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Rock around the clock

Working-class musicians toil their way to the top

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Singer/songwriting mega-star John Mayer used to work the door at Eddie's Attic. Cat Power served pizza at the old Fellini's in Little Five Points. And rap producer Lil Jon hosted his own radio mix show on WRFG-FM (89.3). Long before blowing up, emerging artists put in work as regular mopes with 9-to-5s -- just like the rest of us. Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to hang out with the band after the gig? Well, perhaps you do so all the time and fail to realize it. CL Staff Photographer Joeff Davis offers snapshots of six local musicians in various stages of their music careers as they each give us a taste of their reality. Who knows? One day this, too, could be the stuff of legend.

1 Blake Parris: Soda Jerk

When he's not on the road with Soda Jerk, bassist/vocalist/songwriter Blake Parris is usually working at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club. "One day Mayor Franklin came in with a few people after a dedication of Findley Plaza," he recalls. "They sat at the round table in the back while one of her [security] men sat at the back bar and at the window table. This good ol' boy comes in, hootin' an' hollerin' something like, 'Yeah, get 'er done, Shirley!' She smiled and nodded as he told her he was gonna send her over a shot of Jäger. The 'Men in Black' just stared at the guy. She looked at the shot, sniffing it, asking someone at the table what it was. Shortly after, they left and there sat the lonely shot of Jäger. And me, hating to see a shot of Jäger go to waste ... someone had to drink it."

–  Lee Valentine Smith

2 Eddie Meeks: solo rapper

"I am a facilities coordinator for Web.com," says Eddie Meeks when asked what he does for a living. For years, you could find Meeks rocking the stage at rap shows, either solo or with his group, Prophetix. But nowadays, that happens with less frequency. "I'd like to say my music career [is more important]," he says. "But unfortunately, due to the fact I have a wife and three daughters, my day job is very important right now, because that's what pays bills. My oldest daughter is in college, and my other two kids are in first grade and kindergarten at private schools. I'd like to say that hip-hop paid for it, but I'd be lying."

–  Mosi Reeves

3 Chase: the Heart Attacks

Chase has been touring around the country since his glam-punk band, the Heart Attacks, released Hellbound and Heartless on Epitaph last fall. But when the group isn't on the road, you can find the singer at Midtown diner Eats. "I'm a manager at Eats. Basically, everybody that works there is under me. I run that joint," he says. "I work at the register sometimes, I cut up chicken and I shake pasta." Then he admits, "I'm not really a manager. I lied about that." All jokes aside, Chase says Eats is a key component of his rock 'n' roll lifestyle. "My boss is really flexible," he says. "He lets me go on tour, come back and work, and pick up shifts whenever I need to."

–  Mosi Reeves

4 Soul: Crop Circle

Soul, lead singer for the funk-rock band Crop Circle, utilizes a variety of hustles to finance his music career. "I'm the store manager for Peppermint Music, I'm a real estate investor and I make wine," says Soul. "I started bottling wine myself. It's like a homemade type of deal. I picked up on making homemade wine, and a friend tasted it. It snowballed from there, so I started bottling it and selling it." It seems like a lot of work, but Soul says it's worth it if he can continue to perform professionally. "It's the love for the music. That's the driving force, and always has been since I was a kid," he says.

–  Mosi Reeves

5 Blake Guthrie: singer/songwriter

"I've been in the food-service industry, as a cook or a server, for many years," says acerbic singer/songwriter Blake Guthrie, a fixture of the Decatur folk scene since 1998. The witty wordsmith, who bears a striking resemblance to the actor Chuck Norris, has worked at Twain's Billiards and Tap since last November. "I was a regular and when I found out they were expanding into a brewpub, I asked for a job because I was broke from trying to be a full-time musician. I'm serving people at both jobs, but with music I'm serving up my creations, not someone else's. I actually did wait on Chuck Norris once. He was very nice, a generous tipper, but he looked nothing like me."

–  Lee Valentine Smith

6 Susanne Gibboney: Lust/Tiger! Tiger!

Susanne Gibboney of flamboyant punk trio Lust and noir-garage rockers Tiger! Tiger! has been a fixture of the Atlanta rock scene since the late 1980s. The caustic multi-instrumentalist has a degree in biochemistry but her part-time retail job at Junkman's Daughter in '88 quickly turned into a full-time position, while introducing her to members of most of her present and former bands. "It's much better to work with someone you'll be in a band with," she says. "You really learn their personalities and how to deal with them." Putting an ad in the paper for bandmates, she says, "is like looking for a husband in the classifieds."

–  Lee Valentine Smith


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