Hitting the High Notes of Macon's Music Scene
For travelers, Macon, Ga., is a great destination to visit. Located a little over 80 miles south of Atlanta, off I-75 South, it offers historic sites like Ocmulgee National Monument, museums such as Tubman Museum, and more.
However, there is something -- a rather large something that, for many, separates the city from its counterparts.
You see, Macon played a role in establishing such musical icons as Otis Redding, Little Richard, Allman Brothers and many others. For instance, it was here at WIBB that James Brown recorded his first single, “Please, Please, Please.”
It’s easy to understand why the city is called the “Song and Soul of the South.”
While on a tour with Rock Candy Tours, you’ll be drawn the places and their stories (which are plenty and interesting), regardless of your level of music knowledge and fan status. And what makes it even more fascinating is that many of them are found in a 2-square mile part of Macon that’s referred to as the College Hill Corridor. Some of the most memorable music sounds started and/or grew from this influential area.
Visit: “Timeless” is how Karla Redding-Andrews refers to her father’s lyrics and music. As the executive director of the Otis Redding Foundation and Mini-Museum in downtown, she says his legacy continues not only through his music but also with the foundation. The foundation was established to create and promote education awareness programs in the arts and humanities. The mini-museum features memorabilia from Zelma Redding's (his wife) personal collection and more.
Grant’s Lounge may look average the outside, but on the inside during the 70s, it was a force to be reckoned with. Back then, if a band wanted to capture the attention of Phil Walden, founder of Capricorn Records and possibly sign a contract the next day, they would play here. Now in its 44th year, the lounge still rocks in Macon. Be sure to check out their “Wall of Fame,” the who’s who of Grant’s Lounge.
Tour: Even though the two-room apartment, a.k.a “the hippie crash pad” of the Allman Brothers Band is no longer, there is The Big House, the second most visited destination in Macon. Located on Highway 41 (see if you can say that instead of singing it), the dwelling is where the families and those connected to the band lived until 1973.Now it’s home to the Allman Brothers Band Museum.
The museum features the largest collection of Allman Brothers’ memorabilia like Gregg Allman and Cher’s pool table from their marriage and an 18-string bass referred to as "Thor." There are also personal things as well like Dicky Betts’ handwritten “Blue Sky” lyrics, and Duane Allman’s room includes his New Year’s resolutions.
Eat: The Rookery holds the distinction of being the longest-running independent restaurant and bar in downtown Macon. From the music-centric menu to the decor to the stories, this isn’t your typical restaurant. Be sure to try one of the “Jimmy Carter Milkshake,” featuring banana ice cream, peanut butter and strip of bacon.
Enjoy dinner at The Downtown Grill. The menu features steak, pasta, fish and more. Can’t go wrong ordering anything on the menu. The restaurant is the former site of Le Bistro, where Gregg Allman proposed to Cher.
Come for breakfast or lunch at H&H Restaurant, and be prepared to be well-fed, because that’s just the style.
In was in the 60s that a group of long haired boys pooled their money together for a meal, and after one plate, the Allman Brothers would become lifelong friends with “Mama Louise” Hudson. When asked about that faithful day, “Mama Louise” Hudson recalls seeing them outside, arguing which was going to ask her if they had enough for a plate. She says she felt sorry for them and fixed them a heaping plate. The next day even more returned, so she fixed up two heaping plates. She says they loved the chicken and the vegetables. And so will you after one bite.
The Tic Toc Room was once known as Miss Anne’s Tic Toc, where Little Richard got the chance to perform. However, he had to wash the dishes to do so. Presently at the Tic Toc Room, you can relax and enjoy the scene while sipping on a “Long Tall Sally” martini as you peruse the menu. There is something for all among their small plates, sushi and entrees.
See: In its heyday, Douglass Theatre, the African-American movie theater and vaudeville hall, hosted such greats as “Ma” Rainey, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and others. It was here in 1958 that Otis Redding won “The Teenage Party” talent show hosted by local DJ “Hamp Swain.” Redding would go on to win it for 15 consecutive weeks.
It may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it may be the final resting place for many notables, including three Georgia governors, but many music fans visit Rose Hill Cemetery for another reason. They come to pay respects to the grave sites of Duane Allman and bandmate Berry Oakley. Interestingly, the cemetery is also home to the Allman Brothers’ inspirations for the songs “Little Martha” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” as well as the monument from one of their photos.
No visit to Macon is complete without a stop at the Otis Redding statue. Located at Gateway Park, the life-size bronze statue of Redding is complimented with his songs playing on a 24-hour loop.
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