Keith Richards
Members of the Athens music scene will come together to celebrate the life of Bryan Keith Winland and the music of The Rolling Stones this Saturday at “Keithfest.” (Michael Putland)

Exile on Union Street: Athens Musicians Gather for “Keithfest”

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Rolling Stones fans are invited to get their ya-ya’s out–and raise funds for a good cause–this Saturday at Jackie O’s.

The 5th annual “Keithfest” gets underway at 8 p.m., featuring a who’s-who of the local music scene covering Stones favorites and paying tribute to the late Bryan Keith Winland, an Athens native and brother to fest organizer Scott Winland.

“Bryan was a huge Rolling Stones fan. You could say I come from a family of Stones fans, really, but Bryan loved that band–especially Keith Richards–more than anyone I know,” said Scott.

After Bryan passed away in 2008, Scott and his sister Jennifer decided to start a scholarship in his name for high school seniors seeking higher education in arts and music, and to hold an annual concert to fund it.

Scott said it’s fitting that the scholarship would benefit musically inclined youngsters, since Bryan was a big part of his own musical upbringing.

“Bryan introduced me to a ton of great music and as little kids, we immersed ourselves in record collecting. He turned me on to The Ramones, T. Rex, Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper…way too many to name, really,” explained Scott. “He was my favorite person to stay up all night with, listening to records–and probably the biggest supporter of my musical endeavors. It’s strange how you don’t think about the way people affect you when you’re ‘in it.’ But when someone who has contributed so much to who you are–someone you love–is sincerely proud of you, it’s a feeling like nothing else. Sadly, it’s one I think most of us don’t recognize or truly appreciate until it isn’t there anymore.”

Sharp-eyed fans of the local scene will spot some familiar faces this Saturday, as members of The Blam Blams (Scott’s band), Weird Science, Hex Net, Cosmos, Uncle Larry and several other acts perform hits and lesser-known tracks from the Stones’ catalog. For attendees, it’s a chance to rock out to some of the greatest songs of the ’60s and ’70s. For Scott, it spotlights the people close to his heart: his brother and his fellow musicians.

“A night of nothing but Rolling Stones makes perfect sense. I like to think Keithfest has been an emotional comfort to our friends and family and a way to celebrate the Athens music community by putting together an event that Bryan would have enjoyed the most.”

Visit the event’s Facebook page for information and updates.