Keeping It Local: Athens Music Fest Returns This Weekend

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This Saturday, Athens will temporarily wake from its summer slumber when 34 local bands raise the volume–and money–for a good cause.

Now in its 14th year, the Athens Community Music Festival (ACMF) will feature over eight hours of homegrown music at Donkey Coffee and Espresso, Casa Cantina, Jackie O's Brewery and Public House, The Union and The Smiling Skull.

Proceeds from this year's event will benefit Athens' community performing arts facility ARTS/West and the Bryan Winland Art & Music Scholarship Fund, which provides funds to area high school seniors who are seeking higher education in arts and music.

WOUB's Elliot Nicolson talked with ACMF co-founder Scott Winland about the fest's history and what audiences can expect this year.

EN: This year's ACMF features 34 bands and solo performers on six stages around town. Is this the biggest year for the ACMF?

SW: The ACMF is about the same size each year. We’ve grown a little bigger since the first one, but I think it's an appropriate size for the amount of acts and audience in town during the "off-season." The festival is a celebration of local music and the venues that host them. If we were to change the format to make it bigger by bringing in out-of-town acts, it really wouldn’t be the same. I love bringing national acts to Athens, and do so on a regular basis, but this fest is truly about local acts. There are a lot of incredibly talented artists and bands in the area, and I think it’s great to have a festival where we can shift the focus in that direction, and raise money for great causes in the process.

EN: Does it seem like more and more people are coming out to the festival each year?

SW: Yes. We’ve topped ourselves each year for the last four years in a row. I’m so glad that it's become a local tradition of sorts. The ACMF has grown from a single-stage event to a multi-stage festival with help of local sponsors. Those sponsors include the participating venues, as well as Haffa’s Records, O’Betty’s Red Hot, Fluff Bakery, Athens Bicycle and Power 105/WXTQ.

EN: How long does it take to organize and schedule the fest?

SW: Close to three months. Co-founder Jim Fuller and I have got the process down pretty well at this point, which certainly has its fair share of obstacles. It can be tough coordinating over 100 musicians and their conflicting schedules in one night–like a game of "Band Tetris"–but everyone pulls together and helps make it great each year.

EN: Was it a deliberate decision to have the festival in August when school is out?

SW: YES. I think it’s a great time to get out and walk around town. A Saturday night in Athens when O.U. is in session can be a little too much for some. The Athens Community Music Festival is one of the last fun nights of summer, where we can all get out and enjoy some music in local venues before the #1 Party School flags start flying.

EN: Final words?

SW: This is our 14th year. We really appreciate the support over the years from all of the local artists, venues and sponsors. We’re celebrating the local music community, and giving back to it through our benefactors. Athens has a super diverse music scene, and we encourage everyone to truly celebrate it by checking out something new this year. Go see something you haven’t seen before! We kick-off with a free show at Donkey Coffee at 5 p.m. Please come out and show your support.

Admission is $5 for individual venues; all-access wristbands are $8 and available at all venues.

2012 Athens Community Music Festival Schedule


Donkey Coffee and Espresso

5 p.m.  Liz Pahl
5:30 p.m.  Aggie and Tommy
6 p.m.  JJ Reed & Corbin Marsh
6:30 p.m.  Leah and Adam
7 p.m.  Laura Nadeau


The Union

6 p.m.  Aaron Michael Butler
7 p.m.  Goodbye Goats
8 p.m.  Wrong Hands
9 p.m.  County Pharaohs
10 p.m.  The D-Rays
11 p.m.  Dropdead Sons
12 a.m.  Hellnaw
1 a.m.  Hex Net


Jackie O’s Brewery

6 p.m.  The Paranormals
7 p.m.  Johnny Wayne Knievel & The Better Days Band
8 p.m.  Melk
9 p.m.  Hippie Grinder
10 p.m.  The Revulvas
11 p.m.  Whip And Tickle
12 a.m.  Dysfunktional Family
1 a.m.  Black Spyral Dancer


Jackie O’s Public House

10 p.m.  Broken Ring
11 p.m.  Lennon Orchestra
12 a.m.  Stella
1 a.m.  The Porters


Casa Cantina

9 p.m.  M.O.P.
10 p.m.  Corbin Marsh Band
11 p.m.  Scubadog
12 a.m.  Wheels on Fire
1 a.m.  Weird Science


The Smiling Skull

10 p.m.  Sothoros
11 p.m.  Watch Them Rot
12 a.m.  Controlled Folly
1 a.m.  Acer Negundo