Macon's historic music scene is famous, but you need to come hear the present for yourself.
If you searched for Macon online, the first result would probably have something to do with the Allman Brothers. Or Otis Redding. Or Little Richard.
The fact is this unassuming Southern town is so packed with music legends, past and present, that it has become a destination for devout fans across several genres and generations. Locals and visitors alike tour The Big House Museum (the Allman Brothers Band’s home in the early ’70s), catch films at the Douglass Theatre (where Otis Redding got his start at talent shows hosted by local DJ Hamp Swain), or dine at Tic Toc (where Little Richard was once employed). Music culture permeates the historic downtown, underscoring the city’s slogan, “Where Soul Lives.”
Whether you are a musician or simply a fan, a stop in Macon is a must the next time you find yourself in the Southeast. Here’s our guide to enjoying all the music history, culture, sites and – most importantly –sounds Macon has to offer:
Exploring Music History
Though Visit Macon will have plenty of potential sites and tours to share with those wishing to explore, the best music tours are led by Rock Candy Tours. Developed by Jessica Walden, the niece of Phil Walden (co-founder of Capricorn Records, one of the first integrated record labels in the South), these tours are packed with anecdotes that bring to life the places that were key in what made Macon the chosen home of so many influential musicians. Whether you prefer walking or riding, a tour with food or beer stops, something morning or late-night, Rock Candy offers it all.
If group tours are not your thing, but you’re curious to visit the famed spots (like the restaurant where Greg Allman proposed to pop star Cher), they’ve partnered with Historic Macon Foundation to develop a brochure of Macon’s music history. Though you’ll miss the folklore element, the facts and addresses are all there for your self-guided pleasure. Many of the locations also have music plaques on their facades, enriching even a simple walk around downtown with a bit of Macon’s music history.
Modern Music Scene
Think Macon’s musical contributions are all in the past? Think again, because Macon is still churning out nationally renowned musicians and fostering up-and-coming talent. Current artists like Jason Aldean, Molly Stevens and Young Jeezy have all called Macon home at one point or another. On any given night, live music by local and touring artists alike fill the streets. Music lovers can scout the next local breakthrough artist over a wine slushie or craft beer at Society Garden‘s monthly singer-songwriter night on the last Wednesday of the month. Or you could frequent the favored dive bar of the Allman Brothers, Grant’s Lounge, for a taste of living history and rock and roll. Even new music venues, like JBA, capture the grungy, communal scene music lovers are drawn to. Longtime local venue The Hummingbird Stage & Taproom has a wide variety of fantastic live music every weekend, but locals know the best night to discover your new favorite group is Thursday.
Of course, the first Friday of the month is also bursting at the seams with live shows on every corner. In addition to downtown restaurants booking artists to serenade their guests, local organization NewTown Macon hires musicians to perform in the parks and on street corners. Downtowners hear different, melodic sounds as they journey between art galleries, hunt for dinner or pop from one pub to the next to find the libation that suits their craving.
In addition to the weekly dose, serious music lovers can get a full tank at Macon’s various music festivals. Macon’s longest-running music festival, Bragg Jam, featured over 65 acts at 14 venues, and spanned two days in 2019. Performers across genres and from across the country are featured in this walkable (and drinkable) weekend.
But that’s just one of the many music festivals Macon offers. There’s Summerfest, GABBAfest, Bearstock and so many more. Fortunately for us all, Visit Macon recently launched an online directory called Macon Music Trail to ensure we never miss a show.
Macon, GA has undoubtedly birthed an extraordinary amount of talent that has shaped our nation’s music. And this soulful, Southern town promises to continue the legacy for decades to come. But don’t take my word for it! Visit Macon, and come see and hear for yourself what it’s all about.
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