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Corndog day afternoon 

David Railey's down-home music fest sees another year

As he juggles multiple shows this month, musician and music-scene activist David Railey is a man on the move. The ninth Corndogorama festival is not the only upcoming project Railey's got on his mind; he is also planning the next Independent Georgia festival -- a music, arts and film round-up -- scheduled for early October. The more down-home Corndog bash, originally held at Dottie's, offers a folksy, country-fair atmosphere and showcases a host of talented local bands. Railey describes it as "just something that doesn't mean anything, except having a good time. I think that is why it works. Plus, where else can you see 28 bands for $5?"

Indeed. But Railey says the fair was never intended as a reaction against other local music festivals. "People thought for years that Corndog was the 'anti-Atlantis,' when it really wasn't. The whole idea that a songwriter or band from Atlanta somehow has to go through [the industry-related music festivals] to have a career in music, is simply not true. In your town, it's up to you to just do something, not with apathy and bitterness, but with good old-fashioned creativity, originality and vision."

This year, Corndogorama spans two days, inside and outside of The Earl in East Atlanta. A slew of hard-rocking bands play Friday night while Saturday features more pop-oriented fare. Saturday afternoon will also feature field-day activities in the parking lot. Beer will flow, literally, as the malt beverage plays an important role in many of the outdoor games, especially the "Beer Factor," which starts at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"It's like TV's 'Fear Factor,'" Railey explains, "except there's beer involved." Plastic kiddie pools will be filled with beer and contestants will then vie to see who can swim the most laps in the foamy froth. "It's all based on what people do on 'Fear Factor' for money, but this is a lot milder."

In addition to overseeing the spectator sports, Railey will perform in bands both nights. His '90s-era band Ancient Chinese Secret plays a rare reunion show Friday, while his current band, American Dream, plays Saturday night. The group has played a different venue every week this month.

"A lot of bands -- and this is probably smarter -- don't play but every three to six months in Atlanta," Railey says. "But until we tour nationally, I just want to play as much as possible." Since the second American Dream album was released last year, the guitarist says he has written enough material for two more full-length albums. Now, with a new band lineup, Railey says he is having fun again and preparing for a September release of a disc full of new material. "Now it's just a matter of finding a label," he says. "If not, then we'll just do it ourselves."

The do-it-yourself mindset is nothing new to Railey. "I come from that early punk Atlanta scene where if you really wanted to do something, you could," he says. "I remember my first show at the White Dot in '88. Deacon Lunchbox gave me a slot at his songwriter night, not because I had a big hype, but because I could name the whole cast of 'The Dukes of Hazzard.'"

Railey won't take credit for the idea of Corndogorama, and insists that the event really belongs to the entire independent scene. "This is everybody's festival. This is what everybody could do, all the time, or at least once a month, if they really gave a shit." The success of the previous eight editions of the enduring free-for-all speaks volumes about its popularity. Says Railey, "There's this underlying apathy in our scene to think it's not gonna be good or enjoyable, but when they show up it's like, 'Wow, man, we had no idea this was actually gonna be fun.'"

And yes, there will be corndogs. Many, many corndogs.

lee.smith@creativeloafing.com

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