Big Athens Shows On Tap For Labor Day Weekend

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Traditionally, Labor Day Weekend in Athens has meant moving vans, out-of-towners driving the wrong way up one-way streets and long lines at grocery stores…but not much in the way of live music.

That's changed this year, presumably due to OU's switch to semesters. The students are back, the town is chugging along at full-steam and the first weekend of the new semester-centric music calendar will kick off with a bang.

Former Athens band The Ridges will return to Casa Cantina this Friday with local indie-power pop band Scubadog and Oberlin folk-rock artist Bobby Stevens opening. The ACRN-presented show comes on the heels of a busy summer for the self-described orchestral folk-rock band, who have been hard at work recording the follow-up to last year's self-titled EP.

This time next month, The Ridges will share the stage with Andrew Bird, Grizzly Bear, Dinosaur Jr. and other indie-heavyweights during Cincinnati's MidPoint Music Festival.

The music continues on Saturday when The Union hosts R. Ring (based in Dayton, Ohio AND Dayton, Ky.). The group may not be a household name, but chances are you've heard frontwoman Kelly Deal somewhere down the line.

As part of The Breeders, Deal and twin sister Kim (of the Pixies) saturated college radio airwaves with their 1993 release Last Splash. The album's big single, "Cannonball," received heavy play on MTV and was featured in several TV shows and films.

Deal's latest project, R. Ring, is a collaboration with Mike Montgomery of the band Ampline. This weekend marks the band's second Athens County visit of the year, having performed at the 2012 Nelsonville Music Festival to rave reviews. The group's debut seven-inch single, "Fallout and Fire" will be released by Misra Records in October.

"We're super-excited to have Kelly back with her new project," said Scott Winland of Blackout Booking. "The Kelly Deal 6000 was one of the first bands I booked at The Union, way back when." Local bands Hex Net and M.O.P. round out Saturday's bill.

On Monday, Asthmatic Kitty recording artist Shannon Stephens returns to Athens for a show at the relatively new Central Venue, located at 29 East Carpenter Street. Owned and operated by the Central Avenue Church, the former body shop location was recently upcycled into a multi-purpose venue that's available to speakers, concerts and art markets.

The Seattle-based Stephens, who got her start playing with Sufjan Stevens in the Michigan band Murzuki, is currently on tour in support of her latest release, Pull It Together, which features a duet with Bonnie Prince Billy (who covered Stephens' "Ill Be Glad" on his 2008 album Lie Down in the Light).

This will be Stephens' second visit to Athens: In May, she played a private house concert and performed a three-song set in the WOUB studios.

Local singer-songwriters Rachel Figley and Cory Love will open Monday's show.