Although excited and enthusiastic about the opportunities Sky City represented when it opened one year (and some change) ago, I could not have predicted the effect a single venue would have on the Augusta music community.
All involved, either directly or on the periphery, understood what a bigger room with superior sound might mean. From the moment Sky City opened, the ownership was inundated with requests for favorite acts to grace the Sky City stage. Some of those requests have been filled. The most notable Sky City booking might be the Dinosaur Jr. show in April, but hardly a weekend has passed without something interesting showing up on the schedule.
Still, the success of Sky City has meant more than merely having a hall capable of bringing in touring shows and providing a big stage and sound for Augusta's talented artists. Reverberations from the venue's opening and subsequent success have extended well beyond the downtown club's doors.
Sky City has raised the bar for, well, bars.
Consider this: Since Sky City opened, the Playground has changed locations and, in the process, put a higher priority on live music. The Playground stage may be small, but both the sound and lighting are exceptional and the bar is quickly garnering a reputation as a spot that is kind to musicians and fun to play.
It's interesting, because the Playground serves a similar clientele as the similarly successful Loft, located just across and down Broad Street, and yet neither establishment seems guilty of poaching from the other. They thrive on the back of the simplest of credos -- good music, presented well, no cover.
Farther down Broad Street, an unlikely venue has emerged, thanks in no small part to Sky City. Rock Bottom Music, where local stars buy guitars, has been holding late afternoon acoustic shows, often featuring bands booked at Sky City and other local clubs. Rock Bottom gigs have included Black Stone Cherry, Sevendust and Duff McKagan's Loaded. It's an idea made possible by virtue of interesting acts coming through town, acts appropriate for music store promotions.
The Sky City effect extends well beyond Broad Street. Although the Country Club, located on Washington Road, predates Sky City and had established itself as a success long before its downtown brethren opened, it's bookings do seem to have changed some over the past year. Initially, the Country Club was primarily a country club. No surprises there.
There has been a shift, however. The club now does big business in touring radio rock acts, not surprisingly brought in by the same promoter responsible for many of the like-minded Sky City shows.
Now, I am not going to put myself out on a limb and suggest that any recent musical growth has been by the grace of Sky City, but I will tell you this: There's not a bar owner or booker in the city who is not aware of Sky City and understands everything the bar is doing right.
All I'm saying is, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Sky City should probably feel pretty flattered.
GODFATHER COME HOME
This weekend, a movie opens in Los Angeles and New York that I'm dying to see. Soul Power is a documentary about the ambitious concert organized in conjunction with the 1974 Muhammad Ali/George Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in Zaire.
The film features performances by Bill Withers, African performers Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, and, most notably, James Brown.
Usually, when I see a film is opening exclusively in New York and Los Angeles, I quietly add it to my "things to see on DVD" list, but this seems a little different. I understand that Augusta isn't a hotbed for art-house fare like this, but certainly this is a film that might find an audience here.
Perhaps at the Imperial? Maybe somewhere during the Westobou Festival?
Just throwing it out there.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.