Augusta is a town that takes its traditions seriously. We, as a community, are fiercely protective of our landmarks, personalities and events. We may grouse among ourselves about the penthouse perched atop the Lamar building or the ridiculous sway a certain golf tournament holds over everyone's spring scheduling, but let some interloper from Atlanta or, heaven forbid, farther afield take a jab and the gloves come off. Sure, Washington Road is not the most scenic stretch of highway in the state, but that's for us to comment on, not Bob Costas.
Of course, the cool thing about traditions is that many become traditions because they are worthy of repetition, worthy of revisiting time and time again.
Augusta's music community has always been keenly aware of this. So many excellent traditions have been created and nurtured by the men and women who produce and support local music. Whether the Christmas concerts that fill the calendar in December or the Lokal Loudness concerts and benefits that attract fans year after year, the Augusta music community has clearly demonstrated that it has some firm favorites that will succeed, in part, because they feel familiar.
But not every tradition has stood the test of time. Even before his death, James Brown's annual birthday concerts had ceased, at least locally. So, too, have several Masters-related concerts, although, to be fair, it is possible they had become overshadowed by the wildly successful Rock Fore! Dough concert. For me, the biggest bummer has been the continued absence of the late, great Cover Series, a mainstay when Sky City was the club formerly known as the Mission.
Granted, I wasn't always a fan of the records the bands chose to interpret, but the shows were always entertaining. There was something about the passion people brought to the project, whether performing strict interpretations or looser tributes to the source material.
I'd be particularly interested in seeing this idea resurrected because there is an entire generation of Augusta acts that weren't around to participate in the original series. I'd love, for instance, to see My Instant Lunch take on a Talking Heads record or Turf War attacking the Replacements classic Let It Be . I'd like to see Eat Lightning fully embrace its doo-wop roots and present an evening of Flamingos tunes or Night People's yacht rock extravaganza.
The thing about resurrecting the Cover Series is that it's an endeavor that doesn't need to be, and perhaps shouldn't be, taken too seriously. People who dismiss it as a gimmick are absolutely right. It is a gimmick. It's a beautiful gimmick. And you know what a gimmick becomes when you repeat it over and over again? It becomes a tradition.