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…
It’s not often that I look through my events on Facebook and think, “How am I going to do it all?” I mean, it’s happened before on weekends… and remember those few months where Tuesday and Thursday were the busiest days of the week? It’s getting close to that again especially with all of the music the Moonhanger Group is bringing to The Cox Capitol Theatre – but they are not alone. Here are all the things you can do this weekend, and I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry, but you’re going to hate me because you’ll want to do them all as well.
I’m a fan of American Aquarium. It’s a little more than the rollicking beat of their feel good Americana – hell, sometimes, the lyrics are about feeling down, yet they infuse even those songs with a sort of dark humour that makes it feel fun – but the members of the band themselves who have fun and hang out with the fans afterwards as if the entire city of Macon were their good friends.
The last time I saw the band was Bragg Jam. It was also the best I’d heard them of the three other times I’d heard them of the three other times I’d gone to see them. In front of an audience filled with Christians, fans, the curioius, they declared their love for Macon, the Hummingbird in particular, and I felt a swell of pride for my city. I believed BJ Barham, the singer, becauseit was told through the honest of free alcohol and the lens of open armed hospitality that Vic Stanley and the ‘Bird always offered the band.
Maybe a week later, BJ visited the city, sans band, with fellow singer/songwriters Jay Buchanan and Joe Fieldman. American Aquarium were taking a break between tours. BJ talked to Joe and they set up their own mini-tour.
Joe Firstman met BJ in Raleigh after a show and BJ told him he had Joe’s first record and knew every song. Joe asked BJ if he wanted to be a part of his acoustic tour, but BJ recommended coming to the ‘Bird in Macon. Joe also asked friend Jay Buchanan to come along and Jay obliged, all the way from Los Angeles, CA.
Jay got the evening started at 11. My husband said he sounded like Jeff Buckley on the Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk album, but I thought he sounded like a blues musician. I see the Buckley comparison. His songwriting is excellent. The album has been on rotation at work. It has a very bluesy, guitar rock sound to it. Joe Firstman, on the other hand, was more soulful, deliberate with his lyrics and playing style. BJ was simply without band, playing music similar to what we would hear from him, putting a southern drawl on acoustic, indie rock music. It was a good night for music.
Tonight, I’m looking forward to seeing American Aquarium, not to mention that it’s ladies night. Increasingly, I find that Macon is getting to the point where I can pick a night and a venue and find good music. It’s about damn time! But even as far as it’s progressed, there is still a lot to do to make this a scene that other scenes want to be and other scenes’ groupies want to be with. I’m kinda optimistic we’ll get there. Fingers crossed.
[UPDATE: Now with Pictures!]
This post is a long time coming and is pretty long, but you will understand why if you were part of the event.
Friday night, things got off to a good start with the Macon Noise Vol. 1 Fundraiser. Paying a grand total of $3, those of us who ventured to Grant’s Lounge on Poplar Street in downtown Macon were treated to six bands (and a comedian). That’s the best deal I’ve ever had when it comes to music. Scotty Lingelbach started it all off, followed by Some Witches Are Horses, which gave me a new love for the autoharp. Xavii was up next. I heard them play at the Local 478 Final Friday event a week before and while I liked what I heard, I wasn’t overly impressed. They showed me, at Grant’s, why the name Xavii gets people out to listen.
I have got to hand it to Clark Bush. That guy can get excited about some music. But then again, if you come out to the shows, even occasionally, you can see why he’s so excited.
These bands are so damn good. These artists are so damn good. All of these people are working so damn hard to make sure there’s something to do here in Macon. So what’s the newest project turning our attention to local music?
College Hill Corridor was definitely busy this weekend.
I used to be someone who said that there was nothing to do in Macon. That’s because I didn’t really know anybody and I didn’t take the time to get to know people, because it is this connection with people and the community that lets you know about things that are going on. There is always someone trying to keep us on top of what’s going on, whether it is NewTown Macon, the 11th Hour, MFood and Culture or little old me with this blog, and we want this community to get out and DO SOMETHING…
I still have hearing loss.
If you were a part of Bragg Jam, you were a part of something rich. It was overflowing with music, good food, and friends tromping around with you from stage to stage. If you didn’t wear sneakers like I told you too, I know your feet hurt worse than mine. Legs, shoulders, neck – all hurt from dancing. How can you help it. Every show, we were right near the front, speakers blaring, everybody dancing. How awesome was it?