Monday, May 13, 2013

What's New is New... (Again)

by Russell Holbrook  

     Growing up in the Atlanta Hardcore and Metal scene of the early / mid '90's, I was privileged to see some truly amazing bands. I'll never forget seeing Act of Faith, Quadiliacha and Crisis Under Control at the Somber Reptile (R.I.P.), or watching Cerebral Hemorrhage at the Wreck Room. Those were amazing times and amazing bands; talented, prolific, LOCAL bands, who now sadly reside in the "I wonder whatever happened to them" section of most of our memories. As people say; that was then, this is now, and, thankfully, now is a fucking great place to be, especially if you're into heavy music. Our wonderful, eclectic city is blessed to call herself the hometown of some of the greatest heavy bands around nowadays. Let's give thanks to the thunder gods for the likes of Mastodon, Zoroaster, Withered, Sadistic Ritual, Death of Kings, Royal Thunder, and many, many others, who are thriving and helping to create, or, recreate, a vibrant, exciting local scene, even if some of them are away on tour a great deal of the time.
    One local band who always seem to be in another city is Attila, Atlanta's self-proclaimed "party metal" band. About a year and a half ago my fifteen year old son introduced me to them. He said they were coming to town with some touring hardcore bands and that we should go check them out. He was already an Attila fan and he said he thought I'd like them. So, in the spirit of giving new bands a chance, and wanting to hear what's going on outside of what I'd normally listen to, I agreed.  To be honest, I'd go watch a tree grow if it meant getting to hang out with my son.  Plus, how many parents have a kid who turns them on to new heavy bands? How cool is that?! So, anyway... We went to the show and Attila killed it. Absolutely. Since then we have seen them a total of three times and every time we see them they wipe the stage with whoever has the misfortune of having Attila open for them. Their latest victims were Chelsea Grin, who Attila made look like a parody of a cliche' of a "metal" band.
    While I'm not a big fan of metal core, or death core, or any of the "cores" that came out any later than 1990 something, I really do enjoy Attila, and to my own sincere surprise. I went in a sceptic and they won me over. If you've never heard Attila, I'm hard pressed to give a short, simple description. Their sound is a blend of  traditional metal, thrash, metal core and hardcore. There are breakdowns, but not to the point of monotony. The vocals are a mix of insane screeching, guttural growling, and screaming. When they play live, they go nuts and the audience goes insane with them. It's so fun to see hundreds of people screaming "Suck my dick!" in unison as the vocalist leads everyone in the mad ritual. It's ridiculous! In addition to the hilarious vulgarity and the spastic, over the top antics, this band can really play. The guitarists play more than one chord, actually, they play several, and, they do solos! The drummer and the bassist never lose time and the vocalist, Fronz, ties it all together like a gift that tells you to fuck yourself when you open it. Brilliant. I'm still surprised that I'm writing this in a public forum. Many Metal fans do not consider the genre that Attila is associated with as "real metal", but, maybe it's just something new. I didn't consider it to be real Metal either, at least not initially. However, after seeing Attila live on several occasions, I have been converted. It's refreshing to see the new generation of local bands doing something new. At least it's new to me, and, what's old is over, and what's new is new. If you enjoy heavy riffs, vulgar gesturing, and gratuitous profanity, you can't go wrong with an Attila show. The shit is seriously fun, I'm not kidding, and fuck, I'm OLD!!  I love metal and I love our wonderful city. Fuck yeah!! See you at the show! 

GO SEE LOCAL METAL!!!! (Or whatever local music you enjoy!!) 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Celebrate Wayne Sawyer & Conquer SADS

     One of the best parts about being in the business of rock n roll is the people we meet along the way.  Most of us have an interesting story, some happy, some sad, some uplifting, and some motivating, but never boring. Today was one of those days where I was able to hear a story, sad, tragic even, yet highly motivating and very uplifting.  I have been a devoted Widespread Panic fan for the better part of 20 years and do my best to keep up with the comings and goings of anything dealing with the band and its fans.  I was living in Denver, CO, when I heard about the passing of Wayne Sawyer, on September 29, 2009.   Somehow Wayne and I never met, yet at the time we had several mutual friends and it was obvious how special this man was and how much he was loved. Now, on May 9, 2013, a little less than a month before the 4th Annual Celebrate Wayne & Conquer SADS memorial benefit show at Smith’s Olde Bar, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Wayne’s wife Shannon and I was able to get a firsthand account on who Wayne Sawyer was, what the benefit is raising money for, and how we as a family can make sure his death was not in vain.
     SADS, which stands for Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes, are genetic heart rhythm abnormality conditions that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy people – who are undiagnosed. Wayne suffered from what is called Long QT Syndrome, which is a disturbance of the heart’s electrical system.  Nearly half of the people who suffer from Long QT Syndrome never show any symptoms.  This is part of what makes the disease so hard to detect.  It is genetic with a 50% chance of its being passed down from generation to generation.  The hardest part of this is the disease being misdiagnosed eventually leading to a sudden fatal heart attack at a very young age. Wayne Sawyer died two weeks before his 41st birthday.  With the help of the SADS Foundation and benefits like this one, light can be shed on this destructive genetic disorder and lives can be saved.  Shannon informed me that there is headway being made in stem cell research today.  With the correct medication, had Wayne been properly diagnosed, this tragedy could have been avoided.  Thankfully, after Wayne’s passing, his family was tested and it was brought to light that other family members including his daughter also suffer from Long QT Syndrome. Fortunately Wayne’s passing, helped save his daughter’s life as well as that of his two sisters.
     With a big move to Colorado and a new life for Shannon and her family two weeks after the June 1st celebration, Shannon insisted to me that this year’s event was going to be less money driven and more about remembering her late husband and the man that he was.  Not knowing how her move to Colorado will affect the annual fundraiser in the future, she wants this year to be very special.  I could hear the love in her voice as she described who Wayne was, and how important he was to the people he was closest to.  Wayne was an artist, a writer, a musician, a business partner, and a founding member of the Widespread Panic road crew.  Shannon stated in our conversation, “The most important thing to me, when writing about Wayne, is to say how very much he loved his wife and daughter. He was so devoted to both of us. And that he died to save his daughter's life.  I truly believe it, beyond my personal need to assign meaning to his death. I believe it in the depths of my being ... that his soul & body knew, and he truly loved her that much.”
     This year’s event will once again be held at Smith’s Olde Bar on June 1, 2013.   There are VIP tickets available for $50 and regular tickets for $25.  The VIP music will start at 5 pm with Cameron Stack and Betsy Franck, and catering will be provided by Fox Bros BBQ.  The music upstairs will begin at 6 pm with The Heap, Col. Bruce Hampton, featuring AJ Ghent, Jerry Joseph with Jeff Crosby and the Refugees, and Bloodkin.  These guys will rock the house and everyone will have a great time.  There will be a silent auction, and Shannon tells me there are some great pieces to bid on this year.  So bring your money and be ready.  Tickets are going fast so grab one while you can before they are all gone.  This will be a night you will not want to miss.

If you are interested in donating, payments through PayPal are accepted @

For more information on SADS please go to

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Got a Ticket in My Pocket

     Wow!  It has been a whirl wind few weeks here between Atlanta and Athens, Ga.  It all started April 27 with two nights of Widespread Panic at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Next up was Drivin n Cryin May 2 at the Melting Point in Athens.  May 4 and 5 we had a full weekend of the Shaky Knees Festival at the Masquerade Music Park in the 4th Ward.  There was so much music to choose from.   I was able to catch Moon Taxi, The Joy Formidable, Lucero, Jim James, Goat and the Black Angels on Saturday.  Sunday, still wet from the constant downpour consisted of Murder by Death, Kurt Vile and the Violators, and hometown heroes the Drive by Truckers.  I did not get to see everything on my list but such is the way of music festivals right.  Just when I thought I have had enough, two tickets to the sold out Soundgarden show at the Tabernacle fall into my lap.  Since I had not seen these guys since Lollapalooza 1992, I felt like it was a no brainer.  Glad I did not miss them.  Needless to say I am completely showed out and have neglected most of my duties but it was well worth it.  After all this is why I do what I do, for the love of the music.  I would have to say that if you have never seen GOAT, do not miss them next time around.  They are absolutely a funky, spooky, Black Sabbathy, gypsy act worth every penny. 
     It is agreed that several big name publications that I won’t name are missing the boat on the local music scene so we are more than happy to pick up where they have left off.  With that being said I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing the first band I ever saw live on May 2 at the Melting Point in Athens, Ga. First, I have not been to the Melting Point since 1996 maybe.  It is a very nice venue, putting the fans right up close to the musicians, making the shows very personable.  Drivin n Cryin went on right as I walked in the door and played for a solid two hours.  They played songs from all over their catalogue including a bunch of stuff I have never heard.  They looked quite a bit different from that night at the Fox in October of 1990 but the sounded just as good if not better twenty three years later.  The addition of Sadler Vaden on lead guitar has proved to be a fantastic decision.  This guy can play the mother freaking guitar.  This gives Mr. Kinney the freedom to carry the band with the songs that are so lyric driven.  This show was as good as anything I have seen live, ever. A Small venue, a big sound, some loud guitars, and some of my favorite songs make for the perfect recipe.  As happy as I was to have plenty of room to enjoy the show I cannot for the life of me understand why there were so few people at the show.  Well I can tell you if you were not there, you missed Gibb Droll getting on stage for several songs and blowing the doors off the place.  Part of me would love to keep the shows small and intimate with plenty of room to dance, but on the other hand I would love to see these guys back to opening for the Who again.  I will say, never miss a Thursday night show, especially if it is Drivin and Cryin!
     The highlight of this two week musical bender was getting to sit down with Drivin and Cryin drummer Dave Johnson and talk about Nuci’s Space.  Oddly enough, I was not star stricken, yet calm and collected.  We talked about Nuci’s Space, what was in the plans as far as branching out to Atlanta was concerned, and hopefully we will be able to get these guys on board for a great cause.  It is not every day one gets to talk to one of their favorite musicians about the nonprofit they work with.  I think I was smiling the whole drive back to Atlanta that night.  Speaking of Nuci’s Space, we are currently in the process of setting up a fall benefit show here in Atlanta, to mirror the big DBT shows every January.  We are very pleased and happy to have our friends Efren and The Higher Choir on the bill.  I promise this will be a night full of dirty, gritty, rock n roll for a great cause.  Hopefully we will have a venue and a date by the end of next week.  Stay tuned for more details.  This will be a night you will not want to miss!

That is all for now folks and remember GO SEE LIVE MUSIC!

If you are interested in helping out or becoming a sponsor for the Nuci’s Space benefit please email me.