Birthplace of Southern Rock will see new life as ‘vibrant music hub’ for artists in Macon

Time was not kind to the downtown studio where The Allman Brothers Band recorded original hit songs and Southern Rock was born.

In December, a half-century later, Maconites and music lovers will celebrate the renaissance of the Capricorn Studios building.

The sacred music space is the final steps of a $4.3 million renovation paid for with historic tax credits, donations, grants from Peyton Anderson Foundation, Mercer University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The resurrected studio will be part of “a vibrant music hub that will leverage the rich music heritage of this region into what we expect will be a vibrant music future here,” Mercer University President Bill Underwood said at a news conference Monday.

Mercer Music at Capricorn will serve as an incubator for musicians with 12 rehearsal rooms, including a special room for audio editing and mixing. The rooms are available for rent for $100 per day, $250-500 per month or yearly and are accessible 24 hours, seven days a week. The two recording studios range from $600-$1,000 per day.

The studio will not only be a place where musicians can perfect their crafts.

It also will include eight office spaces, three conference rooms and offices for nonprofit arts organizations or music-related businesses such as Bragg Jam and the Macon Film Festival. Offices rent for $250 per month and co-working spaces rent for $100 per month.

What’s more, it will be home to a museum with interactive storytelling exhibits. The museum will operate Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Satudays from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Admission will cost $7. Studio tours on Saturday cost $5.

The studio will officially open Jan. 2.

“This building contains so many memories,” former Allman Brothers Band member Chuck Leavell said Monday. “We’ve made a lot of music in this building. It does my heart so good to know it’s not going to fall into dilapidation and fade away.”

Celebration plans

Mercer Music at Capricorn will open to the public Dec. 3, in time for the studio’s 50th anniversary.

A celebration, live music and formal announcement are planned at 2 p.m. on an outdoor stage behind the studios.

After that, Jimmy Hall, former lead singer for Wet Willie, will perform a 45-minute set and the studio will open for free tours. Live music will start inside the studio will go on until 6 p.m. with Robert Lee Coleman, Chris Hicks from the Marshall Tucker Band, Magnolia Moon and Hindsight among performing artists.

The re-opening celebration will end at 8 p.m. for the Capricorn Revival concert at Macon City Auditorium.

The concert will feature original Allman Brothers Band member Jaimoe, Rolling Stones Music Director Chuck Leavell, the Randall Bramblett Band and other former Capricorn artists.

Tickets cost between $58-128 and will go on sale at 10 a.m. Oct. 11 on Ticketmaster.com.

For donors who give $1,000 or more to the project, there is a VIP party Dec. 2. The party, for invited guests and donors, will include food, drinks, tours of the studio and music by the Randall Bramblett Band. Gifts can be made online at capricorn.mercer.edu.

About Capricorn Records

According to NewTown Macon, Capricorn Records studio at 540 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. is the physical space that captured and defined the 1970s Southern rock sound. It was purchased as a studio space for Otis Redding and the soul artists on RedWal Music, a music publishing firm operated by Otis Redding, Phil Walden and his brother Alan Walden. Plans for a recording studio were put on hold after Redding’s untimely death on Dec. 10, 1967.

After a brief hiatus, Phil Walden helped launch Capricorn Records in 1969 with guidance from his mentor, Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler. Walden, Frank Fenter and others assembled a roster of new rock talent that included the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie and Elvin Bishop.

As the success of the touring artists rose, the label needed a studio in Macon and found a location in the real estate that Redding and Walden had purchased a few years earlier. By the mid-1970s, the headquarters of Capricorn Records included executive offices on Cotton Avenue and the active recording studio on what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Among the artists to record at the legendary studio — both signed to Capricorn or associated with its music — included the Allman Brothers Band, Wet Willie, Marshall Tucker Band, Bonnie Bramlett, Livingston Taylor, Charlie Daniels, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Clarence Carter and more.

Laura Corley covers education news for The Telegraph, where she advocates for government transparency and writes about issues affecting today’s youth. She grew up in Middle Georgia and graduated from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.