While most sought refuge from the unrelenting 90-degree heat, dedicated fans of Timi Conley & the Wonderland Rangers took to the street in front of the Southern Brewing Main Stage to sweat and dance their hearts out.
Conley, a well-known presence in the Athens art and music community and frontman for a series of musical projects, led the six-person group on AthFest’s main stage beginning at 1:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Previewing songs from its new album, including its title track “Baby’s Bread,” the group kept the energy high despite the bright sun. While each song highlighted Conley’s versatile guitar playing skills, the set also showcased their vast musical range be it singer Shelley Lotus’ melodic harmony with Conley or drummer Andrew Hanmer’s driving rhythm throughout.
With a straw hat and black suspenders, Athens resident Chuck Harper was the first to begin dancing in the middle of the street as he jammed out to the group’s opening song.
Harper began listening to Conley over 20 years ago and came to AthFest specifically to hear Conley.
According to Harper, his favorite song is “Lightning Strike” because it makes him feel like John Travolta in “Saturday Night Live.”
Soon after, a young boy in a Germany soccer jersey and Kerry Fulford, owner of Athens Yoga Therapeutics on Prince Avenue, joined in with youthful exuberance and pure joy.
“It’s crazy, it’s been like a sweat lodge,” Fulford said about dancing. “I needed to do a spring cleanse so this is it. There’s part of me that likes it, but only for a short time.”
Fulford began listening to Conley when she first moved to Athens in the ‘90s and has followed him since. However, she particularly enjoys his collaboration with Wonderland Rangers.
“This particular mix is amazing to me. You’ve got enough to dance to, enough groove and enough dreamy quiet stuff,” Fulford said. “It’s just something about the alchemy of the blend, it’s just really nice.”
With the pavement becoming a stage of its own and the beating sun acting as a spotlight, fans of Conley and the Wonderland Rangers gave a whole new meaning to the term dancing in the street.