Sweetback Sisters Return To Athens County

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Last summer, Stuart's Opera House closed its outdoor concert series with a stellar performance by the Brooklyn, N.Y., retro-country ensemble the Sweetback Sisters.

The band returns to our region with a performance at ARTS/West in Athens on Wednesday, April 25.

Zara Bode and Emily Miller are a pseudo-sister, close-harmony duo, influenced by the great sibling and family singing groups of the 1930s through the '60s, with a heavy dose of the legendary Davis Sisters.

They front a top-notch virtuosic outfit that showcases original songs as well as the best honky-tonk, western swing, classic country and old-time repertoire from the golden era of American roots music.

Their self-penned songs comfortably juxtaposition themselves next to standards by Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson, Hazel Dickens, the Sons of the Pioneers and relatively newer artists like Dwight Yoakam and the Traveling Wilburys.

Although the band has the utmost love and respect for the vintage material, they are are not afraid to stretch out and bring in their assorted influences. They have the humor and playfulness in their onstage performances that is a real part of the tradition without ever descending into parody or schtick.

Their stage show is not a class in traditional country musicology, although one would be hard pressed to find a more authentic-sounding country band. 

"We're a renegade retro band that mixes country swing and honky tonk," said Bode. "Sometimes what we deliver is straight out of the '50s; other times, it's BR5-49 meets the B-52's."

Wednesday's show time is 8 p.m. Visit www.artswest.blogspot.com for details.