Went down to Macon last weekend for my second edition of Bragg Jam. Such a well-run festival with lots of great venues and artists, it’s really a pleasure to go to and more than worth the drive.
The first act I caught was Widow Pills at Grant’s Lounge. This was one of my favorite venues of the night–it was a run-down looking hole in the wall with graffiti all over the place and records hanging everywhere, tons of history and a very neat set-up with the audience surrounding an open stage. The Widow Pills were fantastic, a soulful southern rock foursome playing in their hometown under constantly changing rainbow colored lights.
Next up was Little Stranger at the Roasted Cafe and Lounge. The duo is from Charleston and apparently occasionally plays with a band. The rapper had great flow and an impressive amount of breath. I checked out some of their songs before the festival–they’ve got an eclectic style and reminded me a little of a less-produced Twenty One Pilots.
I headed back to Grant’s Lounge for a minute to add my own graffiti on the wall and catch the High Divers, an Americana group that was also from Charleston. The four piece had a female keyboardist that sometimes helped out with vocals, which tended towards the chill side. I’m not normally a huge fan of guitar jams in the middle of sets, especially festival sets (what can I say, I prefer them a little faster paced), but they pulled them off well, only occasionally doing long freestyle guitar solos.
Backtracked again to Roasted to catch Athens-based The Norm. Felt almost like deja vu, as they sounded a lot like a more throwback-to-the-90s version of Little Stranger. They were obviously influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers circa Blood Sugar Sex Magik. I loved the lead singer’s guitar skills and the rapper was excellent as well, though he wasn’t quite as prominent as Little Stranger’s.
The Bearfoot Beer Garden featured a performance by *repeat repeat, a rocking four piece with a great sound that had kind of a raw, garage rock type feel. I adored their cool retro telephone mics, which had surprisingly good sound quality and weren’t just there to look neat, though to be honest they looked cool enough that it would’ve been excusable if they were only there for aesthetic purposes.
I caught the first of Mel Washington’s two sets of the night, at the beautiful photo gallery Gallery West. He was one of my favorite acts I saw at Bragg Jam. Another Charleston native, he was incredibly soulful. His backing band was great as well–they were running a little bit late, a problem that plagued many of the night’s later acts, but they were more than worth the wait. He opened with a cover of the classic A Change Is Gonna Come and then moved on into rockier territory, the louder songs really reminded me a lot of the Foo Fighters. He seemed a little restrained by the conservative venue, I would’ve loved to see him somewhere a little looser where he could really let it all out.
Next up was MIGHTY at the Hummingbird. The Atlanta-based grunge band was a little too scream-y for my delicate tastes, but the crowd had a blast and there was much head banging to be seen.
Grant’s Lounge was like a magnet drawing me back over and over again throughout the day, so I quickly stopped by to see T Hardy Morris when I had a break in between sets. He was a little generic, but not bad–I always feel like the stuff he does with Dead Confederate is just on the cusp of me really, really liking it but I wish it was just a little more unique.
Headed over to the Crazy Horse to catch the Tyler Hammond Band, one of the festival’s headliners. The crowd trended much younger than most of the other acts I had caught during the day. I wasn’t able to catch more than a few songs as the group was running badly off schedule, but Hammond had a great connection with the audience and the typical bro country sound that’s so popular in country music nowadays.
Went out to the parking lot to see Jon Langston and was really impressed by his act! He was one of the artists I was most interested in seeing, and his set was very enjoyable. I love to see singers that seem to be having as good of a time as the crowd. He did some originals and a few covers, all of which the audience seemed to love. There were several audience members who were Facetiming friends who couldn’t be at the event and he kept grabbing their phones to sing directly into the camera.
My last set of the night was Stop Light Observations, a Charleston-based rock group that sounded great but I admit I was a little distracted by their adorable French bulldog mascot who sat on stage the whole time and soaked up pets and adoration from the audience. I couldn’t get any photos of him because the venue was too dark, but you can check him out on the cover of their 2016 release, TOOGOODOO.
More photos behind the cut.