My consistent fear for downtown Macon has been that the people developing and the people who are actually living in, using, and frequenting downtown are not working together. Yes, having high end lofts is nice, but having places where hippies and hipster can afford to stay, where creative types can set up shop to work and practice without sacrificing an arm and a leg for their craft, that has always been what downtown was about and something for which those who worked earlier for the revitalization of Downtown Macon strived.
I’m a cheerleader for Macon. I don’t deny it. I want to write in a way that puts a spotlight on the positive things that Macon has to offer. The people, the places, the experiences, and all the things that make Macon great. I’m not a fool, as some would think to call me, because of my eternal optimism. I just believe that thinking and acting positively towards the things that are positive and putting your shoulder to the grindstone to make the negative things better is a much better system of changing things than constant complaint, throwing your hands up, and lack of interaction.
Sometimes it’s frustrating.
I was born in Macon, Georgia. I spent the first years of adulthood trying to get the hell out of this town. And I did leave and live in some fantastic places and some not so fantastic places, but when I came back I knew I had to make the city I was in a place I would love to call home.
Macon has everything a city needs to be spectacular. Great dining worth broadcasting in regional and national publications. Affordable living and landlords that are not slumlords. Charming neighborhoods where you can walk across the street and borrow a cup of sugar, just like your grandmother did in the old days. Historic preservation that gives us a sense of place and attracts more visitors than many suspect. A governmental body that, despite its in-fighting, disagreements, and unfortunate racial divide, still manages to get things done for its citizens and continually works to do more. Unique businesses that drive commerce from outside of the city. The fact that I could go on from here is a testament to how far the city has come since I moved back in 1996.
The blessing and the curse of Macon is the people. In 2003, when I was living in Los Angeles, I found that despite falling in love with the weather; the diversity of activities, food, and people; and the beauty of the coast, not to mention the mountains that were only a few hours drive away, I missed the unique friendliness that makes up Macon, Georgia. For example, when I moved back in 1996, there was a little coffee shop on Cherry Street. I’d moved from Boston and wanted just a good cuppa. John Relyea, the proprietor, not only had a great selection of teas but an eclectic group of customers that basically informed what I have come to think of when I think of downtown Macon. It was the only place I could go after 8pm. Now, I have a variety of places to plug in my laptop, so to speak, and though there is a different group of them, I wouldn’t trade the eclectic, diverse groups that make up my downtown experience for the world. I have made friends just by sitting at a bar and saying hello, something I have not been able to duplicate anywhere in the United States as well as I have here.
All That To Say…
So, real talk.
I’m not Justin Cutway or Chris Nylund, people who have learned to play music, taught themselves about music, immersed themselves in music, etc. I’m not an expert. Never claimed to be. But I love music.
I love to sing, even though I can’t carry much of a tune.
I love to dance and will dance until the things required for dancing have long broken down. And as long as my shoulders can move, you know they’ll move!
And I love live music. I enjoy listening to an album over and over again and then discovering the difference between the album and the live set. I enjoy sinking my teeth into the personality that comes out on stage that gets hidden behind the vinyl, plastic, and paper of albums.
But I wasn’t always like that. I would get angry when the artist would deviate from the album. I used to only want to hear covers so I could sing along. And if you were a local band, I only followed a couple of local bands so that I could know them as well as those with albums.
But live music won me over and I’m not looking back.
I’ve been writing a lot about music, so I’m going to take it to it’s most essential. I made a Bragg Jam 2014 playlist. I used Spotify because it is the easiest way to put it together to share, but it was missing Madre Padre.
So, in order of how I’m going to try to see these bands:
Madre Padre: 5:45 – 7:15
Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires – 6:30 – 8:00
Family & Friends – 7:30 – 8:15
Cusses – 7:45-9:15
The Black Cadillacs – 8:30 – 10:00
Kopecky Family Band – 10:15 – 11:30
Moon Hooch – 10:15 – 11:45
American Aquarium – 10:30 – 12:00
Back City Woods – 12:00 – 1:30
JuBee & the Morning After – 12:15 – 1:45
The Whigs – 12:30 – 2:00
Feel free to like, share, copy, listen, etc. And if you make your own playlist, tag me in twitter (@angelcollins1) or leave a link in the comments!
When Chris Horne ran for city council a few years ago, I felt a tide turning. He challenged all of us to be the change we wanted to see. As a result of his run, I realized that I couldn’t just sit around any more. I had to start getting involved. Not just writing about the great stuff going on in town but also helping the great things going on in town come into bloom. Maybe I wanted to put my name on history, but mostly, I wanted to see what we were doing from the inside to see what we all could do from the outside.
It goes without saying that we need to be involved. If someone could find the magic formula for making people come out to things, that person could grow rich working for all of these organizations that want your $5 to $50,000 (whatever bracket you fall into). But there is not magic formula. People labor under the impression that there is nothing to do in Macon so therefore they don’t seek it out. People labor under the concept that there is a “cool” way to be – informed by peers, magazines, television programs and commercials, etc. While this last isn’t particularly a Macon problem, it is one that strongly affects the people who want to do things in Macon. And forget about our racial and class-ist backwardness. More on that later.
Yesterday, the creative community lost a contributor, Daniel Muhammed/Poetic Simbaltia Elimu/Mr. S/Speak, Poet, Speak. In fact, every time I saw him, he had a different name. His name on facebook changed constantly, but he always kept his image.
I was introduced to Daniel by Craig Burkhalter on a first Friday. It was one of those Fridays when I was able to just walk around. I wasn’t there for an organization or to promote anything. I was upstairs to moon over works of art that I wanted to get from Craig before heading down to the O’Dell studio for beers, to moon over his paintings and to hang out with my familiar First Friday crew. We’d eventually end up having too many High Lifes and singing along to someone picking a stringed instrument, but that’s a story for another day. Daniel was very interested in my life as a writer and spent the next 20 minutes of our time coming up with all the stories I could write about him. Every time he saw me, he wanted me to write about him.
There. I said it. This contest and event coordinated by Gateway Macon has brought up the same amount of huff and spit that possibly re-electing C. Jack mayor of macon elicited. There were people on both sides and definitely those with a lot of spite raising “a lot of fuss” as my grandmother would say, but I felt that the conversation during the election, while wild at time, was managed overall by a sense of understanding and the knowledge of the speakers and writers about the subject at hand. The last few weeks have proven that we are not on the same page. Read More…
There is something to be said about the live music I’ve heard in Macon. The original acts who are creating their own music have been great. Even if I’m not particularly interested in a genre of music, I have not gone to an event featuring a local musician or group that has not had me tapping my toe at least once. I love our fledgling little scene.
It is easy to get caught up in what type of music is better, what is worth your money or time, but the simple fact is, if the scene doesn’t come together, the fans won’t be able to get behind it. The scene can’t just be about only what’s going on downtown. It has to expand it’s reach to the domain of even those who only want one type of music: the kind they hear on the radio…