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The Local Tourist; Macon’s Second Sunday Concert Series

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Sunday, August 13th is yet another exceptionally hot day in Macon, Georgia. On days like this, you expect every sensible human being to be out of sight and indoors, basking in the AC and inhaling ice tea, or whatever it is that us Southerners are suppose to drink. You certainly do not expect to see a swarm of people gathered on a sun-drenched hillside, but that’s exactly what I find when I reach the top of Coleman Hill on Sunday evening. Who are all of these people? No, they are not masochists but Maconites, and Maconites show up to support local music, rain, shine, or sizzling summer heat.

Second Sunday is a gathering place for these dedicated listeners and lovers of good music. On the second Sunday of each month from April through October, one band takes the stage on Coleman Hill, Macon’s favorite sloping park, singing the sun to sleep from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. Hosted by Bragg Jam, Second Sunday is an extension of the annual concert crawl, a continuation of the live music and community that Maconites know and love. It is also free and kid-friendly; no babysitter or pit stop at the ATM required.

My husband and I park on Mulberry Street, which is at the bottom of Coleman Hill. I regret this as soon as we start trudging up the grassy incline. It is hot with a capital H-O-T, and walking in this humidity feels like swimming upstream in a river of steam. The music meets us half way, encouraging us, urging us on, up, up, and away. Once we reach the top, a crowd of sweaty strangers comes into view. Stretching across the side of the hill, they are fanning themselves ceaselessly as they watch the band below.

Hank Vegas is the band of the month, and I am not quite sure what to expect from them, their online bio seems intentionally mystifying. They describe themselves as “Andy Warhol’s honky-tonk band.” I cannot decide whether this conveys a lot or nothing at all. Their genre is listed as Americana, which could also mean a number of different things. Dovetail recently added a “Hank Vegas Burger” to their menu, but much to my discontent, the delicious-sounding toppings do not suggest anything about the band’s sound.

All the punctual Second Sunday attendees have already staked their claim on the shady side of the hill. We join the unfortunate tardy masses in the sun. I throw my blanket into the air and it falls flat, a pitiful, deflated-looking square instead of the impressive sail one fantasizes about. There is no wind to catch it. My husband props open his chair. We sit. We sweat. We listen. I am happy to be here.

While bringing your own seating to Second Sunday is optional, the grass as good a seat as any, I strongly recommend bringing a cooler with your cold beverage of choice. For those who come unprepared, however, The Brick has set up camp, selling food and drinks at the very top of the hill. When the band takes a short break, I take a short hike up to the tent with a friend who has just told me about their Manmosas, a cocktail consisting of vodka, champagne, and orange juice. It is as good as it sounds.

Back at my blanket, I am surrounded by familiar faces, a group of friends having hitched their own blankets and chairs to ours. The sun is descending and everyone seems to be relaxing into their wet-with-sweat clothing.  Laidback conversations accompany Hank Vegas as they continue to sing and strum and strut on stage. I am still not sure how to classify their sound—I do not think it wants to be pinned down—but I am enjoying the cryptic allure. At times it is upbeat, but in an unexpected way. The songs are clearly heartfelt, yet deceptively soft. It is the kind of music you want spend some one-on-one time with.

In front of the stage there are a couple of kids running around and dancing poorly. This is a consistent characteristic of Second Sunday from what I can tell. They are happy and free and apparently immune to the heat. They remind me that it is okay to enjoy yourself in public, that it is not uncool to have a good time. I find myself wishing that a sprinkler system would suddenly appear in front of the stage. I want to run through the water and dance to songs I do not yet know the words to. I want to soak up summertime in my city. I want to play.

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