Music News & Reviews

Walden: Discovering ways we haven’t done it before

Last weekend was the start of the Second Sunday concert season. The free, outdoor live music series will happen every second Sunday of the month now through October, lending itself to one of the best community picnics in Middle Georgia.

Over the years, the event grew into a tradition for many of us. During the Second Sunday season, you keep the coolers close by, your picnic baskets on repeat and if you have kids, you’ve learned to pack towels since few can resist the well-carved waterworks of Washington Park.

We even have our favorite park spots, where we arrive earlier and earlier for each show to re-claim it with our blankets and lawn chairs.

This month’s kick-off to the concert series was the start of a new tradition for me. After years of being involved with the planning and execution of the event, now my biggest responsibility is to just enjoy it. My office of the College Hill Alliance has turned over the event to the Bragg Jam organization as a strategy to keep the event sustainable for years to come.

You would think that would make things easier, but I am the first to admit that sitting back has never quite been my style. As the event grew closer -- and I had less to do with it -- I caught myself midway through the sentence, “But that’s not how we’ve done it before.”

But the fact is, the way we haven’t done it before is the way we get things done in a community. From something as complicated as the social fabric to something as simple as a local event, if you want something done, don’t always do it the way it’s been done before.

Macon is the birthplace of Little Richard, whose strange sound and stage antics made him the “Architect of Rock ’n’ Roll.” It’s the hometown of Otis Redding, whose performance at the Monterey Pop Festival shattered the status quo. It’s the city that gave Southern rock its starting point. Imagine if they hadn’t done it differently.

It’s easy to grumble that Macon gets stuck in its ways. But it’s bolder to be part of the change. The truth of it is, this city has a much deeper sense of progress than we often give it credit for.

You know why this community is so full of excitement right now? Because it hasn’t been done this way before.

The calendar of events has never been fuller! Civic engagement has never been so open! Public art has never stirred so much discussion! Sure, the circles on Coleman Hill may look a little strange against their antebellum backdrop. But my own son will grow up never knowing the landscape any different -- or that it hadn’t been done before.

It’s that young future who is depending on our steps outside our comfort zones. If we want to sustain what is good, we must continue to discover different ways to evolve it.

The Bragg Jam Festival organization has been one of the best at doing that. The annual music event is a tradition, but year after year it finds ways to change it up -- just enough that the attraction continues to grow. No doubt, it will do the same with Second Sunday.

It’s never out with the old and in with the new. It’s connecting our past with a sense of renew. And spring is no better time to showcase that spirit. I can’t wait to see what we haven’t done before.

Jessica Walden is the director of communications with the College Hill Alliance and co-owner of Rock Candy Tours, a Macon music history tour company. Contact her at