Georgia has a storied music heritage—the iconic song Georgia On My Mind, made famous by Georgia native Ray Charles and designated the official state song in 1979, just about sings it all.
But many other musical luminaries hail from the Peach State, where groups can arrange tours in music hotbeds like Athens and Macon, book outings to live music performances and host off-site events at historic venues, like Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, where Elvis Presley himself walked the halls.
The numerous entertainment opportunities awaiting groups in Atlanta include many that showcase music.
Planners can check out the calendar of performances at the Fox Theatre, which offers group ticket sales and accommodates private events.
According to Kristin Delahunt, director of convention services for the Atlanta CVB, groups will also enjoy the Fox’s 60-minute guided tour that reveals details of the venue’s history.
“The Fox Theatre is a quintessential arts, music and entertainment venue in Atlanta,” Delahunt said. “The history behind the construction, renovation and preservation of the Fox Theatre is something interesting for groups to explore.”
Over 10 locations throughout the building are visited during the tour, including the orchestra pit and Mighty Mo,’ the largest working Moller organ in the world.
Another music experience for groups meeting in Atlanta is a visit to Venkman’s, a popular restaurant, bar and live music venue in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward.
“Venkman’s is an intimate, yet creatively designed live music venue that highlights regional talent,” Delahunt said. “It can be utilized as a dinner and entertainment location after the conference or used for a private event.”
The restaurant’s menu features comfort food classics like grilled cheese, burgers and chicken and dumplings, and the eclectic live music lineup includes everything from rock and bluegrass to soul and salsa.
Located in downtown Duluth is Eddie Owen Presents (EOP), a music venue housed in the Red Clay Music Foundry.
The venue, which hosts open mic nights and weekly concerts by regional musicians, seats 260 people.
According to Victoria J. Hawkins, marketing communications director for Explore Gwinnett, EOP is surrounded by restaurants, shopping and the Town Green, which hosts outdoor concerts in spring and summer that groups might also enjoy.
Suwanee-based Everett’s Music Barn, where bluegrass is king, is open on Saturdays and is well suited for small groups that would like to experience a bit of local culture.
Athens welcomes groups made up of music connoisseurs and novices alike. It’s a place to both appreciate and learn about various genres including rock, classical, bluegrass and hip hop.
“There is a feeling that sets in when you arrive in Athens that there is an underlying compilation of history and music stories that are waiting to be discovered,” said Aimee Cheek, public relations coordinator for the Athens CVB. “All you have to do is jump in and experience it for yourself.”
The Athens Welcome Center is a good place to start, as it offers a two-hour music history tour.
“This is an incredible opportunity to hear firsthand experiences of the early days of R.E.M. and the B-52s, as well as get an inside scoop of what the Athens music scene is like today,” Cheek said.
Many of Athens’ favorite music venues, she added, including Georgia Theatre, Morton Theatre, The Classic Center Theatre and The Foundry, can accommodate group gatherings.
There is no one way to experience music in Athens,” Cheek said. “You can take a tour, browse artifacts of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame—housed at the University of Georgia—or spend the night venue-hopping downtown.”
When meeting in Macon, groups can call on Rock Candy Tours, which is available for private walking tours through Macon’s musical history.
Along the way they can visit the homes and favorite hangouts of local music legends, including Little Richard, Otis Redding and The Allman Brothers.
“Groups can expect lots of history and trivia along the way,” said Heather Wydock, director of sales for Visit Macon.
One of the tours is called Free Birds & Night Owls, which according to Wydock focuses on the nightlife district and concludes at the famous Grant’s Lounge, where groups can browse the wall of fame that showcases all the bands that played the venue in their early careers, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Marshall Tucker Band.
Macon’s music history is also on display at Gallery West, where rock and pop music enthusiasts in the group will appreciate all the fantastic old photos taken by photographer Kirk West.
Over the years, he’s captured many onstage and offstage moments of icons such as Tom Waits, the Bee Gees, Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones.
Located in downtown Augusta within walking distance from the Augusta Convention Center are two historic theaters with a variety of music performances on the schedule.
The 1,300-seat Miller Theater, home to the Augusta Symphony, reopened in January after a major renovation. It first opened in 1940 and its neighbor, the 853-seat Imperial Theatre, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
These theaters, also within walking distance of locally owned restaurants, shopping and nightlife, are marquee members of Augusta’s budding arts scene.
“The Miller Theater’s and the Imperial Theatre’s histories and long-lasting dedication to bringing the best in regional and national entertainment to Augusta make these gems a must for groups,” said Jay Markwalter, director of sales for the Augusta CVB.
He added the Miller Theater, featuring Art Moderne-style design elements, and Imperial Theatre, where entertainment legends from Charlie Chaplin to James Brown have performed, both offer guided tours and accommodate meetings and receptions.
Savannah offers a great lineup of venues where groups can enjoy a fun evening of live music in various genres, from jazz and classical to Broadway musicals.
At Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano bar, which holds more than 450 people, groups of various sizes can pop in to enjoy nonstop entertainment, pub fare and any adult beverage imaginable at the over 60-foot bar.
The Historic Savannah Theatre stages musicals throughout the year, including Mamma Mia, which is on the calendar for this August. Group reservations for more than 20 people are accommodated.
LATEST + GREATEST SIDEBAR: GEORGIA HOTEL AND VENUE UPDATES
The dual-branded AC Hotel by Marriott and Moxy Hotel is scheduled to debut in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood this year. The combined property will feature 288 rooms, shared meeting space, a rooftop bar and pool.
This May, the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center near Dunwoody will complete a $15 million renovation project that includes the addition of a 6,200-square-foot ballroom. The improvements will increase the guest room total to 344 rooms.
The 220-room Hard Rock Hotel Atlanta, with an outdoor swimming pool, rooftop bar and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space, is on track to open next to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium this year.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, opened last year as the home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC (MLS).
Georgia World Congress Center has plans to build a high-end 1,010-room convention hotel across from Building C.
The newly rebranded and renovated 315-room American Hotel Atlanta Downtown, a Doubletree by Hilton, opened in October 2017. The property has 19,000 square feet of conference/event space.
Sea Island, a Forbes Five-Star resort on the coast of Georgia, includes The Inn at Sea Island, The Cloister, The Lodge at Sea Island and various meeting and event spaces both inside and outdoors. The Lodge is currently undergoing a $25 million enhancement project that includes six new guest cottages and new Golf Performance Center. The project is scheduled for completion this November.
GEORGIA CVB CONTACT INFORMATION
Cobb Travel & Tourism
Dalton Visitors Bureau
Golden Isles CVB
Jekyll Island Authority
Valdosta–Lowndes County Tourism Authority