R.E.M. won the mainstream, but there were many brilliant bands kicking around the Southeast during the eighties. Some have become legends, others never made it out of the kudzu belt, but they are all worth a listen.
I’m never going to work all of the wonderful eighties Southern bands into stories — too much greatness, too little time.
“White Lies,” Jason and the Scorchers. Every local band covered this cut, and it always sounded great. Jason Ringenberg may hail from Illinois, but nothing says Spartanburg’s Dawg Gone circa 1985 like “White Lies.”
“Waters Part,” Let’s Active. Band leader Mitch Easter was as responsible as anyone for R.E.M.’s early sound.
“Fun To Be Happy,” Love Tractor. Athens, Georgia favorites.
“Frog Went A Courtin’ ,” The Flat Duo Jets. Dex and Crow could tear up a show, uh huh, uh huh.
“Beep Beep,” Pylon. More Athens favorites.
“News For You,” Matthew Knights Williams. I wish I had some vintage footage of Matthew. In the mid-eighties he was the epicenter of the Spartanburg music scene. Matthew was the guy always on the brink of making it but just never got there. I bet he has a great story to tell. Anyway, I’m glad to see he’s still around.
“Leave My Heart,” The Accelerators. My favorite band of the time. Accelerators shows were nothing but fun. This footage is from an earlier incarnation than “my” Accelerators, but front man Gerald Duncan remained through all of the line-ups.
“She Sheila,” The Producers. This Atlanta band laid down some of the tastiest power pop hooks this side of Cheap Trick and Big Star. They should’ve been as huge everywhere as they were in the Southeast.
Don’t be shy — tell me about your favorite regional scene, no matter when or where. I’m listening.