Athens is well-known for turning out popular music acts like REM and the B-52s, but many people today don’t know that Emory Village once had its own vibrant music scene.

Inside RailRoad Earth studios in Emory Village.

A number of nationally known Atlanta acts played, and even got their start, at a local bar and restaurant in the Village owned by the Landau family back in the late ’80s.  It was called the Dugout.  Opened at the site of the old Doodah’s Records and Tapes (where a young Peter Buck worked before forming REM with his bandmates in Athens), the Dugout would host an incredible set of young up-and-coming talents in its day.

They include Michelle Malone, who has since gone on to tour Europe and the Americas, sharing the stage with such legends as Gregg Allman, Chuck Leavell, Drivin’ n’ Cryin’, Kristian Bush, and the Indigo Girls since her early days at the Dugout.

The Indigo Girls, best known for their hits “Galileo” and “Closer to Fine,” actually played weekly gigs at the Dugout in their early days, when Emily Saliers and Amy Ray were students just across the street at Emory University.

The Black Crowes (then known as Mr. Crowe’s Garden), of “Hard to Handle,” “She Talks to Angels” and “Twice as Hard” fame, were a regular presence there. Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ played the Dugout too, with lead singer Kevin Kinney sometimes dropping in to play on his own, long before they went on to become famous for such hits as “Fly Me Courageous” and “Honeysuckle Blue.”

Indigo Girls

Internationally known rhythm and blues guitarist Tinsley Ellis also played the Dugout with his old band, the Heartfixers, which featured Chicago Bob Nelson on vocals and harmonica.  In its day, the Dugout was a phenomenal venue that punched above its weight in the level of talent it brought to the place.

Of course, that was a long time ago, and the Dugout is long gone.  In its place stands a Chase Bank, a Chipotle, and a Buffalo Wild Wings.

But that is not the end of the story.  The Village is still home to RailroadEarth, a recording studio and art venue run by Neil Fried. The Indigo Girls recorded there with folk singer Gerard McHugh, as did classical musician Andrew Bird. Internationally known electronic music composer and performer Pauline Oliveros worked on several projects with Neil at the studio.

Michelle Malone recorded there back in 2000, with her then little-known lead guitarist, John Mayer. He’d win his first of seven Grammys just a few years later for “Your Body is a Wonderland,” going on to sell nearly 20 million albums worldwide as of today.

 And music in the Village is still alive today.

The Emory Village Alliance will be bringing Michelle Malone and Canyonlands back to the Village for the Coca-Cola Clean Up the Creek Concert, live on the lawn, the evening of Earth Day, April 22, starting at 5:30 p.m.  

We hope if you are reading this that you will join us for a magical evening of music and good times; and all of it for a good cause.  The Concert is intended to raise awareness of the natural environment here in Druid Hills, and to benefit the Peavine Creek Rain Garden the South Fork Conservancy is building in the Village just a stone’s throw from the show.

It will also help bring a little taste of the surprisingly rich musical tradition of Emory Village back home for all to enjoy for an evening.  

 We hope to see you there.

Sarah Banick is a freelance writer in Atlanta.