Mike is among a sterling cast of Athens musicians who have teamed with Drive-By Truckers front man Patterson Hood to record a song in an effort to fight big box development in Downtown Athens, Georgia. Hood, backed by the Downtown 13 collective, sings the elegiac line “Who needs a downtown when there’s a Walmart next door?” in the track “After It’s Gone” which envisions what happens when a once-vibrant cultural and commercial area teeming with music, art, activity, and local shops is replaced by a big box development and becomes “an alternative ghost town.” Athens photographer and filmmaker Jason Thrasher directed and produced the video for “After It’s Gone.” “A great team effort for all of Athens– here, we go with what we’ve got and in this case it is a town long on brains, talent, taste and music, said R.E.M.’s manager Bertis Downs. “Way to go Patterson and your many friends–what a great song, and Jason Thrasher did you proud with the video.”

Watch the Video and Read the Press Release:

Visit protectdowntownathens.com to watch the video.

February 1, 2012: Press Release:

Athens, GA: Some of the greatest songs were written to give voice to anxiety, despair and unwanted change. “After it’s Gone”, a new single just released by Patterson Hood and the Downtown 13, was inspired by the threat of a Walmart in the heart of the downtown that nurtured the band’s career. Hood, singer, writer and guitarist for the band Drive-By Truckers assembled The Downtown 13, a musical collective made up of some of Athens, Georgia’s finest musicians to celebrate Athens, Georgia’s beauty and vibrant musical heritage and to protest a developer’s proposed building of a massive mixed use development in downtown Athens, anchored by a 94,000 sq. foot big box development (Wal-Mart).

The small and eclectic university town of Athens is a hotbed for national musical acts and many of these local luminaries, including R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and Widespread Panic’s John Bell and Todd Nance came together on the new track to express their opposition to a proposed development by Atlanta-based Selig Enterprises. The back wall of the anchor tenant, Walmart, would be within a stone’s throw of Hood’s home and it would tower over the greenway trail along the Oconee River– it is the very embodiment of inappropriate development.

“This Atlanta developer wants to clog our cultural heart and build a bunker the size of three city blocks next to the vibrant downtown scene,” says Hood. “They hit The Easy Button: a big box store in our downtown district is clearly misguided and a somewhat ridiculous notion. Downtown Athens is a dynamic network of local businesses–Athens already has a meaningful brand and we are extremely protective of it.”

Taking a very vocal turn away from the proposed lifestyle-shopping center currently under contract, Hood is the most recent performer to take the role of front man as an Athens community that has long spoken to national and international audiences.

“We have a vibrant downtown with plans for the future that involve planned development along the river and hopefully a high speed rail to Atlanta,” says Hood. “We don’t need a big box retailer, the very definition of the past, to once again bring us back through that dark episode of closed down storefronts and empty parking lots. Protect Downtown Athens– that’s what this is all about.”

You can download the song, view the video and read more about Protect Downtown Athens at protectdowntownathens.com.

Twitter: @protectathens

Please write about this, post to your Facebook and Twitter pages. We need all the coverage we can get on this issue in order to Protect Downtown Athens!

MEDIA CONTACT: TRACI THOMAS, traci@thirtytigers.com, 615-664-1167

“After It’s Gone”, by Patterson Hood Published by Pottery Town Songs (BMI)

Performed by Patterson Hood and the Downtown 13

Featuring members of Drive-By Truckers, Widespread Panic, R.E.M., Futurebirds, Hope For Agoldensummer, Lera Lynn, Justified True Belief and The Quick Hooks.

Patterson Hood – Lead Vocals, Guitar

Mike Mills – Harmonies and Piano

John Bell – Lead Vocals

John Neff – Pedal Steel

David Barbe —€œ Bass

Jay Gonzalez – Wurlitzer Electric Piano

Brad Morgan – Drums

Todd Nance – Percussion

Claire Campbell – Banjo and Harmonies

Lera Lynn – Harmonies

Brannen Miles, Carter King and Payton Bradford – Backing Vocals

Henry Barbe – Electric Guitar

Basic track recorded live on stage at Fabulous 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. Vocals, overdubs and mixing at Chase Park Transduction, Athens, GA. Basics recorded by Colin Cargyle with Matt DeFilippis and Damon Scott. Post production work by Bennett Moon and David Barbe. Mixed by David Barbe. Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, NYC. Video produced and directed by Jason Thrasher. Edited by Eddie Whalen.