Grant’s Lounge: A tiny sliver of Macon gold

The walls of 576 Poplar St. are lined with photos of music legends like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Wet Willie, and The Allman Brothers Band. The signed photos and articles showcase nearly 50 years of music history that kicked off with the rise of Southern rock in Macon.

In February of 1971, Edward Grant Sr. opened the doors to a now legendary night club in downtown Macon: Grant’s Lounge. Half a century later, the doors are still open and both new and old customers are still visiting.

Cheryl Grant Louder, who is the daughter of Edward Grant Sr., said that after managing one of James Brown’s restaurants, her father found the location on Poplar Street and opened up the Lounge with the hopes that it would be a place for the “long hair hippies,” as he called them, to perform.

The popularity of Grant’s grew alongside the rise of Macon’s local recording studio, Capricorn Records. The record label brought many popular Southern rock artists to Macon, and several of them found themselves performing at Grant’s Lounge.

Capricorn also used Grant’s as a “testing ground” for their potential new artists to audition.

Louder, owner and operator of the nightclub alongside her brother, Edward Grant Jr., said that “it was nothing for you to come in and pay a dollar to listen to five or six different groups in one night.”

Over the next eight years, artists like The Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band, Tom Petty and others would take the stage at Grant’s, giving the nightclub a packed house and a reputation that would follow them for decades to come.

Nannine Mason, assistant manager and employee of 20 years, said that having famous musicians come to perform was always a treat for both customers and employees alike.

“When they came through, they were real, they were friendly, and the customers, they loved them,” Mason said. “They just loved all of us and they treated all us nice. And we tried to show them the love and the hospitality here at Grant’s.”

In 1979, however, Capricorn Records filed for bankruptcy, marking an end of an era for Macon’s southern rock scene and Grant’s lounge. The closing of the record label caused an abrupt stop to live music entertainment in Macon, putting the nightclub in a temporary bind.

Grant’s had to regroup and transition into something else. Louder said that Grant Jr. convinced their father to go in a completely new direction of disco and dance music, a decision that would keep them afloat through the 80s and 90s. Their first DJ was the drummer for James Brown, and his music brought in a new type of crowd.

“It was like night and day,” Louder said. “You kinda had to meet a whole different set of people than what we was already used to.”

Today, Grant’s hosts several different types of events every week. On Tuesdays, Joe Palmer does a music therapy jam session consisting of late 60s and 70s music. Sundays and Wednesdays brings in a crowd for R & B jam sessions and a hip hop group performs on Thursdays.

Louder said on Fridays and Saturdays, the lounge tries to have live entertainment similar to the other venues in downtown Macon.

“If the Hargray (Theater is having an event, we’ll put in a group that kind of plays that same type of music that they have over there,” Louder said. “It can kinda be like an after party they can come to once they leave.”

With the recent Capricorn Records Revival, Louder said that she hopes it means “bigger and better things” for Grant’s Lounge.

“I just hope that we can be included into whatever events that they have down there, and I’ll be looking forward to working with them however we can so I can help support them, and they can support me,” Louder said.