Live music at The Foundry in Athens, Georgia
The B-52s and R.E.M. may have put Athens on the musical map, but this charming college town is so much more than a monument to rock luminaries. Athens is alive. It’s a thriving, changing, fertile scene that is constantly cultivating new talent.
Touring musicians flock to Athens to pay homage to their heroes — whether that’s Widespread Panic, The Drive-by Truckers, Pylon, of Montreal, Vic Chesnutt, Neutral Milk Hotel or another one of the town’s influential exports — but they often find it hard to leave. Why? Well, rent, drinks and food are cheap. There is live music seven nights a week. Breweries are industry (and artist) employers. Townies are real. And art is an easy-going, accepted way of life.
So, sure, come have a Stipe sighting. Come see where musical history was made and then be inspired to create your own. That’s what this Classic City is really all about. Use this sample guide to experience the alt rock scene and indie music spirit in Athens.
Follow Their Footsteps
Take in the enormity of the past to present music scene with the Athens Music History Walking Tour. The walking tour can be self-guided through a downloadable brochure via the Athens Welcome Center, or a guided tour can be arranged with Classic City Tours. Guided tours are given by Paul Butchart, an authentic Athenian and music stalwart who was there and has the stories to prove it. Sites include the landmark “Murmur Trestle,” the R.E.M Steeple, various nightclubs, historic vaudeville halls, the Georgia Theatre, Wuxtry Records and almost all past and present locations of the 40 Watt.
Dine on the Rooftop of a Landmark
One of Athens' world-famous live music venues, the historic Georgia Theatre is a keystone of the Athens music scene. As a live music venue, the Georgia Theatre has hosted prominent national and local acts across all genres, including rock, folk, country, indie, alternative, hip hop and electronic. It’s been the setting for music videos by R.E.M. and John Mayer and the location for live album recordings by Corey Smith and the Derek Trucks Band.
The Georgia Theatre has converted its rooftop into an open-air restaurant and bar overlooking downtown. Enjoy a delicious menu offering traditional American dishes, as well as unique drink specials, before catching a show below in the world-class concert venue that has space for 1,000 of your fellow music-lovers.
Go Automatic for the People
The sign says it all: Automatic for the People. Dexter Weaver, owner of Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods (closed Sunday), came up with the slogan to advertise prompt customer service. Little did he know, it created a cult following ready for an “Automatic!” ever since. Established in 1986, Weaver D’s became a favorite for R.E.M., and in 1992, the band named its eighth studio album after the slogan. The Grammy-nominated album created so much buzz that Weaver got an 800-number and hired a publicist to handle the increased attention.
Weaver D’s is still serving up meat-and-three-style soul food fare, which includes fried chicken, boiled peanuts and skillet cornbread, and remains popular with Athens musicians, including Mike Cooley (Drive-by Truckers) and Michael Lachowski (Pylon). After filling up at Weaver D’s, walk it off to Dudley Park, where you can stand among what is lovingly referred to as “Murmur Trestle,” pictured in R.E.M’s debut album.
Nurture Musician Outreach
Not far from the “Murmur Trestle,” Nuçi’s Space was created by Linda Phillips to honor the life of her son Nuçi, a young musician who took his own life. Nuçi’s Space is a non-profit organization that offers practice spaces, equipment rental, youth programs and mental healthcare for musicians. This is a sacred space where artists can unwind, create and heal. There is also a coffee bar and lounge, where you can stop in to learn more and donate to the cause that tends to creative hearts and artistic brilliance.
Dive into a Dinner Bar
The World Famous is a funky, quirky and totally local restaurant and performance venue that is a mainstay of the Athens town and gown scene. From poutine to pork steam buns, the local pub grub gets you ready for a night of club hopping and live music revelry, where bands have been known to sing for their supper in the side room that occasionally hosts live music, usually of the local variety.
Stand in the Shadow of the 40 Watt Light
The 40 Watt Club is one of the world's most famous, Athens’ most beloved and music’s most iconic venues. Nearly every weekend, it plays host to some of the nation's top acts. The historic nightclub has served as a music home base for many of Athens’ most notorious over the last 35 years, including R.E.M., the B-52’s, Pylon, Love Tractor, Vic Chesnutt, Olivia Tremor Control, Five Eight, Neutral Milk Hotel, Jucifer, Drive-by Truckers, of Montreal, The Whigs, Maserati and more. The history of the “fabulous” 40 Watt Club is being made every night the doors are open, so expect to experience some of the best local and national bands in town.
Brunch Off the Morning After
The Grit may not have live music at its sought-after Sunday brunch, but that’s because the musicians need to eat, too. Drawing loyal musicians from Georgia like Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) and Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) and beyond, like Kristin Hersch (Throwing Muses), the Grit serves up vegetarian and vegan fair. In the last 30 years, the Grit has garnered quite a following for its quintessential boho vibe, Golden Bowl, meatless soul food, baked goods, Sunday Brunch and even an accoladed cookbook. As the Grit touts, they owe much of their personality to its association with the local music scene, with a 99 percent staff who have been or are in Athens bands.
Refine the Encore
If dingy dives aren’t your style, you might prefer the more sophisticated atmosphere, historic detail and old iron foundry craftsmanship of The Foundry. The multi-tiered concert hall has it all -- stages, venues, restaurant, bar, coffee shop, spa and even an adjoining hotel (The Graduate) to sleep it off. Over the years, The Foundry has hosted the Indigo Girls, Nappy Roots, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Blind Boys of Alabama. In addition to nationally renowned bands, The Foundry is now living room to local and emerging artists alike and frequented by Georgia artists Shawn Mullins and Randall Bramblett. For food and drink, grab a candlelit table, order a locally sourced plate, and enjoy local beer, wine and spirits while you enjoy the show.
A mountain treasure, where prospectors still search for gold, Dahlonega and its music scene are true Georgia jewels. Local jam circles are, by some unwritten code, welcoming and inclusive – leathery old-timers play side-by-side with kids who have studied in the Georgia Pick and Bow Traditional Music School.
Musicians who have called Dahlonega home include Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic lead singer John Bell and country superstar Zac Brown, who said, "It’s an ideal place to listen to some really outstanding music in a fun atmosphere, where you can discover new talent and hear some of the great established artists."
Use your weekend to experience Dahlonega's deeply rooted music scene. While you're there, dig into music gold with the “Our Dahlonega Picks” Spotify playlist.
Pick on the Front Porch
Make your way to the historic Vickery House's front porch every Friday afternoon for the Pick and Porch Old Time Music Jam. This weekly tradition at the Historic Vickery House encourages musicians of all levels to bring fiddles, banjos and other instruments for a friendly exploration of the traditional music of Appalachia. The Historic Vickery House, owned and operated by the University of North Georgia, serves as headquarters for the Georgia Appalachian Studies Center, where students learn the arts, history, culture, music and nature of Southern Appalachia.
Shop Vintage Music
Vintage Music, a true mom-and-pop music instrument store specializing in folk instruments and vintage guitars, is open daily and is located just off the public square. Longtime Dahlonega residents John Grimm, an award-winning fiddler and multi-instrumentalist, and his wife, Beverly Smith, a nationally recognized old time music guitarist, singer, fiddler and dance caller, are a mesmerizing musical duo who perform across the country and abroad. For the past 25 years, John also has operated Vintage Music. Step inside the store and inhale the resiny scent of warm, old wood that always stays in tune.
Join the Appalachian Jams
Get to the Dahlonega Gold Museum lawn, where you can often find a Saturday afternoon jam session (check official schedules at Downtown Dahlonega). Locals and visitors flock to the weekend jam sessions on the Dahlonega square, where fiddles, dulcimers, a forest of banjos and even the occasional yodeler or buck dancer take center stage. The twangy sounds, handed down through the generations, echo off the mountains in this small, Northeast Georgia town that began as a gold rush settlement. Musicians began convening here with a fiddlers’ convention in the summer of 1905 when first prize was a five-dollar gold piece, and from that event, a high-lonesome soundtrack has emerged.
Eat with Local Live Music and More
The Crimson Moon Cafe is an intimate concert dining hall, coffee house and happening cafe, serving brunch daily and live music all of the time. The venue takes pride in providing customers the ultimate listening room experience and providing musicians with a room full of close listeners. There are old time jams, bluegrass jams, blues jams and open jams, as well as concert performances by local, emerging and nationally acclaimed touring artists. Shawn Mullins and Amy Ray are spotted occasionally at the cafe, whether performing or just taking in the talented vibe.
Meals are often “Moon Made” with a full menu, full bar, and indoor and outdoor dining options that include handcrafted cocktails and a variety of organic coffee selections.
Explore Mountain Vineyards and Bluesy Brunches
The Appalachian mountains of Dahlonega are live with vines and wine, so much so that its been declared the Heart of Georgia Wine Country and the Wine Tasting Room Capital of Georgia. Vineyards abound in this deal climate setting, and you can find a variety of places to experience and taste wine-making in Georgia.
To raise a glass to music while you’re at it, try Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery for Sunday brunch, where live music is paired with a specialty menu. In the summer, Wolf Mountain explores the unique smoking techniques and sauces used on Southeast barbecue, paired with live blues music. October hosts a Harvest Celebration theme with bluegrass.
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, rapper Young Jeezy and violin maestro Robert McDuffie.
Use your weekend to experience Macon's incredible impact on American music. As you go back to where it all began, listen to music by local artists in the "Our Macon Picks" Spotify playlist.
Go Behind the Music with a Music History Tour
Rock, roll and stroll with Rock Candy Tours, owned by Jessica Walden, niece of Capricorn Records impresario Phil Walden and daughter of “Freebird” publisher Alan Walden, and her husband Jamie Weatherford, two history buffs and music lovers who have the inside scoop on local landmarks. The anecdote-rich, music history tours feature the Free Birds and Night Owls walking tour on Friday nights and the Rock n’ Soul Stroll van tour, in partnership with Visit Macon, on Saturday mornings. They also offer special edition food and beer tours.
Tours include stops at the Douglass Theatre, the Tic Toc Room, the Capricorn Records studio and Grant’s Lounge, where the Friday night tour ends and the bar is open. Macon also allows open containers on Friday nights, so pit stops are made along the way to refill beverages.
Rock Candy Tours requests that reservations are made in advance. They also offer private individual and group tours.
Grab Dinner and Drinks Where Gregg Proposed to Cher
The Downtown Grill is a historic dining spot tucked away in a friendly alleyway and marked with a music history plaque that touts its claim to fame. Once called Le Bistro, and owned by Capricorn Records Vice President Frank Fenter and his wife Kiki, a Swedish Baroness, it was the Southern steakhouse (by way of Europe) to the stars. As Capricorn Records’ fame grew, so did the restaurant’s guest list; Andy Warhol, Jimmy Carter, Bette Midler, all of the Allman Brothers and more dined at the local establishment. It was here that a starry-eyed Gregg Allman popped the question to Cher. The marriage didn’t last long, but the tale will never grow old.
Downtown Grill offers a full bar with cigars. You can also sit away from the smoke in the old world dining area, where you can peruse a hearty steak and seafood menu or sample martinis and apps.
Go All Out Allman Brothers
For a trip back in rock-and-roll time, visit The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, the 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 performances, book signings and live music outdoors.
Pit Stop for Storied Soul Food
H&H Soul Food is open for breakfast, weekend brunch and lunch. You can choose your own adventure in legendary soul food. Try a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast, or sample the biscuit menu that features the “Midnight Rider” stuffed with fried chicken, bacon jam and pimento cheese. Lunch includes all the meat-and-threes 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.
Ramble at Rose Hill Cemetery
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.” You can also recreate their self-titled debut album art with a visit to the iconic wall behind the Bond Memorial. Today, ABB founding members Duane Allman, Berry Oakley and Gregg Allman are interred side-by-side in the beautiful resting place, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other Georgia Music Hall of Famers interred there are Phil Walden and Joe Galkin.
Catch Live Music in the Act
You never know who is coming through Macon on a Saturday night, but you can always guarantee a worthy live music show at the historic Hargray Capitol Theatre. Part of the Moonhanger Group network of food and music, the theatre is the ideal place for national touring acts and local favorites. Just around the corner is Moonhanger’s anchor restaurants, The Rookery, Macon’s own version of the Hard Rock Cafe with burgers, beer and the upstairs, farm-sourced fine dining and cocktails at Dovetail.
Self-Guide Your Way Around Town
Hear those church bells ringing everywhere? Find out some of their significance with the Historic Macon Music Registry. Historic Macon created the plaque project in partnership with Rock Candy Tours, NewTown Macon and the Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association (GABBA).
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. Sites are unique to the various artists, who range from Otis Redding to James Brown, Buddy Greene to Jason Aldean.
Wander to the Otis Redding Statue
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 and Phil Walden Interchange. Redding’s music can be heard on loop from the outdoor speaker system, where there are benches to sit and vision your own “Dock of the Bay.”
Stay for a Sunset Encore
With a breathtaking view and free live music, open to all, the Second Sunday Concert Series is a monthly community tradition that takes place spring through fall. Pack a picnic or buy one on site and take in the outdoor concert from one of the highest points in the city at Coleman Hill park. The free concert series is run by the Bragg Jam Festival organization and includes emerging touring and local acts, who often play the summer music festival. The schedule varies with the seasons and weather conditions. Check Bragg Jam’s Facebook page for the most recent updates.
Columbus has never been short on homegrown talent. The Mother of the Blues Ma Rainey, Nashville pioneer Chet Atkins, hip-hop producer Dallas Austin, TLC singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, blues artist Robert Cray, violinist David Ragsdale of rock band Kansas, guitarist/songwriter Danny Whitten of Neil Young’s band Crazy Horse, and country artist and comedian Tim Wilson were all born or raised in this culturally rich river city, which is home to the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, the opulent Springer Opera House and the Liberty Theatre. Today, downtown Columbus (or “Uptown,” as locals refer to it) thrives with a number of intimate restaurants and venues, outdoor events and the presence of Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music, which presents more than 250 concerts every year. Spend your weekend experiencing Columbus through the ear of its original music.
Explore African American History
Start your weekend by tracing the influence of African American music. The many contributions that African Americans have made to the Columbus region are celebrated at the Columbus Black History Museum and Archives. The story of Gertrude “Ma" Rainey Pridgett, a vaudeville singer, performer and recording artist, who is known today as the “Mother of the Blues,” is told alongside that of musical prodigy and pianist Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins. Born into slavery, Blind Tom was the first African American musician to perform at the White House.
Next, visit the Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum (closed Sundays). Known as the "Mother of the Blues," Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was born in Columbus in 1886 and began performing as a young teen. She toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, and in 1923, made the first of her more than 100 recordings. Upon her retirement in 1935, Rainey moved home to a two-story shotgun house, but sadly, she died four years later. By 1991, the dilapidated house was in danger of being razed, but locals stepped in, purchased it, renovated it and opened the museum in 2008 with restored rooms, memorabilia, music and more. Ma Rainey is buried just a few blocks away in Porterdale Cemetery at 107 10th Avenue.
Eat, Drink and Hear the Hub
A city’s musical renaissance usually occurs over time, in fits and starts, like an all-night jam session, before finding its groove. For Columbus, the tempo grew decidedly upbeat in 1992 with the establishment of The Loft (closed Sundays), which as a music venue, recording studio and restaurant helped kickstart the music- and arts-centric revitalization of Columbus.
The heartbeat of live music in uptown Columbus, The Loft has been presenting live rock, blues, jazz, funk, R&B and roots music for more than 25 years. Don't miss an opportunity to catch local artists, including blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Neal Lucas, keyboardist and singer Lloyd Buchanan (when he’s not on the road with Alabama Shakes), bandleader Rusty Taylor, or the Unified Jazz Jam, a swinging collaboration between the CSU Schwob School of Music’s Jazz Studies team of faculty and students and the active Columbus Jazz Society.
But you can taste the excitement, too. The Loft is open for lunch and dinner and includes an enormous menu of items fit for the small stage to the main stage, plus a full bar that goes late into the night.
Get Your Tickets to Performing Arts
Whether you want to see the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in action or a variety of world-renowned performers, including classical artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts is the cornerstone of Columbus arts and culture. RiverCenter's state-of-the-art facilities include the 2,000-seat Bill Heard Theatre, the 430-seat Legacy Hall and the 180-seat Studio Theatre.
Catch a Matinee at the State Theatre of Georgia
With nearly 150 years of history (built in 1871) and 75,000 square feet, the Springer Opera House is not only the State Theatre of Georgia, but it is also one of only seven theatres in the United States in a National Historic Landmark. Today, the Springer is one of America’s most vibrant professional theatre companies with a popular Mainstage Series, an innovative second-space series, a Theatre for Young Audience Series featuring some of this region’s most talented student actors and a national touring program. It is also the home of one of the nation’s finest training schools for young actors, the Springer Theatre Academy.
Discover the Future Talent of Georgia
The esteemed Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University presents more than 250 concerts annually featuring the CSU Jazz Ensemble, CSU Percussion Ensemble, CSU Philharmonic Orchestra, CSU Wind Ensemble, University Singers, Chorale and numerous solo and duo performers and ensembles. Dr. Andrew Zohn, who oversees the guitar program, also organizes the annual Guitar Symposium and Competition.
The “Hostess City of the South,” Savannah is widely recognized for its rich history and architecture, as well as that Southern charm that ensures your drink never runs dry. Savannah embraces music and the arts. A melting pot of musical creativity, the city is home to the Savannah Philharmonic, the Coastal Jazz Association, the Savannah Folk Music Society, rock and punk bands like Cusses and Crazy Bag Lady, Americana bands like Waits & Co. and The Train Wrecks, hip hop artists like DJ Basik Lee and Miggs, and a metal scene anchored by internationally recognized bands Kylesa and Black Tusk.
Savannah also hosts more festivals than anywhere else in the state. The 17-day Savannah Music Festival, Georgia's largest musical arts event, creates timeless and adventurous productions while the indie-focused Savannah Stopover emphasizes new and emerging acts. The Savannah Jazz Festival celebrates the uniquely American art form, the Savannah Folk Festival immerses visitors in folk music and dance traditions and the Savannah VOICE Festival focuses on opera, classical music and musical theatre.
Street artists and buskers playing in the parks and squares add to the soul, charm and character of the world-renowned historic district. No matter where Savannah’s famed cobblestones lead you — to restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, museums, churches or theatres — you’re likely to encounter music that is anything but ordinary… just like Savannah.
Spend your weekend experiencing Savannah’s endless music and the arts opportunities. During your own Savannah stop-over, listen to music by local artists in the "Our Savannah Picks" playlist.
Start with Food, Music, Beer, Bourbon, Repeat
In Savannah, it’s go big or go home, so start at Congress Street Social Club with large outdoor seating, bourbon-to-the-brim cocktails, a lively crowd, live music and a late night. There is also a full menu of BBQ, tacos and burgers (and a late-night patio grill). At least four nights a week, Congress Street Social Club presents DJs and bands, including local favorites like DJ Blackout, The Accomplices, The Train Wrecks, Eric Culberson and on Sundays, the blues-jam of Voodoo Soup.
Marvel at the Outdoors
Make one of your first visits to Forsyth Park. Savannah was never designed to be experienced indoors and the draping splendor of Forsyth Park is a testament to that. The Park hosts large and small-scale events year-round. Among its grasslands, historical monuments, statues and the dazzling fountain built in 1858, the historic district’s bustling 30-acre Forsyth Park now includes an amphitheater, which features concerts and serves as home base for the Savannah Jazz Festival.
Shop with Live Music at the Market
In the early 1700s, farmers and fishermen brought seafood, tobacco, okra, watermelon and other goods to the city’s social and commercial center, Savannah City Market (corner of Jefferson and West St. Julian Street). As the modern-day “art and soul of Savannah,” the open-air marketplace, lined with galleries, shops, restaurants and bars, still draws crowds and live music is a staple, indoors and outdoors. Standard hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Hours vary according to seasons and individual businesses, with the Market home to multiple late night entertainment spots.
Say Hello to Johnny
The life-size bronze statue of larger than life lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer stands in Ellis Square. It was unveiled in 2009 as part of the worldwide centennial celebration of the Savannah native’s birthday. Mercer wrote the song “Moon River” and nearly 1,400 others, co-founded Capitol Records, Inc., was founding president of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and nominated for 18 Academy Awards for best song, of which he won four. Mercer is buried in Savannah’s hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery, which was featured in the 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Dig Up Vinyl Rarities and More
A curiosity in and of itself, Graveface Records & Curiosities popped up 12 years after owner and musician Ryan Graveface moved to Savannah and started an independent record label. The shop deals in new and used vinyl, taxidermy and other curiosities and even includes a VHS rental store in the back.
Go on Island Time
Tucked away on Savannah’s Wilmington Island, you can feel the sea breeze and sample island fare while enjoying live music every Saturday night at Molly McGuire’s Tavern. Molly McGuire’s is also known to be local musicians’ favorite neighborhood bar, just far enough away from the main street hustle and bustle, with an ultra-relaxed “island time” vibe.
Get Jazzed with Brunch
The Aqua Star at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa has earned its own gold star in the Savannah restaurant scene. Perhaps most notable is the "Sunday Jazz Brunch" (noon to 3 p.m.) featuring the Jeremy Davis Equinox Trio, where diners enjoy an unending array of options like sushi, shrimp and grits, steak, impressive raw-bar and desserts. Located across the river, the view is considered one of the best of Savannah. Take a free ferry ride from River Street, or cross the bridge for free parking.
Sing Along to Familiar Tunes
Catch a Sunday show of all-ages fun at the Historic Savannah Theatre. Shows range from jazz, Broadway, Motown, disco, country and the fabulous '50s. The two-hour musical comedy productions have audiences laughing, singing and toe-tapping to the melodies of familiar songs of the past and current hits, performed by talented, local stars.
For a town of fewer than 100,000 residents in southwest Georgia, Albany has produced its share of influential musicians. "The Genius" American music icon Ray Charles was born there, as was Big Band–era trumpeter Harry James, jazz guitarist Russell Malone, top country songwriter Dallas Davidson, Shawn Jay and Smoke of hip-hop duo Field Mob and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips. From the Albany Chorale to the award-winning sounds of the Albany State University Marching Rams, the mighty gospel of the Freedom Singers and church choirs like Voices of Zion and local groups like Evan Barber and the Dead Gamblers and 7th High Band, music is ingrained in the community of "The Good Life City."
Spend your weekend experiencing Albany’s inspiring music legacy. While Georgia’s on your mind, listen to music by local artists in the "Our Albany Picks" playlist.
Start with “The Genius” Landmark
Located along Front Street and overlooking the Flint River, Ray Charles Plaza features a life size bronze sculpture of Ray sitting at his piano. At night, it lights up and his music is played. Also featured in the plaza are a sitting area shaped like piano keys and musical note shapes on the ground. There's a plaque displayed in front of the statue, which includes braille for the blind. The Ray Charles Plaza is a beautiful area with a view of the river.
Catch Dinner and a Band
For more than two decades, Harvest Moon has been a top-rated, family-friendly eatery in Albany with live music on the menu every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. The Bo Henry Band, whose red-bearded leader co-owns Harvest Moon, often holds court in the cozy venue playing long sets of soulful Southern rock, blues and jam music.
Feel the Music of the Freedom Singers
Located in the restored 1906 Old Mt. Zion Church, the Albany Civil Rights Institute uses oral histories, photographs, documents and artifacts, and educational exhibits to detail the civil rights struggle, ranging from voter registration to nonviolent protest, song, economic boycott and legal action. The museum also serves as a center for ongoing academic research and provides school tours, programs and lectures.
Experience a living history of freedom songs each month on the second Saturday with the museum's Freedom Singers. Led by original SNCC Freedom Singer Rutha Harris, visitors experience an oral history presentation filled with dynamic testimony of the Albany Movement marches and arrests, and emotionally charged, moving performances through Freedom Songs.
Discover a South Georgia Symphony
With more than 50 years of history, the Albany Symphony Orchestra continues to serve the South Georgia community in a unique and positive way, reaching a rich mix of racial, cultural and economic groups. Established in 1964, it is southwest Georgia's only fully professional symphony. Concerts are held October through May at the Historic Albany Municipal Auditorium.
Grab a Seat for a Soul Food Saturday Night
Icons Soul Food Lounge presents a variety of performers from southwest Georgia and North Florida, including 7th High Band, featuring the incredible saxophonist Fred Williams, Jr. Its famous soul food kitchen turns out to-die-for chicken wings, fish and grits, and traditional dishes like oxtails, catfish and pork chops. Saturday nights include late night dining, live local performances and tableside nightclub vibe.
Worship with the Anointed Albany State University Gospel Choir
Although performances vary, try to catch the Anointed Albany State University Gospel Choir in the act. This nationally acclaimed touring choir that originated from Albany State University travels to worship services across the country, throughout Georgia, as well as Albany. Their mission is to provide a music experience that goes beyond singing into a spiritual encounter with God through song. If you can’t catch them on an Albany Sunday, look for them at special performances at churches throughout the state.