In the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, Georgia, there lies an intimate listening room called Eddie’s Attic. Eddie Owen opened it in 1992 and it’s long since become a premier stage for some of the best talent this country has to offer. Shawn Mullins, Sugarland, The Civil Wars, and John Mayer all got their start on this relatively small stage, in this relatively small room. In order to keep the listening room quiet, Eddie’s Attic has a closed circuit broadcast of each show playing simultaneously in the bar on the other side of a closed door from the performance room.
I had heard about this legendary venue long before I had ever set foot in the state of Georgia. In an effort to support budding talent, they host the Eddie’s Attic Open Mic Shoot-Out. Every Monday at the open mic, a winner is chosen who then gets an invitation to perform in the annual shoot out, where local and national songwriters compete for $1000 and various folky prizes. Not only does this help songwriters grow in their work, it also incentivizes people to stay for the entire open mic show in order to hear who will be chosen as the winner. The shoot-out fosters a community spirit, as open mic participants won’t just leave after their two songs, but stay and hear what everyone else has to offer. That should be open mic etiquette – always stick around for the entire show.
Back in the spring of 2010, I played a show at Eddie’s Attic with hometown hero Rebecca Loebe, as well as Robby Hecht and AJ Roach. What a hilarious night that was. There was a packed house (about 150 people), Christmas lights were sparkling, Shalom at the soundboard was making everything sound beautiful, and there were probably way too many whiskey shots for us performers. Shalom recorded the night, which was full of bad jokes, long intros, laughter, and harmonies.
The quality of the recording and the warmth of the room are so apparent that Rebecca and I sold copies of that show for a while. The Civil Wars did the same. Their giveaway album, Live At Eddie’s Attic, recorded in April of 2009, was their debut breakout record. You can practically hear the audience come to the realization that they are watching a timeless performance, witnessing a special moment.
Eddie Owen has since moved on and is now the proprietor of the Red Clay Theater in Duluth, GA. The Red Clay Theater is said to have the same magic that the Attic still retains.
photo: Sugarland live at Eddie's Attic, courtesy CMT.com