From The Desk Of Hard Working Americans: Athens, Ga. (The Modern Day College Town Music Mecca Refuses To Die Or Adapt)

HWALogoGonzo troubadour Todd Snider is the de facto leader of Hard Working Americans, a band that evolved out of his friendship with Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools. The group’s self-titled debut began as a collection of Snider’s favorite songs, many from past tourmates like country traditionalist Kieran Kane (“The Mountain Song”) and the Bottle Rockets’ Brian Henneman (“Welfare Music”). Two of the album’s most memorable tracks (“Another Train” and “I Don’t Have A Gun”) are credited to Will Kimbrough, who played in Snider’s ’90s backup band, the Nervous Wrecks. Snider and Schools will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature on them.

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Schools: Sure, cynical MAGNET readers think they’ve heard all there is to hear from the town often called “Mayberry on acid” now that R.E.M. has retired, but think again. The SEC football-dominated town continues to manufacture and support some of the most daring and carefree musicians and artists who prefer to operate on their own terms rather than under the influence of the charts and commercial radio. From the B-52′s, R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Vic Chesnutt, Drive By Truckers, Olivia Tremor Control and Of Montreal to relative newcomers the Futurebirds and Dead Confederate, Athens is a music factory the likes of which cannot be comprehended unless you have lived there. Some say it’s something special added to the drinking water, but I contend that it’s due to the closeness of a caring supportive community and a batch of employers who are willing to allow burrito rollers and dishwashers to hit the road with their bands and still have their jobs when they return. Filled with well-booked clubs such as the 40 Watt, Georgia Theater and the Caledonia Lounge, Athens music will be around for a long time despite recent efforts to homogenize the heart of the town by corporate sociopath Wal-Mart and the good-old-boy brain trust currently running the show on the city council.

Video after the jump.

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