I recently wrote about the importance of celebrating creative heritage as a way to promote the community.
The question that went unasked and therefore unanswered is what exactly is Augusta’s creative heritage? What are those things, both famous and forgotten, that have shaped our history?
Where do we even begin?
My suggestion is to start with the most famous native son and work back and forward from there.
That, of course means James Brown.
While Mr. Brown remains the most celebrated – if still somewhat underappreciated – resource, much of his impact stems not only from the indelible mark he made on modern music, but from the perception of the city and surrounding environs that stems from Augusta being recognized as Brown’s town.
Augusta, to those who pay even a little attention, is considered a music city.
Now while this community has produced very few artists who can claim even the smallest success when compared to Mr. Brown, the breadth and depth of talent produced is impressive indeed.
With that in mind, I would like to start a small discussion. I’d like to hear what people think would be the ultimate reunion show.
What acts would you like to hear from one more time?
There are some rules. At least two members of the original lineup must be around to participate and each act must have had some history of public performance. The band that never quite made it out of the garage, sadly, does not qualify.
To get the ball rolling, here are a few of my favorites:
THE PALLBEARERS – Although drummer Steve Allen, still active with both the Livingroom Legends and Hound of Goshen, might object to me saying so, this one does require setting the Wayback Machine. Active and pretty popular in the beach music scene of the mid- to late-’60s, this band had a pretty fair number of musicians filter in and out over the course of its six-year history. Enough, I wager, that a pretty killer version of the soulful garage beach band could produce one more encore. I’d be into it.
NEATO TORPEDO – One of the original unapologetic punk acts in Augusta, Neato Torpedo has teased and threatened reunions since its last dissolution more than 10 years ago. The members are spread a bit, with the rhythm section living in Athens and Atlanta. Still, given the right circumstances and perhaps alignment of planets, I think it could happen again.
CRAWLING PEGS – My first forays into Augusta music, some 30 years or so ago, often involved sets by this innovative art rock band known for its sharp and subtle sense of humor. Frontman Bill Hamilton – or Phil Hamelton depending on your perspective – went on to form the equally late and lamented Jugs of Life, but I prefer the original recipe.
JEMANI – While the rap/rock hybrids that ruled radio for a brief time circa 2000 are often, and with good reason, derided – I’m looking at you Limp Bizkit – Jemani was far better than most. Powerful like Rage Against the Machine but less hampered by politics, this wildly theatrical act never quite cut through the ample noise that surrounded that scene. It’s a shame because Jemani was an intense, and intensely enjoyable, act. I’m sure frontman Benjamin Isaac still has his distinctive contact lenses in a drawer somewhere.
HORSEPOWER – The very best music requires very little in terms of theater. Horsepower, the brawny Americana act that sounded a lot like a Crazy Horse/Black Sabbath love child, understood that. They wrote and arranged beautiful heartfelt songs and then cranked up amps and played them with a natural looseness that made it seem as though the band was playing them for the first time. Horsepower never played nearly enough and yet remains missed.
There are, of course, others – First Born, Rebel Lion, the Outlines, the Cubists, Desolate James – the list goes on and on.
And so my question is this – if given an opportunity, what Augusta act would you like see take another curtain call? Sometimes all they need is a little encouragement.