The racers and the crowd involved in the Annual Athens Twilight Criterium make this bicycle race feel like a rock and roll show, which is not surprising given Athens history.
The streets are filled with entranced families, intoxicated revelers and exciting fans cheering on the cyclists. It should come with little surprise that other Georgia cities have adopted competitive, professional level bicycle races. A city known for its influence in music has now become a city known for its influence in cycling.
Gene Dixon founded the Twilight Criterium in 1980. A criterium is a bike race held on a short course typically less than 5 km in length, often raced on closed-off downtown city streets.
By creating Twilight, Dixon had established the first nighttime race in the United States in over 60 years. In its first year, the Criterium consisted of only one race with 40 competitors and has since grown to offer eight separate race classes.
The main Twilight event is the men’s pro-am criterium, the highlight of the Twilight weekend. The race is features over 150 cyclists competing in an 80-km race around historic downtown Athens, while the women’s pro-am criterium takes place just before the men’s and measures 40-km.
The course start-finish line is on Clayton Street at College Avenue. The 1-km course runs clockwise on Clayton Street, Lumpkin Street, Washington Street and Thomas Street.
Twilight has grown in both biker and audience attendance every year since its inception, so wide that it has influence among other bike races in other cities and states.
“Absolutely it has, we do seven races as part of CRIT Speed week and most all of those races came about because we had a high level of great bike racers coming to the South because of Twilight,” Dixon said. “[Speed week] is a way to get [cyclists] together, to stay longer and racing more and ultimately there is more money for them so it’s good for everybody.”
The USA CRITS Speed week (CRIT being shorthand for criterium) is a week of bike races hosted in different cities around Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. “Minus a few zeroes, [Swagger.us] owns the NASCAR of Criterium bike racing,” said Dixon.
The Speed week starts off April 30 with the Athens Twilight, and then hosts events though May 8 in Roswell, Ga, and Sandy Springs, Ga, both criteriums that started because of the popularity of the Twilight Criterium. Races have also spread to Beaufort, Spartanburg, and Walterboro, S.C. and Charlotte, N.C. since Twilight’s foundation.
The Athens Twilight Criterium is also the official first race of the USA CRIT Nationals, which ends in Washington D.C. on Oct, 2, 2011, meaning it is the first high stakes race of the year for pro-am riders on the USA CRIT circuit.
Swagger.us, the organization behind USA CRIT Speed week, is Gene Dixon’s race organization and the organizers responsible for managing and executing bike races for Athens Twilight, other races in the South, and even races as far north as West Chester, Pa. a distant suburb of Philadelphia. In 2004, the town of West Chester started their own Iron Hill Twilight Criterium, directly influenced by Athens own Twilight.
In addition to expanding to other cities within the county, the Athens Twilight has also expanded within itself. In addition to women’s racing, Twilight has added a morning race open to the public through the Athens greenway. There is also an all-day 5-km run before the first bike races start on the downtown course.
The area of College Street between Clayton and Washington St. will feature BMX riders on both vertical ramp events and flatland competitions. The three day event will also feature acrobatics, local merchant food vendors and in true Athens style, two concerts stages featuring local bands.
Since its humble beginnings in 1980, the Athens Twilight race first brought Athens together, and then it slowly expanded its influence beyond the 10 loop and into the world of national bike racing. What’s best is that Athens, the South, and competitive bike racing are better off for it.
By Mitch Blomert
Underage customers of downtown Athens aren’t being deterred from sneaking into local bars.
Despite heavy security at bars and state attempts to cut down on the distribution of fake identification cards by re-designing the Georgia driver’s license, many Athens venues still have problems with under-21 residents trying to gain access to alcohol.
“It’s a safe assumption that every bar is going to have underage kids trying to get into their bar,” said Sammy Bays, a bartender at The Mad Hatter on Clayton St. “Athens is a popular place to be social, and being underage isn’t going to slow anyone down.”
Athens bars typically regulate which customers get inside—and which ones get left out—by employing a doorman at the entrance of each venue around 9 p.m. each night.
These doormen check the identification cards of customers in line and can deny anyone who does not appear to have a legitimate I.D.
“Good doormen are important to bars because they keep out people who shouldn’t be in the bar,” Bays said. “If the doors were open and we checked I.D.s at the counter, we’d probably lose track of everyone and accidently let a drink end up with someone underage.”
To help alleviate the problem of false identification usage, The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles released a new driver’s license in the fall of 2009 with enhanced security features that make counterfeiting and altering more preventable.
The new card features “ghost” photographs next to the actual photograph, making the card harder to counterfeit.
The card also has a two-dimensional barcode containing the cardholder’s information that makes the production of a fake I.D. more difficult—and highly distinguishable if attempted.
“The card is definitely more legit,” Bays said. “It’s probably harder to fake.”
But some customers of downtown Athens bars are skeptical that a new identification card is going to alleviate the problem of underage consumption in Athens.
Instead, they believe that underage customers are getting into the bars by using legitimate I.D. cards belonging to friends over the age of 21.
“I think that more people are just getting a friend’s card and getting in with that,” said Eric Angel, a senior at the University of Georgia and a regular at downtown Athens bars. “Not a lot of people that I know of go to the lengths of getting a fake made when they can just borrow one from another person.”
Angel says that because so many students are using friends’ state-issued identification cards rather than making a counterfeit, the new Georgia driver’s license has probably not been effective at stopping underage residents daring enough to try and enter the bar.
“For people I know, it’s not an issue of trying to duplicate a real I.D.,” he said. “It’s that they want to find someone else’s old I.D. and just use that.”
Doormen are responsible for checking I.D.s at the entrances of their bars to ensure that each customer is authorized to enter the building. This includes matching the customer with the card picture, the listed birthday and the expiration date.
If a customer does match their card’s picture, or the license is expired, the doorman has the right to deny their admittance to the bar.
“We won’t let in anyone who has an expired card or is obviously using someone else’s,” Bays said. “Someone people push the limits.”
Angel knows those types of people.
He has “a couple” of friends that have been denied access to bars to a series of different reasons, including an expired card or a picture that didn’t resemble the false owner.
“The IDs are legitimate, but the person using them is not,” Angel said. “They forget to check expiration dates if it’s someone else’s old card and that gets a lot of people booted.
“If you don’t look a thing like the person on the card, you’re killing your chances of getting in or you’ll get in trouble with the law.”
While most doormen will simply hand the card back ask the customer to leave if they are denied access to the bars, being caught with a fake ID has greater consequences if it’s the police that find it.
Athens-Clarke County Police classify fake identification possession as a misdemeanor and is punishable by as much as 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. It can also deduct points from the person’s actual driver’s license.
“It’s not something you want to be caught with,” Bays said.
But even bars themselves are taking chances. Bays says that some places aren’t being picky about who gets in because they don’t want to lose business.
“They want as many customers as they can get,” she said. “Some places will just look at the card and if it’s good they’ll send you in.”
April 14, 2011
It’s 5:00 p.m.
A Snelling Dining Hall Worker sits with her legs crossed puffing on a cigarette.
The black and grey uniform that she wears is still clean, despite the fact that she has worked around food all day.
Her hair is slicked back into a ponytail, besides one small piece that hangs limply across her face.
A loud motor is heard coming around the bend.
It is the Athens Transit bus.
The woman then gets up from her post, walks onto to the bus, and presumably heads home.
This story is not uncommon nor is it unique. Students, faculty, and Athenians alike all ride the Athens Transit buses on a daily basis.
Of course, the circumstances and the details change, but the buses provide an important source of transportation to both on and off campus locations throughout the city.
According to the Athens Clarke County website, Athens Transit has had a contracted agreement with the university since 1977 for bus rides for university students.
Starting in 2003, the agreement was amended to allow for UGA faculty and staff to ride the buses as well.
Since FY 1999, the university has annually paid Athens Transit an amount per UGA rider equal to the best discounted per trip fare available to adult non-UGA passengers of the transit system.
The current FY11 discount rate, (50 trips or more) is $1.20 per trip. Yet the FY12 rate will be $1.27 per trip.
For FY12, which begins on July 1, 2011, the university will pay Athens Transit
However, according to past reports, this is $83,765 more than the FY11 contract.
Of this total, $3,510 is used for “Lift” services to help support those registered with Disability Services.
Thus, the amount that is allocated for traditional route service is $1,253,342.
In the contract, the Student Government Association along with the Athens-Clarke County Government agreed, “it is not beneficial to University students to have a fee which could change dramatically year-to-year.”
It was important to come to an agreement that was beneficial and steady for both parties involved.
The two sides came to the agreement that the university would pay Athens Transit the total amount in three different payment installments.
The first payment would be 40 percent and paid in the fall semester, the second payment would be 40 percent and paid in the spring semester, and the last payment would be 20 percent and paid during the summer semester.
Yet one main reason for the rise in the contract price is that the number of students at the university has been rising along with the Athens population. This causes an increase in the expected cost per rider.
For instance, the contract results in over 1,000,000 UGA students, faculty, and/or staff riding the Athens Transit system annually.
The contract asserts that the large number of people riding the buses helps to” reduce air pollution, lessen traffic congestion, and result in fewer pedestrian/vehicle conflicts.”
Stand at any campus location and you can see at least 15-20 students and or faculty boarding the Athens Transit buses to go to their respective locations. The buses run every 5-10 minutes, so the numbers begin to add up at an amazing rate.
The buses run alongside the university campus buses, and thus help to prevent overcrowding as well.
In total, there are 28 different routes that the buses run on weekdays.
These range from campus destinations to the Georgia Square Mall.
Therefore, students are able to park their personal cars when they arrive to campus, and ride buses throughout the day until they are ready to go home.
This added convenience allows students to save on gas as well because it lowers the amount of driving that they have to do on a daily basis.
It is no wonder that the university has had an agreement with Athens Transit for 34 years.
The buses provide a safe and effective means for UGA students, faculty, and staff to travel to, from, and around campus while also helping to lower traffic congestion.
The next time you’re in need of a ride, wait at one of the several bus locations and they will be sure and pick you up.
By Briana Gerdeman
On a recent evening, Jim and Patty Lutz walked back to their car parked on Clayton Street to put the parking ticket they’d paid for in their windshield. Patty reminded Jim to make sure it was displayed prominently where it could be seen.
A year after new pay-and-display parking meters were activated in parts of downtown Athens, it’s still unclear whether the new meters are an improvement or not.
Jim and Patty Lutz said they like the new meters, because after they were installed, it has become easier to find an empty parking space downtown.
“For us, it’s easier to park downtown,” Jim Lutz said. “It just seemed that when they changed everything, it opened up some spots.”
But Patty Lutz noted that the new system also had drawbacks. Before, they used to sometimes find a meter that already had time paid for. Now, they might waste time they have paid for because the ticket can’t be taken with them.
The Athens Mayor and Commission voted in 2009 to install the new meters, which were installed in January and February 2010. The new meters went into use on March 29, 2010.
“They were chosen because they offer a variety of payment options,” said Laura Miller, director of parking operations for the Athens Downtown Development Authority. In addition to coins, drivers have the option to pay for parking with $1 bills or credit cards. The machine then issues a ticket, to be displayed in the car’s windshield, that can be used in any parking spot with a pay-and-display meter.
“The customers are very happy about that,” Miller said.
Miller said the ADDA tried to prevent confusion about how to use the new meters. The organization held clinics for local merchants to show them how to use the meters, and for the first month, issued warnings rather than citations for parking violations.
Although the paper tickets make paid parking time portable, they can be an inconvenience for motorcycle drivers, since the tickets can blow away in the wind. Motorcycle drivers are instead urged to park in motorcycle parking spaces with traditional meters.
Paper tickets also present the potential for litter, but Miller said she hasn’t seen the tickets littered on the ground.
In their first year, the pay-and-display meters have not increased revenue for downtown parking.
“Revenue this year is down overall,” Miller said. “There are fewer people parking this year, and that’s directly due to the economy. Less people are shopping and dining downtown.”
But, she said, the pay-and-display meters have brought in more money than the traditional meters, because people can no longer park in a space that still has some time left on the meter from the last person to use it.
The pay-and-display meters have not had an impact on the number of parking citations, and there are no plans to install them elsewhere in Athens, Miller said.
In a July 4, 2010 editorial in the Athens Banner-Herald, columnist Don Nelson questioned the efficiency of the new parking meters. He wrote that many people were confused on how to use them, and their confusion might deter them from visiting downtown Athens.
Employees at several downtown businesses said the new parking meters had not caused a decrease in customers, but they mentioned that fewer people now ask them for change to put in meters.
Olivia Shellman, an employee at The Grill, said she sometimes parks in metered spots when she’s in a hurry coming to work, and she wishes there were free parking for people who work downtown. But, she said she likes being able to use a credit card.
Imaan Rashied, an employee at Starbucks, also said he liked using a credit card to pay for parking. But he realized the pay-and-display meters could be confusing, and said he sometimes shows people how to use them.
Stuart Bryan, an employee at Flirt Fashions, said the meters haven’t affected the store’s business, but she considers them a nuisance.
“When I’m coming here as a shopper and not as an employee, it’s definitely annoying,” she said.
An employee of Prestige Parking in downtown Athens, who asked not to be named, said the new meters haven’t affected the number of customers parking in the lot he manages.
“It hasn’t really changed anything, because it’s limited the spaces on the street,” he said.
He’s only used the new meters twice himself, but thought they were okay.
“I don’t like coming downtown,” he said. “I just work down here. It’s too congested for me.”
Bike Life, 890
Buses. Cars. Mopeds. These are all things students use to get around town.
For some, however, their choice of transportation is a little slower, a little lighter and a lot more fuel efficient.
They ride a bike.
On UGA campus there are numerous bike racks at various locations. This is one of the reasons many students are foregoing motorized transportation and sticking to the pedal and chain.
Athens is a city with a growing and thriving bike culture.
“There are organized rides every day of the week, there is the Winter Bike League, there is a few teams and a few pros live here,” said Clark Hurst a senior at the university. “There are always people to ride with, or just to talk to about biking.”
This town even offers something for those who just love to watch bike racing.
“I mean, this town has Twilight,” said David Torcivia a junior at the university. “How many towns have something like that?”
What he is referring to is the annual Twilight bicycle race held in downtown Athens.
For two days downtown Athens becomes a festival ground celebrating all things bicycles.
The focus of the festival is a series of multi-class races that circle downtown Athens.
This year’s race will be held on April 29-30.
In this city non-bicycle related business get involved in the sport.
Local brewery Terrapin Beer co-sponsors a team with local bicycle shop, The Hub.
Those who bike as a ways to commute find that it has benefits in this city.
“I don’t have to pay for parking, ever,” said Torcivia.
Torcivia, who has been commuting on a bike since his freshman year, does own a car; however, it is rarely in use.
“I never drive my car to class. If it’s a nice day and my destination is reasonable then I will always choose my bike,” Torcivia said. “Actually, I even ride my bike when it rains.”
For some students, a reasonable distance is a relative thing.
“I ride my bike back to my home town of Dacula,” Hurst said.
Dacula is approximately a one hour drive from Athens.
His trek home isn’t the only long distance Hurst travels on a bike.
On a hot day in Athens, Hurst arrives home on his road bike.
As he walked to the door sweat poured off his blonde hair and left a trail behind him.
He tells his roommates he has been running errands all over the city.
Hurst then switches out his road bike for his racing bike to go on a practice ride.
Hurst may be able to go longer distances on a bike then most. This is due to the fact that for Hurst bike riding isn’t just his transportation, it’s also his recreation and his hobby.
He spends many of his weekends competing in professional bike races.
Hurst may ride his bike everywhere he needs to go, but never call him a cyclist.
“I’m not a cyclist, I would just consider myself a bike racer,” Hurst said. “Cyclists are overly considered with the best cloths and equipment.”
For Hurst racing is just about doing it.
“I didn’t worry about the fancy equipment, I just jumped right in using a steel bike,” Hurst said. “If you wanted to race tomorrow, all you would need is a bike and a helmet.”
Hurst’s biking origins start at childhood.
“I got a bike when I was five, no training wheels of course,” Hurst said. “I learned fast.”
While Hurst’s first introduction to the bikes may have been at a young age it was actually a personal misfortune that caused him to get so heavily involved in the biking world.
“I lost my license a couple of years ago, so a bike was the only way I could get around,” Hurst said.
It was through Hurst’s constant, but necessary, biking that he meat some friends who were involved in racing bikes.
“One weekend one of my friends invited me to race bikes, so I went and I have been racing ever since.” Hurst said.
The city of Athens’s lends itself to being a very bike friendly place.
“The University is right next to downtown,” Hurst said. “Geographically it’s perfect for bike riding.”
Even with its challenging terrain, Hurst said that there are things one can do to make their bike riding experience a simpler one.
“If your feeling a little tired, you can always reroute your trip, don’t carry a heavy backpack if you have to hit the hills and always stay away from Baxter Street,” Hurst said.
The Hub is located near the campus, which is convenient for students.
“It’s nice for students to have a place so close to campus in case something goes wrong with their bike,” Torcivia said.
Athens may be a bike friendly city, but all its residents may not be.
“It’s actually scarier commuting around town then it is riding a race,” Hurst said. “In a race you don’t have to worry about cars, I was hit by a car once.”
Hurst was riding his bike on the road. He began to pass a car who had failed to put their turning blinker on. The car slammed right into Hurst.
Luckily, Hurst was not seriously injured.
“It’s pretty scary you know, you really just got to always be quick to hit the brakes,” Hurst.
The typical professor at a research university spends most of his time bogged down in the specificities of his research, but Dr. Mark Ebell, associate professor in the College of Public Health, is an outlier.
He touches civic life through involvement with the Oconee Riivers Greenway Commission, writing for medial publications, and teaching students.
As chair of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, he leads fifteen fellow members of various interests like land conservation, efficient water use, alternative transportation, and recreational trail making.
The group is a secondary agency of the government aiding in sustaining and enhancing the river and natural corridors surrounding it.
Biking and trail design are a couple interests of Ebell’s, and he brings unique knowledge of these subjects to the commission’s discussion. Tours through the Netherlands and Germany have given him the fundamental knowledge of trail design necessary to improve these systems in Athens-Clarke County and Georgia, as a whole. He aims to create a similar system in his own community for alternative transport as well as recreational purposes.
“These countries have an incredibly extensive network,” Ebell said, during an interview inside his Coverdell-center office on Monday. “It’s easy to ride on the trails for 500 miles with cars alongside for only five.”
However, he is unsure of how long it will take to receive approval for such a project.
“It’s amazing how slowly the government works, sometimes, and a lot of people have to sign off for it to happen,” Ebell said. “It can be a little frustrating.”
Right now, the commission is guiding the development of a greenway — on the North Oconee River expanding from East Broad Street to College Station Road — that’s funded by SPLOST money from 2005. And they will supervise the creation of another greenway corridor, undergoing construction over the next six or seven years, that will make the system more robust and complete, according to Ebell. The second project is also funded by county SPLOST – the source of his hope and grief.
A 22-page plan for the countywide greenway system is available on the county government Web site. These plans are the product of his commission’s effort, but Ebell’s ideas cross county lines; he, eventually, hopes to see an expansive statewide trail system.
“We’re working within Clarke County and also trying to partner with groups in neighboring counties,” he said.
Several government bodies are discussing the prospects connecting Athens’ trails with other ones in the state– like the Silver Comet and Firefly trails; this is a long-term goal.
After describing such a utopia, he sighed, leaned back in his chair, and smiled pensively.
Part of Ebell’s job as chair includes listening to the suggestions of other board members, like Ben Emanuel – former city editor of Flagpole magazine, Oconee river keeper, and fellow commission member.
Emanuel bases the committee’s position on water use. He advocates for sustainability practices, pollution control, and public education. He has worked with Ebell for several years and appreciates the perspective that Ebell brings to the group.
“It’s great having his professionalism,” Emanuel said. “He’s a big advocate for public health.”
Ebell worked for 18 years as a family practitioner and is now an editor for two medical publications. His career experience, along with his research at the University in the College of Public Health, offers the commission a unique angle to aid its influence.
His professional past and experience advocating for bettering the health of the public give added weight to the commission’s proposals for greenways — allowing the public another way to be healthy through recreational use or as an alternative transportation method.
The U.S.’s widespread obesity, which is partly the consequence of a sedentary lifestyle, is a pressing issue, and if the commission can provide a way for the public to exercise, to incorporate public health, then their proposals are more likely to be accepted.
When you support the health of the public, local officials are more accepting of your proposal than if you were to lobby solely from a sustainability or environmental protection perspective, according to Emanuel. There is a stronger possibility that more people will support your cause when you appeal to different audiences and constituencies.
“It’s all about getting support,” Ebell said. “Each initiative has its own constituencies, and it’s my job to consider all of them.”
When not working with the commission, Ebell can be found in one of his offices — located in the Coverdel and Chemistry buildings — meeting with both undergraduate and master’s students and performing research.
What does Ebell spend the brunt of his timing doing?
“Students are always in my office asking questions or getting help on assignments,” Ebell chuckled.
His most recent research publications deal with influenza and CPR; more specifically, he focuses on how doctors can better use their data to give the most effective treatment to their patients. His research breaks new ground in influenza research — weighing the timing of symptoms to more efficiently diagnose patients.
JOUR 5300 TR 9:30
April 14, 2011
On a bright April morning, sunlight filters down East Clayton Street in Athens, Georgia, warming a wide open doorway –– a doorway beckoning for customers to enter.
A variety of indie and rock tunes float through the air and fall on the ears of those passing by as an occasional person crosses its threshold.
Wuxtry Records is open and ready for business as they have been for the past 35 years.
John Fernandes, a clerk and past manager for the downtown Athens establishment, said the money has been tight for the store, but their mood has not changed about their business.
“We have a lot of things that are hard to find other places,” he said. “Hopefully, we provide people with an interesting and fun experience when they come here as far as helping them find music that they might be interested in.”
And when someone walks into the store, the overall music character packs a swift punch to the face.
The maze of music seems almost threatening at first, but Fernandes said a comprehensive selection of vinyl is getting harder to find, and that’s the major draw.
“We have a lot of vinyl. We get a lot of people coming in from out of town,” Fernandes said. “They come just to come to the record store, or to come to the record store and a show, or the record store and a football game. It kind of goes hand in hand with some of the stuff that make Athens a great place to come visit.”
Yet, with vinyl records luring out of towers to the area, students from the University of Georgia often peruse through what the record shop has to offer.
“Vinyl is interesting,” Fernandes said. “A lot of people are getting into vinyl for that really warm sound ––as well as the art work –– but what I’ve noticed with a lot of students that do end up collecting vinyl, is I think they will investigate by downloading things, and then some of their favorite records that they want to have a hard copy of they’ll come and buy on vinyl.”
But this is where it gets interesting.
When it comes to the music industry, those involved agree there has been a massive shift to digital downloading of music. In a story published in November of last year out of The Daily Tar Heel of The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the general manager of School Kids Records of Raleigh, North Carolina Ric Culross said that the advent of MP3s and digital music has led to file-sharing, leaving a wasteland of major music chains along the roadside. Schoolkids Records of Athens declined comment on the matter.
Yet, this entire concept isn’t new. But here’s the twist.
Culross pointed something out that Fernandes has also noticed in Athens.
“As CD sales have decreased — leading to smaller inventories for CDs — vinyl sales have greatly increased, allowing independent record stores to carry more vinyl,” Culross said.”
Fernandes said there has been a real noticeable effect as far as CD sales are concerned in Athens as well.
“With people investigating, the vinyl sales have gone up,” he said. ” In the past, when a new release would come out, we would order a couple of boxes full of Radiohead or REM CDs, and now we order maybe one box. Before, we would order 60 to 90, and now we order 30 and we keep our fingers crossed that we can even sell those 30, sometimes even 15.”
University of Georgia junior Connor Pledger, a music education major from Conyers, Georgia, has been playing gigs in Athens for about two years, and for Pledger, being an independent artist is tough in the digital age.
“When I buy and album I feel like I’m helping the artist, I’m supporting them,” Pledger said. “I feel like it’s more direct. You have a tangible object that you can look at and say ‘I actually went out and bought this.’”
Pledger thinks the digital music transition might be hurting bands in more ways than just negatively effecting record sales.
“It might be the reason why that some bands will come out and be big for a little bit and then everyone will buy their mp3s,” Pledger said. “And then they get lost on their 50 gigabyte iPod and they’ll never hear from them again unless it shuffles around to them. But if you have an album, you flip through your CD case, and boom, you say ‘I remember this album, it’s really good, I’m going to put that in.”
But Fernandes, a band member of “Circulatory System,” is still making money off his music, despite digital leaks on the Internet.
“With the Circulatory System album just put out –– ‘Signal Morning’ –– we sold a quarter of what we sold of our first album even though we’ve been touring with some high profile names with pretty good reviews,” Fernandes said. “Yet our album sales are just way down. It did leak early on the Internet, and a bunch of people downloaded it, which meant that when we went on tour, we made lots of money. They were great crowds.”
Fernandes said that musicians these days can make money playing live, but a lot of times, since everyone’s downloaded it, it’s hard to make money on CDs.
“As a record label, I’ve come to a realization that if we need to do anything with sales, we should do limited edition vinyl and CDs and then just put it out digitally.”
With Pledger jamming to his CDs, and Fernandes anxiously awaiting more opportunities to tour, both downtown Athens musicians are remain hopeful for the future of the music industry.
“When I started playing music, I’d think , ‘if people like Michael Stipe could get their start in Athens, then maybe I could do that,’” Pledger said. “It’s a fairytale story that draws in a lot of musicians, and I figured that maybe if I go to Athens, I could have that chance, too.”