Tag Archives: Georgia Musicians

Boggs Music Hall, Hahira

Hezekiah Rugh Boggs (1928-2020), was the ninth of ten children born to Rand and Bessie Boggs of Breathitt County, Kentucky. His musical interests were developed and encouraged at an early age; he entered and won his first contest at the age of 9 and learned guitar while in his 20s. After service in the Korean War, he worked for General Motors Delco Products, playing gigs in nightclubs around Dayton, Ohio, on the side. He moved to Hahira in 1977 and married Karen Wolff Norris in 1980. Karen, an Ohioan by birth, was a classically trained pianist. By all accounts the couple made beautiful music together and loved sharing their musical gifts with the Hahira community; Rugh had a working knowledge of around 3000 songs. Around 2003, Rugh converted the old garage behind his home into a music hall, where he and Karen played three weekends a month.

Boggs House, Circa 1929, Hahira

I haven’t located the identity of the builder of this historic Craftsman cottage; it was purchased by local musical legend Rugh Boggs (1928-2020) in 1977.

C. M. Copeland Workshop, Fitzgerald

I made these photographs in 2019, a few months before this structure was razed. For most of my life, it was known as C. M. Copeland’s workshop and studio. I believe it was originally a neighborhood grocery store but I can’t confirm that at this time.

C. M. Copeland, Fitzgerald, 1977 [detail]. Library of Congress. Public domain.

C. M. Copeland (15 July 1916-4 February 2000) was a brilliant wood carver, best known for his sculptures of wildlife made with cypress knees. He was often referred to as “The Happy Wood Carver”. He was also a banjo picker and folk singer, who had a radio show on local radio station WBHB with Wimpy Fowler, The Wimpy and Jigs Show.

C. M. Copeland Treasures in Wood, Fitzgerald, 1977. Library of Congress. Public domain.

He was documented by folklorists for the South Georgia Folklife Project in 1977, both for his picking and his carving.

Wimpy Fowler and C. M. Copeland, Fitzgerald, 1977. Library of Congress. Public domain.

At the time of the South Georgia Folklife Project photographs, his shop was a few blocks down the road from this location. This structure was adjacent to his home and I believe he moved his operations here sometime after 1977 for the sake of convenience.

James Brown Statue, 2005, Augusta

Known as much for his tireless stage presence as his rocky personal life, James Brown (3 May 1933-25 December 2006) was known as the Godfather of Soul, and considered himself “the Hardest Working Man in Show Business”. Born into poverty in Barnwell, South Carolina, he moved at age five with his father and aunt to Augusta, which he considered his hometown. The city honored him with a statue on Broad Street on 6 May 2005. There’s also a James Brown Boulevard in the heart of the city’s historic Black neighborhood.

The sculpture is the work of Montezuma-born orthopedic surgeon John Savage, who has gained notoriety for his artistic pursuits.

Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller Mural, Jonesboro

Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller isn’t well known today, outside music circles, but he should be. The itinerant bluesman left his native Jonesboro after a childhood typical of Black Georgians of his day and after a series of manual labor jobs in various states, wound up in California circa 1920. He worked as a shoe-shine man outside the United Artists studio in Hollywood and was a favorite of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who helped set him up with a hot dog stand. He also got him work as an extra, in such notable films as Thief of Baghdad. With the money he saved from that enterprise, he moved to Oakland and began working for the Southern Pacific Railroad. When his railroad job ended after World War II, he went back to shining shoes, singing as he worked, and gained notice from musicians in the burgeoning Folk movement who were then flocking to the Bay Area. Due to his exposure in local bars and cafes, he recorded his first album in 1958. He had trouble finding, or paying, other musicians to back him up; as a result he invented the fotdella, a six-string bass, rigged with a cymbal. He also invented a rack to hold his harmonica and kazoo. He was a one-man band. Bob Dylan supposedly adopted his harmonica rig after listening to Fuller and recorded his song “You’re No Good” on his first album.

Fuller gained notoriety for “San Francisco Bay Blues”, which was covered by numerous artists including the Grateful Dead, Janis, Joplin, Jim Croce, and Eric Clapton.

The mural, by Shannon Lake, is a nice tribute to this influential artist.

Little Richard House, 1920s, Macon

This hip-roof shotgun house in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood was once home to Little Richard (Richard Wayne Penniman), the “Architect of Rock n’ Roll”. It is typical of the domestic architecture found in working class African-American neighborhoods in Macon in the early 20th century. The house originally stood several blocks away but was moved to this location to save it from an expansion project on Interstate 75. It is much nicer looking today than it was in Little Richard’s time in Macon; he noted he grew up in a “rundown house on a dirt street”. It is a museum today, known officially as The Little Richard House Resource Center.

The Big House-Allman Brothers Band Museum, Macon

The early history of this circa 1900 Tudor Revival is hard to track down today but its connection to the Allman Brothers Band make it an epicenter of Southern Rock history and a shrine to fans from all over the world. Known today as The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House, it was rented by members of the band in January 1970 and a succession of wives, girlfriends, groupies, and industry types passed through until the end of 1972. Duane Allman and Berry Oakley were both living here at the times of their deaths in motorcycle crashes [29 October 1971 and 11 November 1972, respectively]. Dickey Betts wrote “Blue Sky” in the living room and “Ramblin’ Man” in the kitchen. By early 1973, the remaining band members and their families were gone from the house. It has since been restored and now maintains a world-class collection of Allman Brothers Band memorabilia and ephemera.

Vineville Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Fletcher Henderson House, 1888, Cuthbert

This home was built by Professor Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Cuthbert’s preeminent black educator for well over half a century. Professor Henderson served as principal of Howard Normal School (later Randolph County Training School) from 1880-1942. The institution was owned by the American Missionary Association, a leading advocate for African-American education in the years following the Civil War. Henderson married Ozie Lena Chapman of Cuthbert in 1883. Mrs. Henderson also became an educator.

It’s likewise important as the birthplace of Fletcher Henderson, Jr., and Horace Henderson, who were influential in American music in the first half of the 20th century.  Upon completing college at Atlanta University in 1920, Fletcher (aka Smack) moved to New York and soon began working for Pace & Handy, a prominent publisher of African-American music. He was also an active member of the Harlem Symphony and later fronted a touring band that featured singer Ethel Waters. The band has the distinction of having the first known broadcast of jazz on radio, at New Orleans in 1922. At the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Henderson was the go-to accompanist of the great blues singers of the era and led the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra at Roseland Ballroom for many years. He worked with numerous instrumentalists, including Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Green, Don Redman, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Dixon, Fats Waller, and June Cole, among others. He sold his arrangements to Benny Goodman in the 1930s and worked with Goodman’s orchestra in the late 1930s and 1940s. The up-tempo jazz that Henderson had been playing in the 1920s came to be known as “swing”. Benny Goodman noted…Fletcher had one of the first great jazz swing bands in America and influenced any number of musicians in America.

Fletcher Henderson died in 1952.  His brother Horace, who led his own smaller band, went on to do arrangements for the Glenn Miller Orchestra and toured with Lena Horne at the height of her popularity. He continued to work with small bands until the 1970s.

National Register of Historic Places

Allman Brothers Band Gravesite, Macon

The Allman Brothers Band is one of the best-loved groups in rock and roll history and they considered their early association with Macon integral to their success.  For nearly five decades visiting the gravesite of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley at Rose Hill Cemetery has been a pilgrimage for many of their most devoted fans. In recent years, iron fencing has been placed around the graves to prevent vandalism and other unwelcome activities.

Tragedy first struck the band on 29 October 1971, when Duane Allman died as the result of a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Hillcrest Avenue and Bartlett Street.

Just over a year later, on 11 November 1972, Berry Oakley met the same fate within blocks of where Duane had crashed.

After years on the road leading the band and doing his own solo projects, Gregg Allman died on 27 May 2017. It was always his wish to be reunited with Duane and Berry in Rose Hill. A formal memorial has yet to be placed, but plans have been made to expand the fencing to incorporate his gravesite.

Many fans have already visited and left souvenirs and remembrances.

To visit the site, turn right inside the gate and drive down to the Old Hebrew Burial Grounds, marked by a brick and wrought iron arch. You can usually park by the large oak tree and walk a bit down the hill to your left to reach the graves. Be warned, though, that driving in the cemetery is difficult due to very narrow lanes.

Rose Hill Cemetery, National Register of Historic Places

H & H Restaurant, Macon

Inez Hill and Louise Hudson, affectionately known as Mama Hill and Mama Louise, opened their H & H Restaurant on the corner of Hayes and Third Street in 1959, moving to Cotton Avenue for a time before finally settling at the present Forsyth Avenue location. The establishment soon became a Macon favorite and would go on to acquire iconic status for its association with the Allman Brothers Band. In their struggling early days, the band members came into H &  H and were so broke they had to share plates. Mama Louise, sensing they were hungry, made them all their own plates, free of charge. The musicians never forgot her act of kindness and promised to make it up to her when they made it big. In 1972, they took her on tour.

For serious fans of the Allman Brothers Band, no trip to Macon would be complete without a visit to H & H. It was the hospitality of Mama Louise that helped put the place on the map and nearly fifty years later people still make their way here to feel a connection to rock history. The memorabilia-lined walls never fail to amaze. The Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, and countless others were H & H regulars in Macon’s musical heyday of the early 1970s. It was also an important meeting place for Macon’s civil rights leaders and activists.

Of course, people come for the history and legend but return for the excellent food. Known as Macon’s “fried chicken specialist”, H & H also offers items like country fried steak, fried fish, oxtails, and more. The meats are great, but the sides are even better. I’m not a fan of collards, but I like H & H’s. Their mashed potatoes are creamy (not runny) and the squash casserole is as good as you’ll find anywhere. They top it with cheese to make it perfect.

Mama Hill collapsed while working in the restaurant in 2007 and died the next day at the age of 92. H & H briefly closed in 2013 but reopened in early 2015. It’s been called Georgia’s most iconic restaurant and while it fits the bill, it’s not a pretentious place. You’ll feel right at home when you walk in the door, with locals and tourists alike. The staff are some of the best you’ll find anywhere and the food will not disappoint.