Next Monday will mark the 30-year anniversary of R.E.M.’s first-ever live gig at a dilapidated Athens, Ga. church. In honor of that event, a number of that city’s luminaries — including Cindy Wilson of the B-52s, producer John Keane and members of Pylon and the Squalls — plus special guest Mitch Easter, who produced ‘Chronic Town,’ ‘Murmur’ and ‘Reckoning,’ will perform covers from the band’s catalog this Friday, April 2, at the Melting Point in an event titled “R.E.M. 30.”
“We’re just putting on this party as sort of a ‘thank you,’ not just for the 30 years of music, but for all that they’ve done for Athens,” show promoter Cathy Edmonds told the city’s arts weekly Flagpole. While there’s no indication that members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group will attend, stranger things have happened.
As for the performers, Keane has engineered and appeared occasionally on R.E.M.’s records, Easter — formerly of Let’s Active — helped guide R.E.M.’s first three highly regarded records and Supercluster — a local group that counts Pylon, Squalls and Circulatory System members — includes musicians who shared many of the same early bills with the band. Fans may recall that R.E.M. covered Pylon’s song ‘Crazy’ for the 1985 B-side of ‘Wendell Gee.’
The B-52s’ Wilson will collaborate with Dana Downs and the Debauchelors, and both of them have known R.E.M. since its inception. Other acts billed for the evening, which will support the Athens Area Homeless Shelter and the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank, will include Casper and the Cookies, Atlanta post-punks VieTNam and local funk and soul outfit the Heap.