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Capricorn Sound Studios, Birthplace of Southern Rock, Returns

By Steve Harvey. The facility that put Southern Rock on the map is back from the brink, restored and reinvented for a new generation of music makers.

Macon, GA (October 2, 2019)—Mercer University has announced a series of events to celebrate the rebirth of Macon’s historic Capricorn Sound Studios as Mercer Music at Capricorn. First opened 50 years ago, the facility will host a first look at the restored studio that helped define the 1970s Southern Rock sound.

Mercer Music at Capricorn is a multi-purpose, 20,000-square-foot complex designed to leverage Macon’s music heritage to create Macon’s music future, according to a Mercer University statement. The $4.3 million renovation project is being funded by historic tax credits, major grants from the Peyton Anderson Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and gifts from businesses and individuals.

The facility contains the fully restored historic Studio A plus an additional, larger Studio B suitable for orchestral recording and film scoring, as well as live performances. API consoles were central to the Capricorn sound, and the main control room continues that legacy with a new custom-built API 40-channel 2448 desk with Final Touch fader automation and a center-console Pro Tools monitor screen. A new mix room studio features an Avid C-24 work surface and Pro Tools.

Saving Studios to Build A New Future

The main tracking studio and the mix/overdub studio both feature a pair of Focal Solo Be 6.5 monitor speakers, plus Yamaha HS8 nearfields with subwoofers. Both control rooms support surround sound projects via Genelec 8020 5.1 speaker systems.

A complex of 12 rehearsal rooms of various sizes, dubbed the Capricorn Incubator, has been constructed across two floors to facilitate the development of music talent and is open around the clock.

The facility also features 1,200 square feet of interpretive space—the Capricorn Museum—that tells the story of Capricorn and Macon’s music history through artifacts and interactive digital exhibits.

The building comprises a row of four historic structures along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., some dating back to around 1880. The complex was originally purchased in 1967 by Redwal Music, a company founded by Mercer graduate Phil Walden, his brother Alan Walden and Otis Redding. Redding’s untimely death later that year deferred the studio’s opening to 1969, when Capricorn Records and the Allman Brothers Band were established in Macon.

Over the following decade, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, the Marshall Tucker Band, Livingston Taylor, the Charlie Daniels Band, Wet Willie, Bonnie Bramlett, Elvin Bishop and many others worked at the studio. Capricorn Sound Studios filed for bankruptcy in late 1979, and gradually fell into extreme disrepair in the ensuing decades.

Grand opening festivities for Mercer Music at Capricorn kick off on December 2 with a VIP party, including music by the Randall Bramblett Band, for donors and other invited guests.

The public ceremony to formally re-open Mercer Music at Capricorn will be on December 3 at 2 p.m. The program, which is free and open to the public, will take place on an outdoor stage behind the studios. The event will feature performances outside and in the studios by various artists including Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie alumni.

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The re-opening celebration will be capped off on December 3 at 8 p.m. with a ticketed Capricorn Revival concert at the Macon City Auditorium featuring former Allman Brothers Band member—and current Rolling Stones music director—Chuck Leavell, Randall Bramblett Band and a host of former Capricorn artists and musicians who have been influenced by Capricorn.

Mercer Music at Capricorn •