31 January 2023

[Local Business Spotlight] - Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill: Covington's Live Music Destination Location


7189 Turner Lake Rd 
Covington, GA 30014

Covington, GA's Live Music Destination Location

By: MB McCart, Editor 

As this publication has written about a time or two over the years, Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill is one of Covington's favorite spots. With a "Cheers" type vibe where everybody knows your name, an amazing staff & some of the best food in the home city, perhaps the the best part of this wonderful establishment is its support & prioritizing of local live music. 

Every Friday & Saturday night, as well as most Sunday afternoons, local music lovers can catch live shows from a variety of artists performing multiple genres. 

All one need to do to realize this is to check out their top-notch & busy music schedule for the month of February. 

Here we go: 

Friday February 3rd, 9pm - Cornbread 

Some real-deal Country right here, this crew is one the regular favorites at Five O'Clock. 

Always high energy - always a big time. If you're in the mood for some of that good, classic stuff, this is a must-see show! 

Saturday February 4th - Spanky's Monkey - music starts at 9pm 

This well known & highly regarded power trio will be bringing their high-octane Rock & Roll back to the bar & folks are excited as this is always an exciting show. 

This band has been around since back in the day & always impress w/ their ability to sound more like a five-piece & then also for their knack of breaking out some nice deeper-cut rockers as well as hitting on a few other genres. 

Mainly, more than anything - it's PARTY! music. 

Spankey's Monkey - Tearin' It Up!

Sunday February 5th - The C-Town Blues Revue 


If It's Good To Ya' - Sho gotta be good for Ya'!

In the spirit of full journalistic disclosure, your semi-esteemed Editor is a part of this Acoustic Blues group & I'm proud of it. 

Playing on Sunday from 3 to 6pm - what we affectionately & humorously refer to as The Old Folks Show - this band features 20-yr old guitar prodigy Ethan Rogers as well as one of the best Real-Deal Blues singers you'll ever likely see around here - the one & only Kiley Kemp. 

Playing tunes ranging from Albert King, BB King, Howlin' Wolf & Muddy Waters to Hendrix, SRV, Willie, Zeppelin & all points in between, this is a superior musical experience. 

Bonus points: Larry Germain of Fat Matt's Rib Shack fame will be sitting in on acoustic bass! 

Friday February 10th - Joe Olds Band

Joe Olds -This guy's Legit, Y'all! 

Joe Olds, who is a self-proclaimed Country Boy at heart, is known all over Georgia for his bonafide country stylings & voice that will "take you to Nashville" every, single time. 

Add to that a kicking band that doesn't miss a beat & you will see why Joe is one of the most popular live musicians in the Georgia Piedmont. 

You won't want to miss this one, folks. And usually when he plays at The Five, it fills up fast. Consider calling 770-385-3060 to make reservations. 

Saturday February 11th - Stand Up Comedy Night 

Yes, that's right. It's not just live music that you might find at Five O'Clock, they're known for having some comedy shows & showcases here & there as well. 

Some of you may remember that C-Town's own & touring Comedian Matt Lumpkin did a show w/ a fellow performer just a few months ago. 

Greg & them are real excited about this one as this Showcase features 7 different comedians performing multiple sets. 

Like to laugh? Better ease on down on Saturday the 11th. 

Sunday February 12th, 3 to 6pm - Payne & Trouble

(Followed by the Five O'Clock Super Bowl Party & Extravaganza!)

This unique & extremely talented trio has developed a strong following all throughout our neck of the woods. With nice & well-phrased playing as well as some beautiful vocal harmonies, what really sets these guys apart is their mix of songs. 

They can hit you w/ some really nice originals, turn around & do some Eagles & then surprise you w/ Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" (have you ever heard that one covered around here?). 

I know several musicians & music lovers who always make a point to check these guys out as they usually play at least a Sunday every month or so at The 5. 

Payne & Trouble


--Look for a second piece here at TPC in approx two weeks that will contain expanded write-ups of the entertainment for the last two weeks of February at Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill-- 

In the meantime, here's the schedule for the last two weeks of February: 

Friday February 17th - Upgrade Band - Real Deal R&B and Soul Music

Saturday February 18th - Chris, Jon & Scott - One of my (and everybody's) favorite local groups! 

Sunday February 19th - Hunter Grayson - such a talented young man w/ big things going on

Friday February 24th - The One. The. Only! 

 A M Y   R A E!!!

By all accounts - She KILLED IT at their last show!

(And look out for a future dedicated piece in this space on this amazing talent)

Saturday February 25th - Dirty Truth 


So again, look out for that upcoming piece that will have expanded write-ups for each these acts performing the final two weeks of this month, & keep an eye out for TPC's upcoming advertising campaign for Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill (and remember to check out their Facebook page at the first of every week to check out their delicious & nicely priced lunch specials). 

Alright, gang, until next time! 

MB McCart 

24 January 2023

Saying So Long to The Bitteroots: A Fitting Farewell to a Great Band

 By: MB McCart, Ed. 

This past Saturday, the 21st of January, this author was able to attend the farewell performance of one of my all time favorite groups - The Bitteroots

The Bitteroots
Photo by Kelly Thompson Photography
(use w/ express permission)

As bassist & founding member Bill Taylor said - capturing my sentiments exactly - while this was certainly a celebration of a great 15 years & its corresponding legacy, it was, ultimately, a "bittersweet" moment. 

I'll never forget the first time I came across this kickass crew. January of 2016. Quite simply by chance, the Missus & I had taken a road trip to Milledgeville, GA to stay the night & check out the scene & came across this incredible group that we'd later learn had a fellow Covingtonian in it - the aforementioned Mr. Taylor. 

The sounds were sensational, and the songs were excellent. 

The Bitteroots perform at their Farewell Show @ Eddie's Attic 1/21/23

Over the years I've followed The Bitteroots intently & have written about them a time or two, or three or maybe even four in this space (also wrote about them in my old Covington News column). 

When I heard the news that after a decade & a half the band had decided to call it a day, I was certainly sad; however, when we found out that they were going to be doing a farewell concert, I immediately told my wife (this was months ago) - "we've got to go to this!" 

And so we, along w/ my brother & his wife, did. 


I've been to some killer shows over the years dating back to the late 80s. Some highlights would include The Who in 1989; Page & Plant in '94; Willie Nelson in 2006 at The Tabernacle & several dozen others. 

The show we witnessed this past weekend was high on the list. Like, probably Top 10. Seriously. 

It was such a great way for such a great group to go out. On Top. Kicking Rock & Roll ass w/ reckless abandon. 



The Bitteroots formed in 2008 & was comprised of Mike Davis, Michael Koetter, Daniel Shockley & Bill Taylor. Bill & Mike, on bass & drums, respectively, would be the two band mainstays throughout the years & were always an amazing rhythm section. 

Early on, the band was mainly just a vehicle for hanging out & jamming, playing the occasional show here & there. It was a few years later when the magnificent Laura Dees joined as lead singer that the band really got going. 

The One & Only - Laura Dees

Later, the other key pieces of the puzzle - Derron Nuhfer on sax & the incomparable Kyle Bryant on guitar - is what lead to The Bitteroots really blossoming & becoming one of the top bands in Georgia. 

Over the years the band would add & lose pieces, sort of a natural ebb & flow you see w/ many bands that make it for the long haul, and there were others who also contributed along the way including guitarist Greg Sims until the final incarnation for the last few years would see guitar gunslinger PJ Poellnitz join Davis, Dees, Nuhfer & Taylor as the final edition.

Well, at least until the final show...

Saturday 21 January 2023 

As I said at the top, this really was one of the better shows I'd ever seen. 

Original drummer Mike Davis was unavailable, so Michael Beavers, a well known, highly regarded local drummer, filled in, w/ the ace in the hole being the addition of Allgood percussionist Rob Sumowski (that dude was LIT!). 

It was really great, too, to see Kyle Bryant join the band for a few as well as Greg Simms. 

From those opening notes of This Town, that old familiar feeling returned, and the band proceeded to get a couple hundred thousand feet above sea level for the next almost two hours. 

The played all of the classic hits - Memo, Defenseless, Desperate, Try Me Again, et al, but they also broke out some deep cuts (Pete from their second album) & some newer tracks (Let's Go amongst a couple of others). 

While the band had always developed a reputation for playing at least a handful of great & eclectic covers in each show (The Meters, Huey Lewis, Springsteen, Zeppelin & all points in between), they decided that for this one - the last one - they'd only do one. They went w/ a great selection - Dolly's Jolene

Saturday's Set List

And by the time you got to hearing about that 'Preacherman' in the finale the crowd was lathered up into a righteous frenzy.

Again, it was just outstanding. 

You can listen to the soundboard mix of the show here if you'd like. 

The Road Ahead

For starters, in my interview w/ him on Sunday, Bill basically said never say never & he's thinking that you might just see a reunion show a few years down the line. 

For the record - I think that'd be a fine idea. 

Also, you may see one more album release - perhaps a mastered live version of this show - fairly soon. 

As for the players, 

As some of you reading this may know, per usual, Bill will be keeping himself busy w/ his multiple other music projects as will Derron, who stays busy playing, but especially working the controls in the studio. PJ is actively on the market for a new project & w/ his skill set I don't think he'll have any trouble finding something that suits him. 

And then that takes us to Laura. That incredible force of nature. As I understand it, she may be taking a break from the music. I sure hope it's not for too long. 

I'll go w/ Bill's words the day after the show to close this piece: 

Last night was our 200th show and our 40th show at Eddie’s Attic. After everyone had left last night, we were all out on the Eddie’s Attic patio, and we all raised our glasses to the fun times, incredible shows, memories and stories from road trips, favorite moments, favorite shows & writing songs. We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more. There were truly so many high points with this band over the years.
But mostly, last night was about friendship. Many times in the past, I would enjoy the road trip just as much as playing the show. So many miles and miles of laughing and telling jokes and listening to music.
There were a lot of laughs, memories, stories, tears, magic, and love in that room last night. It was truly a special night to close out 15 years of this amazing band and chapter of my own personal musical journey.
Thanks to all the fans who supported us for so many years. You are the ones that made this all happen made it so much fun for us.
Thanks again everyone for an incredible 15 years. I will cherish the memories.

Long Live The Bitteroots!

- MB McCart

16 January 2023

[TPC REAL History] -- Card Game Gone Bad: Murder on The Covington Square in 1888

By MB McCart, Ed. 

As has been documented in this space as well as the TPC print editions in both About Covington to Madison magazine & The Covington News, by the 1880s, Covington - now at around 60 yrs old - had developed into a "Boomtown" of sorts. 

Lots of activity, lots going on, and much to the chagrin of the Temperance Movement, lots of drinking & gambling.  

Covington, GA 

As previously written by your humble, semi-esteemed Editor: 

An interesting and little-known aspect of Covington's history was mentioned in my very first column. By the 1880s, Covington had become somewhat of a “wild west town” and had upwards of a dozen saloons and drinking establishments. Some of these included hotels and general stores, but several were just straight-up whiskey joints where cards could be played and various types of “entertainment” could be found. Liquor could also be bought by the bottle at general stores and druggist shops. The increasing influence of alcohol did start to cause some problems and by 1882, when a man named Will Smith killed two men after drinking and playing cards, the prohibition movement started to pick up some serious steam in Covington and Newton County. 

So after that you're probably assuming that I'll be writing about the Will Smith affair (Wild, Wild West, indeed!) but you'd be incorrect in that assumption. I'll be saving that for a later piece. 

No, for this one we're going six years into the future - to 1888 - and the story of CH "Charles" Echols and the attempted murder Samps Cohen & the murder of Tom Thomas

The Home City in the early 20th Century

On Sunday November 18th of 1888 two "sporting men" (professional gamblers) came to Covington in order to make some money playing cards as the city had a strong reputation as a major gambling hub. These gentlemen were Samps Cohen of Madison, GA & Tom Thomas of Gainesville. 

The two were planning on staying for a few days so they took a room at The Pitts House Hotel on the southeastern corner of the Square (the current site of The Lula Building & American Real Estate University). 

Two days later, on the evening of November 20th, a high-stakes, big-money poker game was commenced at Brown's Livery a block north of The Square on Usher St. This game was attended by the aformentioned Messrs Cohen & Thomas, as well as locals Ike Brown, Evan Lunsford, Hamp McDonald - and most notably,  - CH "Charles" Echols. 

This poker game would last well into the overnight hours ending approx around 3:30am. Previously, Echols had left due most likely to being out of money & went to McDonald's Clothing Store, where he & Hamp McDonald (his family owned it) were employed, purportedly to go to sleep. 

However, McDonald later testified that he ran into Echols right around 3:30am as he was heading to the store to sleep & assumed that Echols was going walk home to go to sleep. 

According to eyewitness accounts, Echols walked east across the Square & met Cohen & Thomas, and asked if they could play another poker game or two, and to possibly spend the night in their room (apparently Echols had gotten some additional funds to be able to play). 

The out-of-town Sporting Men agreed & the three were seen by witnesses  going to the upstairs room. 

Cohen had instructed the hotel staff to wake them at 6:30am. 

When an employee went to their room at that time, a gruesome scene was seen. Thomas was leaned up against a wall completely covered in blood from his head to his waist "breathing in guttural, sobbing gasps." Samps Cohen, the Madisonian, was on the bed also covered in blood w/ his "eyes rolled backward until only the whites were visible, and he was tossing & moaning in delirious agony." 

Medical help & assistance from the authorities was quickly sent for. Eventually two local doctors were on the scene to try to save the lives of both men, which seemed likely would be a tough task. Also, a basic investigation was begun. 

Tom Thomas, the North Georgia man, was too far gone. He expired very shortly after the doctors had arrived. But, beyond expectations, Samps Cohen would fight & pull through. 

Almost immediately the murder (and attempted murder) weapon was found in the room - a 3 ft long Wagon Standard made of dogwood (commonly known at the time as a Buggy Stick). 

What, or who, wasn't found was one CH "Charles" Echols... 

After interviews & eyewitness accounts, the authorities put out a warrant for Echols before noontime. And according to one of the hotel porters, he had seen Echols holding a Wagon Standard when he first got to the hotel. 

Echols was quickly arrested & put in jail. 

Naturally, this was already scandalous, but what made it especially scurrilous was that Charles Echols was part of The Echols Family. At the time considered to be one of the most prestigious & wealthy families in the home city (some of you reading may be familiar w/ The Echols House in North Covington, a block north of the RR tracks on Hwy 81). 

One would think based on the previous reading that this would be a slam dunk and Echols would be tried & found guilty of murder. 

Well, you'd be wrong on that...

From the beginning, Echols swore that he ended up changing his mind & decided to leave shortly after getting to the room in order to walk home and that both Cohen & Thomas were perfectly fine when he left. While there were multiple accounts of him having arrived there, no one could swear to whether or not they heard anything or saw Echols leave. At the time, Cohen was in no state to make a declarative statement (and that would continue indefinitely as his injuries would be life-lasting). 

What it came down to really was this - while there was a ton of circumstantial evidence, there seemingly was no direct, "beyond a shadow of a doubt" evidence. 

Later in the trial, an apparently ineffective & incompetent prosecution, along w/ conflicting statements by local Hamp McDonald as well as attempted murder victim Samps Cohen ultimately led to a "Not Guilty" verdict. 

Eventually another charge for assault was filed & Echols was found guilty on that one, but by then he had moved to New York City & for years would actually be considered to be on the lam

It wasn't until 1900 - 12 years later - that the legal issues facing Echols was resolved. When it was all said & done his sentence was suspended & he owed a $1000 fine. 


Just my thoughts, and kind of reading between the lines here, but it seems to me that CH "Charles" Echols most likely got away w/ murder through a combination of incompetency of the authorities as well as perhaps just a general sense of unimportance. After all, the murder victim was from Gainesville. And again, this was a wealthy & well connected family. Perhaps that played a role? Again, just the ole $.02 & all. 

Well, alright, hope you enjoyed that. A little slice of murder is always good for a good read. And look for a dedicated write-up on that other 1880s card game that resulted in murder on The Covington Square down the road here at TPC. 

As always, thanks for reading. 


*Ed. note: most of the research for this piece came the book, "Main Street Covington," w/ additional support from "History of Newton County" & old newspaper articles.