Rock Candy- Macon, Georgia's Music Tour
What do the Allman Brothers Band, Jason Aldean, Young Jeezy, Otis Redding, Lucinda Williams, James Brown and Little Richard have in common? Besides the fact that all are or were successful musicians, they have in common a strong link to Macon, Georgia. The city long ago earned a reputation as a musical hotbed, something that visitors can best delve into today by taking the Rock Candy Tour that celebrates Macon's musical history.
Rock Candy Tours is owned by Jessica Walden and her husband Jamie Weatherford and Jessica is the daughter of famed music industry executive Alan Walden and the niece of Phil Walden, founder of the legendary Macon-based (now defunct) Capricorn Records. Jessica is a Macon native who grew up with the music scene unfolding all around her every day and when she personally leads the tour (she's a new mama so she can't do it all the time) has incredible insider stories to tell. But Jamie and the others who give the tours are also very knowledgeable and all bring Macon's music history to life exuberantly.
Rock Candy Tours offers a variety of tours; some are conducted on foot while others move around town via shuttle, and the itinerary may vary from day-to-day. But some of the places generally on the tour are The Douglass Theatre where Otis Redding played in his early '20s as "Rockhouse Redding" and where there's a Walk of Fame (a modest sidewalk tribute to James Brown, Little Richard, Hamp "King Bee" Swain and Redding), the old Capricorn Records building and the place where a memorial for Redding was held (watch for the tribute "rock n roll will live forever" etched into the cement near here.) You'll see the H&H Restaurant where "Mama" Louise works; she famously fed the members of the Allman Brothers Band here back when they couldn't afford lunch. If you have a chance come back to the restaurant because Mama makes good eats and there's also some Allman Brothers memorabilia inside. Ironically, the restaurant is just across the street from the hospital where Allman Brothers members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley died after their respective motorcycle accidents, and you'll hear those sad details while at H&H.
The former home of Capricorn Records
Douglass Theatre walk of fame
Grant's wall of fame
Two of the highlights of the Rock Candy Tour are the Big House, the former home of the Allman Brothers Band that is now a museum, and Grant's Lounge, a rock bar that's been around since 1971. Grant's, upon first look, is nothing more than a dark and dingy dive bar. But this humble establishment is actually given credit as being the birthplace of southern rock, and that's not just because folks like the Allmans, Wet Willie, Blackfoot, the Outlaws, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grinderswitch and the Dixie Dregs all honed their chops here; it's because of things like Phil Walden auditioning the Marshall Tucker Band here, signing them to Capricorn the next day and launching their career as one of the keystone acts of southern rock. Grant's has a "wall of fame" filled with memorabilia; some of it is fading from the decades on display but this is well worth seeing and your Rock Candy tour guide can fill in the details on many of the artists who've played the club.
At the Big House
The Big House is someplace all Allman Brothers fans and rock fans in general should make a pilgrimage to. Rock Candy allots a generous amount of time for your visit to the place as there are several floors to explore. A few years back the museum was limited to the first floor as the home's then owner lived in the upstairs. Now though, the entire house is filled with memorabilia ranging from guitars and keyboards to records, photos, backstage passes, posters, clothing and all kinds of stuff owned or used by or related to members of the band. Some of the upstairs living areas have been configured as they were when the band lived there, and your tour guide will tell you things like what songs were written on the front porch or in a particular room. The gift shop here is a godsend to fans as well since they stock some of the harder to find music, like for example CDs by offshoot group Sea Level. There's also Allman-related stuff outside, like mushroom (the band's logo) sculptures located near the small special events stage in the backyard.
The Big House entryway
The Big House
Some of the other musicians with ties to Macon include Dr. John, soul singer Eddie Floyd, R.E.M. members Bill Berry and Mike Mills, Elvin Bishop, bluesman Eddie Kirkland, '50s star Buddy Knox ("Party Doll") and country artist Razzy Bailey. If the name of your favorite Macon-related musician doesn't come up on the tour, just ask your guide.
Rock Candy Tours must be booked in advance at www.rockcandytours.com or (478) 955-5997
To plan a trip to Macon: www.visitmacon.org and www.exploregeorgia.org
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