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The smaller, more intimate scale and lack of an exhibit hall placed the focus on
hanging out.
ATLANTIS WRAP-UP
Southern Confab Adds The Personal Touch
While readers of my initial dispatch from the Atlantis Music Conference may have noted the similarities to other such confabs. But the weekend’s activities underlined why Atlantis enjoys a special niche.

The smaller, more intimate scale and lack of an exhibit hall placed the focus on hanging out, and attendees were visibly relaxed as they schmoozed outside panels at the Hilton (conference HQ), outside venues and at the Ritz-Carlton’s amazing Atlanta Grill.

The music offerings were also generally a cut above the standard fodder of these confabs, and the city’s own robust scene contributed some standouts. PoMo trio Modern Hero stood out, blending classic-rock chops and well-crafted tunes. Their canny cover of the Eurythmics’ "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" garnered almost as much praise as their ferociously sexy drummer, Carmen.

An array of local funk and hip-hop got fists pumping in the air at the Echo Lounge, where the "Kaleidoscope" scene showed its considerable vitality. At the Red Light Caf, Native Atlanta singer-songwriters like Brian Webb (now relocated to Boston) and Cody ChesnuTT (now an L.A.-based Wheels favorite) charmed a small but noisy crowd.

On Saturday, I joined some veterans of the new-media wars for a panel about "Online Success Stories" and found my fellow panelists’ enthusiasm for the possibilities in the digital sphere undimmed. There was general unanimity on the necessity for thinking of the Net as a "tool" rather than salvation for unsigned and independent artists; the one contentious note was struck when we discussed the value of file-swapping programs for viral marketing. The audience was clearly divided on this issue, with several claiming they’d upped their fanbase using Napster-like services and others obviously worried about "giving away" their material.

It was an unusually lively, open exchange—kudos to moderator Sam Perlman of Performance-To-Go and my fellow panelists: Shawn Garrity of Celebrity Access, Kevin Morrissey from The Morrissey Group/TMG Tracking and Ted Heinig of 26.2 Music.

Saturday night’s whirlwind of showcases was followed by another Atlantis staple, the Karaoke afterparty, which kicked off at 2 a.m. and went until well after 4. With shots of Jim Beam and other accelerants, a stream of conference organizers and others gleefully tossed aside their dignity and butchered everything from "Stand By Your Man" to "I Wanna Be Sedated." I blush to admit that I, too, stumbled onstage for a number—hey, free booze works wonders—before the ensemble finale encompassing "I Will Survive" and other chestnuts.

It was a perfect wind-up for a conference that emphasized fun and spontaneity over formality. Big ups to organizer/facilitators Rich Levy, Mark Willis, Kathy Gates and Tara Murphy. We’ll be back next year.

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