My kids are at an age where they love live music. So when I heard about Bragg Jam, a progressive concert in downtown Macon, Ga., we made a date to go with the teens. With 19 stages and 90 bands, it was a lot to take in, and we weren’t sure what to expect. Here’s your guide to Macon’s hottest concert ticket.
UPDATE FOR 2020:
“With heavy hearts the Bragg Jam Board of Directors has decided to cancel the 2020 Concert Crawl and Arts & Kids Fest due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. This difficult and necessary decision was not made lightly, but ultimately, the health and safety of all our attendees is too important and Bragg Jam’s responsibility to this community is too great. We feel the structure of the Concert Crawl and Arts & Kids Fest do not allow for adequate safety measures to be put in place or adhered to.”
The festival will continue next year on July 30 and 31st, 2021.
15 Things You Need to Know about Bragg Jam For 2021
How Bragg Jam Began. Bragg Jam is a tribute to Macon musicians and brothers Brax and Tate Bragg. The brothers were killed in a 1999 car crash in Texas while on a cross-country trip. Friends and family gathered to remember the brothers in what turned into a big jam session.
What is Bragg Jam? Bragg Jam has turned into the area’s largest music festival but it is still small enough to truly enjoy. However, it is a bit different than a traditional music festival where you have a few stages in one large outdoor environment, so read on for the tips you need to know.
It’s a Lot to Take In. We went in 2017 and there were 19 different stages and more than 90 bands! That’s a lot of music. And that didn’t include the music pouring out of alleys from other venues. We didn’t even scratch the surface visiting only six of the venues, and one unaffiliated outdoor patio.
Get the Schedule. Keep it Close. Be sure you have a brochure with the schedule and map of all the locations. The 19 different stages were located within different buildings in Macon. Many are bars, restaurant patios and the like. Some are normal concert venues, or special events spaces. Bragg Jam does offer a shuttle to the different venues, but we ended up staying in a small area and walking back and forth. You can also take Lyft between the venues. To sweeten the deal, we’re giving you $50 in Lyft credits to get yourself a driver for the evening. (must be a first time Lyft customer)
Research or just go with the flow. On our way to Macon, I had to laugh when I realized my husband hadn’t just printed out the schedule, he had researched the bands and brought with him five post-it notes full of band names with notations simply stating – yes, no, maybe.
As we drove the hour and a half to Macon, he and my 19-year-old perused Spotify refining their research. In the end, we did see some of those bands, but we also just went to convenient venues and took in the current act.
It’s a Huge Block Party. One of the coolest parts of Bragg Jam is the city closes down several streets and it becomes a big block party. Police blocked off parts of Cherry, Second, and Third Streets for the event, and on street parking outside the Bragg Jam zone was free on the weekend. Open container is allowed, and it was nice to be able to grab a drink at one place and not have to finish it because you were ready to go see someone else.
It’s Cool Inside. As I mentioned, this is not a normal music festival, but a progressive venue crawl, so you won’t find any of the bands performing in the street. Given that it’s July in middle Georgia, it’s nice to have a mix of inside and patio venues as it can get pretty hot. Thankfully, the weather wasn’t too bad when we went, and the hand fans provided were not only a fun keepsake, but very functional as well.
Free Concerts. If you don’t want to buy tickets for Bragg Jam, you can still enjoy the vibe and there are several venues that are free. We saw several shows at Bearfoot Beer Garden, which did not require a ticket, my favorite being a The Lawsuits from Philadelphia.
Cool Venues. Of course with a ticket to Bragg Jam, you can see all the bands, but you also get into some pretty cool venues too. As soon as I walked into Grant’s Lounge, I knew there was something special about it. Come to find out Grant’s is a Macon institution and the original home of Southern Rock.
Bringing the Kids. We went to Bragg Jam with my 19-year-old and 13 year-old. Both like music, but it was a bit too much of a good thing for my 13-year-old, especially because there weren’t any bands he knew, so he didn’t recognize any of the songs.
In addition, there were a couple of venues where he couldn’t get in, even with us, so we had to break up our party. That said, we saw everyone from young children (during the daytime events) through to older adults.
Online Sales End Early. We had our tickets prior to going to Bragg Jam, but we noticed as we stopped for lunch that online it said Bragg Jam tickets were sold out. However, those were just the online tickets. Organizers were still selling tickets on site when we arrived. Moral of the story: if you can’t get tickets online, don’t be deterred, you can still get tickets on site.
Come Early. Stay Late. We missed the Friday night VIP party, but we did arrive in Macon early on Saturday to catch a Rock Candy music tour and have lunch at the Rookery before checking in at the Hilton Garden Inn, a less than $10 Lyft ride from Bragg Jam.
On Sunday, we went to see the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds before heading back to Atlanta. Still on my list is the Tubman Museum, The Ocmulgee Heritage Trail (proceeds from Bragg Jam go toward it’s upkeep), Rose Hill Cemetery, and the Hay House. Need more ideas? I learned about Bragg Jam reading this awesome article from Kate Gelsthorpe on Things to do in Macon. Check it out for even more fun ideas.
Rock on with Rock Candy Tours. We took the 2.5 hour walking tour through the residential district with Rock Candy Tours. The tour begins at H&H Soul Food Restaurant, an iconic Macon eatery itself (with amazing biscuits).
The tour focused a good bit on the Capricorn Records era, showing the crash pads for the Allman Brothers, Blind Willie and others, but it also included a lot of Macon history, and architecture.
I enjoyed strolling through the beautiful old neighborhoods, and hearing the stories. This is a wonderful way to experience Macon. My boys however felt it was a bit long – mostly because they weren’t overly interested in the Allman Brothers, and they had to walk.
Rock Candy has several tours, including a shorter 1.5 hour Free Birds & Night Owls tour of the Macon commercial/nightlife district, or a shuttle tour if you’re not up for walking.
Historic Macon Music Registry. During Bragg Jam, the Rookery was handing out fans with a scavenger hunt using the hashtag #HistoryMeetsMusic. These fun fans are a promotion for Historic Macon’s Music Registry. Throughout the city you’ll find green circle plaques denoting a significant event in Macon’s music history. Find a map of the sites on the Historic Macon site.
Music Scavenger Hunt. In addition to the #HistoryMeetsMusic hunt, I found a brochure for another #MaconMusicHunt. This is another fun way to learn about the city and in take it’s musical history. You can pick up a brochure for the #MaconMusicHunt at Travis Jean Emporium, Parish on Cherry, and Fatty’s Pizza.
Eat Where It All Started. The first ever Bragg Jam, was a jam session at the Rookery. It seemed only fitting that we began our Bragg Jam weekend enjoying a burger that Garden and Gun Magazine has voted one of the best in the South. And the locally sourced milkshakes are pretty darn awesome too.
The Rookery is owned by the Moonhanger Group, which also owns the iconic H&H Soul Food. Moonhanger purchased H&H from Mama Louise, the Macon restaurateur who famously fed a group of skinny hippies with no money who had been at nearby Capricorn Records. Those long-haired boys were the Allman Brothers.
In addition to delicious southern cooking, the walls are a mini-museum to great musicians who have come through the doors.
After learning about Bragg Jam in this article on Things to do in Macon, we worked with the Macon Convention and Visitors Bureau on a press trip to the 2017 event to check it out. All opinions are my own.