Moonshine Still | Perpetual Groove
Georgia Theater | Athens, GA | 12.31.02

Check out more great Moonshine/Groove NYE photos at Adam Gulledge Photography.

The Phoenix had it right: every end should be marked by a majestic burst into flame. Just as the mythical bird burns to the end of one life, only to be reborn from the ashes, the longstanding tradition of those with ample energy and ready smiles has been to bring in the new year with an explosion of bright colors and brilliant laughter.

Moonshine Still w/Perpetual Groove | photo by Leah Yetter
The Phoenix would have been proud had he visited the Georgia Theater in Athens for 2003’s New Year’s Eve. Hundreds crowded into the venue, a regular arena of excitement for those who dig rock ’n’ roll. Athens is known for its music scene, so it’s no surprise that this was the spot that many chose to place themselves to ring in 2003.

The performers were two semi-local jambands, Savannah’s Perpetual Groove and Moonshine Still from Macon. Perpetual Groove (JamBase readers’ number 3 pick for 2002 Best Emerging Artist) got us started around 10pm; the theater was already packed by then, and by 10:30 the line to the women’s bathroom trailed down the hallway. The funk-and-groove jam onstage set the mood for the crowd, who varied from a girl sporting realistic angel wings to a middle-aged man jam-dancing with the best of them. Perpetual Groove, who has been rocking up and down the East Coast recently, slowly built to a crescendo around 11:40 when their fellow jamsters Moonshine Still joined them, packing the stage with the sources of a thousand energetic notes (and even a cover of AC/DC’s “Big Balls,” to the crowd’s excitement), until the two groups led a theatre of listeners, mid-song, to count down to the beginning of a brand new year.

Moonshine Still | photo by Leah Yetter
No break was necessary; Moonshine took the stage to jam into 2003. Number 4 in JamBase's poll, the band is no stranger in Athens or to the Georgia Theatre. Moonshine spent 2002 touring the country, seeing the West for the first time, but the six bandmates returned to Georgia to one of their favorite venues to finish up the year. Crowd pleasers like "Ballad of a Desperate Man" and “Shoofly,” a favorite of anyone who’s heard Moonshine play before, continued to keep the gathered crowd grooving until the wee hours of the morning.

New Year’s Eve in Athens was unique and extraordinary. The Georgia Theatre is a venue unmatched in quirkiness of atmosphere, boasting an “unrenovated” style that calls to mind an old-style movie theatre fifty years later, taken over by the local hippies for a night of togetherness in music.

Moonshine and PGroove | photo by Leah Yetter
Which is, in many ways, exactly what it is. The assembled listeners were varied, to say the least, but the atmosphere and the music seemed to breed friendliness and acceptance, at least for the night. The fantastic lighting techniques at the theater contributed to the feel of the night, calm with the calm songs, wild and mischievous with the more upbeat ones. And the bands seemed to have just as much fun as the audience. For jamband fans and true hippies, no place was a more appropriate site to set flame to 2002 and witness the birth of ’03 than the Georgia Theatre with Moonshine and PGroove.

Betsy Beasley
JamBase | Southeast
Go See Live Music!

Photos by Leah Yetter.

Check out more great Moonshine/Groove NYE photos at Adam Gulledge Photography.

[Published on: 1/3/03]

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