Last time I checked, they haven’t taken down Lindbergh’s plane at the Smithsonian, and the Mona Lisa is still on display at the Louvre in Paris. So maybe there’s hope for memorabilia and history that goes with the Allman Brothers Band and other musicians who contributed to Georgia’s rich history.
The news that the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon has decided to pull the plug on itself was not totally surprising. It had been losing money and seeking a new home and sponsors, in Athens and Atlanta mainly. Still, it’s like seeing a train coming at you in a tunnel. You can be prepared, but it still hurts when it hits.
As one who began his media career in Macon, this really hits home. It’s in the air there, particularly in bygone years when it was easy to find someone who “knew” an Allman Brothers Band member. The Capricorn Records building was prominent on Cotton Street, and news of the band’s reunion and other such matters would get everyone in town talking.
And there was more. “Little Richard” Pennyman was prominent, as was Otis Redding (“Left my home in Georgia/headed for the ‘Frisco Bay”). Artists such as The Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie and Elvin Bishop followed in the so-called Southern Rock genre that the Allmans pioneered.
Now it’s dormant. The University of Georgia will take on the memorabilia, thankfully, but mothballing such history seems avoidable.
Why did this happen? Yes, it’s a tough economy, and museums and music often are discretionary items in a time when school systems and municipalities are having a tough time making ends meet. And Macon is not exactly on the beaten path any more, sad to say.
These days, Georgia music is about more than Macon. R.E.M. has Athens roots, and Atlanta has become a hotbed. Usher and Ludacris call it home, Elton John has a residence here, and the Indigo Girls have Emory origins.
History is important, so what to do? First, I hope no one depends excessively on government; even in these times, it’s not necessary.
In Suwanee, an Atlanta suburb, some musical history recently was revived without using a dime of public money. The Everett Brothers Music Barn, site of weekly bluegrass performances since the 1960s, recently came under new ownership after a family heir had no interest in carrying things on. The new owners have teamed with younger Everett family members to revive the weekly bluegrass gigs, and they seek donations from fans in attendance for ongoing site maintenance.
(Disclosure: As a Patch.com editor, I’ve reported often on the Everett Music Barn situation.)
So it’s largely going to be up to private interests to bring back a Georgia Music Hall of Fame of some kind. Hey, why not take a cue from the Everett family in Suwanee, and have a facility that also offers live performances? The Everett barn walls are covered with excellent photos and memorabilia dating to the 1960s.
History is made every day, and preserving it will be up to the fans who enjoy it the most.