By Eryn Lee
The Capricorn Records studio is an important part of Macon’s history, and thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a plan is in development to help restore the building to its former glory.
The studio, founded Phil Walden, Alan Walden and Frank Fenter in 1969, was a record label for musical acts such as the Allman Brothers Band, Elvin Bishop and the Marshall Tucker Band. It has been cited by many music historians as the birthplace of Southern Rock.
For years, the building sat vacant and deteriorated until it was purchased by NewTown Macon. In 2015, Mercer University partnered with NewTown Macon, Sierra Development and Southern Pine Plantations to help bring the studio back to life. This restoration project is called Mercer Music at Capricorn.
Jared Wright, a Macon archivist and curator, has been recruited to develop Mercer Music at Capricorn’s restoration plan.
“The whole building is going to be renovated and it’s going to be put to use as a multi-use facility,” Wright said. “It’s gonna include my part, which is basically a museum-type exhibit. It’ll also include offices for music related organizations, and an incubator space for bands and artists to rent and practice in.”
Other parts of the plan included adding a new studio live room for instrumentalists and vocalists to perform, a gift shop, and an entertainment area below the exhibit.
Wright is co-founder of Field Note Stenographers, a group of musicians, promoters, business owners and live music fans interested in how live musical experiences can benefit the Macon community.
“I definitely think this project will help the community,” Wright said. “Not just the exhibit component of it, but the incubator space is something that’s very badly needed here for safe and secure spaces for musicians to rehearse outside of their houses…it’s a place where musicians can collaborate.”
There’s also hope that the exhibit will be partially community sourced, as part of the plan includes putting digital content involving Capricorn Records together for the public to view.
“I’d like to find a way for people to contribute to that collection of digital material, whether that’s uploading material of their concert stubs, posters from shows, or stories of their memories,” Wright said. “Everyone in Macon seems to have a memory of Capricorn Records, or Phil Walden, or even just seeing a bunch of hippies on the side of the road; [those memories] are important, and if people are able to contribute that and grow the exhibit in that way, then it stimulates this community involvement.”
The goal is have the project finished by 2019, which will be the 50th anniversary of Capricorn Records.