On today’s “Two Way Street” we talk with Rodger Lyle Brown, the author of “Party Out of Bounds: The B-52s, R.E.M. and the Kids Who Rocked Athens, Georgia.” It’s the story of how Athens became the center of the rock and roll universe starting around 1980 and continuing for almost 20 years.
It began at joints like the 40 Watt Club, the Uptown Lounge and others. And in the same way that Herschel Walker focused the eyes of the nation on UGA football, those music venues gave birth to a music scene that soon had the nation looking to Athens as one of the most important rock and roll capitals in the country.
The B-52s and R.E.M. started in Athens and went on to worldwide acclaim. And to a more selective audience, Pylon was an important part of the reputation Athens was gaining as a hub for great rock and roll.
More than 25 years ago, a book called “Party Out of Bounds: The B-52s, R.E.M. and the Kids Who Rocked Athens, Georgia” documented the remarkable period of artistic creativity that flourished in Athens from the mid-‘70s to the end of the century. It quickly became a cult classic. And now, the University of Georgia Press has re-issued the book in a 25th anniversary edition.
Brown’s book has been selected as the first read in a new virtual book club called “Georgia Reads.” It’s a partnership between GPB and the University of Georgia Press. If you’d like to know more about how to participate, check out this link.
On Saturday, March 18, “Georgia Reads will host an event in Athens featuring a conversation with Rodger Brown and Vanessa Briscoe Hay, the lead singer of Pylon, one of the important bands Brown documents in his book.” Specific event info can he found here.
Check out the slideshow for vintage shots of R.E.M., Pylon, and The B-52s.
Here's the video for "Rock Lobster," a classic from the debut album from The B-52's:
R.E.M. on "Late Night with David Letterman" in 1983 performing "Radio Free Europe" and "So. Central Rain."
“Athens, GA: Inside/Out” is a documentary film about the mid-'80s music scene in Athens directed by Tony Gayton. Showcasing interviews and live performances from several Athens groups, the film also features an interview with Georgia folk artist Howard Finster. Along with R.E.M. and Pylon, the documentary features Flat Duo Jets, The Squalls, and several other key groups from the ‘80s Athens scene.
Later in the program, Thomas Swick, one of America’s most prolific travel writers, joins us to talk about his adventures and to offer tips for the best way to experience the thrill of new destinations. His most recent book is "The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them."