Capricorn opened in 1969, first as a sound studio and then a record label, in Macon, GA, and is credited for creating the “Southern Rock” genre. Southern rock music is some of the first music I remember ever loving, well before I started playing guitar, and it was Capricorn bands like the Allman Brothers Band that paved the way for the popularization of that music.
During the first week of December this year, Capricorn Sound Studios celebrated its 50th anniversary and hosted the Capricorn Revival, bringing in special guests like Duane Betts, Randall Bramblett, and Chuck Leavell, but the studio won’t reopen for business until January 2020.
We had the unbelievable privilege of being the musical guinea pigs that tested the studio to make sure everything was up and running properly: we were the first band in years to record at this legendary and historic studio!
We were able to be a part of this history thanks to the unbelievable support of good friends and people who believe in us. I had been playing in a band in Macon called the Highway 41 band. This band is full of amazing talent and we always have a blast playing together. The guitar player for the band, Phil Palma, who has become a very good friend, connected me with some people at the Macon Historic Foundation. I received a phone call from them asking if my band would be available to perform at a big Capricorn show in January. I had to turn them down because we will be on tour in the UK during that time, but I suggested the Highway 41 Band, and they got the gig.
That was my first connection to Capricorn, and I wanted to stay as involved as possible so Phil eventually put me in touch with the chief engineer, Rob Evans. Rob and I talked for a while about the possibilities of my involvement and he asked if we could come down to record and test the studio before they open. We found a time that the band had available and hit the road for Macon.
Where do I even begin to explain my elation? We are now a part of Capricorn history. The Hughes Taylor Band recorded the first single at Capricorn Sound Studios since before the Capricorn Revival. It was an experience I will never forget. It was hard not to be overzealous, but the amount of history and music that those walls have heard over the years was almost overwhelming. We recorded in the exact room (unchanged since the 70s) that some of my favorite albums of all time were recorded: Allman Brothers Band, Idlewild South, and Brothers and Sisters from the Allman Brothers, Steve Gaines’s One in the Sun, and so much more of the music I grew up on (I could go for days). I’ve been almost in shock since I arrived.
Photos by Michael W. Pannell
We recorded our new song “Trouble,” an upbeat rocker that we have been working on and debuted live at the beginning of this year. In the studio, we performed it and tracked it live, capturing the whole song on the 7th take, save for a few extra vocal parts and a couple of minor overdubs. Stepping into that room, completely original (cigarette stains and all), was surreal. It was like being transported to that decade in which so much of the music that has shaped my world was created. The sound we were able to capture beat all expectations. So much warmth. We tried it a couple of different ways, finally landing on a slightly faster tempo. We spent a lot of time getting familiar with the ins and outs of the studio. The new one-of-a-kind board that was commissioned specifically for Capricorn was the most impressive piece of equipment, and we spent A LOT of time getting acquainted with it. I was there for 2 full days, and we probably spent no more than 4 hours tracking. But what a time it was. Rob and I worked closely together dialing in the sound to get the best mix we could.
There are some big things happening for us, and we are so excited for what’s to come. We want to thank everyone who has been supporting us through the years for helping us get this far. We can’t wait to share our experiences with you all.