Capricorn Sound Studios reopens as Mercer Music at Capricorn

Macon, GA facility is home to some southern rock icons

Capricorn Sound Studios reopened as Mercer Music at Capricorn on December 3 – marking the 50th anniversary opening of Capricorn Records, in Macon, GA – followed by the Capricorn Revival, a special night in music with southern star-studded line up picked by Chuck Leavell.

Officially opened in 1969, it became a recording hot spot for iconic names in music. Iconic names in southern rock and soul passed through the Capricorn doors for recording songs that gave Macon, GA the name as the “home of southern rock.”

The space is famed as the recording spot for hits from legendary names such as the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, Otis Redding, Delbert McClinton, Wet Willie, Cowboy, and more.

This week, Macon hosted a VIP opening of the historical studio on December 2. A public dedication and celebration was held December 3 for the space reborn to be museum and music incubator collectively known as Mercer Music at Capricorn.

The $4.3 million fully restored 20,000 square foot space features two full recording studios, sound booths, state-of-the-art mixing capabilities, and rehearsal rooms. Additionally, a connected museum features the full Capricorn anthology, including artifacts and memorabilia from the Capricorn days and the musicians who recorded there.

History came alive as people packed outside the former Capricorn Studios for the rebirth of a building that previously sat vacant for many years, with new hopes to revitalize the city and mark the a start to the rebirth of Music in Macon.

The public dedication included historical tributes and a performance by members of Wet Willie, including lead vocalist, saxophonist, and harmonica player, Jimmy Hall. He says being back and seeing certain faces brings back bittersweet memories.

“We had our musical big brothers, the Allman Brothers, who were big enough, and real enough to say this is how we did it, and this is how we learned, and you may want to try this amplifier,” says Hall recalling the family-like energy that Capricorn was home to.

“What made it special is that it was in the south, and it wasn’t Muscle Shoals, and it wasn’t New Orleans, and it wasn’t that you had to be like the Allman Brothers, but they had such a groovy thing going on.”

Hall says he finds it incredible to the see coalition of a recording facility paired with an educational institution, like Mercer University, where a lot of great things could happen, noting similar partnerships where he lives in Nashville, TN, between Belmont University and the recording studios there.

“I’ve got a lot of music left in me and I think it would be fun to do it here,” says Hall. “It would give honor to our legacy”.

The Capricorn Revival was held later in the evening. Friends, family, and fans of musical greats packed the Macon City Auditorium for the sold out tribute. Hand picked by former Allman Brothers member, Chuck Leavell, the jubilee welcomed a line-up of performances of those influenced, or formerly with Capricorn

With Leavell on keys, accompanied by Widespread Panic frontman John Bell, guitarist Marcus King and original Allman Brothers member and drummer Jaimoe, songs and sounds from the era made for a truly special performance. Additional artists taking part in the celebration included Randall Bramblet, Taj Mahal, Duane Betts, Jonathan Edwards, Lamar Williams Jr., Bonnie Bishop, Wet Willie members Jimmy Hall, Jack Hall, and Donna Hall, and Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr, Lamar Williams Jr. and Tommy Talton.

Duane Allman’s famous 1957 gold top Les Paul, which recently sold for $1.25 million, even made an appearance on stage as special homage to the music and people that made Capricorn what is was. The guitar was played several times throughout the evening, adding a special touch of magic to the feeling in the air.

Author: Gloria Ruth Finney

Gloria Ruth Finney is a Music Journalist based in Nashville, TN. She uses her experience as a multimedia journalist and on-air reporter to produce creative content by combining her passions for music and news.