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Interview with Kathy Kirbo, June 12, 2018

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:08 - Move to Athens and introduction to the music scene

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Partial Transcript: I just want to start by asking you when you moved to Athens and what you were like when you arrived.

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes moving to Athens in 1982 to attend college at the University of Georgia. She describes playing in various bands including The Variations and Greenhouse where she played guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocals. She also mentions her current job as the director of an environmental organization that restores coral reefs and marine habitats.

Keywords: Greek life; Love Tractor; R.E.M.; Reef Ball Foundation; The Downstairs; conservative; education; legacy; marine sciene; progressive; psychology

00:06:38 - Experience in Greenhouse (band)

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Partial Transcript: So, tell us about how you started Greenhouse.

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes starting the band Greenhouse with Billy Callaway and other musicians. She discusses how the band was originally eccentric and artsy before it shifted to alternative rock with jazz, country, and hip hop influences after Callaway left. She mentions how the band debuted in the late 1980s and continued into the mid-1990s in Athens.

Keywords: Ben Mize; Bouzouki; Jay Ring; Jeff Walls; Mike Mills; Paul Hammond; song writing

00:13:27 - Touring and recording

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk a little bit more about touring, playing?

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes her experience with Greenhouse on tours, discussing the difficulty of getting paid. She talks about recording cassettes with Jeff Walls and Mike Mills. She describes how Greenhouse evolved over the years, highlighting the bands ability to switch instruments, singers, and songwriters. She explains how Greenhouse broke up due to conflicts between members.

Keywords: Full Moon Studios; South by Southwest; colleges; concerts; contracts; performance; shows

00:25:36 - Working on political campaigns and organizing benefit concerts

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Partial Transcript: I always like to ask people what kind of jobs they were doing while they were playing in bands.

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo discusses working on numerous political campaigns to make money while playing in bands. She describes managing Gwen O'Looney's Athens mayoral campaign which succeeded in mobilizing the music scene. Kirbo talks about organizing numerous benefit concerts for various political campaigns and the local homeless shelter.

Subjects: Clean City Program; Marc Wetherhorn; R.E.M.; Women's March; election; fundraising; politics; voter data

00:39:02 - Playing in Jackpot City

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Partial Transcript: When you first starting playing with the group, was it first called Wet or was it already called Jackpot City?

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes joining Jackpot City which was originally an all female band (men joined later). She talks about their difficultly recording an album. She discusses memorable shows, mentioning technical problems, bad weather, and misunderstandings. Kirbo explains how the band stayed together for fifteen years before breaking up after they finished their CD.

Keywords: Alice Graceland; Fundamental Records; Kelly Noonan; Mamie Fike; Savannah, Georgia; benefit concerts; cancer; headphones; media; microphones

00:55:04 - Recent projects and music education

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Partial Transcript: We still talk about playing.

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo discusses her continued involvement in the Athens music scene, playing with Mamie Fike, Kelly Noonan, the Spinoffs, and the Interstellar Boys. She describes learning to play guitar and bass at a young age, and she talks about performing with her older brother's band when she was 14. Kirbo also discusses growing up on a farm in Roswell, Georgia.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Potluck Performances; Vic Chesnutt; childhood; family; gigs; rural

01:01:42 - Women in the Athens music scene

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Partial Transcript: So, I want to just ask about women in the scene.

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes the limited number of women involved in the Athens music scene, mentioning Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Kelly Noonan, and Mamie Fike, She talks about the problem of sexism, but she states that she had positive experiences with the men in her bands. Kirbo discusses the increased involvement of women in the music scene over the years. She also talks about when Greenhouse opened for the B-52s.

Keywords: 40 Watt; Flagpole Magazine; Nu├ži's Space; female musicians; gender roles; girls

01:07:49 - Impact and evolution of the Athens music scene

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Partial Transcript: Well, looking back over all this time that you have been association with the scene...

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes how the music scene expanded Athens' culture and brought interesting people to town. She discusses how the music scene has changed to incorporate a larger variety of music and people. She highlights the impact of music business infrastructure, talking about Michael and Herb Guthrie who mentored young musicians and taught them about sound.

Keywords: Michael Guthrie; band promotion; cosmopolitan; food; instrument rental; music stories; sound systems; women

01:12:53 - Preferred musical equipment

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Partial Transcript: Well, I always like to ask about people's favorite gear.

Segment Synopsis: Kirbo describes the various guitars and basses she plays. She also talks about amps. She discusses her love of pedals for guitar and bass that distort the sound in various ways. She mentions her recent development of a solar powered pedal charger.

Keywords: Johnny Buckner; batteries; innovation; instruments; music gear; technology