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Eric Bachmann's crooked road to Atlanta

Atlanta has a lot going for it. Nightlife. Food. People. Music. But for Eric Bachmann — formerly of Chapel Hill's Archers of Loaf and now the brains behind Crooked Fingers — what drew him to Atlanta was none of the above. What originally brought Bachmann to town was how easily he could leave.

"I had a friend who managed a restaurant," says Bachmann, "and it was the type of thing where it would be very convenient for me because he'd let me work at my sort of scheduling. So I could go on tour for three months and come back and work for three weeks and go back out on tour for three months."

Bachmann's no stranger to traveling. He toured for seven years with '90s indie-rock favorites Archers of Loaf. Burnt out on the same songs and styles, he went to Seattle and recorded the first Crooked Fingers album — full of late-night ruminations and a brooding beauty worthy of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen or Springsteen's Nebraska. He then spent some months in Alaska.

But while recording and mixing in Athens (with former Man or Astro-Man? Brian Causey and engineer Andy Baker), Bachmann met local acts Azure Ray and Empire State, which (like Crooked Fingers) record for Athens indie label Warm Records. Bachmann ended up producing Azure Ray's debut and bringing Empire State on the road as his Crooked Fingers backing band.

Now, between moving trips back and forth from Florida, Bachmann is working on yet another new tour arrangement — this one including friends from Asheville, N.C., on banjo, lap steel and upright bass — and composing songs for a new release. With good people to work with, Atlanta feels like the right place for him to be for now. Plus, there's plenty of free source material for Crooked Fingers' drunken, reckless tales.

Crooked Fingers and Azure Ray play the Echo Lounge Sat., May 26.??