H T love doing this, and I hope I can continue to do this for a
X long time," says Karen Sweeney, Athens scenester and co-
owner of the Caledonia Lounge.
"It feels good at the end of the day to know that you're
working for yourself," adds busy business partner Kaya Yamashita.
"Even though it's difficult and time-consuming, at the end of the
day it's worth it."
This week marks the first anniversary of the opening of the
burgeoning music venue on West Clayton Street, and the place
should be hoppin' like mad with a half dozen of the strongest
local rock bands on the calendar, including The Glands, The Tom
Collins, National Anthem, Jackpot City and The Possibilities. It's
been a successful year with its share of bumps and hardships, typ
ical of any local music club (burglaries, alcohol licensing night
mares, equipment breakdowns, music business bullshit), but the
club has emerged as one of the vital live-music clubs in Athens.
"This was something we had talked about doing for a long
time, something we both knew we could do," says Yamashita, who
relocated to Athens from Atlanta in 1991. "When the opportunity
presented itself, we jumped on it."
"One of the most difficult things I've found about running a
club is dealing with booking agents," states Sweeney, who moved
to Athens in 1989 to attend UGA. "I think a lot of the big ones
didn't believe that we were a real rock club, and I still think some
of them won't take us seriously."
Both clubowners are extremely serious about success. Neither
is at all hung up on profit margins and quick schemes. Rather,
both are focused on running a legitimate, unpretentious music
club propelled by good sound, an adventurous calendar and
Sweeney and Yamashita became heavily involved in the bar
and music scene by the mia-'90s through working at The Grill, The
Atomic Music Hall, The Manhattan Cafe and Jittery Joe's. Joey
Tatum, proprietor of The Manhattan Cafe, purchased the Caledonia
building in spring 1999, and with the help of local carpenter Chris
Purcell began renovating it.
The 40 Watt Club resided at that location from late 1986 until
1989. Just like today, patrons entered behind the building off of
the Pulaski Street parking lot through the "beer garden."
"Older clubgoers constantly make mention of the ol' days when
this used to be the 40 Watt," laughs Sweeney. "It drives me nuts
"There have been more ups than downs," says Yamashita. "But
I understand a lot more about the indie music scene than I ever
did before, and I always get excited about seeing different
bands—especially local bands we know well; there's something
familial about it that's more relaxed and less stressful."
Although neither Sweeney nor Yamashita will admit they've
established a vital venue among the dozen medium- and small
sized clubs in the local scene, both are quick to boast about the
solid camaraderie among music-related businesses in Athens—an
unusual phenomenon for any competitive music scene.
"I don't think people in Athens realize how much all the clubs
talk to each other," says Sweeney. 'For instance, if we had a great
band, we would tell Tasty World or the 40 Watt or other clubs, and
they'd do the same in return. We all kind of feed off each other
This is the first of a series profiling local clubs.
WHAT; Caledonia Lounge's Birthday
WHERE; Caledonia Lounge
WHEN: August 10-12
HOW MUCH: Call
2041 W. Broad Street • 353-1218
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