A woman enjoys the final performance of the 22nd annual AthFest Music and Arts Festival in Athens, Georgia on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Photo/Tony Walsh)

Two different politicians took the stage at this year’s AthFest, delivering a rare sight for this popular music festival. County Commissioner Mariah Parker, stage name Linqua Franqa, took the stage by storm on Friday night to kick off AthFest, and Mayor-elect Kelly Girtz closed AthFest by also making an appearance on stage.

Girtz hopped on stage in a white v-neck shirt with “ATH” spray painted on it in green paint. To the crowd’s disappointment, or maybe to their relief, Girtz was not performing a set like his fellow local politician, Parker. Girtz introduced the final band who performed on the AthFest Hull Stage, Dexter Romweber Duo.

“It’s not AthFest if you don’t get soaked to the gills or lose a few layers of skin,” Girtz said to the audience.

Gritty, deep and booming, Romweber’s voice is unmistakable. Like his voice, it is hard to pin down exactly what genre Romweber performs, but it could be summarized as a powerful and dark rock ‘n roll.

With a bluesy tone and his voice raising to a screech, the duo’s set kept the crowd bobbing and cheering until the end. His performance was in tune with the performances happening at the Southern Brewing Main Stage, keeping with the more blues-y feel for the overall performances of the last day.

Prior to this iconic, bluesy duo, the day started off with the relaxed set of Cortez Garza, an Athens-based singer-songwriter. Although the crowd was sparse up front, people of all ages trickled in toward the tables in the back, chatting with each other between songs.

“It’s not AthFest if you don’t get soaked to the gills or lose a few layers of skin.”

- Mayor-elect Kelly Girtz  

Between the each Americana and folk-infused song, Garza interacted with the audience in a nonchalant tone. He plugged his album “The Low Vibe” and mentioned his recent wins at the Athens Music Awards, including the Best Music Video award for “Immortal.”

“Immortal” was the favorite song of John Bertran, an AthFest attendee, who jammed to the performance in the front row.

“I think Cortez is great. I’ve seen him a couple times around here,” Bertran said.

To spice the performances up, both in genre and in energy, Cicada Rhythm brought upbeat acoustic folk to the stage.

Made up of Georgia natives Andrea DeMarcus on double bass and Dave Kirslis on vocals and electric guitar, Cicada Rhythm attracted the largest crowd by far with the audience filling the street next to the stage. Kirslis sings with a twangy voice, and a roundness in his voice that sounds as if he’s chewing on his words before he delivers the strings of syllables.

Fresh off their New England tour, the duo began their set by wishing Kirslis a happy birthday and playing songs such as “America’s Open Roads,” as well as a new song with a stronger jazz influence.

Attendees Nick Korzenko and Lauren Quast both liked the performance despite arriving later in the show.

“It was really good,” Korzenko said. “I’ve seen them at the Georgia Theatre about a year ago so I know a little about them.”

“I really enjoyed it,” Quast said. “It was the first time I’ve ever heard them play.”

Barely beating out the rain, the third day on the Hull Street Stage showcased local acts, longtime legends in the music industry and a surprise appearance from more politicians than expected.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, Mayor-elect Kelly Girtz was misidentified as the mayor.  The Red & Black regrets this error which has since been fixed.

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