Head to Macon for Bragg Jam July 26-27, 2019
Stay for a Day or Three: How to Make the Most out of Your Macon Music Experience
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 Band, Marshall 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, as well as the world-renowned Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, weekly Rock Candy walking tours, lively Macon Pops events, the indie-focused Bragg Jam and much more. By the end of 2019, the former Capricorn Records Studio will be fully restored as Mercer Music at Capricorn, which, in addition to offering two recording studios will also have a music incubator for aspiring young musicians and an interpretive area that tells the story of Capricorn and Macon’s music heritage through historic artifacts, static exhibits and interactive digital kiosks.
Macon's music history is far from collecting dust in record bins. It's a vibrant connection between our history and today. So, stay for a day or three. Tour haunts of The Allman Brothers, hear live jazz and soul, and revel under the lights of the Douglass Theatre that once hosted Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and a young Otis Redding. Cap off your days and nights with the music of Capricorn Records and a lively restaurant and bar scene that incorporates the flavors of Macon nearly every corner you turn.
With a vibrant, walkable and safe downtown, supported by good food, good people and good music, Macon draws a distinct line between who it has been and who it is today. Whether you are just passing through for a quick bite or planning a long weekend in Macon, its balance of grit and posture will stick with you long after you leave.
Crack Some Crust Here
H&H Soul Food Restaurant
807 Forsyth Street, Macon
With original, iconic posters and promo materials lining its walls, as well as a jukebox and a cast iron skillet from Capricorn Records that says “Thanks for the Beans & Things,” H&H Soul Food is an essential stop on a Southern rock pilgrimage. The story started with its original proprietors Inez Hill and Louise Hudson, two African American women entrepreneurs who opened their humble restaurant in a former filling station. As legend goes, a group of lanky, long-haired hippies told Hudson they were hungry, but they didn’t have means to pay -- yet. They were too skinny for her liking, so she fed them for free. And thus began a lifelong, loving relationship with the Allman Brothers Band. The band never forgot how their “Mama” took care of them in those early, starving artist days.
Since then, Mama Louise Hudson has fed thousands more -- some seeking her legendary fried chicken and sweet tea, others seeking her gracious blessing as the Patron Saint of Soul Food. Today, the H&H serves breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch under the ownership of the Moonhanger Group (although Mama Louise is known to stop by and make sure her recipes remain in order). Their creative biscuit menu has taken their legendary fried chicken to new heights, with everything from the Midnight Rider with fried chicken, bacon jam and pimento cheese to the open-faced Red Dog biscuit (named for the Allman Brothers Band’s notorious roadie), topped with fried chicken, collard greens, poached eggs and saw mill and red-eye gravy. In addition to their weekend brunch menu, there is also standard breakfast fare, cold plates and meat-and-three soul food lunches.
Take note that H&H is closed on Mondays, otherwise expect them open from morning until late afternoon, Tuesdays through Sundays.
Go Back to Where it All Began
The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House
2321 Vineville Avenue, Macon
Before there were bright lights of the Beacon Theatre, Fillmore East and the big cities and fan base that surrounds them, there was the Big House. The lovingly nicknamed Big House is the home to the Allman Brothers Band Museum. This impressive collection of Allman memorabilia is housed in the sprawling Tudor the band called home during the early days of its career. The nearly 6,000-square-feet of display space includes not only exhibits dedicated to the band, its history and music, but also the people that lived there. The bedrooms of both Duane Allman and original bassist Berry Oakley's daughter Brittany have been recreated as reminders that this was a place people not only created, but lived. Music history breathes in these walls and among the museum's Allman artifacts. This is a must-do pilgrimage for any Allman Brothers fan but also for any behind-the-music curiosity seeker.
Take note the museum is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays.
Self-Guide Your Selfie Spots
The Historic Macon Music Registry & Brochure
The Historic Macon Music Registry is an ongoing documentation project that interprets and celebrates Macon's rich and diverse music heritage. Plaques are placed at influential sites that represent the diversity of music's role in shaping the character of soul of Macon. These plaques can be found on public and private spaces, including an office building that formerly housed the radio station where James Brown recorded “Please, Please, Please” and Little Richard Penniman’s childhood home, found just a stone's throw from the Big House and saved from demolition as a community resource center. Plaques also point to well-known landmarks like the Douglass Theatre, where jazz and blues legends like Duke Ellington and Ma Rainey first made Macon a music town.
To locate the most current plaque locations, download the self-guided tour brochure housed on Historic Macon's website that was created in conjunction with Visit Macon and Rock Candy Tours. Physical copies of the brochure can be found at Macon Welcome Centers and at Historic Macon’s headquarters at 338 Poplar Street.
Reserve Dinner and a Drink Here
The Tic Toc Room
408 Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd., Macon
In the 1940s, Ann Howard opened one of the hottest night spots in town. Located on the “Black Broadway of the South,” restricted by segregation and considered a gay bar before there was such a label, Miss Anne’s Tic Toc gave African American performers a place to play. For Little Richard, Miss Ann was one of the few who gave him a chance, even if that meant washing dishes when he wasn't performing. Today, the Tic Toc Room is a white tablecloth restaurant and martini bar serving steaks and seafood alongside mod dishes and specialties.
Catch a Concert Here
Hargray Capitol Theatre
382 Second Street, Macon
Musicians will tell you it's one of their favorite spots in Georgia to play a show. The Hargray Capitol Theatre is a cornerstone concert stage in the revitalization of Downtown Macon. This multi-purpose, historic entertainment venue with a full bar, an open floor and balcony seats, including VIP box seats, is operated by the locally owned Moonhanger Group. Expect to see a tour bus parked outside of the Capitol on a regular basis that belongs to national and touring headliners from all facets of music, with Americana being a frequent ticket genre.
Order Breakfast from Famous Mike
524 Poplar St., Macon
Mike "Big Dog" Seekins is always up before the rooster crows, spreading his good day vibes of peace, love and freshly baked biscuits. His Poplar Street eatery is opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but breakfast is a sure shot where you’ll find the friendliest locals of Macon rise and shine. Photos and music memorabilia line the walls, and even the Allman Brothers' Jaimoe has stopped by to try his namesake burger. But first, breakfast. Expect any of the mouth-watering biscuits to fill you up for the day. But whatever you do, don’t leave Famous Mike’s without a fresh-baked Sweet Melissa Cinnamon Roll.
Wake Up with Art, History and Culture
210 Cherry Street, Macon
With 49,000 square feet, the Tubman Museum is the largest African American art, history and culture museum in the Southeast. It offers music both through exhibits and hands-on programming. Artifacts include the piano from Ann’s Tic Toc Room played by Little Richard, as well as photos, portraits and works of historic African American artists and musicians. Participate in a West African drum circle every second Saturday at 10 a.m.
Shop for Vinyl & More Here
Fresh Produce Records
451 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Macon
Store owner Willie Dantzler serves up more than just new and used albums at Fresh Produce. Since 2013, this Downtown Macon storefront has served as a showroom for rotating music titles, music memorabilia, and locally grown organic vegetables and fruit. To top it off, Fresh Produce hosts in-store live music by underground and indie artists at least once a month.
Have an Iconic Burger, Shake and Fries Here
543 Cherry Street, Macon
If Macon had an official rock cafe, it would be The Rookery. This locally owned, local favorite is one of Downtown Macon's oldest eateries. So much so, its outdoor Cherry Street sidewalk scene is considered a Macon landmark. The Rookery has its own music history -- Widespread Panic played their earliest gigs here, many musicians have dined here and Macon’s signature music festival Bragg Jam was founded here. Order any of the sandwiches and burgers off the Rookery’s creative menu that includes the Allman Burger, the Big O Burger and the Little Richard Pennimelt. Battered fries are also a classic, especially paired with a signature Rookery Milkshake like the The Jimmy Carter, featuring peanut butter, bananas, bacon, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Get a Guided Tour to Macon Music
Rock Candy Tours
Via Visit Macon: 450 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Macon
If Macon's walls could talk, they would sing. That’s the mantra of Rock Candy Tours, Macon’s official music history tour company. Rock Candy Tours is owned by locals Jessica Walden, niece of Capricorn Records impresario Phil Walden, and her husband Jamie Weatherford, a Macon history buff and third generation candy manufacturer. Together, along with a team of music-loving tour guides, they have the inside scoop on local landmarks that significantly shaped American music, including the historic Capricorn Records Studio. You can contact them directly for a privately guided tour, or book one of their weekly public walking or van tours through Rock Candy’s website. They also offer an array of local brew and food tours.
Fine Dine Where Cher Said Yes
562 Mulberry Street Lane, Macon
In the early 1970s, the days when Capricorn Records launched a Southern rock fairy tale-turned-true, Macon’s Downtown Grill was known as Le Bistro. It was a French eatery founded by Capricorn Records Vice President Frank Fenter and his Swedish baroness wife, Kiki. It featured the upscale cuisine of Paul Harpin, a British chef to the stars, such as Mick Jagger. Among the celebrities who dined at Macon’s Le Bistro were Andy Warhol, President Jimmy Carter and the Allman Brothers Band. In fact, it was here that Gregg Allman proposed to Cher in 1973, and the rest was a marriage and uncoupling made in rock n’ roll history.
Today, the Downtown Grill, owned by concert photograph and restaurateur Richie Jones, is one of Central Georgia’s most classic upscale steakhouses. It also serves a wide selection of seafood, cocktails and even cigars. In front of its historic building, tucked in a downtown alleyway, is a Macon Music Historic Registry plaque to commemorate Gregg and Cher’s legendary engagement.
Get Tickets to a Show at the Grand
Grand Opera House
651 Mulberry Street, Macon
What started in 1884 as the Academy of Music grew into what we now know as the Grand Opera House, Macon’s premier theatre venue. With more than a century of stage performances and countless music concerts -- from vaudeville troupes and minstrel shows to world-renowned and local symphonies, musical theatre productions, choruses, operas and Southern rock concerts -- the Grand remains a landmark music venue since its historic inception to today’s modern music times. Many famous performers have graced its stage, including Charlie Chaplin and magician Harry Houdini, who cut trap doors into its stage (with one still being used today). Musicians who have performed here include Hank Williams, the Allman Brothers Band, Ray Charles, Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Macon Symphony Orchestra, and Macon natives international violin virtuoso Robert McDuffie and country superstar Jason Aldean.
Today, the Grand Opera House is operated as a premier performing arts center under Mercer University. In addition to regular concerts, the Grand hosts Broadway productions, national comedy tours, movies, special events and more.
Make it Late at Grant's
576 Poplar Street, Macon
With its rich history, soulful vibe, cold drinks and infamous jam sessions, Grant’s Lounge 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 continuously for now over 40 years.
Grab it to Go
Taste & See Coffee Shop
546 Poplar Street, Macon
Grab a tailor-made coffee, tea or smoothie to-go from locally owned coffee shop Taste and See. Just a few doors down from Grant's Lounge, this downtown gathering place has a quintessential coffee shop vibe and sees many creative collaborations brewing among its patrons. It also has an array of pastries, scones, quiches and more.
Rise and Shine at a Historic Cemetery
Rose Hill Cemetery
1071 Riverside Drive, Macon
Founded in 1840, scenic Rose Hill 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, Berry Oakley -- and now Brother Gregg Allman -- are interred side-by-side in the beautiful resting place, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their gravesite is located in the Carnation Ridge section of Rose Hill. Also worth seeing is the Bond Monument, where the ABB took one of the iconic first album photos.
For guided tours, check for Rose Hill Rambles with Historic Macon, or book a private Rock Candy Tour. In partnership with Visit Macon, Rock Candy Tours also offers a weekly van tour that takes music history seekers into the cemetery as part of their Rock n’ Soul Tour.
Pay R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the King of Soul
Otis Redding Memorial Bridge and Statue
Ocmulgee Heritage Trail Gateway Park, Macon
Take a picture and a peaceful moment with the life-size statue that 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 of Otis Redding sits overlooking the Ocmulgee River adjacent to the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge. Just over the bridge is the Phil Walden Interchange, a tribute to his late manager, friend and business partner.
Go Fresh & Local for Lunch
Grow Fresh Local Food
1019 Riverside Drive
Located just a stone's throw from Rose Hill Cemetery and the Otis Redding Statue and serving the community with fresh, local fare that is friendly to carnivores and vegans alike, Grow Fresh Local Food offers locally raised meats and locally grown organic vegetables. Owner, self-proclaimed hippie and Southern fare extraordinaire Saralyn Collins is no stranger to the music or restaurant scene, having hired and/or served many Macon musicians through her popular catering service. Lunch is served Monday through Friday, where you can dine in with Saralyn and crew or order it to-go from the healthiest drive-through in town.
Be Inspired by a Lasting Legacy
Otis Redding Foundation
339 Cotton Avenue, Macon
Consider the Otis Redding Foundation the official headquarters of Redding's lasting legacy. This legacy is found in his music, his philanthropy and his family, all of which can be found at the Foundation office and Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts, where Redding’s lasting presence can be felt throughout the downtown landscape. Founded and operated by his family and guided by an active board of directors, the Otis Redding Foundation’s mission is to empower, enrich and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation. Signature programs include the Otis Redding Center for Creative Arts, the Otis Music Camp and the DREAM choir. The Foundation also serves as a mini-museum, holding many Otis Redding treasures that can only be seen here. The Foundation is opened to the public during the week and also has official Otis Redding merchandise and music available for purchase.
Discover the Fine Arts Connection
Macon Arts Alliance
486 First Street, Macon
While Macon’s rich history of soul and rock and roll is unmatched, it also offers solace in the fine arts. In addition to visiting the Macon Arts Gallery on First Street, located in between City Hall and the Macon City Auditorium, visitors should check Macon365.com for art openings at Mercer's downtown art studio, the McEachern Art Center, or The 567 Center for Renewal. You can also find theatre listings and bookings for the historic Ritz Theatre, known now as Theatre Macon.
Experience Classical in the Making
McDuffie Center for Strings
315 College Street, Macon
Should you be interested in chamber choir, choral arrangement, or classical musical arrangements for strings, use Macon365.com to check the listings at the Mercer School of Music, and the McDuffie Center for Strings, which is named for Macon’s native son, violinist Robert McDuffie. McDuffie is known to return to Macon for spellbinding homecoming concerts, but his string student prodigies, under the direction of Amy Schwartz Moretti, perform regular concerts at the Bell House, home to the Center for Strings and also the site of the first Allman Brothers Band album cover.
Grab a Local Bite & Beer After a Long, Strange Trip
450 Third Street, Macon
Good news for all you Capricorn lovin', Widespread Panic jammin', barbecue eatin', and locally brewed beer drinkin' fans out there -- this is your spot. Piedmont Brewery is located in a beautifully renovated downtown building with a fully functioning, award-winning microbrewery on site. While it's known by foodies and beer snobs for its smoked meats and hopped brews, locally it is a family-friendly spot where kids can enjoy the arcade downstairs, while parents sip a beer or a enjoy some sliced brisket co-owner and brewmaster Brian Whitley has spent months perfecting. The music will always have a positive vibe, and while there's zero chance of there being Panic in the Streets outside -- it’s most definitely an option on the jukebox. This one is fun for the whole family.
Have Your Last Call at the Hummingbird
Hummingbird Stage & Taproom
430 Cherry Street
You'll feel right at home at the Hummingbird. Known locally as "The Bird," the Hummingbird Stage has seen acts such as the Drive-by Truckers, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Dexateens, and Centro-Matic. If you're looking to buy the record for Southern rock's next act before your friends, then this is where you should close your long evening out. As the townie watering hole with a friendly bar staff, you'll likely pull up a stool next to some of Macon's most notoriously sweet characters -- whether it be a horn player for Sam And Dave, a roadie for the Allman Brothers Band, a Mercer professor, or a janitor, you’ll be sitting next to someone who has held a stool down in the Hummingbird for years. And you’ll enjoy every second of the conversation. Cheers!
Bragg Jam Festival
Bragg Jam is Macon's signature city-wide music festival, hosting 40+ bands around town during the last weekend of July. A community festival and concert crawl, expect to sweat and see it all, jam-packed on stage after stage and playing loud well into the night. Find the current schedule and more at BraggJam.org.
Second Sunday Concert Series
Bragg Jam organizers bring back the annual Second Sunday Concert Series to Macon’s Coleman Hill, spring through fall. This free community concert invites you to bring coolers, blankets, family and friends to sit atop historic Coleman Hill in the shadow of Mercer Law School and listen to an evening of music while overlooking downtown, the Ocmulgee River and the vast wilderness of the Ocmulgee National Monument. Whether it's a homegrown group or a touring headliner, the Second Sunday Concert Series offers a family-friendly intimate setting that will get you in the right mindset for the coming week.
Big Mike at AP's
Sunday Funday Suggestion: Funky House Band filled with members who are local rock royalty, a full buffet of home-cooked soul food, in one of the best dive bars south of Atlanta. Don’t miss Big Mike and the Booty Papas at AP’s Hidden Hideaway for THE Macon Sunday Funday experience. But be sure to bring cash - the bar doesn't take credit cards!
The Macon Bacon at Historic Luther Williams Field
Pete Rose. Tony Perez. Andruw Jones. Chipper Jones. These are just a few of the players that have played on historic Luther Williams Field. Built in 1929 and renovated 2016, Luther Williams is now home to the Macon Bacon of the Coastal Plains League and has music and bacon infused all throughout the baseball game.
More Breweries: Ocmulgee Brewpub, Just Tap’d and Macon Beer Company
With a brewery, two microbreweries, and one of the largest tap-houses in Central Georgia, there's no question: Macon is a beer town. Whether you’re sitting at one of Just Tap'd's small outdoor table on a sidewalk in historic downtown, in the modern German beer hall of the Ocmulgee Brewpub, or touring the Macon Beer Company in the Industrial District, you're sure to be convinced of Macon's beer bonafides.
Mercer Music at Capricorn
After decades of historic records being crafted in the pitch-perfect sound room of Studio A and financial ups and downs, the studio finally shuttered in the early 2000s and has sat vacant since. But Capricorn has risen. Through an innovative partnership with Mercer University, Studio A is being restored, and the vast openness of what is three buildings are being converted into practice spaces and office spaces. And a digital museum like none other in America - that will host every song ever recorded on that label - will be the feature visit. The original studio, equipped with state-of-the-art analog and digital recording equipment is accessible to the public, as are the practice spaces, in an attempt to incubate the next round of Macon music to change the face of the region and the sound of a country. Expected to open on Dec. 3, 2019, the renovated Capricorn Records Studio is a must visit no matter the length of your stay.