The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jul 24, 2013

Bragg Jam music festival offers a genuine example of creative placemaking

Posted by jdye

The Bragg Jam 2013 poster designed by Modern Giant.

There are many threads in the fabric of a community. Once intertwined, architecture, well-designed parks and spectacular public art can work together to strengthen and enrich society. The synergy of arts and cultural activity within a community can have real social impact. This concept is referred to as “creative placemaking,” and it comes in many forms.

Macon, Georgia has a vibe. The city is known as the home of the International Cherry Blossom Festival and the Georgia State Fair. Historic buildings are more common than colds. Sidney Lanier’s birthplace is in Macon. The Hay House, one of the most spectacular house museums in the country, is here. There’s an immense musical legacy spawned by the likes of Otis Redding and Little Richard and the Allman Brothers Band. But music is not just a part of Macon’s past.

Currently, there is no bigger, single music event in Macon than Bragg Jam. Every year on the last Saturday of July, musicians and music fans converge on the city for a one-day music festival like no other. This year, Bragg Jam will feature 56 bands on 15 stages, over the course of one long, music-filled night. During Bragg Jam, Macon reaches far beyond its musical heritage and, in the process, builds a new sense of place.

Bragg Jam began as a tribute to two brothers, Brax and Tate Bragg, who died in a car accident while taking a cross-country trip. The event was tragic for the friends and family of these two brothers. As a tribute, friends had an impromptu jam session of local musicians just a few weeks later. The next year, another jam session was held, and a tradition began. In 2003, Bragg Jam was expanded into a citywide music festival. A nonprofit was created and a board of directors was formed. Today, Bragg Jam is a multifaceted community arts festival that is quintessentially Macon.

Saturday, the family-friendly Bragg Jam Arts @ The Park 2013 will be held in Cherry Street Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees can enjoy free admission to both the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Children’s Museum during the event. Outside, musical acts from the Otis Redding Foundation’s Big “O” Singer/Songwriter camp, as well as an all-kids band from Athens, will perform. Afterwards, the Bragg Jam Concert Crawl will run from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. There’s a little something for everyone.

For anyone who wants to discover Macon, and get a true sense of this place, Bragg Jam is a great start. This locally grown music festival couldn’t exist anywhere else in the world, but it does exist here. It’s part of the fabric of the Macon community, and a clue to why so many choose to call Macon home.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit

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