The history continues

   

...continued

 

The Ravesters never became a brilliant music force. They didn’t stay together long enough to reach that nirvana, although I suspect they would have given time. But they were immensely talented and fearlessly entertaining. Their loud and rowdy play and ebullient performances captured the pure joy of rock as well as any Athens band before or since.

Shortly after Ravenstone was created, Jim Pettigrew, Jr., music critic for The Red and Black, favorably reviewed their first Memorial Ballroom performance. In describing the band’s "hot licks" he wrote: "The five-man group played some good hard rock, a smattering of blues and tasteful original material."

 What is most noteworthy about this concert review is that it was written in the fall of 1971, six years before Athens gained fame with the emergence of the B-52's, eventually leading to the city's worldwide recognition for such bands as R.E.M. in the early 80s and much later, Widespread Panic.

 Although Ravenstone stands as a concise rebuttal to those who believe the Athens music scene began in 1977, perhaps the band’s most enduring impact on Athens music was its early support of the University of Georgia’s student radio station WUOG.

A student political party founded by members of the group and other students, initially called Ravenstone Coalition, and later, Coalition Party, supported funding for the campus radio station  that became WUOG. WUOG is credited with helping to break the Athens music scene by showcasing the emerging bands in it.

 With their fan base growing in the spring of 1972, Ravenstone went into Atlanta's Web IV Studio to begin recording their first album, “More Love.” After completing several tracks, including “Watercolor,” a rocker that was to be their first single, and “Babylon,” a rousing political anthem that was a live performance favorite, the always combustible group abruptly disbanded. The exact reasons for this breakup remain a matter of speculation and dispute to this day. The material recorded during the Web IV sessions was never released. 

The final performance featuring the group’s original members was at Legion Field. Amped with a sound system that had previously been used at the Atlanta International Pop Festival, the band’s thunder that night could be heard all the way to Five Points, approximately a mile away.

 After the demise of the original roster, later lineups of Ravenstone featuring Blasingame and Simpson became fixtures on the Southeast club circuit until 1974.

 These later incarnations of the band included drummer Randy Delay (whose work can be heard on Drivin-N-Cryin's "Honeysuckle Blue" and the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands To Yourself") and bassist Greg Veale (far left in photo), who later became a founding member of the critically acclaimed Athens' recording group, the Normaltown Flyers.

  Perhaps the most unusual career trek happened to Ravenstone's inexhaustible roadie, Jimmy Ellison. Following his time with the band, he was a music critic (using the moniker of J Eddy Ellison) for The Athens Banner-Herald, and founding member and bassist of The Side Effects, an Athens band that had the distinction of debuting at a party with the band that became R.E.M. in their first performance. In May 1980, The Side Effects were the first band to play at the legendary 40 Watt Club, one of the most famous music clubs in Georgia, if not the United States.

 

(“Present at the Creation: Ravenstone & the Birth of Athens Rock” by Charles Burel ©2005. All rights reserved.)

 

 

Ravenstone’s CD “Back On The Rock” from Prince Avenue Records on sale now at cdbaby.com.


   
 

 

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