Perhaps the only consistent truth about bands in college towns is that they're always in transition. After a couple of years - especially when there's a graduation or two in the picture - the musicians get restless to move on with their lives. The reasons they started playing together in the first place get trampled in the inevitable march of time.
It's with this badge of certainty that we say goodbye this week to General Oglethorpe & the Panhandlers, a group that formed a little less than three years ago and took acoustic pop to delightfully bizarre and colorful places.
Leaving behind a terrific full-length album (Whistle the Dirges) and a great EP (North of the River), General O is playing a farewell show Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Sparetime.
"There is sadness," explains founding singer/guitarist Devin Smith, "but it's almost more satisfaction. We got out of it a lot of what we intended to. This was my first band, my first project, so I've learned everything I need to do it again."
Smith, who has a SCAD degree in film, is decamping for Los Angeles to try his luck with both music and movies.
"I know we all wanted to make an album - we made an album, we made an EP, and now we're finishing up a couple of singles in time for the release show. We also wanted to go on tour, which was awesome.
"I think we all wanted to get to the point where we were making money from it, for sure."
But that didn't happen, and when the band got back from last spring's 17-date swing through the South, the reality of "making a living" loomed large.
"‘Run its course' is a good way to put it," explains Anna Chandler, she of the accordion, musical saw, occasional guitar and co-lead vocals. "After the amount of time we put into it, we were wanting to reap a little more from it. To see a little more from it. The tour was great, but there was no way we could sustain ourselves without getting jobs."
General Oglethorpe & the Panhandlers began as an after-school whim. Once Smith and Chandler met and discovered a mutual appreciation for Modest Mouse, the Decemberists and other quirky, quasi-literary bands, they would sit on Smith's front porch, or in Chandler's dorm room, and write songs.
First to come aboard the new project was drummer Duncan Iaria.
He plays with Sins of Godless Men (formerly Howler), but even that isn't a full-time thing. "I've just been more focused on school, honestly," Iaria says. "I'm working on finishing up my thesis, hopefully next quarter I'll be done with it and be finished with school."
Both Iaria and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Wilson are studying web design and video game development. Wilson, a classically-trained pianist, teaches piano at his home and is looking forward to re-entering the world of theater, which he loved in high school.
Bass player Crystina Parker, the last to join General O, suffered another blow recently when her other musical partner, Britt Scott, left town. Along with Chandler, the three performed as the Lovely Locks.
Now that group's gone, too, and Parker says she's got a "clean slate" and is hunting up a new project.
Chandler, who has degrees in illustration and creative writing, is freelancing public relations work, writing music, and "looking for a job."
As for Smith, big bad L.A. beckons. "Savannah's got a ton of talented, driven people," he reflects. "But in L.A., you're forced to do your best, all the time, because you can't slack off. I'm looking forward to that.
"Savannah is such a content city. You're at home here, it's easy to be comfortable, brick streets, moss and porches ... I'll miss the porches the most."
General Oglethorpe & the Panhandlers
With Reader, the Popheads
Where: Sparetime, 36 MLK
When: At 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3
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