Discover R.E.M.'s Hometown of Athens, Georgia
If you've been an R.E.M. groupie since the beginning, you probably know the importance Athens had in fostering their success. Check out some of the most R.E.M. things to do here in Athens, where it all started.
Stop by Wuxtry Records on Clayton Street in the heart of downtown Athens presence to get a sense of the band's origins. Peter Buck worked at Wuxtry, Michael Stipe came in to browse...and the rest is history. This fated meeting went down on the corner of Clayton and College, in a small storefront adjacent to today's larger shop. No doubt about it, though, the current edition of Wuxtry has plenty of retro vibes and serves as a music museum of sorts, with plenty of memorabilia along the walls. Pop into Wuxtry to take in all the history, and maybe even pick up a record or two of old tunes or the newest chart-toppers of today.
Music fans love to trace the steps of R.E.M. at other landmarks, too. Check out the full self-guided Athens Music Tour, or book a guided tour through the Athens Welcome Center. Both tours will include these highlights:
The St. Mary's Steeple
Sometimes more commonly known as the "R.E.M. Steeple," this is definitely a pilgrimage site of sorts for R.E.M. fans or music fans in general exploring Athens. The church, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, was the very first place R.E.M. ever played a show, on April 5, 1980. The church itself does not remain, but the steeple is partially restored.
Bonus Stop: After your photo op by the steeple, head next door to Nuci's Space for a coffee and learn more about this local resource for musicians.
The Georgia Theatre
This music venue has been a staple of the Athens music scene for many years. While it's a common misperception that R.E.M. played regularly at the Georgia Theatre, true diehard fans know that those performance "memories" are actually of the music video for "Shiny Happy People," filmed there, NOT live performances! R.E.M. actually never played an announced show at the Georgia Theatre. However, in October 2001 the band did play an unannounced show opening for another band called the Possibilities.
Bonus Stop: What's playing? Check the Box Office or website to grab your tickets for a performance-- the schedule is usually thick with talent! Head up to the Rooftop for a drink or two it's one of the best places in Athens to watch the sunset.
Athens Music Walk of Fame
The Athens Music Walk of Fame is a two-square-block area in downtown Athens bounded by Pulaski Street, West Washington Street, North Lumpkin Street, and West Clayton Street. Famous musicians from the past century are honored, and it's no surprise that R.E.M. was among the first group of inductees in 2020. The walk passes several renowned music venues in western downtown, including the Morton Theatre, the 40 Watt Club, and the Georgia Theatre.
The Murmur Trestle
This large railroad trestle in Dudley Park has long been known by locals and by R.E.M. fans worldwide as the "Murmur Trestle," thanks to its being featured on the back cover of the 1983 album "Murmur." This site is one of the must-get selfies for R.E.M. pilgrims. CSX Transportation abandoned this portion of its property and early steps of demolition began around 1998, sparking an early outcry across digital media. The city of Athens and R.E.M. fans alike had to fight to have the land purchased back, and so it was in 2000. Thus began an extensive "Rails to Trails" project which lasted over the next two decades, and more. Unfortunately, by the time all funding and plans were lined up, utilizing the original building materials was not structurally sound. Still, the site and style of the Murmur Trestle was incorporated into the multi-use Firefly Trail, which starts right in Downtown Athens and was opened in spring 2023.
No R.E.M. pilgrimage to Athens would be complete without stopping by Weaver D's for lunch. After all, this establishment is responsible for "Automatic for the People". This phrase started out as the simple motto for Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods, but soon turned into the name of an R.E.M hit album when, in 1992, they strolled into the restaurant and asked Dexter Weaver himself. Not only is this place iconic for being the namesake of the album, but it serves up some seriously good soul food - it is a must try.
Take in the nostalgia and history of being in a truly special place when it comes to R.E.M. and their climb to fame - we are proud to be the birthplace of such a legendary band!
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