Most people before Capricorn Records was started in 1969 in Macon, Ga., thought of “Southern rock” as being that large granite formation called Stone Mountain in the Atlanta area.
But brothers Phil and Alan Walden and their friend Frank Fenter changed that thinking with their label that made international stars out of Southern music artists. Those musicians included The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band, Elvin Bishop, Wet Willie, Eric Quincy Tate, Delbert McClinton, Charlie Daniels, Stillwater, Sea Level and Augusta’s own Dixie Dregs later known as The Dregs.
Everything you wanted to know about Capricorn Records and Southern rock music in general probably can be answered by the three panelists who can be heard for free at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Berry Fleming Book Festival, which is from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. See berryflemingbookfestival.com for the whole schedule.
The discussion to be moderated by yours truly will be held in the Butler Room of the Jaguar Activity Center, adjacent to Reese Library, at Augusta University’s Summerville campus on Walton Way.
It will feature Willie Perkins, author of No Saints, No Saviors: My Years With The Allman Brothers Band; John Jeter, author of Rockin’ A Hard Place: Flats, Sharps &Other Notes from a Misfit Music Club Owner and Michael Buffalo Smith, author of Capricorn Rising: Conversations in Southern Rock.
Perkins, born and raised in Augusta and schooled at the Academy of Richmond County, earned a business degree in banking from the University of Georgia. That barely prepared him for his adventures as road manager and best friend of Gregg and Duane Allman and The Allman Brothers Band.
Jeter worked as a writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and the St. Petersburg Times before joining his brother in opening a nightclub called The Handlebar in Greenville, S.C., before that city’s renovation efforts began paying off. The original one closed and a new version opened that remains as an active part of the Greenville night scene.
Jeter’s book talks about the ups and downs of a major nightclub owner in working with such then unknown acts as John Mayer, Zac Brown Band and Sugarland and such established stars as Joan Baez and Ralph Stanley.
Smith, who grew up in Spartanburg, S.C., is a journalist who created and edited the Gritz print music magazine and online Kudzoo magazine and founded the Southern Rock Hall of Fame &Museum. His book is a compilation of interviews that Smith did with Capricorn-related artists over 16 years.
The last interview in his book actually is with Dave Cantonwine, former bass player with the Eric Quincy Tate band, who has been living in North Augusta for several years.
Besides the famous Capricorn Records acts, several other major Southern rock artists came out of Jacksonville, Fla., in the late 1960s and early 1970s including Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Many local music fans have great memories of the Southern rock nightclub in the 600 block of Broad Street in the early 1970s called The Whippin’ Post that was named after one of The Allman Brothers’ hit songs. Legend has it that members of the Allman band actually showed up one night unannounced and took the stage.
The Eric Quincy Tate band in 1976 released their album Can’t Keep A Good Band Down, which was recorded live at The Whippin’ Post.
REMEMBERING GENTRY AND WILLIAMS: The deaths of country music stars Troy Gentry (half of the duo Montgomery Gentry) and Don Williams on Friday, Sept. 8, brought back memories of their local appearances.
Gentry, the 50-year-old member of the Grand Ole Opry cast, was killed in a helicopter crash near an airport in Medford, N.J., just hours before a concert he was to give in the area.
His longtime performing partner, Eddie Montgomery (brother of country star John Michael Montgomery) reportedly was waiting at the airport.
Augusta-area music fans got a taste of the powerful on-stage charisma of the duo when they performed acoustic-style in 2010 at James Brown Arena for the WKXC-FM Guitar Pull. They fired the crowd up and had the audience singing along to their hits Back When I Knew It All, What Do Ya Think About That? and One in Every Crowd. Other hits by the duo have included My Town, Daddy Won’t Sell The Farm, Something To Be Proud Of, Hell Yeah, She Couldn’t Change Me, Gone and Lucky Man.
More recently, Montgomery Gentry were back in the area with their full band for a concert in September 2014 at Lady Antebellum Pavilion.
Williams, a soft-voiced Texan inducted into the Country Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 2010, died the same day at age 78 after several illnesses. He performed at Imperial Theatre as recently as 2014.
Music fans first came to know Williams as part of the Pozo Seco Singers in 1964 with Lofton Kline and Susan Taylor while living in Corpus Christi, Texas.
He started churning out hit solo singles for ABC, Dot, MCA and Capitol in the early 1970s, including Tulsa Time, I’m Just A Country Boy, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, Till The Rivers All Run Dry, (Turn out The Light And) Love Me Tonight, Say It Again and I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.
He was seen often on television shows and in movies such as W.W. &the Dixie Dancekings starring his close friend Burt Reynolds.
During a 1977 concert at Bell Auditorium, Williams got the audience singing along on his 1974 No. 1 hit ballad You’re My Best Friend.
He told this writer in an interview afterward, “I love it when they sing along with me. I really do. I don’t think there is anything prettier than everyone singing together.”