By Max Stewart
Decatur GA’s Amplify Decatur Music Festival has been a staple to the greater Atlanta community for years, bringing authentic and inspired music to the downtown square while supporting a fantastic cause. The event donates their proceeds to the Decatur Cooperative Ministry (DCM) to aid their efforts to prevent and alleviate homelessness in Decatur and DeKalb County. What a concept: enjoying live music and support a noble cause. Cheers to that.
This year we got a full variation of live acts which started out with a superb ATL local, the Mike Killeen Band. We then had a finger-lickin’ taste of Kentucky folk from S.G. Goodman (whose album Old Time Feeling was produced by fellow Kentuckian Jim James).
Michigan’s The War and Treaty are a beam of musical joy. Led by the husband/wife duo of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount Trotter, their love for one another clearly inspires and makes its way into all aspects of their music and live performance. Their mix of soul, Americana, funk and blues is the perfect mix to get you smiling and on your feet.
Alt-country rock pioneers Son Volt were another highlight of the afternoon and one we were really looking forward to. Singer-songwriter Jay Farrar has been one of the most consistent songwriters of their genre, and Son Volt’s performance really exceeded our expectations. In fact, Farrar paved the way for the alt-country scene of the Nineties, having started in Uncle Tupelo with Jeff Tweedy. There was nothing quite like the Georgia sunshine beaming while hearing “Route” and “Drown” from 1995’s Trace. What an afternoon.
Legendary singer-songwriter Ben Harper continued the supreme vibes of the day for a solo performance. With just a guitar and a microphone, Harper showcased the raw emotion that exudes from the barebones of his tunes like “Diamonds on the Inside” and “Burn One Down.” Harper playing solo really affirms his pure musical talent, and it was amazing seeing his lap steel prowess. The cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” was a jaw dropper and highlight of the day.
To top off the event, Old Crow Medicine Show (fresh off the release of their solid new album, Paint This Town), were an infectious and full-tilt headliner on the Decatur Square. Taking bluegrass to almost punk territory live, Ketch Secor and his band have a masterful way of drawing fans in and getting the masses moving. As the night drew to a close, attendees sang in unison their timeless modern classic that feels like it has been played in every smoky bar in the South the last ten years, “Wagon Wheel.”
What a way to cap off a great 2022 event. Looking forward to 2023!