Living in Athens, Ohio, offers a formative musical experience largely unmatched by pre-college life.
You might have noticed the town and university both teem with melodies created by an abundance of means that work to engross its residents completely in musical attunement.
For many of us studying here, we’ve come from suburban environments, venturing to the closest city once in awhile but never long enough to become rooted into its heartbeat. Our high school peer groups consisted of fewer people and had fewer new ideas being thrown around. But from this sort of background or another, Athens only enhances a person’s appreciation for a musical environment.
Spending any amount of time in Athens leads to hearing sub-bass through dorm walls, bro-country down the street (accompanied with engine revving) or world music while walking along the bike path. Sometimes house parties blast music so loud the vibrations from the bass appear to cause disruption in the house’s material. I can’t imagine being the roommate upstairs trying to sleep.
Every now and then, the Marching 110 illuminates Peden Stadium, and piano keys echo through Baker Center’s central atrium.
Around the holidays, the streets of Athens are literally accompanied with Christmas music.
And for the rest of the year, there’s that small group of songs that house parties and bars always play like Travis Scott’s “Antidote,” Drake’s “Back to Back” and Kendrick Lamar’s “M.a.a.d City.” These songs play the traditional role of music in helping us to bond together as a common community. They soundtrack Friday and Saturday nights along with the ensembles of street musicians aligning Court Street.
Sometimes Athens’ sonic effects can be as simple as hearing two guitars peacefully harmonizing from an adjacent apartment.
There are also several great venues to catch live music in town like Casa Nueva, The Union Bar & Grill and Donkey Coffee and Espresso. Not to mention, Donkey Coffee plays a great selection of music itself. It might be the only place Uptown where you can hear Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” on a Saturday morning.
Haffa’s Records and Blue Eagle Music only add to the town’s versatility with LPs and instruments.
The number of people wearing headphones on and off campus shows, what is otherwise an invisible desire for music, floating above the seventh floor of Alden Library.
Whether student or parent, local or visitor, Athens invokes a sense of liveliness and rhythm that never seems to stop. It’s a town packed with ideas and cultures that influence our idea of daily life and how we live it. A significant part of that influence falls on the music we come across, on purpose or by accident.
Athens’ musicality might not be apparent at first. But with an ear to the air, you’re bound to hear something new.