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If you’ve lived in Atlanta for any length of time, you may have heard of Eddie’s Attic. If you live here and can make an F-chord on a guitar, you most likely have heard of Eddie’s Attic. If you live here, can make an F-chord on a guitar, and have subjected your family to Johnny Cash and John Prine covers to the point of imminent violence, you not only have heard of Eddie’s Attic, but you’ve been there, you’ve drunk there, and you’ve gone to bed wondering what it would be like to play there. You’ve imagined achieving, on that tiny stage in that tiny room in Decatur, in front of those 150 rapt listeners, a moment of perfect musical transcendence, when audience and performer are linked by a bridge built of nothing more than sound waves, but no less strong than if it were of iron and steel. Truly, in concert.
Or is that just me?
This month’s issue features a profile of Eddie Owen, the guy behind Eddie’s Attic. I first stumbled on the place not long after moving to Atlanta in 2000. My wife and I had heard about Eddie’s and figured we’d check it out, without knowing anything about the headliner. Turned out it was Matthew Kahler, a Georgia boy who reminded me of what James Taylor would sound like if he lived in the real world and not Martha’s Vineyard. The set was fantastic—a mix of silliness, solemnity, and catchy pop songs. When we left a few hours later, Kahler’s CD in hand, I remarked how lucky we were to have come on such a good night for music.
What I came to realize is that hearing good music at Eddie’s isn’t a matter of luck, it’s a matter of fact. So many great local musicians have played there—and I don’t mean just superstars like John Mayer and Sugarland and the Indigo Girls, but lesser-knowns like Derek Webb and Tyler Lyle—that it’s become a sort of rite of passage for singer-songwriters in the hothouse of Atlanta’s music scene. And that’s not even accounting for the amazing national talent that graces its stage.
Last year I was invited to be a judge for the Attic’s biannual open-mic shootout, in which winners of the weekly contests face off for the top prize of $1,000. Eddie was the host. If you ever get the chance to be a judge for this event, I suggest you take it. Not only are the drinks and food on the house, but you also get a ringside seat for musicians who can’t believe their luck that they’re playing this stage. And you get to watch Eddie in action, and marvel how a little second-story room across from a Chick-fil-A could conjure so much magic, night after night after night.