Some folks shine more brightly than others. Today we lost our dear friend and brother Athon, who distinguished himself, unknowingly, by shining just a little more brightly than the rest of us.
I remember clearly the night I met Athon about 15 years ago. I was a punk rocker, new to Savannah, and I was struggling to find a group of kids who would accept me into their circle. I met Athon one night in the typically trash strewn back alley of a punk-house party on the west side of town. He was the only person there who didn’t stonewall me, or seem to care that I wasn’t a regular; and he immediately offered me a drink, a smoke and an told one of his many off-color jokes (as was his style). Our friendship started that night, but continued to develop over the years as we shared company at many more parties, shows, rehearsal spaces and eventually tours.
When I was a young man, my father cursed/blessed me with the wisdom that “a man is only as good as his word,” a standard I continue my struggle to live up to. For Athon, the embodiment of that idea came as naturally as the intake of air; and he remains one of the few people I’ve ever met who consistently and unquestioningly followed through on every project he set out to do, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. He silkscreened his own band shirts, he was a photographer, a bass player, a carpenter, a drum/bass/guitar builder, a whiskey distiller and a BBQ master of the highest order. He was a genuine, earnest and honest man par excellence; and it would be difficult to make even a perfunctory attempt to list the impact he’s had on everyone around Savannah and the rest of the world. I defy you to find an enemy of his. He was unafraid of telling the hard truths; and while he most definitely liked to see what he could get away with saying, he never spoke a word, however humorous or offensive, without his full conviction.
I’ve had the express pleasure of working with his band Black Tusk on nearly every recording they’ve made, and it was always Athon who had a very clear vision for the look and direction of their album covers, without contradicting my sometimes difficult-to-deal-with artistic eccentricities. He had an easily definable vision as so few seem to have; and I am honored to have been with Black Tusk since their beginning and to watch them grow into the rock-and-roll powerhouse they have become. Athon’s onstage exuberance was a huge part of what drew me to them initially and that pure love of onstage performance had not dimmed over the years, propelling them to tour not only outside of Savannah, but all around the world. I think back on a show we played with Black Tusk last fall in Denmark, and my eyes well up with tears at the reality that the show at Loppen was the final time I’ll ever get to see Athon play that monstrous bass of his. His spirit touched everyone he came across; I spoke to my mother just this morning as she walked around her house, unable to count all the different places Athon had fixed things. In fact, it’s impossible to walk the streets of Savannah without feeling his presence. He truly was a man-about-town, and loved by everyone. He had an insatiable appetite to fix things, an uncompromising honesty, and an enviable ambition to learn new skills. He was a unique person to say the least, hard working till the end, and with a lust for life that sometimes left us all spinning. I don’t know what will happen next, Athon but I wish you were here to be a part of it. I love you buddy.
Welcome Scribbler Metalheads! Unfortunately if you didn’t see or hear already Old Man Feind has some more bad news from this past weekend. On Friday Feind favorites Black Tusk’s bassist/vocalist and all around great person, Jonathon Athon, was involved in a motorcycle accident finally succumbing to his injuries on Sunday. He was known as a Dimebag Darrell type who was always there for family, friends and fans as one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Sadly I never did so I’ll let others speak to that. Today I’d just like to celebrate his music as a fan paying tribute to yet another great loss to the metal community. I’m just glad I have the opportunity here to do so.
As the son of motorcycle enthusiasts and as a former motorcyclist myself I know that far too often people driving a car or truck look right at us then pull out in front of us anyway. No matter how good of a rider you are it’s the people in larger heavier vehicles that most often cause the problem. It seems that was the case Friday when a car plowed into Jonathon Athon as he was out riding his bike. It’s tragic and happens far too often made more frustrating as these accidents are more than preventable 99% of the time of people would JUST PAY THE FUCK ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING! I don’t know a single biker, including myself, that hasn’t at least had a close call because someone looked right the fuck at us then pulled out in front of us anyway! Fuck, you see and stop for fucking pedestrians but a motorcycle is apparently invisible to you fuckers. Sorry for the nastiness but some of my biggest pet peeves are stupidity and wanton ignorance! I’ll get off my soapbox but if you’re in a car seriously be as courteous to bikers as you would any other vehicle out there. Helmet or not the odds of walking away from a car hitting you on a bike unscathed is about as rare as getting struck by lightning twice in the same spot. Please open your eyes, is all I ask on behalf of everyone who has or will ever ride a motorcycle. Now more importantly today, on to some awesome Black Tusk to celebrate the life of the metal brother taken from us far too damn soon!
I was first introduced to Black Tusk through my then and now favorite site for all things metal, the #1 metal news site on the interwebs, Metalsucks. However, when I first heard them they didn’t stick with me right away. Most likely I was distracted or even intended to listen to more and just forgot. Sorry, it happens when you’re constantly on the hunt for new tunes. Sometimes I forget to write something down to comeback to later or lose what I wrote it on, it happens (far too often and even more these days as I just don’t have time to get to everything). So it was prior to the release of Set The Dial that I began to discover Black Tusk. I got hooked on the first early release from ‘Doom and went seeking out what I had missed prior to it. It didn’t take me long to find the awesome Red Eyes, Black Skies from Taste The Sin. Check it out…
Shortly after that Set The Dial came out which I snatched up immediately. It quickly became one of my favorite albums not just by Black Tusk but of any album I own. This album for me is just sludge perfection. Grooves aplenty even holding my attention through several instrumental tracks which I can tell you is a major feat as most instrumental tracks put me right to zzzzzz
Long time friend of Athon probably said it best so I’ll let his words pay tribute better than I can. This is artist/guitarist/vocalist John Baizley of Baroness who did several album covers for Black Tusk through the years.
All that’s left for me is a couple more tunes. RIP Jonathan Athon you were definitely one of metal’s best and will be missed greatly.
If anyone has a story they’d like to share about Black Tusk or Athon himself please feel free to share in the comments below.
Feind created this page to bring you random Scribbles about new music, TV, writing or whatever happens to be on my minds.
Like what we do here? Help The Scribblers improve by supporting the arts.