Folk music remains a large part of diverse music scene

Contributed By Aubrey Smith
Published , March 09, 2006, 06:00:01 AM EDT

Photo caption: String Theory will play Monday at Little Kings. (Left to right) Dick Daniels, Tommy Jordan and Ned Gardiner. (Special - The Red & Black)

Though present-day Athens boasts one of the most varied music scenes in America, that was not the case in the mid-80s when a group of University students and local Athenians founded the Athens Folk Music and Dance Society.

Today, the group regularly holds hoots "a gathering of local acoustic musicians" to give performers a chance to showcase their talents.

Twenty years ago "there weren' a lot of bars and most of the music was heavy rock," said Barbara Edwards, long-time treasurer of the the society.

In response to a music scene dominated by rock, the society began having dances to raise money and hiring folk singers to come to Athens and perform.

This month's hoot is Monday at Little Kings.

It will be led by the traditional old-time band String Theory, and those who attend can expect to hear an array of fiddles, banjos, harmonicas, mandolins and guitars on stage and plenty of singing and audience participation.

"You can expect to hear every string instrument imaginable, and there is even room for some drums," said Phil Burns, director of the North Georgia Folk Festival and a member of the society.


Sponsor: Athens Folk Music and Dance Society
What: Hoot
When: 8-10 p.m. Monday
Where: Little Kings
Cost: Free
More information: To participate, contact Susan Staley at 208-0985. Also, visit

What: Contra Dance When: 8-11 p.m. Saturday, March 18 (instruction at 7:30) Where: Oconee County Arts Foundation in Watkinsville Cost: $6 (early instruction is free) More information:

"This group's sole mission has been to promote traditional mountain music and the kind of dancing associated with fiddle music," said President Susan Staley.

Besides hoots, the society also has monthly contra dances, which are similar to square dances.

The next contra dance will be Saturday, March 18 at the Oconee County Arts Foundation main building in Watkinsville. The dances always have a live band and caller.

This month Peavine Creek from Atlanta will perform, and Doug Singleton will call. No partner is necessary, but beginners should arrive at 7:30 p.m. for a free half-hour of instruction prior to the dance.

The society is a "great way to make contacts and meet people if you're interested in traditional music," Staley said. "We're group-centered and inclusive. We play music as a group and dance as a group. The AFMDS survives on making people feel welcome."

Burns feels good after listening to a day of music.

"I have to get involved," he said. "I've met a bunch of wonderful people because of it."

The society also is a University student organization.

"We have a lot of UGA students in addition to faculty and staff in the AFMDS," Staley said.

Membership and volunteer information are available on the society's Web site

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