Sunday, January 31, 2010

Acoustic Forever

Photo taken from

Jackie O's Pub and Brewery, located a hop, skip and jump away from the clamor of Court Street on 24 W. Union, has been a hot-spot for burgeoning Athens musicians for as long as I can remember; which is to say about two and a half years, since I arrived at Ohio University as a freshman. They've got a MySpace featuring acts that grace their stage, host well-attended weekend shows, and have traditionally been home intimate, acoustic open stage nights on Mondays hosted by the inimitable Junebug (to reveal his real name would be to, 1). ruin the mystique, and 2). assume that I actually know what it is. Investigation on the matter is forthcoming.)

Recently, Jackie O's has been something of a mess of construction work in their expansion into what used to be Skipper's Bar & Grill located next door, that space now dubbed Jackie O's Public House. If you've walked down Union during the past week, you may have noticed workers hauling wheelbarrows full of cement into the "old" half of Jackie O's. With this ongoing transformation, the bar's open stage nights have gone through something of an upheaval. Later this week, I'll be posting my thoughts on these new "open jam" nights, but for now, a loving look back on what was an extremely formative aspect of my experience as a musician in Athens: open stage in the "old" half of Jackie O's.

Monday nights were never hugely crowded at the bar. Often times, after lowering the fold-down stage from its resting place against the wall around 10 PM, Junebug would strum folk numbers until he either got tired of it, or someone else bugged him enough to vacate the stage so they could play themselves. Throughout much of spring quarter last school year, those people bugging him were myself a few of my friends, three (and sometimes four) overeager sophomores with a bunch of acoustic guitars. I'd like to think Junebug liked us, but sometimes it was hard to tell. I don't recall him once introducing us by the correct name; oftentimes he'd say "The Squeakies" or "The Squeaky Chairs," but never "The Squeaky Chairs Band." Surely it was all in good fun. I remember Junebug approaching the stage once after a number, adjusting my microphone, and giving me a "there, try it now, tiger" kind of look. A good deal of my technical on-stage know-how is certainly indebted to him.

But our own performances aside, there was always an entertaining cast figures inhabiting the stage. Sometime early during my sophomore year, one regular was a 5th-year-senior looking gentleman with a distinctive, yelping voice and a whole lot of energy. He did a bang-up job with numerous Kinks' songs. Then there's John, a middle-aged fellow who often played the hell out of Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" and liked our band's version of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel." There was also another guy who'd lug an enormous stand-up bass onto the stage, which was always fun to watch.

So, tomorrow is another Monday, and I plan on venturing into the Public House and trying my hand at the new set-up, which I hear involves electric guitars. To Junebug and the open stage of old: thanks for the memories.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Jay, you will be missed

photo from

Anyone who attended last year's Lobsterfest, the all-day music festival presented by ACRN on South Green each year, might recognize Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr., or Jay Reatard, as he's more commonly known, pictured above. Reatard headlined the festival, and I can only imagine that it was the kind of fast-and-loud punk rock bonanza that the Memphis, Tennessee had been building his name on over the past few years. I myself did not make it to the show, a decision now made all the more regrettable by the fact that Reatard passed away a little over two weeks ago; he was found dead in his home on January 13.

If anyone that finds themselves reading this post was in attendance for his performance on campus last year, I'd love to hear from you. Some of the only coverage I've been able to find on the event was some unappreciative jabbing from Speakeasy Magazine. Some people just don't get it, I guess.

The news of Reatard's death hit pretty hard for me, as a good lot of his music has loads of sentimental value. His 2006 album Blood Visions brings me back to my freshman year of college, and the summer leading up to it. Just last fall, speeding down the last stretch of Route 33 on my way back to campus, I listened to that album with the windows down and the volume up and shouted along every word. Catharsis is wonderful, sometimes.

And with that, here's a piece I recently wrote concerning Blood Visions for I warned you about the plugs.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hello? Is this thing on?

Some relevant information for you, budding readership:

I am music obsessive. That might not be so impressive in itself, but it's a part of me that I'm going to try and express through this blog. As a student at Ohio University, and by extension, a resident of Athens, OH, I'm constantly surrounded by a music scene that has done more than a little to define my experience here. This blog will act as something of a chronicle of my dealings with the music that permeates the Athens community, and I'm hoping to create engaging, informative and in-depth content based on goings-on in the Athens scene. It'll be an experience--for myself, and hopefully for you as well, dear reader.

Full disclosure on some things I'm involved with and will surely be plugging throughout the life of this blog (it's relevant to what I'll be doing here, I swear):

I contribute regularly to the upstart music Web magazine One Thirty BPM. It's run by an ambitious young fellow named Evan Kaloudis, who has done a phenomenal job of expanding the site beyond it's blog origins, and I'm positive it's potential has yet to be fully realized. There's some great writing going on there, and I'm honored and thankful to be a part of it. Check it out. I'll more than likely link to things I've published there every so often.

I'm in a band myself. We call ourselves the Squeaky Chairs Band, and we gig around Athens as much as possible... which at this point extends mostly to open mics and house shows, and one official paid show at Donkey Coffee & Espresso that took place last quarter. We record our own material in our front-man's closet. Really, he's got some awesome equipment in there. Look forward to some posts detailing our experiences in Athens. For a final bit shameless self-promotion, here's our MySpace page.

So, let's make some noise.