Temperatures approaching 100 degrees didn’t stop thousands from coming to Macon to enjoy some old-school soul music Sunday.
The 21st annual Macon Soul Jam Festival was held at Henderson Memorial Stadium, with over 3,000 people expected. State Sen. David Lucas said the original organizers were going to shut it down after three years, but he took it over has been doing it ever since. Part of the proceeds go to a scholarship in honor of his late son and other charitable causes.
“I started it because people came to me and asked ‘Why do we always have to go to Atlanta (for a concert),’ ” Lucas said.
Now that is working the other way around, with people at Sunday’s festival from Atlanta and other parts of the state. Herbert and Marteca Moses drove from Athens for the concert, and stayed overnight in Macon the night before. It was their first time at the event.
“I’m old school and I love old-school music,” Marteca said.
A long line had formed outside before the gates open, and once that happened it wasn’t long before the field turned into a sea of multicolored umbrellas and tents.
Lucas said a big part of the appeal of the event is that it’s outdoors, so people can enjoy music without being packed into a bar or other indoor venue. People are allowed to bring coolers and many were being brought through the gates.
One of the biggest acts was the Bar-Kays, a group that started in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1960s and traveled with Otis Redding. James Alexander, a bass player and original Bar-Kays member, was on stage with the group Sunday. Alexander was the only Bar-Kays member who was not on Redding’s plane when it crashed in 1967, killing Redding and four Bar-Kays members. Alexander had the task of identifying the bodies, including Redding.
Alexander and the Bar-Kays have been coming to Soul Jam for years, and he said he enjoys seeing the large crowd come out and enjoyed old-school music.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” he said before performing. “No offense to the rappers with all the computerized stuff like that, but live music will never die.”