BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
Decatur, as Mike Killeen attests, is full of music lovers.
While that sounds like an appropriate sentiment for a bumper sticker, the fact is that the small city just east of Atlanta is rich with musical history, from the national recognition of Eddie’s Attic to longtime residents Kristian Bush of Sugarland and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls.
Killeen, the founder of Amplify My Community, is also the director of the annual Amplify Decatur Music Festival, which will have its third installment on Saturday at Decatur Square.
The event has steadily increased its marquee offerings, with a 2017 lineup topped by Lucinda Williams and a bill this year spotlighting the Lone Bellow, the Jayhawks and Amanda Shires.
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“Everyone who has played here has had a great experience and been able to sense that people who come out to the shows really listen to music,” Killeen said. A week after last year’s festival, Williams posted a Facebook message in praise of the concerts.
Killeen and the team who assemble the talent for the annual festival are elated to have landed the Lone Bellow, the Brooklyn alt-country trio with Georgia ties, as well as the Jayhawks and Shires.
“I think that’s part of Decatur, that when you think of Eddie’s (Attic) and Paste Magazine, you feel there is an appreciation for what music has always been and for what it currently is and is becoming. We try to balance what we feel is truly an Americana lineup. Not just the genre, but something that really represents the different music,” he said.
Fans who attended Amplify Decatur last year won’t find much different regarding the setup, aside from some tweaked food selections.
Also not changing — the unwavering commitment to charity.
Amplify My Community, the umbrella organization for Amplify Decatur, produces concerts and festivals around the Southeast and has raised about $265,000 since 2011 for charities specific to the locality.
In this area, all money raised from Amplify Decatur will benefit Decatur Cooperative Ministry, which cares for the homeless, including transitional housing, emergency shelters, working with Veterans Affairs and offering a food pantry.
“They do a lot with a little,” Killeen said.
While the artists are paid for their appearances (via sponsorships and donations), the organizers and volunteers at Amplify Decatur do not make any money from the event.
This is the third year of the festival, but the idea of marrying music and charity through Amplify My Community has chugged along since 2011, when a series of concerts would take place over a weekend at Eddie’s Attic.
That hasn’t changed, either, as the venue will host five concerts from Friday to Sunday in conjunction with Amplify Decatur.
“They’ve been with us since the beginning,” Killeen said. “They’ve given us advice. We’ve leaned on their expertise and their network and support. I don’t think there is an Amplify without Eddie’s Attic.”
Despite the growth of Amplify Decatur, Killeen doesn’t foresee the festival going anywhere since it was created specifically for the Atlanta area that bears its name.
“Our first goal is to raise money for Decatur Cooperative Ministry and address the issue of homelessness in our hometown,” Killeen said, “but it’s also to give Decatur the festival we believe it deserves. For years, people have known Eddie’s Attic and the great bands that have come out of here, and it’s also known as a city of festivals. I don’t think we’ll outgrow Decatur. It’s not in our DNA.”
Amplify Decatur Music Festival
Gates open at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The Lone Bellow (9:30 p.m.), the Jayhawks (7:45 p.m.), Amanda Shires (6:15 p.m.), Parker Millsap (5 p.m.) and Dwayne Shivers (4 p.m.). $45-$155. Decatur Square, 119 E. Court Square, Decatur. 1-877-987-6487, www.ticketfly.com.
Amplify Decatur concerts will also take place at Eddie’s Attic on Friday (the Weather Station, 7:15 p.m.; Jared and Amber with Rex Hausmann, 9:30 p.m.), Saturday (Sirens of South Austin, 6:30 p.m.; Antigone Rising, 8:30 p.m.); and Sunday (Steve Earle vs. Townes Van Zandt tribute night, 7 p.m.). Visit www.eddiesattic.com for more information.