Reclusive Indie Folk-Rocker To Make Athens Appearance

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When Athens musician Adam Remnant was offered a few opening slots for Bill Fox–one of his musical heroes–he jumped at the chance.

"I discovered Bill Fox a few years ago when my brother Jesse introduced me to his record Shelter from the Smoke," said Remnant. "I became obsessed with that record pretty quickly. It has so many elements I love: Beatle-worthy melodies, Dylanesque lyrics, quality homespun production and Bill Fox's cool voice."

The Cleveland-based Fox was about to embark on a three-date mini-tour of Ohio, and organizer Kyle Sowash (of Columbus band The Kyle Sowashes) thought Remnant would be a good fit for the bill.

Although Bill Fox is not a household name, his two albums–Shelter from the Smoke (1996) and Transit Byzantium (1998)–have found new fans in recent years, thanks to a 2008 reissue campaign by Scat Records.

That same label also released For Almost Ever Scooter, a compilation by Fox's 1980s trio The Mice, who received some attention when Superchunk covered their song "Bye Bye Kitty Cat" in the '90s. The group is now legendary amongst power-pop aficianados.

"[The Mice] played basically in the Ohio region," Fox told KCRW's Nic Harcourt during a 1998 interview. "With a couple of occasions in '88, we broke out and went to Kansas City and Cincinnati and we went up to Toronto…and then we disbanded." When asked what he'd been doing for the past decade, Fox replied "Just hanging out. Writing songs. Working, trying to pay the bills."

After releasing two solo albums in the 1990s, Fox essentially quit the music business, refusing to do interviews and shunning live performances. Ironically, his popularity grew during his absence when a 2007 profile in The Believer resulted in an increase of iTunes downloads.

Fox eventually started playing live dates after Scat reissued his records, but he remained nonchalant about the attention, according to label owner Robert Griffin.

"He just thinks they're music, and God, if some of these weird people still want to buy 'em, OK, let's print some more up," Griffin told Cleveland.com.

This weekend, Fox will be performing those songs at Donkey Coffee, as well as selections from last year's One Thought Revealed, his first new collection of material since 1998.

Remnant encourages his fellow Athenians to come out and hear what they've been missing.

"People say, 'No one writes them like they used to.' Well, Bill Fox does, so people can stop saying that. I'm really excited for Athens to hear him," he said.

Donkey Coffee will host Bill Fox with openers Adam Remnant and Jim McKievier on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. Visit www.donkeycoffee.com for details.