Evan Barber and the Dead Gamblers, from left, Chris Stanich, Evan Barber, Blane Johnson and Ryan Juneau, will be one of the Albany area bands performing at the upcoming Georgia Throwdown. Barber says after all the work, performing on stage will be a relief.
ALBANY, Ga. — Names like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Big & Rich, Drive-By Truckers, Uncle Kracker, Easton Corbin, Dallas Davidson, Randy Houser, Colt Ford and drivin n cryin are drawing the attention of music fans as they get ready for next weekend’s three-day Georgia Throwdown at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds.
For the 50 or so other artists who will be playing on the four stages at the Throwdown, though, the weekend festival is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I just sent a tweet out that says, ‘Dreams do come true, sometimes they just take a long time,’” Davis Kenney, who sings for local party-rocking favorites Relapse, said Thursday. “We’re so excited to be a part of the Throwdown. To see our name on a bill with Lynyrd Skynyrd is just unbelievable.
“I think I was 15 the first time I saw them play, and I remember thinking back then how cool it would be to be up on the stage playing with them. This is not quite the same, but it’s still a dream come true for me and the other members of the band.”
Relapse is one of two acts that will play twice at the festival. The band, which is updating its sound to feature its horn section and to include more modern tunes by current artists such as Cee-Lo Green and Blake Shelton, will play on the Phoebe Community Visions Stage at 1:15 p.m. Saturday and will later play a separate party at the fairgrounds hosted by the Kids of the ’70s group.
“We’ve been around since ’92, and this will be the biggest show Relapse has ever played,” Kinney said. “But the one thing we’re determined to do as musicians is stay relevant.”
Evan Barber, who has worked as part of the core team planning the Throwdown, said finally getting up on the stage Saturday will be a relief.
“Finally signing Skynyrd, finishing the schedule and getting the production in place was a huge relief as far as planning the festival,” said Barber, who will play with his band the Dead Gamblers at 8:30 p.m. on the Phoebe Stage. “But that one hour or so we’re up on the stage will be an even bigger relief.
“We haven’t really had any grumbling (about the Throwdown schedule), but I think the fact Bo (Henry) and I (play music) too is a factor. When some of these bands see us lugging our amps just like they’re having to do, they realize no one gets special treatment.”
Still, Barber said he and bandmates Blane Johnson (lead guitar), Ryan Juneau (bass) and Jeb Tabb (drums) are looking forward to performing.
“We play just before Lynyrd Skynyrd comes on (on the Flintco Throwdown Stage), so that’s huge for us,” he said. “I grew up listening to Skynyrd, and they are one of the greatest rock bands ever. Of course, it’s kind of surreal to think about Drive-By Truckers and drivin n crying playing here, too.
“It will be difficult for me to turn off the festival organizer and be Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers. I know the weekend’s going to be a crazy 36 hours. But for that one hour, that’s my sanity.”
The Throwdown is something of a coming-out party for Jon Gosa and members of the recently formed Another Alien Astronaut, which will play at 3:15 p.m. Saturday on the Phoebe Stage.
“We’re so appreciative of this opportunity,” singer/guitarist Gosa said of Albany-based AAA, which also includes bassist Chris Hayes, guitarist Frank Daniels and drummer Lance Barnes. “We’re hoping it will be a stepping stone for us to build an audience.
“We’re up for whatever, but I’m glad the lineup was changed so that we’re playing Saturday, which is really the rock and roll night. And we’ll go on just before drivin n cryin (Flintco Stage), who I grew up listening to. I’m looking forward to playing and then walking around to market the band a little bit and seeing other artists.”
Abi Permenter, whose AMP Up the Music one-girl show is set to perform at 1 p.m. Saturday on the J&B Irrigation Saloon Stage, said she was surprised but honored at the invitation to play at the festival.
“There were so many groups that wanted to get (in the lineup), so I’m excited that they could squeeze me in,” Permenter, the 20-something whose voice packs a stunningly lived-in wallop, said. “And to think that my name is mentioned on the same poster as Lynyrd Skynyrd ... It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
“I’m trying not to make too much out of playing the show because I know it will mess up my head. I just want to keep it simple, keep it level-headed and put it all out there.”
Permenter said she’ll definitely sing her unique cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” and originals “White Noise” and “Night Falls,” which are crowd favorites.
Henry, another part of the Throwdown’s core team, said he and his eponymous band have played large festivals with big-name acts before. But there’s a special element at the Throwdown.
“This is really big for us,” the guitarist said. “And after all the work it’s taken to get the festival ready, the time we’re on the stage will definitely be my favorite time of the weekend.
“We’ve played on the stage with big-name artists before, but this is really special because it’s happening in our hometown.”
Henry and his band — drummer Tim Carter, bassist Terry Stubbs, guitarists Brandon Fox and Kent Dowling, trumpeter Joe Maxey, saxophonist Jon Wills, keyboardist Buck Bradshaw and percussionist Mark Brimberry — will close out Saturday’s music with an 11 p.m. performance on the Phoebe Stage.