ATHFEST Club Crawl featuring T. Hardy Morris (Main Stage)
Neighbor Lady, Hunter Morris & Blue Blood, Hank Sullivant (Main Stage), Nihilist Cheerleader (Rooftop), Twen, Grand Vapids (Rooftop), Justin and The Cosmics (Rooftop), Athfest with Jay Gonzalez (Rooftop)
215 N. Lumpkin St
Athens, GA, 30601
Doors 6:30 PM / Show 7:30 PM (event ends at 2:00 AM)
This event is 18 and over
T. Hardy Morris (Main Stage)
Athens, Georgia's T Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate, Diamond Rugs) is set to release his third solo album on June 22, 2018. Titled Dude, The Obscure, the album is a work that Morris says, "flowed from a creative space I found at the intersection of dreams and reality." In captivating songs, Morris sheds the traps of ambition and nostalgia and uncovers the strange satisfaction of living in the moment.
Even the album title, Dude, The Obscure, hints at self-discovery. In an homage to English author Thomas Hardy’s novel, “Jude, The Obscure,” Morris reveals his love for literature, philosophy and poetry — along with a secret about his stage name.
“Thomas Hardy is my given name, and Dude, The Obscure is a moniker I considered using as an artist,” Morris said. “The hat tip to the novel seemed appropriate for the album because it deals with doubts, joys, regrets and spirituality, a lifelong journey and such."
Each song on the album seems compelled by Morris’ desire to help himself— and others— conquer the void of everyday meaninglessness. It’s an effort philosopher Maurice Blanchot described as the anguish of writing: “You have to cross an abyss, and if you do not jump, you do not comprehend.” Morris takes that leap to find universal truth by navigating sometimes opposing perspectives within moments that change lives. Morris beautifully warns us not to succumb to the fear of missing out that stands in the way of contentment on the album’s defining moment, “Cheating Life, Living Death.” Every dream is an invitation/ To leave your love up on the shelf/ When you walk out every evening/ Cheating life and living death."
For the sessions, Morris made the familiar pilgrimage to Adam Landry’s home studio in Nashville. The longtime collaborators took their time and gave each song the opportunity to grow unaffected by outside influence except the magic that happens when two friends lock themselves in a smoky shed to make music, and a few pals stop by.
Within 11 powerful songs, the Athens rocker reveals scars and shares lessons from an indie-rock odyssey that has taken him around the world and back home to find himself a little older and closer to something like enlightenment.
And just in time for a new journey to begin.
The missing link between indie-rock and classic country western is Atlanta based Neighbor Lady. Comprised of Emily Braden, Jack Blauvelt, Merideth Hanscom, and Andrew McFarland. Neighbor Lady began as a solo project for Emily Braden, writing music by herself and for herself; lyrically, the songs chronicle events in her personal life and her emotions surrounding those events. After high school, she moved to Athens, Georgia, met guitarist Jack Blauvelt and formed Neighbor Lady, a small band centered on supporting Emily’s songwriting. As Braden puts it, “Neighbor Lady started because I was too nervous to play a show by myself, so I asked my friends to play with me.”
Neighbor Lady’s debut LP “Maybe Later” consists of 7 songs that introduce the band’s foundations of country kissed alt-rock in a poignantly sweet and evocative style- the album shifts fluidly between the dreamy, stripped down, aching melodies of just Braden and her guitar to the powerfully noisy and fiery hooks of the full band. Neighbor Lady’s momentum is indebted to their blend of a powerfully dynamic band paired with Braden’s soaring vocal melodies, creating a sensation both comforting yet heartbreaking in the same moments.
For listeners of Fleetwood Mac, Wilco, Patsy Cline, and Jenny Lewis.
Friendship Fever is happy to close the polarizing gap between here and there with the release of “Maybe Later” on May 11th, 2018.
Hunter Morris & Blue Blood
"They told me all is fair in love and war, so I killed the one I’ve been fighting for."
So went the process for Hunter Morris after the dissolution of his prior band Gift Horse. A professional fly fishing guide by trade, he spent a year on the trout streams of north Georgia literally and figuratively far away from the music scene in his home of Athens, GA. This time of reflection produced the songs that would become Blue Blood. But it was the process of reinvention that provided the inspiration for these songs long before there were finished lyrics, structures, and arrangements.
Blue Blood began as a new solo project for Morris, but through the process of making demos in solitude and trying to find a new voice for his songs, what emerged was a collection of songs worthy of full band, psychedelic pop treatment. And Morris knew just the person for the job. He sent some of the songs to Hank Sullivant, who fronts Kuroma, was a founding member of The Whigs, and is currently the guitarist for MGMT, and who had previously produced the Gift Horse LP “Mountain of Youth”. After hearing Morris’ demos, Sullivant immediately assumed a more involved producer/instrumentalist role and the studio version of Blue Blood became a collaboration between the two. Morris and Sullivant recruited J.J. Bower (Dead Confederate, Battle Tapes) to play the drums, as well as keyboardist Dave Spivey, and they recently completed what will be the debut Blue Blood LP “This Is The Life”, which will be released in October of 2014 on This Is American Music.
The album was definitely the foundation upon which Blue Blood was built, as Morris and Sullivant essentially completed recording it before Blue Blood ever played a live show. However, it is the live lineup of Blue Blood that has brought the songs into their own. Morris says that having the songs recorded prior to forming a band to play them made the learning process much more efficient. But it’s what each member brings of their own playing style and personality that give the songs an added depth in the live setting.
Blue Blood in the studio is: Hunter Morris: Vox, Guitar, Organ, Piano Hank Sullivant: Bass, Guitar, Piano, Organ, Vox J.J. Bower: Drums Dave Spivey: Moog, Piano, Vox Walker Howle: Lead Guitar on “The Buyout”
Blue Blood live is: Hunter Morris: Vox, Guitar, Organ, Piano Nick Robbins: Guitar, Vox Dave Spivey: Keyboards, Vox Noel Brown: Bass Michael Gonzalez: Drums
All songs written by Hunter Morris Produced by Hank Sullivant Engineered by Joel Hatstat Mixed by Drew Vandenberg at Chase Park Transduction Studio Mastered by Joel Hatstat
Hank Sullivant (Main Stage)
Nihilist Cheerleader (Rooftop)
Nihilist Cheerleader is making a name for themselves in the thriving Athens/ Atlanta music scene with their raw, Riot Grrrl- inspired punk sound. The band formed in 2015 in Athens, Ga, and found early success in a saturated scene with their new take on an established concept of “punk”. The band brings a charged energy to their live and recorded performances that is engaging and refreshing. Nihilist Cheerleader’s sound appropriately reflects the band’s name in it’s duality- both turbulent and controlled, angsty and uplifting, thoughtful and effortless.
What sets them apart from other musicians in their midsts is their story-like songwriting. Like the artists that have inspired them, the band’s music is largely rooted in political and social commentary. Their lyrics command the listener to take a closer look at social injustices related to gender and power structures, and ones internal dialogue. Rather than aimlessly identify problems they see, the band’s intention is to start a constructive conversation about how we can combat and resolve such issues. Their songs inspire rebellion, self exploration, change, and especially dance.
Grand Vapids (Rooftop)
Grand Vapids is a force. A wave of sound propelling "gorgeously defined and thoughtfully executed guitar slow-pop". Gordon Lamb - Flagpole
Forming in early 2014, Grand Vapids spent the course of a year recording its debut album Guarantees with producer and engineer Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Deerhunter, Kishi Bashi) at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, GA. On the album the sonic palette is wide. Withguitars that are laboriously crafted, a driving rhythm section, and synths that are densely layered and structured. The songs are at once intimate and expansive, exploring a fevered state of fear and wonder. The album was mastered by Joe Lambert (Wye Oak, Sharon Van Etten, Wild Nothing) in NYC.
While Grand Vapids' music could easily satiate the space between Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth, there is a depth of feeling to these songs that moves beyond nostalgia and pushes the listener toward a state of mind where memory and wonderment intersect. It is a delicate and dense balance on a debut record that finds the band carving out its own musical identity.
Grand Vapids is McKendrick Bearden, Austin Harris, Paul Stevens, and Patrick Morales.
Their debut album Guaranteeswas released on January 20th, 2015.
Justin and The Cosmics (Rooftop)
There are record releases I anticipate (set an iCal entry for, or maybe status-update my excitement), and there are record releases that make me salivate every time I think about them. Justin and the Cosmics’ forthcoming Schooly Dreams LP — out this fall, allegedly! — is firmly in the latter category. I’ve been a fan for a hot minute — lead Cosmonaut Justin Collins’ contributions to the Diamond Rugs oeuvre are impeccable, and his shenanigans with The Buddies are unmatched — but ever since I caught the crew opening up for D-Rugs this spring, my excitement has been unquenchable. Collins has a golden throat coated in nicotine and whiskey, a dark croon that feels like it escaped from the tape deck on an ancient alien’s spaceship and perfectly complements his off-kilter take on classic pop composition. -SEAN L. MALONEY. Nashville Scene.
If you want to see a real punk band, not some indie band that calls themselves that because they use fuzz pedals and wear Converse, then Justin & the Cosmics is the band you need to see. There’s the Clash, the Modern Lovers, and even that original punk, Elvis, all in their sound. Collins is a sneering amalgam of, like, every early American male badass; Johnny Cash, James Dean, Elvis, and Dylan are all there. His voice was gritty and snotty and at moments drifted into southern rockabilly inflections. If you’re looking for the great punk-influenced rock and roll in Nashville, this band was smarter, were better performers, and more authentic than all the groups of children hardly old enough to drink that constantly get buzz as the best “punk” groups in town. - JACQUI SAHAGIAN. No Country For New Nashville
"It's the Anglo American faggy groove" - Robyn Hitchcock
“Eternally cool customer and frontman to one of my favorite Nashville bands, Justin and The Cosmics, Justin Collins makes great music in just about every way possible. Whether it be his powers of production and collaboration or equally valued more personal offerings. Justin has remained a bit of a best kept secret in our little town, but I suspect not for much longer.” – Caitlin Rose
"If you dig music that is deep, insightful, groovy and hand made then you're gonna make this a MUST in your music collection. This guy is the real deal, in a way that most of us only wish we could be. And one of the greatest frontmen in the US today. He IS the shit. Take a taste. I promise. You won't regret it. You'll be strung out on Justin Collins. " --Patrick Dennis
Justin, alongside Adam Landry, is also known for being half of the critically-acclaimed production duo, Cosmic Thug. They've produced albums with the aforementioned (Diamond Rugs, Deer Tick, Middle Brother) as well as Pete Molinari, Nikki Lane, Sallie Ford, T. Hardy Morris, and Ponyboy . His song "Totally Lonely" is also featured on the debut Diamond Rugs LP, featuring members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Dead Confederate, and Los Lobos. He also has a song “Killing Time” on the new Diamond Rugs sophomore release Cosmetics.
“Justin Collins has been on our radar for quite a while, as leader of local rock-mericana group Justin and The Cosmics and co-producer of the 2012 self-titled debut from Diamond Rugs, the rootsy, punky supergroup including members of Deer Tick and Black Lips. Collins’ new solo EP, Home, Boy, is four takes on ramblin’ man’s music that pours from the speakers like long-lost acoustic Velvet Underground tracks. But the world-weary haziness isn’t just for show: At the core, the songs are anthems against sinking into the malaise, and bon mots like, “Who is it that looks from behind your eyes?” become a call to action...” -Stephen Trageser, Nashville Scene
Athfest with Jay Gonzalez (Rooftop)
Pop Matters: "A self-professed 'sucker for short pop songs filled with hooks and devoid of filler,' Drive-By Trucker Jay Gonzalez has spent the last four years composing a five-song medley that incorporates influences ranging from the Beatles and the Who to Joe Jackson and Bread. Writing about life events, the five songs on The Bitter Suite are marked by the loss of a relative, a separation with a musical partner and missing his family while traveling the world." - Eric Risch
Glide Magazine: "Inspired by conceptual rock operas like The Who’s A Quick One While He’s Away and [...] side 2 of Abbey Road, Gonzalez stitched five songs together to flow seamlessly as one piece. The album is a pleasing listen through and through with emotional ups and downs, constant tempo changes, and a kaleidoscope of instruments and sounds performed almost exclusively by Gonzalez [...] Hearing a talented musician embrace this criminally underrated genre is a good thing for anyone who yearns for the relative popularity of genre revivalists like Matthew Sweet and Teenage Fanclub in the Nineties." - Neil Ferguson
Songwriters on Process: "It’s the mark of a catchy melody when I listen to a song once and cannot get it out of my head. That’s what I feel like with [Jay's Mess of Happiness single] 'Turning Me On.' Gonzalez is guitarist and keyboard player for the [Drive-By] Truckers. But his solo stuff sounds nothing like his Truckers work. Gonzalez is an unabashed fan of 70s power pop, bands like The Sweet and The Bay City Rollers. His latest work is called Bitter Suite. For this, he took 5 songs with a similar lyrical theme and linked them musically. According to Gonzalez, 'The Bitter Suite is my take on the classic form used from Bach to Bernstein to the Beatles. The medley, or suite, is a grouping of songs or song sections linked together into one piece, put together in a way to make it arc like a longer piece would, but with the benefit of having each song section be its own entity.'" - Benjamin Opipari
Slate: "I surveyed some friends about their favorite crowdfunded projects from 2014, and the breadth of both the music offered and the way those funding campaigns augmented it was inspiring. Drive-by Truckers keyboardist Jay Gonzalez wanted to record a pop song cycle called 'The Bitter Suite,' so he offered investors a music lesson or a song written especially for them." - Ann Powers
The Key: "Calling all power pop fans! Jay Gonzalez, from the Drive-By Truckers, is stepping out from behind the keyboards and releasing a solo EP, The Bitter Suite, on April 7th. The EP is a 13-minute, five-song power pop medley, and was funded with a Kickstarter campaign." - Bruce Warren
Paste: "Drive-By Truckers keyboardist and guitarist Jay Gonzalez is set to release a solo album titled The Bitter Suite, but it has more in common with the power pop of the mid-‘60s and ‘70s than the alt country the Truckers are known for." - Joe Youorski
Georgia Station: "Jay Gonzalez is keeping old-school alive. His new project 'The Bitter Suite' is a 13-minute, five-song pop-rock medley, inspired by pieces like the Who’s mini-rock opera 'A Quick One While He’s Away' and side two of the Beatles 'Abbey Road' album. Because he’s old school he’s releasing the project as a 180 gram vinyl record with custom etching and original artwork." - Jonathan Miller