Arts & Humanities Campus News Society & Culture

Symposium looks to past, present, future of music in Athens

Pylon 1979 Michael
Pylon plays at the original non-commercial location of the 40 Watt Club (Curtis Crowe and Bill Tabor's private loft residence

Athens, Ga. – The Athens Music Project will hold its first symposium April 17 from 4-8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries at the University of Georgia.

The AMP is a Faculty Research Cluster of the UGA Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and is co-directed by Susan Thomas, an associate professor of music and women’s studies, and Jean Ngoya Kidula, associate professor of music and African studies. The event is co-sponsored by the Willson Center and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

The AMP provides a platform for research, creative development and shared expertise in, about and for Athens’ diverse musical communities. The symposium is organized to present current academic research on the history of music in Athens as well as to provide a forum for key participants in the Athens music scene to share their observations, insights and analysis of its past, present and future.

The event will begin with a lecture titled “Playing with the Local: Teaching Improvisation in the Public Schools” by Skip Taylor, an associate professor of music in string education, who also will perform with a group of bluegrass musicians.

A panel on music in early Athens will include presentations by Kevin Kelly, the Hodgson School’s music librarian, on “John Vaughan: Gospel Music Composer and Publisher in Athens”; by Stephanie Tingler, associate professor of music, on “Promoting Music in Northeast Georgia During the Progressive Era: The Athens Woman’s Club, 1896-1920”; and by Mary Helen Hoque, a graduate student in the music school, on “‘A Good Band is Much Needed Here’: Creating Community Through Music in Reconstruction Athens.”

Michael Lachowski, a member of the Athens band Pylon and currently the public relations coordinator at the Georgia Museum of Art, will give a keynote talk on “How Art Turned Into Music: The ‘Athens Music Scene.'” The talk will be followed by a roundtable on “Hearing the Past and Seeing the Future: The 40 Watt” that will feature Lachowski, 40 Watt Club owner Barrie Buck and Velena Vego, the club’s talent buyer. Christopher Lawton, director of the Georgia Virtual History Project, will moderate the discussion.

The symposium is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. To learn more about the Athens Music Project, see

Willson Center for Humanities and Arts
The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research at UGA. In the service of its mission to promote research and creativity in the humanities and arts, the Willson Center sponsors and participates in numerous public events on and off the UGA campus throughout the academic year. It supports faculty through research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars, visiting artists, collaborative instruction, public conferences, exhibitions and performances. For more information, see