Patterson Hood adamantly declares that the Drive-By Truckers “are and always will be based in Athens. Two of our members still live there, plus most of our crew.” After a 21-year run, Hood and his family decamped from Athens for Portland this past summer. Reading between the lines, it may be a temporary respite. “I had some creative opportunities out there, plus I wanted to experience living in a bigger city and different region,” explains the lifelong Southerner.
Therefore, it’ll be a bit more of a homecoming than usual when the Truckers return for a three-night stand at the 40 Watt Club February 11-13 (at last check, a few tickets remained for the Thursday show). “We’ve been doing a multi-night 40 Watt play in Athens every year for 12 years or so. We call it The Athens Homecoming, and it also raises some money for Nuci’s Space,” a wonderful musicians’ resource nonprofit in town. “We always try to change up those shows a lot from night to night, digging deep into the catalog and I’m sure looking ahead to the new songs, too. Plus, we put a lot of extra attention into curating the opening acts,” which includes Athenians old and new on various nights (Monsoon, Five-Eight, Dave Marr, the Camp Amped Band).
The DBTs are currently putting the finishing touches on their 12th studio album, due out this fall. “We’re all beyond excited about it — I think it’s a good one,” he enthuses. “It just came together very magically.” October saw the release of “It’s Great To Be Alive!,” a three-disc document of these road warriors’ well-earned reputation as a barn-burning live band. Hood thinks it “turned out pretty stellar.”
Athens serves as the springboard for a brief March/April tour that will treat die-hard fans to more intimate settings. “We’re hitting some smaller rooms since we’ll be playing bigger rooms in the fall once the new album hits,” he says. “I love doing the multi-night stand thing. It’s always nice to have a couple of days in a town.”
I asked Patterson which of his old Athens haunts he’s most excited about getting back to. “There’s an auction and meet/greet event at Nuci’s Space that’ll give me a chance to hang with old friends and family (note: this includes a Low Country Boil and is open to the public from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, February 13). I also want to visit Avid Bookshop and Wuxtry Records and to eat at The Grit, Tlaloc el Mexicano, Puerta del Sol and The National.”
Glen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.