Monday, August 1, 2011

The Georgia Theatre is Back in Business!

the final countdown
Photo by Ryan Myers

I'm SO freakin' excited for tonight.  Brian and I are going to see The Glands play at The Georgia Theatre's grand opening!  For those of you who aren't from Athens, a fire destroyed the local music venue and it has been a long road to get it back up and running.  I have tons of great memories from the Theatre and seen a lot of incredible shows there... In fact, my Mom tells the story of how my Dad made her go to a Mother's Finest concert when she was pregnant with me back in 1979/80 so I guess you can say I've been rocking out there since before I was born!

The Theatre has so much history and a lot of great bands got their start there.  Here are some excerpts from  an article by Sam Smart (one of the partners that originally opened the Georgia Theatre as a music venue) and some of the epic events that happened back in the day...

Once we were doing a band called the Nighthawks. We generally booked them about once a quarter on a Thursday night. We'd pay them $400 for one show, sell about 400 tickets at $4 each and have a very good night. On the Wednesday afternoon before this particular Thursday concert, I was just getting ready to leave the office when the phone rang. The caller asked me if the Nighthawks were playing the next night. When I told him they were, he asked if he could come jam with them. I asked him who he was and he said, "Gregg Allman." Well, Gregg Allman was a pretty famous guy in those days, not only because of his band, The Allman Brothers, but he was also married to Cher. So I asked him how much he wanted. He said he didn't want any money and he'd bring his own equipment and crew; he'd just heard the Nighthawks were hot and he wanted to play with them. I told him I'd see him the next day. After I hung up, I grabbed a blank piece of paper and wrote:
Gregg Allman

and The Nighthawks
The Georgia Theatre

Two Shows, tickets $8.00
Then I ran across the street to Copies Unlimited and made 2000 copies. The next morning, early, I grabbed a few guys from the Phi Delt house, headed to the parking lots on campus and put those fliers on every windshield until we ran out. We sold out both shows.
• • •
In the late '70s, the B-52s were just forming. They would come to the Theatre and say, "Smartt, you need to hire us to play here, we're going to be superstars!" I'd look at them with their crazy clothes and makeup and red and purple hair and tell them, "No way."
Finally, one day they came by and told me they had an offer I couldn't refuse. They would pay us $150 to play the theater, provide all their own sound and lights, all the crew to set up and tear down and even handle the promotional expenses. They'd take the door and we'd take the bar. We did it, it was a great show, a huge crowd, a win for the B-52s and us, and the next week they went to New York and signed their first record deal featuring a tune they had played at the theater, "Rock Lobster." 
• • •
Another time, I got a call from a promoter who said he had this hot new band coming to the U.S. for the first time. They were going to be playing in Atlanta on the weekend, and he wanted them to play our place the Thursday before. I'd never heard of them, and initially the guy wanted way more than we could afford. Eventually we settled on a deal where we would pay them $400 and they would bring their own sound equipment and set it up and tear it down themselves. The afternoon of the show these three guys, all about my age, showed up in a Volkswagen bus packed with sound equipment and instruments. They were all nice guys, and I ended up spending the afternoon helping them unload and set up. When they did their sound check a few hours before the show, I was pleasantly surprised. One song in particular sounded pretty good. It was called "Roxanne." The three guys were Sting and the Police.

So let the Georgia Theatre Marathon begin! The Glands tonight, Big Boi next Thursday, and Drive-By Truckers next Friday! (and definitely a few more shows squeezed into the months ahead- woot woot!)

Shake what Yo Momma gave ya ;),


Missy said...

Well, how was the show? I LOVE the B-52's so much. I am looking forward to maybe going to see First Aid Kit. I also liked how I read the GT would like to have earlier shows for those 9-5ers here in Athens. :) Super.

Genevieve Gail said...

It was good, the place looks amazing! I'm really looking forward to next weeks shows! Yeah, they need to do a B-52's reunion show there, dontcha think? ;)

Missy said...

yeah, for sure! :)

Shake those honey BUNS!