Recently I had someone refer to an Augusta act, somewhat derisively, as a "downtown band." Although I had some idea what was meant by the comment, I couldn't help goading the critic-in-question a little and inquired what, exactly, was required for an act to earn the "downtown" honorific. I was informed that a downtown band is a band that plays downtown a lot.
Does that mean, because I sing in my car a lot, that I must be written off as a Dodge singer? Will my daughter carry the curse of Columbia County karaoke?
I find it ridiculous that people attack or attach expectations to artists -- musical or otherwise -- based on geography. It's not a new idea. Hip-hop's infamous East Coast-West Coast feud was fueled by such beliefs, and there was a time when rock was considered provincial if it didn't have a Los Angeles or New York pedigree. And don't get me started on the Nashville sound.
Here's the thing: Augusta's "downtown bands" hail from North Augusta and Evans. They load up cars and trucks and vans and haul gear to gigs from Hephzibah and Louisville, Ga., and occasionally Appling. There's no such thing as a "downtown band." There are bands that play downtown. Why? Because there's a concentration of venues downtown. But you know what? There are Washington Road bands and south Augusta bands and the odd downtown/south Augusta/Washington Road act. Does playing a specific venue make them better or worse? No. By my way of thinking, being offered the opportunity to play any venue makes them one thing and one thing only. Fortunate.
LET'S HAVE A WAR. It looks like Turf War (a "downtown band" if I ever heard one) is seeing some dividends from a recent move to Atlanta. I usually discourage bands from heading west looking for greater fortunes, but evidently it's a gambit that has paid off for the War. Not only has the band come close to completing the record I feel like I've been waiting a long and lonely lifetime for, but it continues to capitalize on the mutual admiration shared with raucous rock act Black Lips. Rumor has it they even bought a van. Check out Turf War -- and the new Turf War-mobile -- Friday at Sky City. Abby Go Go and DJ Big Al appear in support.