby Watkinsville with summer camps and biannual “rockcitals.”
5. There’s an Athens Music Walk of Fame
The Athens Music Walk of Fame debuted in 2020 to honor the movers and shakers who helped place our town on the map as a musical destination, and new inductees are added every year. The walk recognizes honorees with bronze plaques that are embedded along a route that passes notable music venues. A mobile app offers additional sights and sounds associated with each honoree.
6. Tune In to Turn On
You can hear local music all over the airwaves, starting with WUOG 90.5 FM, UGA’s student-run station that broadcasts “Live in the Lobby” performances every Tuesday and Thursday. University-chartered NPR affiliate WUGA 91.7 and 94.5 FM airs “The Rotation,” a block focused on Athens music, as well as “Sound of Athens” and “New South Showcase,” segments of live concert recordings. A Sunday evening program on rock station Bulldog 93.3 often features local sounds.
7. See Athens on the Screen
Tony Gayton’s 1987 documentary Athens, GA: Inside/Out is essential viewing for any aspiring local music buff for its interviews and live footage from the mid-80s scene. For a glimpse into today’s cultural landscape, check out local filmmaker James Preston’s pair of documentaries Athens Rising: The Sicyon Project and Athens Rising 2: Transmittance (both free at athensrising.com), which compile vignettes of DIY house shows, festivals, performance art, comedy, restaurants and other interesting local organizations and independent businesses.
8. It’s a Recording Destination
Behind the tremendous number of albums churned out by up-and-coming artists each year are the recording studios in and around Athens that perfect and preserve their work. Chase Park Transduction, The Glow Recording Studio, Pigpen Studios, Full Moon Studio and several others stay busy year-round. Tweed Recording Audio Production School, a world-class facility located downtown, aims to train the next generation of audio professionals.
9. If You Like It, Buy It
When Kindercore Vinyl opened in 2017, it became the only vinyl record manufacturing facility in the state and one of only a handful in the country. Peruse the collections at Wuxtry Records and Low Yo Yo Stuff Records, which both offer a wide variety of classic and new releases sold by super-knowledgeable clerks. Located inside of Lexington Vintage, The Record Booth is a hot spot for vintage vinyl and new arrivals every week. Shadebeast Records, which specializes in heavy metal, punk and noise, recently relocated to a new storefront on Chase Street, while Secret Sounds is operating a virtual storefront for the time being.
10. Flagpole Has You Covered
Trust us when we say that Flagpole is your No. 1 source for all things Athens music, from the weekly print edition and comprehensive events calendar to our online premieres, photo galleries, live reviews and beyond. Covering local music was our founding mission, and it remains an integral part of who we are at Flagpole and what we do.
108 Park Ave. • 706-850-6252 • athenticbrewing.com
The patio of this new Normaltown neighborhood brewery is a perfect spot for catching an early evening singer-songwriter, country act or hip-hop showcase.
Boar’s Head Lounge
260 E. Washington St. • 706-369-3040 • instagram.com/boarsheadlounge
Weekly open-mic jams, plus rock, country and cover bands.
The Classic Center
300 N. Thomas St. • 706-357-4444 • classiccenter.com
The theater, Grand Hall and 440 Foundry Pavilion host big-ticket touring acts.
Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
271 W. Hancock Ave. • 706-410-1043 • creaturecomfortsbeer.com
Live music and DJs are a staple of the brewery’s special events. Expect to hear creative acts.
Flicker Theatre & Bar
263 W. Washington St. • 706-546-0039 • flickertheatreandbar.com
Hear a smartly booked selection of folk, indie, experimental and punk in the spiffed-up side room.
40 Watt Club
285 W. Washington St. • 706-549-7871 • 40watt.com
The endearingly grungy 40 Watt is an Athens institution. Touring artists and locals share its hallowed stage.
295 E. Dougherty St. • 706-389-5549 • thefoundryathens.com
Operated by the Graduate Athens hotel, the Foundry is a performance and event venue that leans towards country, jazz and tribute acts..
215 N. Lumpkin St. • 706-850-7670 • georgiatheatre.com
The downtown spot for trendy touring acts; the rooftop bar features live music and DJs from spring through fall.
1700 Commerce Road • 706-351-4174
Athens’ closest thing to a big-city nightclub, featuring hip hop, DJs, Latin music and more.
Hendershot’s Coffee Bar
237 Prince Ave. • 706-353-3050 • hendershotscoffee.com
A welcoming java joint and pub known for dinner shows, open mic nights and more.
The Lewis Room
131 E. Clayton St. • thelewisroom@tweedrecording • facebook.com/thelewisroom
Operated by Tweed Recording, the Lewis Room offers a state-of-the-art space for live performances, virtual concerts and music industry nights.
Little Kings Shuffle Club
223 W. Hancock Ave. • 706-369-3144 • facebook.com/lkshuffleclub
DJs, karaoke, punk and Latin shows in a historic space, with a great patio for unwinding.
227 W. Dougherty St. • 706-543-8283 • livewireathens.com
Occasional electronica, jazz, hip-hop and more at this state-of-the-art event space and venue.
195 W. Washington St. • 706-613-3770 • mortontheatre.com
The historic building carries on Hot Corner’s legacy with gospel and soul.
240 N. Lumpkin St. • 706-546-4742 • nowherebarlive.com
Frequent local talent, with monthly series and a focus on blues, funk and rock.
Rabbit Hole Studios
1001 Winterville Road • 762-499-4182 • rabbitholestudios.org
In addition to offering space for recording, rehearsals and events, this collective community center hosts shows and open jams.
1235 S. Milledge Ave. • 706-395-6278 • therootathens.com
Located below The Pine, this neighborhood basement bar has recently begun hosting live music.
Sister Louisa’s Church - It’s a Glory Hole
254 W. Clayton St. • 706-850-3668 • facebook.com/sisterlouisasgloryhole
A popular spot to catch drag performances, the bar intends to expand into live bands this year.
Southern Brewing Company
231 Collins Industrial Blvd. • 706-548-7183 • sobrewco.com
With its large outdoor stage, Southern Brewing has taken the lead in hosting socially distanced concerts.
Terrapin Beer Co.
265 Newton Bridge Road • 706-549-3377 • terrapinbeer.com
Terrapin’s separately ticketed space showcases country, folk, jam, rock and more.
UGA Performing Arts Center
230 River Road • 706-542-4400 • pac.uga.edu
Classical performances from students and faculty, plus celebrated symphonies, world music and more.
346 E. Broad St. • thewarehouseathens.com
Despite opening during the pandemic, this large capacity venue has hit the ground running.
The World Famous
351 N. Hull St. • 706-543-4002 • facebook.com/theworldfamousathens
A tiny room with a ton of character, featuring hip-hop, indie, dance music and beyond.