I can honestly say that Bragg Jam is the coolest weekend in Macon. Despite living here off and on for over ten years, this year was only my third time attending. In 2013, I spent what felt like the entire evening filming Acoustic Alleys for The Blue Indian, and in a phenomon all too familiar to those involved in events like this, I spent more time covering it than actually enjoying the various performances. Obviously I'm grateful for the opportunities to meet and film those artists, but I was looking forward to a more relaxed experience this year. With my D7000 still in the shop, and only coming back into town from a week in Charleston a few hours before the first set, I ceded the true event coverage to the other talented photographers working with the site, and hopefully can catch up with some of the other artists for fresh Acoustic Alleys later this year. So for event coverage, this selection of pictures is admittedly pitiful, so I'll point you in the direction of Scott Corkery, and the other photographers for a better view of what actually happened last night. These are just a few moments that stuck out to me, and I wanted to share.
I started my evening at the Hummingbird with Lee Baines III and the Glory Fires. I don't have anything from that set, but I was blown away. I'm not sure that I've ever heard anything exactly like his brand of Southern punk, but it somehow sounded familiar, and made perfect sense. I'll be checking them out this week, cause I've obviously been in the dark for way too long in regards to his music.
Upon leaving the 'Bird, I joined up with JR and Maggie Olive and heard the familiar sound of Streetline, Macon's independent drumline. Streetline is amazing. I spent the majority of my high school free time in our school's drumline (marching and indoor), so I always appreciate getting to see this collection of people party in the street. In contrast to the strict regulations that competitive drumlines are held to, Streetline is chaotic in the best way; far more organic than what I was used to in high school. They usually show up at most downtown events, and the next time you hear the cadence in the distance, find them, and watch them for a few minutes. You won't be disappointed.
When we arrived at The Library Ballroom, Seven Handle Circus's set was already well underway. To be honest, I'm not familiar with them and had only heard bits and pieces before last night. We stayed long enough for JR to try Macon Beer Company's new IPA, and headed out. Seven Handle Circus sounded like solid bluegrass, but the night was young and the room was hot. I hope to catch a full set sometime in the future.
Stationed right outside of The Library Ballroom was Pinky's Shaved Ice. This kind lady made me a delicious Tropical Punch shaved ice. I only had $4 in my pocket, but she gave me a $5 large anyway. If you haven't spent much time in Macon, you won't appreciate the generosity inherent in a free ice drink, but trust me, this lady is a lifesaver. She asked for a picture, so this is my gift to her.
After meeting up with my wife, we made our way into The 567 to catch the tail end of Bombadil. I had filmed this trio earlier this year for the Macon Music Ambassadors series, but it had been an outdoor show in Mercer Village, so I wanted to see them in an actual venue. I don't really know how to describe this band without forcing a lot of random genres together, so just listen to their song "Oto the Bear". That's what they are, and they do it very well. Take it or leave it.
After Bombabil ended their set, we made our way upstairs to The Revival Fest. Gallery Stage for SunDollars. The SunDollars are no strangers to The Blue Indian or the Macon scene, having appeared in our Acoustic Alley series, and played in many of our shows. These gentlemen have a sound that exceeds their years. Their songs range from obvious surf rock-influences to more traditional garage rock. Furthermore, I believe that each member plays each of the instruments, so their collective synergy is constantly morphing and reinventing itself throughout the set. I don't know this guy's name, but his voice is my favorite in Macon. They'll be playing Mercer's SoCon Fest this year to kick off the football season, so come out experience this show.
After meeting up with a few more friends and grabbing some grub at The Greek Corner Deli, we returned to The 567 for The Kopecky Family Band. Aimee had been following this group on Pandora for sometime, and had been looking forward to this show all night. I'm embarrassed to say that despite viewing William Hahn's incredible Alley video on the site, I had never really given Kopecky much thought. I confess that I sometimes get an idea of what a band "is in my mind, and write them off. (That sounds more malignant than it is. Honestly, I'm just lazy.) Needless to say, I stand corrected. In this band of 6, there is not a single wasted sound. When there is a tambourine, it fits. When there are claps or snaps, they genuinely add to the performance and pull the audience into the music. Lumping this band into the near ubiquitous folk-pop movement may not be inaccurate, but it is doing a disservice to a band that genuinely knows how to perform and engage a crowd. I understand that they are returning to Atlanta in September after a month off, and you can bet that Aimee and I will be there.
We ended our night with O'Brother at The Wall. I have been following O'Brother since they were playing pop-punk(ish) at The Masquerade far too many years ago, and have known and played with lead singer Tanner Merritt even longer. Interestlingly, O'Brother was also the first show that I ever shot, which may have been one of the first shows after Tanner joined. The transformation that this band has undergone is staggering. They continue to reinvent their sound with each album, with the most recent rendition being far darker and doomier than I think the usual patrons of The Wall were accustomed to. The absence of stage lighting exacerbated the contrast of culture, but I believe that's a unique aspect of the Bragg Jam experience. There is no "theme" for the festival. There are hundreds of people all hoping for a difference experience. The venues are close enough that you can essentially create your own personal "festival". I started the night with punk, filled it with folk, and ended it with metal. That's Bragg Jam, and that's exactly why I'll be back next year.