And here we are on another April 5th, fourty-three years removed from that day in 1980 when our four lads made their début in an abandoned church and kicked off a career that would turn them into the best (American?) band of all time.
I’m glad we have this group where we can celebrate this quietly and not be seen as complete lunatics. It’s just, you know, a personal thing for most here. We can think fondly of this one day in the year and have it marked on our personal calendars. We love music, and we love the music they made. Sounds like reason enough to celebrate.
So, we raise our cups today to Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe. And then to Downs, McCaughey, Rieflin, Holsapple and the others who came to be such an important part of that beautiful history.
To celebrate R.E.M. day, and salute how much R.E.M. inspire people, I want to post this awesome guitar play along of one of my fav R.E.M. songs.
R.E.M. “Sad Professor” guitar play along, youtuber Pinkfloyd1971
I made my first pilgrimage to Athens in 1994 which was an impromptu visit following Woodstock '94. It was mid to late summer so, the students hadn’t all returned to town yet so things weren’t exactly in full swing. I made another brief visit in the spring of 1995 after visiting family in Atlanta and seeing Page & Plant at the Omni so, I tend to get those two trips mixed up. I just know that I hit some of the R.E.M. related spots such as the trestle, Wuxtry (they had two locations at the time as well as Bizarro Wuxtry), Weaver D’s, etc.
I also went to the 40 Watt where I saw Goober and the Peas. Earlier in the day I’d seen “Goober” (Dan John Miller) at Rockethead next to the 40 Watt. It was run by Todd Ploharski who now runs Low Yo Yo Stuff (which I haven’t been to). Rockethead had much better prices and a larger selection of R.E.M. bootlegs than Wuxtry. Goober and the Peas were in the alt.country realm, a subgenre I was relatively new to at the time. One of the band members came out with a pitchfork and tossed hay into the audience before they started their set. Years later, I learned their drummer during this era was Jack White who was going by his birth name of John Gillis at the time. That said, I’m not sure if he was with them at this particular show.
I’ve been back to Athens at least a couple times since then. I also get those two trips mixed up. I believe during the first, R.E.M. was playing in Duluth (a suburb of Atlanta). During the second, Athfest was going on and R.E.M. was playing in Atlanta, which was the last time I saw them. Both trips also revolved around meeting up with folks from Murmurs. During the first trip in 2004 we met up in Nashville, TN prior to their show at the Ryman. The next day was the show in Duluth. The second trip was in 2008. During that second trip we saw Mike Mills attending a show by Hayride (who just opened for the Truckers at the 40 Watt last week during their annual Heathens Homecoming shows) at the Caledonia (RIP) but we decided to let him be. It is the only time during any of my trips to Athens where I ran into any of the members of R.E.M. I’m overdue for a return visit but I’m not sure when or if that will happen.