Georgia Theatre: A rocking musical history
Located in Athens, Georgia, the Georgia Theatre is a thriving music venue and event space. Numerous prominent local and national touring acts spanning various musical genres, including rock, country, folk, indie, and electronic, have performed there.
The original building housed the Athens YMCA from 1889 to 1919. Since then, it has been renovated and transformed, and functioned as a movie theater, music store, hotel, furniture company, Masonic temple, and a Sears, Roebuck store. Then, in 1935, it became the Elite Theatre, and while briefly acting as a Methodist church, it has largely remained a very important entertainment venue.
Eventually renamed Georgia Theatre, Kyle Pilgrim and Bill “Duck” Anderson bought the building in 1989 and reconstituted it from a movie house to a concert venue. Pylon performed the first concert, and in the years that followed, other renowned performers, including Athens’ own Widespread Panic, as well as Beck, Warren Zevon, J.J. Cale, David Byrne, Black Lips, Umphrey’s McGee, and Dave Matthews Band, graced the stage. Notably, the Derek Trucks Band recorded their 2004 album Live at Georgia Theatre at the venue, and it was the filming location for the video of John Mayer’s 2002 track “No Such Thing.”
Unfortunately, a devastating fire on June 19th, 2009, left the building in ruins. However, through a labor of love and a deep respect for Athens’ enduring creative spirit, the Georgia Theatre was rebuilt. Today, the Georgia Theatre proudly stands as a symbol of community resilience and artistic expression.
Athens, Georgia – Home to many of music’s greatest
Various well-known musicians and bands have come from Athens, Georgia, with most of them playing many times at the Georgia Theatre. The city played an important role in the evolution of new wave and alternative rock music, and the city’s contribution to bluegrass, rock, and country music, has earned it the moniker “Liverpool of the South.”
The B-52s, originally presented as the B-52’s, are a new wave band that formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1976. With their “thrift shop aesthetic,” as Bernard Gendron described them, they had numerous hits, including “Rock Lobster” and “Whammy Kiss.” The group announced their retirement from touring last year.
Rock band R.E.M. was formed in 1980 in Athens, Georgia, by drummer Bill Berry, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. They were all students at the University of Georgia. They first performed their song “Losing My Religion,” named after a Southern American expression for pushing someone to their limits, in Athens, Georgia.
Rock band Widespread Panic formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1986 and has been influenced by progressive rock, funk, and hard rock. Renowned for their live shows, they have been compared to other jam bands such as Phish and the Grateful Dead. Harvey Milk, an experimental rock band, also formed in the city in the early 1990s.
Other chart-topping and well-known bands from the city include Maserati (formed in 2000), indie rock band The Side Effects, as well as Love Tractor. Drive-By Truckers has roots elsewhere in the US but is based in the city.
The Voice contestant and country music singer-songwriter Kameron Marlowe will be playing at the Georgia Theatre on November 17, with tickets available at Ticketmaster and Axs.com. British new wave rock band The Fixx are performing on November 13. Singer-songwriter Marcus King, whose 2020 album was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, will be live at the Georgia Theatre on November 14 and 15. Umphrey’s McGee, a progressive metal band that experiments with various musical styles, including rock, funk, jazz, blues, reggae, electronic, bluegrass, country, and folk, can be seen on November 30 and in early December.