I’ve never been a fan of buffets. I believe they, more often than not, value quantity over quality and appeal to man’s baser instincts. Under ordinary circumstances I would never consider the relative merits of Salisbury steak under congealed gravy, much less walk away with two servings of it. But that’s the way buffets work. That’s what they do to us.
Music festivals operate sort of the same way. For the past several years I have found myself at Bonnaroo, attracted by the smorgasbord of bucket-list bands and promising news acts. And still, at least once a day, standing in the heat and dust and fighting crowds and fatigue, I wonder exactly why I’m there. It’s so much and, like a well-stocked lunch buffet, the idea of consuming everything is folly.
Which is exactly why I love Sky City’s Festivus of Bands. The seven-night festival was created by Coco Rubio shortly after his departure from the 12 Bands organization a few years back. Eschewing the buffet model, Festivus offers its feast in easily digested courses. Instead of hitting music fans with an all-or-nothing mandate, he molds a series of interesting evenings of music – some built around a theme, others just bands making music for an appreciative audience.
The one thing it has in common with a buffet is its invitation to take a chance. While the majority of acts are familiar names, there are, as there have been in years past, acts new to me. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Some, undoubtedly, will feature familiar faces while others will be wholly new. Here’s a look at a few acts – one per night – I’m interested in, either because they are old favorites or new curiosities.
• Night 1 – Thursday, Dec. 13 – Celia Gary came in second in The Augusta Chronicle’s Amped music contest in September, forever dispelling the myth that a solo artist doesn’t stand a chance against bands. Watch her set. It’s easy to understand why the judges held her in such high esteem. She’s a rare talent.
• Night 2 – Saturday, Dec. 15 – This is a Saturday night show so there should be an embarrassment of riches – and there is, with Sibling String, The Ramblin’ Fevers, Livingroom Legends and Shoo Fly Pie.
• Night 3 – Tuesday, Dec. 18 – I mentioned that Celia Gary took Amped silver. Jesup Dolly won the gold. An American rock band in the truest sense, the Dolly boys write songs about that guy at the end of the bar with the really interesting stories, not one of which has a happy ending.
• Night 4 – Wednesday, Dec. 19 – There are a couple of unknown quantities – Fuzzy Sun and Elephants Gerald – booked for this Wednesday night show. What’s really got me curious is the inclusion of an improv set. These are always risky as they have been known to devolve into Phish fests, but if the musicians and vibe is right, it could be incredibly memorable.
• Night 5 – Thursday, Dec. 20 – It’s nice to see the Festivus folk taking a band break with a night dedicated to DJs. While I’m not familiar with every spinner on the bill, I am a fan of Dr. Bread. No parking on the dance floor.
• Night 6 – Friday, Dec. 21 – I’ve been a fan of Young Goodman Brown a long time. Sadly, his Augusta dates are few and far between. It will be good to see him and even better to hear some of his incredibly affecting songs.
• Night 7 – Saturday, Dec. 22 – This is a tough one. A lot of great acts are on the bill for the final night of Festivus. That being said, it doesn’t feel like the holidays for me if I don’t see a Night People show. At this point Night People’s low-key sonic sculpting feels as much a part of the season as a rousing rendition of that song about chestnuts.
For more details, see skycityaugusta.com.