The annual homage to the Allman Brothers Band and their place in music history will kick off tonight with a weekend of concerts and activities.
GABBAfest features classic blues and Southern rock performers as well as up-and-coming blues stars and a jam session. The Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association, or GABBA, formed in 1992 and has been hosting a version of the festival since its founding.
“It was originally a collector’s revival and reunion of Allman Brothers fans and somewhere around the fourth one they started using the name GABBAfest for it,” said Laraine Potter, who serves as GABBA’s president. “The music is obviously a major thing but it’s also a reunion of friends.”
The 24th annual festival also includes a tree dedication and recognition of someone who has contributed to preserving the Allman Brothers legacy.
“When GABBA started out, it was before there was a Georgia Music Hall of Fame and before there was a Big House and it was during a time I’m told there was no sign in Macon that there had ever been an Allman brother here,” Potter said. “They started out more as a way to get collectors and fans together but also as a way to preserve the history. So, we still try and continue that.”
The festival starts tonight at the Douglass Theatre with a 6:30 p.m. set by Dos Blues Guys, a duo who won the Atlanta Blues Challenge and will be going to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January, Potter said.
This will be followed by Robert Lee Coleman and the Night Owls. The night finishes off with the Marcus King Band, whose lead singer cites Warren Hayes and Derek Trucks as big influences.
Saturday’s events start in the afternoon with a GABBA members jam at the Big House, the Vineville Avenue home where members of the Allman Brothers Band lived from 1970-1973.
“Our members jam is one of our most popular things,” Potter said. “That’s where several of our members will get together and play Allman Brothers’ tunes.”
The locally-based Southern funk band Royal Johnson will be hosting the jam. They will play a few songs and then members will swap in and out to play, Potter said.
This session will run from 1-4 p.m and is free with a GABBAfest pass or Big House museum admission.
On Saturday evening, there are more concerts at the Douglass with blues band Otis starting things off at 7 p.m. The evening ends with Samantha Fish — an up-and-coming, award-winning blues singer, guitarist and songwriter.
“She’s not been in Macon before,” Potter said.
Jimmy Hall, who is best known as the lead singer and harmonica player for Wet Willie, will be playing as a special guest both nights.
“He will be sitting in as an artist at large,” Potter said.
During the intermission Saturday, GABBA will announce the recipient of its tree dedication, which will happen at 1 p.m. Sunday at Rose Hill Cemetery. The group also will announce its GABBY award winner.
“That’s an award we present each year to somebody who has contributed to the preservation of the Allman Brothers legacy,” Potter said.
The weekend caps off with the Big House’s backyard concert series, which takes place the last Sunday of each month. This concert will feature Beau + Luci — Georgia sisters with a folk rock sound — and Japanese guitarist Kunio Kishida.
▪ 7 p.m. Sept. 23, Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Doors open at 6 p.m. Featuring Dos Blues Guys, Robert Lee Coleman and the Night Owls and the Marcus King Band. $25 for Friday shows only.
▪ 1-4 p.m. Sept. 24, the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, 2321 Vineville Ave. GABBA members jam session. Free with weekend pass ($50) or museum admission.
▪ 7 p.m. Sept. 24, Douglass Theatre. Doors open at 6 p.m. Featuring Otis and Samantha Fish. $30 for Saturday shows only.
▪ 1 p.m. Sept. 25, Rose Hill Cemetery, 1091 Riverside Drive. Tree dedication. Free.
▪ 2-5 p.m. Sept. 25, the Big House museum. Featuring Beau + Luci and Kunio Kishida. Free, but online registration required at freshtix.com/events/lastsunday-gabbaweekend
Tickets and information: freshtix.com/events/gabbafest-2016-weekend-tickets; 478-765-2822