By: Lindsey Williams
Many bands got their start in the Classic City, one of these being a tenacious southern rock band known as the Drive-By Truckers. Their start in Athens dates back to 1996 when Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley got together and began their journey to stardom. The DBTs have cycled through many members over the years but consist of a few long standing members – Hood, Cooley, Adam Howell, Matt Lane, John Neff, and Barry Sell.
The Drive-By Truckers are most known for writing raw, authentic, songs that have meaning and tell a story. They do not worry if people think their songs are too truthful because they know their fans stand by them and believe in their artistry. I got the opportunity to see the Drive-By Truckers this week on The Outlaw Country Cruise 4 hosted by Sixthman®. I witnessed first-hand how powerful it can be when a band tells their truth and holds true to their beliefs.
The Drive-By Truckers come back to Athens every year for a weekend they refer to as “Heathen Homecoming” where they play and express homage to the city in which they got their start. This year is the 19th annual HeAthens’ Homecoming which has grown to become a 4 four night event.
Night One (February 13th): Adam’s House Cat (an early band of Hood and Cooley) with special guest Jay Gonzalez at 40 Watt Club
Night Two (February 14th): a Valentine’s Celebration with Don Chambers opening
Night Three (February 15th): DBT is joined by Eyelids, their good friends from Portland Oregon, who opened for them in Europe
Night Four (February 16th): The Drive-By Truckers perform at 40 Watt Club with special guests Camp Amped Band and Linqua Franqa
The shows went on presale November 2nd 2018 and have since sold out with the exception of nights one and two. Fans will travel far and wide to support the DBT. I know some people personally who are making the trip from New York and Washington, DC to see them perform.
The Impact on Athens
The Drive-By Truckers have made an impact in the Classic City in several ways. First, DBT supports and raises money for Nuçi’s Space, a resource center based in Athens, Georgia with a mission to end the epidemic of depression and suicide of musicians as well as other services to assist in musicians’ emotional, physical and overall well-being.. The band does a benefit each year during HeAthens Homecoming for Nuçi’s at the 40 Watt in order to raise money and awareness.
Bringing numbers of fans in to the area to watch the DBT perform and selling out the shows undoubtedly impacts the economy. Hotels will have filled rooms, restaurants will be busy throughout the week, as well as expand the amount of people shopping and enjoying the Athens night life.
The Truckers and their Athens “HeAthens Homecoming” has grown so much that many local coffee shops and breweries have introduced Drive-By Truckers themed products which not only market the event but the Truckers as well.
Jittery Joe’s Coffee Roasting Company along with the Drive-By Truckers released a special blend of coffee called Cups of Dawn. This particular blend is a custom blend producing a smooth cup of coffee with a subtle sweet chocolate flavor mixed with a nut finish. The idea behind the product was to simulate just as “When you think of Drive-By Truckers you think ‘Now that is Rock n Roll’ and when you taste Cup of Dawn you think ‘Now that is a cup of coffee!’” says Charlie Mustard, Jittery Joe’s Roaster.
Additionally, the Hanging Hills Brewing Company released a HeAthens Homecoming Pilsner in late January in support of the event. The beer is a collaboration beer worked on with the brewery and the Drive-By Truckers. The microbrewery, based in Connecticut is a long-time fan of the Truckers and HeAthens homecoming and wanted to show their support.
It is important to know your city and what is has to offer, but also look into the history of it and what makes it so special and unique. One of the treasures of Athens is the music, musicians, and musical acts that sprouted here in the Classic City. They enrich the city with culture, tradition, and something to hold onto and come back for.
I encourage you all to look into what makes Athens special for you.