Worth Bragging About: 80 Bands, 20 Stages in Macon

Macon has been on a recent roll, musically speaking. Its legendary Capricorn Music studios are the centerpiece of a downtown redevelopment effort, the Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House remains a major draw, and a weekend celebration of what would have been Otis Redding’s 75th birthday is just around the corner in September.

Saturday, July 30 brings one of the city’s flagship musical events, when Bragg Jam will take over the town with a 12-hour “concert crawl” featuring wall-to-wall bands playing numerous venues — most within a two-block radius.

Floco Torres Big Band. Photo credit Love Dot Photography.

Floco Torres Big Band. Photo credit Love Dot Photography.

Roughly 50 of the more than 80 bands on this year’s bill hail from Georgia and run the stylistic gamut, including local sensation the Floco Torres Big Band and wildly eclectic Atlanta sisters Larkin Poe. Headliners Shakey Graves hail from Austin, Texas, and the lineup also has a distinctly Nashville vein running through it, but my personal pick is NYC indie popster Frankie Cosmos, who happens to be the daughter of ’80s heartthrobs Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates.

2016 marks the 14th edition of Bragg Jam, which began as a low-key memorial following the death of beloved local musician brothers on a 1999 road trip. Building a lasting legacy from that tragic situation, the event remains all-volunteer and channels its surplus to area causes dear to the Bragg brothers, such as the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and Amerson River Park.

The Crazy Bull in Macon. Photo credit: Page Walker, Network Frequency.

The Crazy Bull in Macon. Photo credit: Page Walker, Network Frequency.

An all-access ticket includes shuttle bus service between the many venues, spanning the Cox Capitol Theater, which made our recent list of iconic Georgia music venues, and the Hummingbird Stage & Taproom, which narrowly missed our list of Georgia music venues worth the drive. Most sites are all-ages, though some of the clubs are 18-and-over.

Bragg Jam’s free Arts & Kids festival will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, leading into the concert crawl’s 2 p.m. start. Food trucks will be parked near the Cherry Street Plaza site, but for those interested in sitting down for a meal, organizers also suggest the Taste and See Coffee Shop, the Bearfoot Tavern and Just Tap’d, all of which double as music stages for the day.

glen-headshotGlen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.

Where to Find Pokémon in Georgia

Have you gotta catch ’em all in Georgia? We scoured the Peach State to bring you the best places to catch Pokémon and battle for the honor of your team.

Pokémon at Georgia Visitor Information Centers

If you’re roadtripping around Georgia, make sure to stop at one of our 12 visitor information centers. Every center has either a PokéStop or a PokéGym. Our Ringgold Center on I-75 South, coming in from Tennessee, and our West Point Center on I-85N, coming in from Alabama, have both!

georgia pokegyms

Left: PokeStop and PokeGym at Ringgold VIC, Right: PokeGym at West Point VIC

Pokémon in Atlanta

If you’re visiting the capitol of the South this summer, check out the user-friendly Google Map created by Atlanta Reddit users. They’ve tagged over 200 Pokéstops across metro Atlanta.

Before you even get out of the airport, you can take advantage of Pokémon fever. Select locations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are now offering a Pokémon inspired cocktail to thirsty travelers. Grab a Pikachu Colada Sangria from these eating and drinking destinations in the world’s busiest airport: The Piano Bar on E – located on Concourse E, Varasano’s Pizzeria in the food court on Concourse A, Cat Cora Kitchen by gate A24 and the Atlanta Hawks Bar & Grill near gate A34.

Six Flags Over Georgia is literally swarming with Pokémon! With three PokéGyms and over 15 different PokéStop scattered all over the park, Six Flags Over Georgia is one of the best places to find and train all of your Snorlaxes, Jigglypuffs, and Ponytas.

Marietta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, is a particularly great place to catch rare Pokémon. The Marietta Square is teaming with Pokéstops and members of the three teams regularly get together to battle it out at the many PokéGyms.

Flowery Branch, Georgia is getting in on the craze with a screening of Pokémon:The First Movie Mewtwo vs. Mew at the Flowery Branch Train Depot on July 23rd.

A Venonat Pokémon in front of the fountain in Marietta Square, courtesy of the Marietta Daily Journal

A Venonat Pokémon in front of the fountain in Marietta Square, courtesy of the Marietta Daily Journal

Already on a team? Follow the Atlanta teams Valor, Mystic and Instinct on Twitter for the most recent meet-ups and Pokémon sightings.

Pokémon in Athens

The college town is being overrun with Pokémon. Follow UGA’s newspaper, The Red & Black, on Twitter for the latest sightings. While you’re exploring make sure to check out Creature Comforts Brewing Co., home to the famously hard-to-find Tropicalia IPA.

Pokémon in Toccoa

The North Georgia Mountains aren’t just for hiking and waterfalls anymore. Downtown Toccoa has reported sightings of dozens of PokéStops- the City Hall historic plaque and the Belk-Gallant Building plaque, among others.

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While you’re happily hunting, don’t forget to stop for lunch or a snack at Victoria’s Sweet Treats. They have a series of rewards based on your Go level- Level 30 players get a cupcake!

Pokémon in Macon

Macon may be known as “where Soul lives,” but it’s also home to some great PokéStops including restaurants like The Rookery and Parish on Cherry Street. Even the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base is getting in on the action.

Pokémon in Valdosta

Close to the Florida-Georgia border, V-Town is full of “Wild Adventures” and apparently rare Pokémon. Downtown Valdosta created this map to help you navigate the PokéStops and PokéGyms. You HAVE to check out Jessie’s Restaurant and Catering– they serve amazing chocolate chip pancakes during breakfast and a killer pimento grilled cheese sandwich during lunch.

Pokémon in Rome

In Rome, Georgia you’ll find PokéStops at the Rome-Floyd Welcome Center and The Partridge on Broad Street. If you’re lucky enough to have a Snorlax, The Partridge will even give you a free dessert! The statue of Romulus and Remus outside of Rome City Hall is a PokéStop and Las Palmas Mexican Bar & Grill is a PokéGym- probably the only place in Georgia where you can go to the gym and sip a margarita at the same time!

Pokemon: Eevee

Tommy Romanach finds an Eevee near the Rome Clock Tower.

Pokémon in Canton

“Where metro meets the mountains.” Canton, Georgia is less than an hour north of Atlanta and it in the embodies small-town charm while moving at a big-city pace. The local Patch recently reported that the Cherokee County Animal Shelter is a Pokémon Gym. What a great opportunity to volunteer to walk some pups and battle some Pokémon!

These are just a few of the places in Georgia to capture Pokémon. Check out Niantic’s PokéVision online to find places ahead of time and plan your exploration for maximum success. Don’t forget to tag your post with #ExploreGeorgia so we can share other hotspots!

**As the app warns at the start of the game, always “watch your surroundings” and be aware of what’s happening around you. Never Pokémon and drive!**

katie christofKatie Christof is the Senior Digital Strategist for Explore Georgia. When she’s not scouting out the newest Georgia restaurants and breweries, she’s scuba diving the nearby quarries or taking her cat Jane for a walk (it’s totally and thing). Keep up with all her travels over on Explore Georgia’s Snapchat @ExploreGeorgia.

Bike from Athens to Macon on the Antebellum Trail

Biking in Georgia

Savor spectacular scenery while biking the Antebellum Trail in Georgia.

One of Georgia’s newest bicycle trails travels through some of Georgia’s most historic communities on the Antebellum Trail. Cyclists can ride along sun-dappled country roads, past grand antebellum homes and quaint downtowns at just the right pace to take in the rich history of the old South. The Antebellum Trail Bicycle Route winds through seven historic communities that escaped Sherman’s march of fire and destruction through Georgia.

From Athens to Macon, the communities of Watkinsville, Madison, Eatonton, Milledgeville and Gray make up a collection of Georgia’s most beautiful towns and impressive architecture.

Fuel up for a long ride at Mama's Boy in Athens. Photo courtesy Mama's Boy, Facebook.

Fuel up for a long ride at Mama’s Boy in Athens. Photo courtesy Mama’s Boy, Facebook.

When exploring the Antebellum Trail by bicycle, you will experience an abundance of unique history, much tied to the American Civil War as well as Georgia’s Native American heritage. For fuel, finger-lickin’ good Southern cuisine just like Grandma made can be found in many locations along the path.

The cities of Athens and Macon, the largest along the route, anchor the trail at the north and south ends. In Athens, home of the University of Georgia, you will find one of the most vibrant biking, music and culinary destinations in the state. Bike lanes, wide shoulders, bike riders and considerate motorists are in abundance in the city limits. A stop at Mama’s Boy, outfitted with bike racks that cater to cyclists, is a must do for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Sit and stay to savor options from the “Southern fun” menu, such as chocolate cake for breakfast or Georgia peach French toast for lunch.

Traveling south, the next community on your way is the “Artland of Georgia,” Watkinsville. This friendly town has a thriving artists’ community known for its small-town charm. Make time to stop at The Eagle Tavern Museum, a stagecoach stop and tavern built in 1801.

Bike through beautiful Madison, Ga., on the Antebellum Trail.

Bike through beautiful Madison, Ga., on the Antebellum Trail.

As you continue to ride south, catch a glimpse of the Clydesdales running along the rolling countryside to Madison. A picturesque community and host to Bike Ride Across Georgia’s Spring Tune Up (April 15-17, 2016), this Southern gem survived General Sherman’s “March to the Sea” and is the second largest National Register Historic District in Georgia.

Carrying on over the scenic countryside, through a section of the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll arrive at the beautiful town center of Eatonton, the hometown of authors Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker. As you pass the residential district, featuring more than 100 antebellum and Victorian era structures, keep your eyes open as you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Sylvia the ghost at Panola Hall.

See the South on the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia

See the South on the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia

Now you are ready for the most challenging terrain leading in and out of Milledgeville, but it will be worth the sweat. The First Lady of Georgia, Milledgeville, was the Capital of Georgia during the Civil War. The town’s stately antebellum architecture, Civil War history, vibrant town center, nightlife, college culture and restaurants are welcome sights for cyclists. Park your bike at the Welcome Center and rest your legs as you hop aboard a guided trolley tour through town.

As you roll further south, follow the path of the Union soldiers during the March to the Sea down the streets of historic Old Clinton. You can tour the one-room school house museum and a Methodist cemetery, where many notable Georgians are buried. Gray, established in 1908 as the county seat of Jones, has antique and collectible shops, as well as local eating spots and a hotel. Enjoy the peaceful, easy feeling of these two countryside communities.

Sample soul food favorites at H&H in Macon.

Sample soul food favorites at H&H in Macon. Photo courtesy H&H, Facebook.

The southernmost point of the Antebellum Trail Bicycle Route concludes at the Visitors Center in Macon. Nearly 22 miles from Gray, Macon is known for its soulful music history and also offers opportunities to explore Native American, African American and Civil War heritages. Refuel at H&H Soul Food, an Allman Brothers Band favorite. They serve up plates of delicious smothered fried chicken; after all, you earned it.

The 170-mile Antebellum Trail Bicycle Route can be covered all at once or divided into shorter segments. Follow the 50-mile, three-day itinerary for the northern section of the trail, or the 130-mile, four-day itinerary for the southern section. More information on planning a bicycling tour of Georgia’s Antebellum Trail is available at www.bikeantebellum.com, including turn-by-turn directions from Georgia Bicycle Adventures.

Or drive the vehicle; we won’t tell anyone.

bonnie-webBonnie Simmons is the social media voice, website whiz and project coordinator for the Milledgeville-Baldwin CVB. Bonnie fell in love with the communities along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail while she attended Georgia College in Milledgeville and worked at the downtown staple establishment, The Brick. Now married and chasing a toddler, she appreciates the area’s family-friendly adventures, from walking at the Oconee River Greenway and touring the Uncle Remus Museum to attending all the local farmers markets.

Explore Georgia Wants to Find the World’s Biggest Georgia Music Fan!

shakykneesBSPEnter the #GeorgiaMusic Backstage Pass contest to win an eight-day
musical odyssey through Atlanta, Athens and Macon!

Georgia, known for musical heritage ranging from James Brown to Luke Bryan, is on a nationwide search for the most passionate Georgia music fan to explore the state’s vibrant music scenes and bring them to life via social media.

With its own rich and influential music heritage, including concerts, tours, landmarks and more than 100 music festivals statewide, Georgia offers authentic and memorable musical experiences that put fans closer than ever to their favorite artists from the past and present.

Georgia Theatre in Athens

Georgia Theatre is a prominent music venue in Athens that has hosted famous local bands such as REM and the B-52’s

The winner of the #GeorgiaMusic Backstage Pass contest and a guest will be treated to a tour of the state through Atlanta, Athens and Macon from May 8-15, 2016. During the trip, you will help us tell the stories of Georgia’s deep-rooted musical history on our blog and social media channels.

To enter the #GeorgiaMusic Backstage Pass contest, die-hard music fans must follow @ExploreGeorgia on Instagram, post a Georgia music-related photo using the hashtags #GeorgiaMusic and #GeorgiaMusicBackstagePass and tell us why you love Georgia music in the post. Don’t forget – your account must be public for us to see your submission!

Allman Brothers Band Museum Entrance

Get ready to rock when you roll into historic Macon, Georgia!

From April 4–15, 2016, Explore Georgia will collect entries and engage with contestants. On the final day we’ll select five finalists based on creative photography and fan engagement. The finalists’ entry will be posted to the ExploreGeorgia.org blog on April 18, 2016, for public voting. A winner will be announced on April 25, 2016.

Wilco at Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta

Wilco at Shaky Knees in Atlanta. Photo by aLIVE Coverage, from Shaky Knees, Facebook.

The #GeorgiaMusic Backstage Pass grand prize includes:
  • Round-trip air transportation to/from Atlanta
  • Hotel accommodations (eight nights) in Atlanta, Athens and Macon
  • Rental car
  • Music-focused tours and experiences in Atlanta, Athens and Macon
  • Two VIP tickets to the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta (May 13-15)
  • Daily stipend of $150

But that’s not all we’re giving away! One (1) runner-up will win two tickets to the Shaky Beats Music Festival, taking place May 20-22 at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Shaky Beats features more than 40 top electronic, indie and hip-hop acts across three stages. And you thought Georgia was only about country music…

The winner must be 25 years of age or older and his/her accompanying guest must be 21 years of age or older by May 8, 2016. The winner must be available to travel May 8 – 15, 2016. The winner and guest must depart from an airport in the 48 contiguous United States.

Enter today for an opportunity to be at the center of Georgia’s music story and have the chance to win a trip to experience our vibrant music for yourself!

By entering this contest you agree to follow the terms and conditions set forth here.

Learn more about Georgia music at ExploreGeorgia.org/music.

5 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Macon in the Spring

Explore the Macon State Farmers Market. Take your family and your appetite to the only farmers market that’s open seven days a week in the city. You’ll find produce stands, nurseries selling their plants, plus restaurants, a bakery and butchery.

Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

Families will love exploring the hands-on exhibits at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Root, root, root for the home team. Cheer as the referees drop the puck and the Macon Mayhem take on their regional opponents on home ice. See the Mercer University basketball team play in an attempt to make it into the NCAA tournament again. Families will also love exploring the hands-on exhibits at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Riverside Cemetery. Photo by Milton Heard.

Riverside Cemetery. Photo by Milton Heard.

Learn about haunted history. March 25-April 3, take the Spring Spirit Stroll through Riverside Cemetery and learn more about the history of the city while walking among its late residents. Because of the nature of the tour, this event is best for older children. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased in advance.

Enjoy a festival. Macon is home to a number of spring festivals, including:

Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences

Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences

Explore the 14-acre campus of the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Georgia’s largest general purpose museum, the campus offers a number of of art and science exhibitions, a planetarium, Mini-Zoo complete with over 70 live animals, an interactive Discovery House, nature trails and much more.

Remember, Macon is just over an hour from Atlanta and a little over 90 minutes from Columbus and Albany.

eileen-1437426635-thumb-230-230-10-58-1000-783-90Eileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.