HIGH FREQUENCIES: 2018 in the rear-view mirror
Objects are closer than they appear
It’s time to say good-bye to 2018. For those who choose to do so, celebrating with live music, there’s a lot to choose from in Atlanta this year. Below is a list for those not content staying at home, switching from obnoxious New Year’s Eve celebration hosts to the aggravating ones.
Aisle 5: Funk You with Universal Sigh, 9 PM.
The Bakery: New Year, Who Dis? — a Southern Fried and Morph New Year’s Eve Party with DJ sets, live performances and a Countdown Drag Show.
The Buckhead Theatre: Drivin N Cryin with Dan Baird and Homemade Sin, 9 PM.
Coca-Cola Roxy: The Roots with Victory Boyd, 9 PM.
The EARL: The Coathangers with Vincas and Paralyzer, 9 PM.
Eddie’s Attic: Michelle Malone Band with Eliot Bronson, 10 PM. There will also be a 7:30 PM show with no opener.
Fox Theatre: Widespread Panic, 9 PM.
Masquerade (Heaven): Sevendust with Cane Hill, Madame Mayhem and Shallow Side, 7 PM.
Northside Tavern: Lola Gulley Band & Atlanta Horns, with Albert White, Eddie Tigner and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, 10 PM.
Park Tavern: Yacht Rock Revue, opening band, 9 PM.
Red Clay Music Foundry: Esoebo, 7 PM.
Red Light Cafe: The Gilded Age Gala New Year’s Eve Celebration, 8 PM.
Smith’s Olde Bar (The Music Room): Rumours — A Fleetwood Mac Tribute, 8 PM.
Smith’s Olde Bar (The Atlanta Room): Led Zeppelified with Young Again, 8 PM.
The Star Bar: Gringo Star, with Anna Kramer & the Lost Cause, Mammabear, Chrome Castle and more, 8 PM.
The Tabernacle: Umphrey’s McGee, 8 PM.
Terminal West: Larkin Poe with Andrea & Mud, 8 PM.
Underground Atlanta: Peach Drop, 5 PM on.
Variety Playhouse: Family and Friends, with Neighbor Lady, and Dot.s, 8 PM.
Vista Room: Electric Avenue, 9 PM.
Two immediately recognizable and hometown favorites and their bands take over the Buckhead Theatre this New Year’s Eve, Kevn Kinney with Drivin N Cryin and Dan Baird with Homemade Sin. As different as their onstage performances are, so are the answers they gave when I asked them both for words people can take with them into 2019.
Baird was succinct, “Same New Years resolution as always, ‘don’t bullshit yourself.’”
Kinney was a little more illustrious.
Does the person in front of you at Publix wait until they have got the total to pull their wallet out ,as if the total was different they’d pay some other way ?
Remember the young people serving in the military and their husbands wives and children who also sacrifice their hearts and time . . .
Ghost echoes dept. … I didn’t need Lonnie Holley to tell me he “woke up in a fucked up America” this year. I wake up in a fucked up America everyday. I also didn’t need Childish Gambino to lay out “this is America” for me this year. I see the problems in this country in my every waking moment. But I’m glad both of them did. I’m glad they both chose to say something. There is too much wrong with this country to keep quiet. That said, popular music shouldn’t just mirror society’s ills, but also offer some form of escape. Artists do that in a way that reaches into our subconscious, taking us away, while reminding us of the struggles to be faced, yet to be won.
And the best? The best is a rest stop somewhere along Hwy 61. You stop in for another cup of coffee, the jukebox is playing some unheard tune, you pay the cashier, head out, and wrack your brain the rest of the journey trying to figure out what — and who — you heard all those miles ago. I’ve heard countless songs on Spotify I’ll never hear again. At the time, they were the best things I ever heard, and, though I may never hear them again, I’ll remember the song, that moment, in hopes of experiencing them again.
People are obsessed with the “best.” Being the best. Knowing what’s best. Doing your best is what you should look to. There are a lot of musicians who do their best. You can hear it in their music. It’s not the calculated attempt at success, but the commitment to vinyl, to tape, to hard drive of what they feel at that moment. What’s important to them. It’s why Childish Gambino’s release of “This Is America” can be considered one of the major events of 2018. It’s why so many people hear the best in Lonnie Holley’s MITH (Jagjaguwar). We all may wake up in a fucked up America, but not every one of us can tell the story of having “snuck off the slave ship” like Holley does. His portrayal of such a past is the best thing I’ve heard heard in a long time. There’s no “winning” in that song. There’s only grief, heartache and the shackles of history attempting to keep people down. Clearly, “winning” is for losers. The 2016 presidential election was won by someone who based his campaign on “winning,” of “making America great again.” Look where that got us in 2018.
But albums released in 2018 that did take us somewhere also rocked our senses and sensibilities. Many of them released locally made an impact globally — Holley, Gambino — while there were others that, while they may not have made such an impression, gave us just the escape needed to keep our sanity intact: The Royal Krunk Jazz Orchestra: Get It How You Live (Ropeadope); Clay Harper: Bleak Beauty (no label); Subsonics: Flesh-Colored Paint (Slovenly); Rock*A*Teens: Sixth House (Merge); Tiger! Tiger!: Backing the Wrong Horse (Chicken Ranch); Michelle Malone: Slings and Arrows (SBS); Tinsley Ellis: Winning Hand (Alligator); Angie Aparo: Life is a Flower; Life is a Gun (Schoolkids Records); and Darling Machine: Darling Machine (Walk The Earth).
Such want for the superlative has become a part of many people’s everyday lives. Many want the best place to eat. The best movie to see. The best band to hear. They forget about what’s best for themselves.
As a writer, a music journalist, a critic, a monkey with a typewriter, readers sometimes think we hold all the answers. We don’t, though some of us may have a more educated view, a broader perspective, or a deeper historical frame of reference than most. Those who think they know all are only fooling themselves — and their readers. “You’ve got to be serious about what you do, but you can’t take what you do too seriously,” paraphrasing something guitarist Robert Fripp once told me. “It takes two feet to walk: one with a sense of purpose and the other with a sense of humor.”