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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Iconic Southern Rock recording studio is revived

Atlanta, Georgia, USA (December 4, 2019) WHR — The Georgia music studio that fused blues, country and other sounds into Southern rock is being reborn. Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon helped propel the Allman Brothers Band and other groups to stardom in the 1970s.

Capricorn’s historic Studio A is reopening this week, after years of work by Mercer University and other supporters to restore and equip it with state-of-the-art technology.

“It’s a place that spawned a decade of remarkable creative activity,” Mercer President William Underwood said in an interview.


It also helped make Macon one of the nation’s music capitals. Underwood hopes the renovated studio will help preserve Macon’s place among cities that forged the music history of the United States — places like Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee, Muscle Shoals in Alabama and Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans.

Macon’s civic leaders view Southern rock through a far different lens these days than in the 1970s.

Southern rockers and Southern Baptists traveled in different orbits back then. The Capricorn music scene — part of the drug-infused counterculture movement of the time — was not always welcome in conservative Middle Georgia.


Now, Capricorn and Southern rock are officially sanctioned by today’s leaders, many of whom were fans in their younger days. Underwood, for instance, grew up listening to Southern rock and considers The Allman Brothers Band “the greatest jam band ever.”

In planning the new music complex, Underwood and others visited music hubs including Nashville, where Elvis Presley and others recorded their hits in RCA’s Studio B.

“There are people all over the world who travel to see these restored studios,” said Larry Brumley, a senior vice president at Mercer.

Macon-area officials hope the restoration — funded with help from two charitable foundations and other private donors — will help spur downtown redevelopment.


The restored Macon studio is part of Mercer Music at Capricorn, a 20,000-square-foot (1,860-square-meter) complex that will include a museum. Among its goals: To train and inspire new musicians. To that end, the Capricorn Music Incubator will provide 12 rehearsal rooms for musicians to hone their craft.

The idea is “to be a place to bring talented, creative people together and have them interact and engage with one another,” Underwood said.

“One day hopefully the next Otis Redding will come out of that incubator,” he said.

Redding’s voice became emblematic of Macon music six decades ago, after Mercer University student Phil Walden discovered his vocal talents while booking local bands for fraternity parties.

In 1969, Capricorn Records was formed by Walden and others, including Frank Fenton and producer Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records.

“My father loved the South, he loved Georgia and he especially loved Macon,” Phil Walden’s daughter, Amantha, said at Tuesday’s dedication ceremony. “He loved Southern music deep inside his soul.”

“My father’s life mission was to show the world what the South was capable of, and today we are here to celebrate a chapter of that mission,” she added.

Walden, his brother Alan Walden and their business partners discovered new artists who went on to create what became Southern rock.

The Charlie Daniels Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, Elvin Bishop, Wet Willie and others recorded songs inside the studio that was built for the Capricorn record label.

The Allman Brothers Band became so popular that they helped a former Georgia governor named Jimmy Carter win the 1976 presidential election by performing at campaign events, Carter has said. Carter told Mercer graduates at their 2016 commencement that he might not have been elected if the band hadn’t “adopted” him.

“Gregg Allman was better known than I was at that time,” Carter said in 2017. “The band got the campaign political attention and raised much needed funds.” When Underwood became Mercer’s president, the vacant offices that once housed Capricorn were a shambles, with one exception.

“The studio itself — that magical place where this great music was made — was still intact,” Underwood recalled. “It was kind of a miracle.”

A second venue, Studio B, will be used for larger-scale recordings and to host concerts and other special events. Film scores could be recorded there, tying into Georgia’s booming movie industry, Underwood said.

The studio will also feature a custom-built, 40-channel analog sound board that was created by the Maryland-based company API, he said.

Wes Griffith, who now manages the newly restored studio, recalls the first time he stepped inside.

“I was in awe, standing there where all these great things happened, all this great music was made,” Griffith said. “It’s just a dream come true for me to be the steward of that place and share that history and start a new beginning.”

Iconic biker photographer "Pulsating Paula" passes

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey on October 17 in 1954, Paula Rearden moved to New Brunswick when she was just 8 years old . Known in the Biker world as Pulsating Paula, her photographs of New Jersey bikers in the 1980's and 1990's seeped with authenticity and fun. Paula once said, “Got married to my first lay in 1973. 10 years later he bought me a camera, a Canon AE1. I still have it."


She started taking photos of biker parties and tattoo events and she sent them into ‘Biker Lifestyle’ magazine who later Paisano publications took over. They came out with ‘Tattoo’ magazine first of it’s kind ever.

Between the Biker and Tattoo magazines she had thousands of photos published. The 10 minute set up of her photography studio consisted of 2 flood lights that burnt the shit out of any poor person in front of them, and a 6×9 foot black cloth she got from Kmart that was tacked onto a wall. She never considered herself professional, ever. She just loved doing it with every fiber in her body.

She knew the wonderful people she met by name and places she has been in her journey will live on forever in her photographs. many of us are so glad that we were there with you.

Pulsating Paula was on the East Coast documenting bikers from her point of view. What is so compelling about her photography is that her photos bleed honesty, passion and a high level of respect for her subjects.

I’m not sure if she knew she was capturing history, but she did. Thank you Paula for all you have done, Rest In Peace.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Marcus King Band shake up Iowa City

Badlands of Indiana (November 25, 2019) WHR — Iowa City got a visit from arguably one of the most talented modern guitarists in rock ’n’ roll touring today, Marcus King, front man to the Marcus King Band, on November 21 at the Englert Theater.

Before the show, the Englert had hummed with anticipation. A full theater of music lovers had turned out on a chilly November night to see the Nashville music group.

The Marcus King Band performs at the Englert Theatre on Thursday, November 21, 2019. 
Photo: Katina Zentz

The King Band is a Southern rock, blues, and soul fusion band made up of six members. Singer and guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan took the stage to warm up the crowd before the band came out. The artist’s music was described as “indie folk grit” by Broadwayworld’s in “Aaron Lee Tasjan to Play at the Rockwood Music Hall Stage, 7/6.”

After Tasjan and his band finished their 48-minute set, the swaggering guitar riffs came to an end. The crowd had already given a standing ovation before the headline act walked on stage, something rarely seen for openers.

Yet even more energy burst from the crowd once the King band walked on the purple- and blue-lit stage.

King stepped into the spotlight and began to sing Son House’s iconic song “Grinnin’ in Your Face.” The famous blues song features a sole singer paired with rhythmic clapping. Even with the bare instrumentals, the audience rose and began to scream in excitement.

The band’s sound is a mix of 1970s soul melded with Southern rock from the same era, with a blues twist. In the grorup’s performance, viewers could visualize silhouettes of past artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Aretha Franklin as the band played.


Though the group draws from past musicians for inspiration, the King Band achieves great nuance in both its musicality and attitude.

The way the band connected with the energy of the Englert was an example of how its sound is so complementary and adaptive, flowing in specific ways depending on the crowd.

The energy in the venue was both electric and bold. The crowd members shot to their feet, swaying and dancing as the frontman sang. “We’re one week away from Turkey Day,” King said early to the cheering crowd. “But I want to say how thankful I am for you guys tonight.”

The band plays a sound from the past for today’s audiences, but with the nuance that only comes with time and a deep love for what came before. Its most recent album, Carolina Confessions, was featured often in the Iowa City set list. The band also featured some earlier songs from albums such as Due North.

The most striking aspect of the stellar rock concert was the way King constructed free-flowing solos for his songs. The way the notes rang out from his guitar almost seemed as though he was having a conversation only he could understand.

After a concert filled with cheering, shredding guitar solos, and an insanely funky horn section, the King Band left the stage, leaving the ringing of songs from both the past and present for everyone in attendance.

STORY: Austin J. Yerington
SOURCE: The Daily Iowan