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Here comes the Sol

For a town of its size, Athens churns out an impressive number of musical cottage industries. But unlike the stridently indie Elephant Six collective, the city's latest burgeoning family seeks to highlight Athens as fertile soil for musicians tilling the middle ground between New Age explorations and soaring free-jazz excursions.

Erik Hinds, the focal point of this particular movement, can already look with pride to some successes. For one, his relatively young Solponticello label — home to a host of adventurous acts including Riveter, SS Puft and Julie Powell — has established him as more or less the Jeff Mangum of jazz. And, having recently staged a series of concerts known as the Butterfly Effect, he's now set his sights on an Athens international music festival, slated to take place sometime in 2004.?

"There are very few outlets for new composed music to be performed," Hinds says of his motivation, "so we decided to create our own."?

Hinds also practices what he preaches, popping up across Solponticello's roster as a solo artist and a member of both SS Puft and the Georgian Contemporary Unit, the latter a guitar collective featuring Hungarian guitar maestro Sandor Szabo. But Solponticello is far from a vanity project; rather, Hinds says, it's an outlet for musical expression in its truest sense.?

"While these artists may have dramatically different visions for their own music, they all have a clear and strong sense of purpose, and all are exceptional within their fields," he says. "These are people who live and breathe their creativity." ?

Erik Hinds, Kyle Dawson and Julie Powell perform at Solponticello Records' triple CD release party Sat., Feb. 22, at Flicker Theatre.