Yesterday, I attended the Tunes From the Tombs event at Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery for the third year in a row. I don't know how long they've been holding these fundraisers for the Historic Oakland Foundation, but this year was clearly the worst of the lot.
For starters, in 2011 and 2012, it was a two-day event (although I only got to attend for one day during each of those years), but this year it was only a one-day event. Previous year's "suggested donation" was $10/day, or $15 for a two-day pass. This year was $15 for the single day.
Which I would have been fine with if they had crammed the same or a similar number of musicians into that one day. But instead, they actually offered less. While in years past they would have three of four stages scattered around the cemetery, this year they only had two stages, and none of them offered any rock music. The musical styles this year included country, folk, jazz, blues, and swing, but there was little to no rock music offered.
This is a shame, because although I certainly appreciate those other genres, in years past the event served as nice little showcase for up-and-coming Atlanta rock artists. In years past, I had heard The Coathangers, Lucy Dreams, Mood Rings, and Athens' Twin Tigers, among others, perform in the cemetery, and it is where I first heard Women's Work and Von Grey, but I don't expect I'll hear most of this year's bands again, except possibly headliners Blair Crimmins and the Hookers, perennial Tombs From the Tombs performers the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra, and the Wasted Potential Brass Band, who tend to perform at events like the East Village Strut and the Little Five Points Halloween Parade.
I have no idea how the decision was reached to skew the event away from "new" music to such middle-of-the-road Americana, and to charge more for less music and of a lower quality, but it was surely deliberate - I can't believe that a no emerging Atlanta bands would have been willing to participate.
On top of all this, there were fewer beer vendors present, resulting in staggering long lines for beverages, and the restrooms were few and far between and also had long lines. Little logistical foobars like this might be expected at a first-time event, but these problems weren't evident in 2011 or 2012, which makes one wonder who decided to mess with something that worked, and why.
Having got through all of that negativity, on to the positive: the bands that actually were there. Some representative pictures are provided below, but those who may want for some reason to see more can go to my Flickr page.
The Breeze Kings
Wasted Potential Brass Band
Little Country Giants
Bird City Revolutionaries
The Bonaventure Quartet (feat. Amy Pike)
4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra
Slim Chance and the Convicts
Blair Crimmins and the Hookers
I hope the Historic Oakland Foundation continues this event in the future, but I also hope that they give some consideration to giving the audience more value for their money. I know I will be looking at the line-up much more critically when I decide whether or not to attend next year.