|Photo by: communityfoodinitiatives.org|
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "smorgasbord" as: 1) A Swedish hors d'oeuvres of cold sandwiches and 2) A medley, miscellany and rich variety.
Looking at the latter definition, it seems to fit that it's also the name of the three day community arts event that brings together a very wide spectrum of creative minds in Athens, all for the purpose of self expression.
In its third year, Smorgasbord is an annual gathering that centers around three shows at Casa Cantina, The Union and The Smiling Skull Saloon that will feature bands from around the area. But every night also showcases other art genres, which range from a poetry reading kicking off the weekend at The Union to a drag-inspired show at Casa.
And while the event looks to join the artistic spirits of the town, it also looks to join hearts by framing the entire affair with charity. All the artists featured have donated their time and all audience members are asked to donate any amount of cash to the Community Food Initiative. The non-profit group works towards helping neighborhoods grow community gardens and other projects to help bring fresh produce to the people. In addition to money donations, there will be a food drive with contributions going to the CFI right before the show at Casa.
Speaking of which, the first night of Smorgasbord begins at said Mexican restaurant and is slated to be a drag themed evening, so don't forget your feather boa and glitter. Infinite Zero, a Devo cover band, begins the set and is followed by Athens local punk band Nurser.
Finishing the glamorous show is the Cincinnati synth-rock group, Founding Fathers. Through friends, the band got set up to play the event and lead singer, bassist and keyboardist Matt Chmielewski said that all of them really like the Athens music scene and are very happy to play up here.
When asked what people should expect for their show, he answered: "To dance. To feel good. To let it all loose. Overall, we want everyone to have a very feel-good feeling."
The Union follows the next day at the same time with State Park leading the pack. According to some of the band members, the group sounds similar to early '90s indie-pop, but lead singer and songwriter Ian Wolfe has a different opinion. With all members having been around the music scene for a while, their collective experience comes together as an effortless low-fi tone.
"For me, I write songs the only way I know how and whatever comes out, it is what it is to me and it's just left up to the rest of the world. We all grew up listening to that stuff though, so I guess it comes naturally to us," he said.
The band is excited to play Smorgasbord as a whole.
"I think it's a great idea. Like, the poetry reading at The Union; you don't get a lot of that normally where there are different types of elements coming together," said Wolfe.
Continuing the jams are Athens-vets, current Columbus group Sega Genecide, local garage-rock trio The D-Rays, punk band Heros of History, and finally, Zapano, who have quiet a connection with the event. Having played at "Smorg" the past three years, Zapano vocalist Sean Hundley even used to be on the planning committee for the event.
"It was very much, and I'm sure it still is, been very much about collaboration, of mixing the medias and mixing the arts. This year, I'm not sure what to expect, but that's exciting. In the beginning, we wanted to create a place for artists that seek that creative energy, that sparks an idea, an idea that comes into the room and lights everyone up. What better way to create and maintain that electric space than to pull in as many creative people as you can with different styles?" said Hundley.
As for the band, he sees the progressive, psychedelic rock group as clearly defined but always evolving, which is especially seen in the band's current work for the group's second full-length album. According to Hundley, darker and simpler are the two words that sum up the band's latest music, which he says shows how they've grown as musicians. Hundley is also a part of Athens band Lazer Babes, who have played at Smorgasbord.
Ending the weekend long festival at The Skull is the triple act of Magna Drag, a garage-rock group, hardcore progressive act Shafer St. Fugitive and Blood Brothers from South Korea. Altogether, these groups seem to fit the bill for the local biker bar and have the potential to end the event celebration with a bang.
Smorgasbord starts Thursday at Casa and continues Friday at The Union and Saturday at The Smiling Skull. All shows start at 9 p.m. and are free, but donations are highly encouraged.
On a final note, every show comes with complimentary catering so there's a chance you might grab a cold Swedish sammie and then experience Smorgasbord in every sense of the word.
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