Macon Music

Musical must-sees, venues, festivals and more in Little Richard's hometown

The roots of American music run deep in Macon. Native son Little Richard helped birth rock ‘n’ roll, and Otis Redding, who grew up and started his career here, took soul music to unsurpassed heights. James Brown and the Famous Flames recorded their first demo, “Please, Please, Please,” at Macon radio station WIBB in 1955. In the 1970s, the city became ground zero for Southern Rock when Phil Walden co-founded Capricorn Records in his hometown and assembled a label roster including the Allman Brothers BandMarshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie. Other music-makers who grew up in Macon include Mike Mills and Bill Berry of R.E.M., country superstar Jason Aldean and violin maestro Robert McDuffie. This rich musical heritage provides a solid and storied foundation for a vibrant, multicultural scene today that encompasses venues of all sizes, weekly Rock Candy walking tours, lively Macon Pops events, the indie-focused Bragg Jam, the jam-packed Second Sunday Concert Series on Coleman Hill and much more. Tour haunts of The Allman Brothers, hear live jazz and soul, and see the theater that once hosted Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, and a young Otis Redding.

Below, use the itinerary to find must-see music venues, festivals and more points of interest, and listen to music by local artists in the "Our Macon Picks" playlist.

  • Musical Must-Sees
    Rock Candy Tours
  • Festivals and Venues
    Bragg Jam in Macon, Georgia
  • More Points of Interest
  • Musical Must-Sees

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  • Festivals and Venues

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  • More Points of Interest

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Musical Must-Sees

1. The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House

For a trip back in rock-and-roll time, visit this historic three-story Tudor mansion where members of the Allman Brothers Band, wives, children and roadies lived from 1970 to 1973. Explore the exhibits in The Fillmore East Room where the band’s instruments, outfits and memorabilia are on display, or in The Living Room where Dickey Betts wrote “Blue Sky.” Step into Duane Allman’s carefully recreated bedroom or catch the vibes in the Casbah, the band’s former hangout space. Programming includes intimate indoor performances, book signings and live music outdoors on the grounds.

2. H&H Restaurant

Try the fried chicken at this meat-and-three that nourished the Allman Brothers Band during their lean years. Founder “Mama Louise” Hudson is credited on the liner notes for Idlewild South with the succinct citation “Vittles: Louise.” The H&H has been a destination for musicians and music fans for more than four decades.

3. Otis Redding Statue at Ocmulgee Heritage Trail Gateway Park

A life-size statue immortalizes the iconic American soul singer at Gateway Park on the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail at the corner of Riverside Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The bronze likeness sits overlooking the Ocmulgee River adjacent to the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge.

4. Rock Candy Tours

Rock Candy is owned by Jessica Walden, niece of Capricorn Records impresario Phil Walden, and her husband Jamie Weatherford, two history buffs and music lovers who have the inside scoop on local landmarks. The anectode-rich, music history walking tours feature the Free Birds and Night Owls Tour on Friday nights and the Rock n’ Roll Stroll on Saturday mornings. Private tours and step-on motor coach tours are available.

5. Rose Hill Cemetery

Founded in 1840, this scenic cemetery bordered by railroad tracks on the banks of the Ocmulgee River provided artistic inspiration for the Allman Brothers Band in their early years, as immortalized in their songs "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Little Martha." Today, ABB founding members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are interred side-by-side in the beautiful resting place, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mentioned in this Itinerary

Festivals and Venues

1. Bragg Jam

Held every July, Bragg Jam features a free Arts and Kids Festival by day and by night, the Concert Crawl transforms downtown into a live music mecca. The streets are filled with patrons checking out their favorite bands, discovering new ones and trying to fit in as many shows as possible in one night. The event honors the memory of musicians and brothers Brax and Taylor Bragg and helps support Macon’s Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.

2. GABBAfest

The Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association (GABBA) presents a downhome, laidback festival every autumn for ABB fans from all over the world. The event features live music, tours of the Big House and all of the fellowship of a homecoming celebration with a distinctly groovy vibe. Note all of the mushroom tattoos! Membership in the organization is open to all fans of the Allman Brothers Band.

3. Rhythm & Jazz on the Dock Concert Series

Now in its 17th year, Rhythm & Jazz on the Dock presents local and regional artists in Gateway Park on the banks of the Ocmulgee River. Past acts have included the Freddy Cole Trio, Karen Gordon and Garden City, Jazzana and many more.

4. Second Sunday Concert Series

Held the second Sunday of the month from April through October, the community picnic and concert is held on beautiful Coleman Hill overlooking downtown Macon. Hundreds of people, their kids and pets gather for the free concerts by acts that have included Shawn Mullins, Yacht Rock Schooner, Percy Sledge and more.

5. Cox Capitol Theatre

Macon’s premier live music venue, the Cox Capitol Theatre hosts regional and national touring acts in a historic space that first opened in 1916 to show movies. In 2015, the 650-capacity room hosted concerts by The Lacs, Chris Stapleton, Leon Russell, Wood Brothers, Big K.R.I.T., the English Beat, Marty Stuart and more.

6. Crazy Bull

Named “Country Bar of the Year” by, the Crazy Bull, which celebrated its second anniversary in fall 2015, packs young country fans into three floors of entertainment with recent concerts by Brett Eldredge, Chase Bryant and Jared Ashley.

7. Historic Douglass Theatre

A community venue presenting concerts, events and a variety of films, the historically African American theatre was originally built by Charles Douglass, a shrewd Macon businessman and son of a former slave. In its early years, the Douglass hosted Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, and a young Otis Redding was discovered there during disc jockey Hamp Swain’s weekly Teenage Party talent contests.

8. The Grand Opera House 

As the performing arts center of Mercer University, the Grand Opera House, hosts a robust schedule of concerts, Broadway shows and more. Back to Macon, Georgia, Gregg Allman’s first-ever solo DVD released in 2015, was taped at the Grand and the singer returned to the venue in January 2016 for a historic four-night stand.

9. Grant’s Lounge

With its rich history, soulful vibe and infamous jam sessions, Grant’s is a favorite of musicians and music fans. Opened in 1971 by Edward Grant Sr., the integrated nightclub served as the de facto playground for Capricorn Records and hosted bands including Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Wet Willie. The nostalgic “Wall of Fame” features photos and articles about all of the musicians who have graced the stage for the past 40 years.

10. Hummingbird Stage & Taproom

“The ‘Bird,” as locals refer to it as, has been a standard-bearer for rock and Americana music in Macon for over a decade. It’s been named “Best Place to Hear Live Music,” “Best Overall Bar” and “Best Bar Staff” numerous times in local polls.

11. Macon Centreplex

Operated by the city, the Centreplex includes the 9.252-capacity Macon Coliseum and the 2688-capacity Macon City Auditorium, both of which host a variety of concerts among their year-round schedules.

12. Macon Pops

Billing itself as the city’s “newest cultural and musical attraction,” Macon Pops presents a variety of themed concerts with a host of special guests, transforming Macon City Auditorium into a top-shelf nightclub with dancing, food, drinks and an orchestra.

13. Macon Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1976, the Macon Symphony Orchestra presents a variety of subscription, pops, family, youth and special concerts each year.

14. Townsend School of Music

The nationally recognized Townsend School of Music at Mercer University hosts numerous programs and performances at its venues including the intimate Neva Langley Fickling Hall on the Macon campus and the Bell House, a historic Macon home newly renovated and opened as the home of the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings in 2015. Fun fact: the Allman Brothers Band were standing on the veranda of the house, then in a state of disrepair, on the cover of its 1969 debut album.

15. Wesleyan University Music Department

Established in 1836, Wesleyan is the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women. The school is recognized regionally for hosting a variety of recitals and performances, from concerts in Porter Auditorium to small chamber ensembles presented by the Macon Concert Association in the intimate Burden Parlor.

Mentioned in this Itinerary

More Points of Interest

Check the schedule for concerts at Little Carnegie of the South, charming parlor-style events hosted by classical pianist Louise Barfield in a historic Victorian home. Taste and See Coffee Shop & Gallery serves up beverages, treats and live music on most Friday and Saturday nights, while the Midtown Key Club is the spot for jazz and soul standards. Locals flock to the Back Porch Lounge for Open Mic Jam Therapy on Tuesdays and to the deck of A.P.’s Hideaway on warm Sunday afternoons for music by Big Mike Ventimiglia.