July 11, 2008

Event Pays Tribute to Music and Beards

By Peggy Ussery, Dothan Eagle, Ala.

Jul. 11--Do you have a beard? A little peach fuzz?

Well, if you like your music live and your facial hair is visible, then Saturday's BeardFest at Herman's Billiards is custom-made for you. The music fest at the downtown Dothan pool hall will feature at least 15 different bands, including some local groups.

"You're going to have everything here from just straight rock 'n' roll to heavy," said Rod Quintero, who has owned Herman's Billiards for the past 15 months.

BeardFest is the creation of 27-year-old Chad Darkwait of Columbus, Ga. This is the second BeardFest -- Darkwait held the first in Ozark two years ago. Darkwait said he hopes the event will be a positive day for people to come out and have fun.

The music fest's name goes back to the first one, which featured eight bands. Darkwait, who performs with Thrill of a Gunfight, and many of his friends at the time were growing beards. The name seemed to fit.

"It's a tribute not only to beards but to music as well," said Darkwait, who is originally from the Dothan area.

Much of the music will be heavy metal and punk with Musicians from Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.

Bands with names like Kicking Pandora, X-Ray Vision, Avarice, Gametes, Atilla, 213, Before I Say Goodbye, Horcrux, Blackheart and Thrill of a Gunfight are among those performing. There's also Stereohypes, a ska band from Mississippi, and The Debutante Massacre, a piano and vocals duo from the Atlanta area.

"It kind of gives the Dothan kids something to do for a day," Darkwait said.

Darkwait began performing when he was 13. An avid skateboarder, music had always been prominent in his life. When he started playing, Rage Against the Machine was big and inspired his first band's name -- Rage Against the System. Performing has been his passion ever since.

"It was like nothing anything else could give me," he said.

He performed with Christian metal bands until he was about 18. Most of the music he performs now is secular but still in the metal genre. In 2005, he started his own label, Born Dead Records, which has released four albums.

Darkwait said Saturday's BeardFest will include music that will appeal to a broader audience outside of heavy metal. Door prizes will include skateboarding accessories, and the event will also feature a Gnarliest Beard contest.

"Gnarly as in 'I've been at sea for 30 years without a razor,' " Darkwait said.


If you go ...

What? BeardFest 2008

When? Saturday

Where? Herman's Billiards, 110 E. Crawford St., downtown Dothan

What time? Music begins at noon

How much? $12 no beard; $10 with a beard

What else? No alcohol sold on premise. It's a bring-your-own event with an extra door charge to bring alcohol inside ($5 per six-pack of beer; $10 per bottle of liquor).


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