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Abbey Road revisited - The Red and Black : Variety

Abbey Road revisited

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2002 12:00 am

One of the great party-rock legends of the Athens scene will be reunited for a special show tonight at the Georgia Theatre.

In honor of John Lennon's Oct. 9 birthday, The Fuzzy Sprouts will be playing The Beatles' "Abbey Road" album in its entirety.

The band, which has a penchant for performing unconventional shows, first debuted its version of "Abbey Road" in 1996 at the now defunct Washington Street rock club, The Atomic.

"The show was sold out," said guitarist Michael Wegner, who sometimes refers to himself as the fourth Sprout. "The place ran out of beer, too. During the heyday of the band, there was definitely a strong following of Sprouts freaks in town."

The Fuzzy Sprouts formed in 1991 when guitarist Tim Conley and bass player Dave Domizi first moved to Athens. The pair was joined on drums by Domizi's brother, Scott, though he would soon leave the band.

Over the course of The Sprouts' 11-year run, the band would go through an almost Spinal Tap-esque flurry of drummers, including Scott Nutt, Tim Payne, Hayride's Ballard Lesseman and finally Seth Hendershot.

"ABBEY ROAD LIVE"

Where: Georgia Theatre

When: Tonight at 10

Tickets: $5

Information: 549-9918

Wegner joined in 1994 when the band was looking for a second guitarist. He played with the Sprouts regularly for the next five years.

"I was basically a fan who refused to stay in the audience," Wegner said. "Having me in the band freed up Tim's guitar-playing and also allowed the Sprouts to have a band member who doubled as resident stuntman and trouble-maker."

Some of Wegner's death-defying stunts with the Sprouts have included being lowered onto the stage from a 60-foot high cherry-picker while simultaneously playing wireless keyboard, and an AthFest appearance on College Avenue during which he came flying in on a zipline from the 5-story roof of The Grill dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Fuzzy Sprouts has played many wacky gigs, from full costume Halloween parties to roller disco nights at Skate Around USA on the East Side. There also was the semi-infamous event that has become known as "the naked party," Wegner said.

"One time we were playing this outdoor festival and it had been pouring rain, so they moved the show indoors," Wegner said. "Everybody proceeded to strip off their wet clothes and dance to the Fuzzy Sprouts."

Since the band officially broke up last year, they have played two reunion shows, one at the Lumpkin Street bar The Roadhouse and one at the Georgia Theatre.

These days, Conley has been working with his new group, Aqualove, and spending time with his 6-month-old daughter Zoe. Domizi is busy with his instrument repair business, The Fret Shop, and Wegner is playing children's music with the Sunny Side Up Band.

Hendershot, who now teaches drumming in Austin, Texas, will be back in town for the Abbey Road show.

"If I had to sum up the main philosophy of Fuzzy Sprouts, I'd do best to use one of Tim's lyrics," Wegner said. "Nobody's watching me, I think I'll boogie!"

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