As much as Athens is famous for punk and indie and rock-n-roll (B-52's, R.E.M.), there is a significant country scene here. Acts like Zac Brown and Lady Antebellum tribute the renowned Georgia Theater as favorite venues, (Zac even has a live album called "Live at the Georgia Theater") and Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean made their marks on the town last year when they made history as the first concert played at Sanford Stadium, Home of the DAWGS. Besides live music, you can find top 40 country music pouring out of Frat houses on Saturday nights and out of about every bar and restaurant downtown. And even though I've heard Darius Rucker's version of "Wagon Wheel" an obnoxious amount of times, when a roomful of my friends (people I know and just random UGA students in general) and I are belting out the words in perfect sync, my heart flops a little. What exactly is in Johnson City, Tennessee? And why will I die free if I die in Raleigh? Who knows, who cares.That all being said, it's really difficult not to tap your cowboy boots along to the beat and not like at least a few of the tunes.
Let me clarify: I am not a country fan. I don't really listen to country radio, and the only reason I watched the CMAs growing up was to see Taylor Swift perform. I don't like songs about tractors or farmer's tans or dirt roads. Also, the country-rapping trend needs to stop completely. Whoever thought a crossover between those genres was possible was seriously disturbed.
BUT, hear me out, there are a number of really great things about country music too: mandolins, journal-like lyrics, vintagey-folky country ballads (think The Civil Wars), powerhouse female leads (Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, up-and-coming Danielle Bradbury), stadium filling electric guitar riffs (Keith Urban), thoughtful reflections on small town life (Kacey Musgraves) and Luke Bryan.
There's something about changing seasons that just invites country music into my stereo, so I thought an "80 Degree and Up" playlist was appropriate for the increase in temperature the coming weeks promise. This playlist has a little bit of chicken fried and homemade wine and cigarette smoke and moonlit creek beds and mandolin melodies and Friday night anthems. If you close your eyes you can almost see cottonwood falling like snow in July.