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No matter where a band's travels take them, a stop at The Union is always a good choice when coming through Athens.
On Monday night, the stage will be shared by a man who has visited The Union more than a few times, a band who has never performed at The Union and another who calls Athens home.
Steve Schecter, better known by his stage name, Ghostwriter, has played at The Union almost yearly since releasing his first album in 2003. His spring tour started on April 26 and has brought him all the way from Portland, Ore. to Athens.
"I know Bram Riddlebarger from Athens. We had a split 7" in 2005," said Schecter. "I've been to The Union and Casa Cantina a couple times."
The current tour is promoting the newest Ghostwriter album, Prayin' All The Time. It's entirely self-produced and is being released only on vinyl and MP3 formats. Schecter said the process is rewarding.
"I've been recording at my house with a tape machine, all cut live. I like putting everything together myself. It's a labor of love," he said.
Speaking of putting everything together himself, Ghostwriter's performance on stage is little more than a guitar, a microphone and some percussion played through a foot pedal. It's a clash of bluesy stories and post-punk aggression.
Hairspray Blues is another Portland band stopping by The Union. The name isn't a hint at their style. The duo, guitarist Kyle Stabile and drummer Leslie Stabile, invoke more punk and rockabilly than blues.
"Hairspray Blues is just another way of saying rock and roll," said Leslie. "We go into it and just play as hard and fast as we can. It's like, BANG! It's always hard, fast and really heavy."
The duo met in 2004, started playing music together and got married. They're ending a brief hiatus to stop by Athens for the first time, as well as catch up with fellow Portland musician, Ghostwriter.
"This will be our first show since last year," said Leslie. "We've played in Cleveland and Akron. Not in Athens before."
Hairspray Blues recently finished recording their third album, Green Spirits in Room 239, which should be ready for release in early May.
Even those who have heard their recordings before will be getting something original at this performance.
"When we're playing a show, we rarely play songs the same way twice. When we record it's hard to replicate what we did, since we evolve it as we're playing," Leslie said.
For a duo, Hairspray Blues is just as loud and hard-hitting as bands twice their size. Keeping it simple also makes travel easier, according to Leslie.
"It's really convenient to have a band with two people," she said. "We actually tour in a PT Cruiser. Some of the other bands give us the look when we pull up to the venue in that. But hey, we get 30 miles to the gallon."
Athens residents Bram Riddlebarger and His Lonesome Band will also be at Monday's show. The three-piece band consisting of Riddlebarger, John Borchard on pedal-steel guitar and Thom Hirbe on upright bass describes themselves as old-time country music.
The show starts at 10 p.m. on Monday night and will have a cover charge.
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