David Barbe, director of the Music Business Program at Terry, answers the question “Why Athens?” in an essay for the Oxford American that introduces its special Georgia Music Issue. 

"Occasionally, I run into people who were here 30 years ago (or 20, or 10) and then left for a more sensible adult pursuit. Inevitably, they ask me if the Athens music scene of today is anywhere near as good as it was in their own halcyon college years,” he writes. "I’ve always given the same response: “It’s even better.” This answer is often met with disbelief. “It can’t be.” “Impossible.” “It was so special then.” It was special then, no doubt about it. Nonetheless, it keeps on growing.”

Barbe explains the unique qualities of the Athens music scene and how it’s changed and endured from R.E.M. to the Drive-By Truckers. He explains how low prices, Southern manners and a the University of Georgia combine to create a dynamic environment that encourages creativity.

The full essay is available to read free online.