Organizers to hold fundraiser for Allman Brothers museum

There’s going to be one major difference between Saturday night’s Big House Revival benefit and the two that preceded it.

This year, the Big House is finally expected to open.

Kirsten West, managing director of the Big House — a former Macon residence turned into an Allman Brothers Band museum — said she is confident that it will open before the end of 2009. That would be rather appropriate, since this year marks the band’s 40th anniversary.

“We will be opening at the end of the year,” she said. “It’ll be no later than December of this year.”

The revival is the Big House’s annual major fundraiser, combining dinner and live music with a live and silent auction. Saturday’s event will take place at the Armory Ballroom, 484 First St., beginning at 6 p.m.

Gospel act Mike Farris, featuring the Roseland Rhythm Review and the McCrary Sisters, will be the main entertainment of the evening, with Macon’s Scott Baston & The News Architects opening with special guests David Blackmon and Mark Van Allen. Megan North will be providing live music during the cocktail hour.

Food for the event will be provided by seven restaurants, including Good To Go, Ingleside Pizza, Satterfield’s, Jim Shaw’s, The Red Tomato, Jittery Joe’s and H & H.

John Folsom, whose company Mac Attack owns several Middle Georgia McDonald’s restaurants, bought a table for the event and said Macon’s musical history was one of the few things he knew about the area when he moved here four years ago. At that time, he said, Kirk West, Kirsten’s husband and road manager for the band, was just starting up the museum.

“(The Big House) has been doing some great things,” Folsom said. “They are doing things like mentoring young adults and children. ... Macon used to be the main center of music in Georgia, and they are trying to bring that back. (The museum) will give a lot of people in Georgia the chance to see how music started here.”

Kirsten West said renovation work to the Big House is going well, with much of the labor and materials donated by Allman Brothers fans.

“The roof is done,” she said. “We have brand new windows. All 106 windows were donated. A new heating and air conditioning unit has been installed. We’re about to do the floors. The interior of the house should be done within the next 90 days.”

After that, West said, it will be a matter of installing the displays in the museum.

Despite the nation’s economic woes, West said people still are donating money to the museum and buying tickets to the revival. West said 16 tables had been sold through Wednesday, along with 200 tickets, with some people coming from as far as Kentucky for the show.

Last year’s Revival grossed about $60,000, West said, and she feels this year’s should be able to match that total.

“Last year, it snowed in Atlanta, which affected our turnout,” she said. “But I feel very confident the number of tickets will match.”

The money the Revival raises is important, West said, because the foundation can no longer count on grant money because the economy has dried up available funds.

“But we’ve raised over $2 million from fans and individuals,” she said. “A very small amount of money has come from grants.”

The foundation also will receive funds from an Allman Brothers fundraiser and auction in New York City in April. In addition, the DVD documentary the foundation produced about the band, “Please Call Home,” will be released within the next few weeks.

“We’re always looking for benefactors,” she said. The Big House “is an asset not only to Macon but to the state of Georgia.”

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