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INDUSTRY PROFILE - Eddie Owen of Eddie's Attic by Mark E. Waterbury
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Copyright 2005 by Music Morsels,
a Serge Entertainment Publication.
Editor: Sandy Serge
Mark E. Waterbury, Scott Turner
Living in the same area your whole life can ingrain a keen perspective on the local music scene. Born and raised in the Atlanta area, Eddie Owen's introduction to music was more typical. Church choirs, school chorus and theater performances planted the seeds of musical passion in Eddie. After he met the late Harry Chapin, Eddie turned to playing guitar and writing songs, most of which were performed in his living room. To be truthful, I was a very poor guitarist and very poor songwriter, Eddie muses. That ended up giving me a greater appreciation for those who were not poor at it.
While attending Georgia State University, Eddie paid his tuition by tending bar at various local watering holes. One of the clubs was the Trackside Tavern, a new joint in the near southeast suburb of Decatur that had opened in 1980. I had a free hand at Trackside to do what I could to generate alcohol sales. When I decided to start doing live music there, I originally only did it on weeknights because I didn't want to interfere with the weekend business. I just went to the bars that all these musicians and bands were playing at and introduced myself, and that's how we started getting our bands there. Booking the Trackside gave Eddie a crash course in the burgeoning local scene, as their stage was prowled by mostly acoustic music veterans like Carolyn Aiken and newcomers such as Mark Reynolds, Christian Bush, and of course the Indigo Girls. Because of the caliber of the acts performing there, it wasn't long before live music became a fixture at the Trackside. There weren't many places featuring acoustic music at the time. With these acts, it became a groundswell for this acoustic music community that was always there, but had not been real organized and didn't have a place to hang their shingles.
Eddie previously worked at a Decatur restaurant called Conversations that had an unused area on the second floor which was formerly a part of Belk Department Store. Eddie and Conversation's owner dream of what they could do with that empty space. It was time to realize what I always wanted to do. It was a case of saving some pennies, getting some friends to throw in some money, and getting a bank loan or two. We started formulating the plan in October of 1991. It took a few months....then the dream happened. In May of 1992, Eddie's Attic opened with a triple bill of Catbird Seat, Ride This Rain, and Koko Green. The opening was a smash and soon music lovers across metro Atlanta began trekking to Decatur to experience this latest entry in the club scene. Response from local press was strong and the venue was featured several times on Turner South Television later that year. Word of mouth was the most valuable tool to promote the new venue. And Eddie feels it is still a very important aspect. It's funny, but every now and then, we do an impromptu and casual survey of ÔWhy the hell are you here?'The predominate answer in the twelve categories they could choose from was word of mouth, plus they knew the artists and had been to our website or theirs, even more predominate than advertising. The buzz kept growing, and over the years, Eddie's played host to some of the hottest acts to come out of the area including The Black Crowes, John Mayer, Shawn Mullins and Michelle Malone, as well as national touring acts like Sheryl Crowe, Ani DiFranco and Dave Wilcox.
Along with his many ownership duties, Eddie was hands on with the band bookings as well. Then in 2002, he decided to sell the club to Todd Van Sickle, husband of popular local musician Jennifer Nettles. I had three babies in the house and I had to refocus a bit on the family thing, and also refocus a bit on who I was and where my energy was going. The vehicle that allowed me to do that was not being at Eddie's for awhile. After three and a half years of complete severance from Eddie's, Todd sold the club to Bob Ephelin, who Eddie knew for years as a supporter of the club and the local music scene. After I failed in trying to talk (Bob) out of buying it, I had no choice but to go back in there and take over booking again, Eddie muses. On an emotional level, we are partners with this, although Bob is the sole owner of the club. Basically being an employee and not an owner like everything has its advantages and disadvantages. I certainly don't offer any less effort than I did when I owned it, but maybe as we regain a foothold I can cut down on some of the hours involved.
Since Eddie's return, he and Bob have implemented several enhancements tomake Eddie's Attic a bit more user friendly. Eddie's always had a moniker that patrons would meet the friendliest people and have a great total experience in all areas, and they are working to re-establish that. You can never rest on any laurels in this business, if you even have any. You have to be constantly in touch with everything that has to do with anything. Along with these re-enhancements, Eddie and Bob are looking to make Eddie's Attic a hub on a small-scale empire that can find artists who are like-minded in the way they work within the music business. I've always wanted to work more in promoting bands and being a one stop shop for them, Eddie notes. Be a booking agent, be a manager, be a label...everything, and do it under the hub of a place or places like (Eddie's Attic.)
It is an understatement to say that Eddie Owen loves music since he has dedicated a major portion of his life to providing a venue for those who perform it. Whatever the future holds for him, Eddie's Attic, and their future ventures, he never forgets that the passion not only extends to the musicians and bands themselves, but to the people who come to see them. I've always, of course, loved the association with the artists. But watching people leave the club after they have just heard something that blew them away is really satisfying to me. Knowing they had a good time and a good meal and they feel like they have been treated like a million dollars is a great feeling. At the end of the day, if they came in and the beer wasn't as cold as it could have been, andmaybe the food wasn't cooked perfectly, and the music was young but not quite there talent-level-wise from what they were expecting here, but we were the nicest people they have ever met, they will come back. That kind of buzz is what gives me the juice to go on.
Eddie Owen's advice for musicians: Play, play, play, play. Write, write, write, write. Meet, meet, meet, meet.
Check out Eddie's Attic at http://www.eddiesattic.com :->
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