I awoke a few weeks ago and sat down at my computer for morning coffee only to be jarred fully awake. I saw a Facebook update from a friend that the Ga Theatre was fully engulfed in flames. I was in shock. No, it couldn't be. Not the Theatre. It had been there forever. In my mind, it would be there forever. I could almost smell the stale beer and old wood. For anyone who has ever graced the place with their presence you know exactly what I mean. It was also the best sounding venue in the country. I did the cover for the Derek Trucks Live at the Ga Theatre CD. Everybody loved recording there. Those 3 foot thick walls just made for the perfect room. Now it was gone.
I immediately made a few phone calls to check in with friends downtown. I was planning on being at a Perpetual Groove show that night at the theatre and then leaving the next morning for a short vacation. I was informed that the show was cancelled and a new show was planned for the next night at the Classic center to raise money to help the dislocated staff of the theatre. I went into artist mode. The vacation was postponed. The art schedule for the day got scrapped and I started working on a fundraiser poster. For the next 14 hours straight I painted a phoenix rising from the ashes. The poster was finished the next morning before the ashes had cooled at the Theatre.
The show that night was somber. Backstage, seeing my friends who worked there was difficult. They looked shell shocked, but were holding it together as best they could. It was the quietest I think I have ever seen a Backstage atmosphere.
I found a place in the back of the Classic Center to sit and watch the show. PGroove raged, but there was this hollow feeling that I had lost a dear old friend that would never be replaced. We will build the Theatre back, I'm sure of that, but that beer stained icon of my youth was gone forever. At least I have 30 years of memories of shows and events. Those memories are ones I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Please contribute to the "Rebuild the Theatre" fund at Georgiatheatre.com. Athens needs this venue. I want those 21 year old kids going to shows to be able to look back in 30 years at the new theatre in the same nostalgic manner as I have, knowing we spent some of the best times of our lives in that hallowed room.