The Grease Muscians

by Holly Hollman
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ATHENS-Spectators can kick up their cowboy boots and twist and shout in Greek-style togas with the variety of music offered at the second annual Athens Grease Festival on Sept. 28 in downtown Athens.


There is music that will appeal to adults to teens to children.


“Our committee chair, Betsy Hyman, and Sprit of Athens Director, Trisha Black, have been very supportive of the idea of using music at the Grease Festival as an opportunity not only to entertain patrons, but also to support musicians, true artists, who have dedicated their lives to music.”


Doug McDonald, for example, is an artist who was playing guitar in his kitchen and came up with a show idea that combines music and cooking. That led to Spoons-n-Tunes, a cooking show filmed in Huntsville with musical guests who share recipes and music.


Steve “Coolbone” Johnson grew up performing in New Orleans and moved to the Huntsville area after Hurricane Katrina. The Coolbone Brass Band will kick off the festival at 11 a.m. by providing the music for the opening ceremonies, which includes a small parade around The Square. The Coolbone Brass Band also will perform jazz tunes as part of the musical lineup.


Chesnut said the slate of artists will offer spectators a lineup of different musicians who are each outstanding in his or her own way. William Tyler, for example, shares with audiences the motivation behind his songs.


“I would rather write an artist statement about the music than try to write the words to it,” Tyler has said.


Hyman said organizers are excited to offer a festival that “tempts many of your senses from tastes, to smells to sound.”


The festival is from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in downtown Athens. Cost is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 3-12, free for those 2 and younger and $1 off admission for toga wearers. The Spirit of Athens hosts the festival to raise funds for downtown projects.

The artists


819_Coolbone_Brass_Band_Umbria_Pictures_142The Coolbone Brass Band

Steve “Coolbone” Johnson grew up in New Orleans, and lived there and played with several brass bands until Hurricane Katrina moved him to North Alabama.  All musicians in the group consider music their lives.  Audiences are moved to dance and clap their hands to the New Orleans jazz tunes as well as modern day “brass-hop”—a genre Johnson invented himself.


Farmer JasonJason

Farmer Jason is the brainchild of rock music legend Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers. An Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Ringenberg is one of the pioneers of the modern Americana and alt-country genres. In 2002 he created Farmer Jason to educate and entertain children about farm life and the wonders of nature.  He won an Emmy Award in 2009, plus an Emmy nomination in 2010. Farmer Jason’s records have won numerous awards, including the Parents’ Choice Gold Award and the Los Angeles Times’ Children’s Record of the Year list.


red letterRed Letter

The Atlanta-based based is a heavy-hitting alt-rock band with influences like Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, MGMT and Velvet Revolver. The members are ages 15 and 16. Singer Livvie Brookshire, guitarist Britt Spurka and guitarist Daniel Bowman met through a program at a local music store and later branched out, adding Ryan Calatayud on drums and Lakin Crawford on bass to round out their sound.


Doug McDonalddoug mcdonald

Doug McDonald is a singer/songwriter who sings his own beautifully crafted country songs that occasionally require their listeners to wipe a tear or two away.  He is also the creator of Spoons-n-Tunes, a show that combines music and cooking. The shows are filmed locally at the Bud Light Café inside the Von Braun Center.


CharlesGrantThe Grant and Charles Show

Grant Aday’s and Charles Williams’s tight harmonies and eclectic taste in music, ranging from old time fiddle music to Led Zepplin have made The Grant and Charles Show Athens’ house duo. They perform locally at Village Pizza. Williams has said the duo offers a wide variety of music and will “throw a little humor in when we can.”


William TylerWilliam Tyler

William Tyler’s catchy instrumental songs make listeners forget that they have no words, and his engaging finger picking, sometimes compared to “American Primitive” music legend, John Fahey, is amazing to see and hear.  William is often asked to support independent rock and country bands including Yo La Tengo, Lambchop, and Vic Chestnutt.  His recent album, ‘Impossible Truth’ has been hailed by Pitchfork, the Washington Post and the LA Times as one of 2013’s best albums.  He was recently featured on NPR’s weekend edition, and he just returned to Music City after a tour of Europe.


Bourbon and BleachBourbon and Bleach

Bourbon & Bleach is a Birmingham-based swinging blues and Americana band. From clever originals to Jump/Swing/Chicago Blues and interesting takes on songs from the American songbook, the band promises to, “Give you what you need without making your eardrums bleed.”

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