GBP to stream “A Night of Georgia Music” performance on July 4


Ward Stare, Robert McDuffie, Chuck Leavell and Mike Mills during Monday’s GPB broadcast of ‘A Night of Georgia Music’ touring Macon at the Grand Opera House in March. The program begins at 7 p.m. just before PBS’s “A Capitol Fourth” celebration at 8 p.m.

CI Smith Photography

Potential audiences were disappointed when “A Night of Georgia Music” was forced to halt its tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it was finally able to be presented again – live in Macon in March – it sold out not only to Central Georgia ticket buyers, but also to others traveling across the United States.

Luckily, for those who couldn’t get tickets to March — and equally for those who could — the show has been picked up and will premiere at 7 p.m. Monday — July 4 — on Georgia TV Stations. Public Broadcasting. Other PBS stations will likely air it in the fall.

“A Night of Georgia Music” is an evening of songs written or made famous by Georgian artists. It also features Mike Mills’ “Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra”.

Mills grew up in Macon and later Athens, co-founded, played bass and was a songwriter with legendary band REM. Also featured in the evening were famed violin virtuoso and Macon native Robert McDuffie, who founded Mercer University’s McDuffie Center for Strings, and Chuck Leavell who came to Macon as a teenage keyboardist in late from the 1960s to work at Capricorn Recording Studios and who became a member of the Allman Brothers Band, a sought-after solo and session artist, and in later decades the Rolling Stones’ musical director and touring keyboardist.

Leavell is currently touring with the Stones in Europe, McDuffie is in Italy for the Rome Chamber Music Festival he founded 20 years ago, and Mills, according to McDuffie, is also in Italy to attend the festival.

Although all are considered friends and musical cohorts these days, McDuffie and Mills’ friendship dates back to when they were children.

Included in the show and the musical camaraderie are students from the McDuffie Center filling in the orchestral element on stage, conducted by Ward Stare, as well as well-known musicians from Athens adding guitars and drums.

“There was plenty of time to reflect and practice during the pandemic and as Macon’s performance at the Grand Opera House came together I had the idea to record it from Larry Brumley who produced the show on behalf of Mercer,” McDuffie said on a Zoom call. McDuffie said he knew Mercer had already created the GPB programming, so he thought, “Why not that?”

Brumley is senior vice president of marketing communications and chief of staff at Mercer and is a guide behind Mercer’s Capricorn Studios, Grand Opera House and many other projects. McDuffie wanted him to share the idea with Mercer president Bill Underwood, whom he knew was a fan of “A Night of Georgia Music”.

The plan and fundraising came to fruition and the fruit is the 4th of July program.

In March, Mills, McDuffie and Leavell spoke about the emotional impact of music.

“Where does the emotion come from?” Leavell asked and then answered. “It comes in different ways. It comes from the arrangement, the tone, the phrasing, the touch of each instrument. You transmit it as best you know how, from your heart to your fingers.

Then Mills stepped in.

“You know, some of the audience will be there and will be grateful and maybe blown away by our ‘technical genius,'” he said. “Some will be there for that but most people are looking to be transported. That’s what music does – it takes you outside of yourself, or maybe deeper inside of you- same, but it takes you somewhere other than where you were. I hope that’s what happens when we communicate our feelings in music. I hope it makes you feel different than you did before.”

Those I spoke to at the March performance agreed that the music was moving, transcendent, all of those things, and a whole lot of fun.

But they were sitting among a thousand people sharing the moment. Can this translate to a TV show?

This is where 7 Cinematics comes in, the production group selected to record and create the show. They are worth mentioning and you will be glad to know that the answer to the question above is yes, it translates remarkably well in its own way.

By doing what they do, 7 Cinematics has won 11 Tellys, been nominated for 12 Emmys, won four, and shot high-profile events like Red Hot Chili Peppers Live at The Great Pyramids and The Avett Brothers at Red Rocks.

Their slogan is “The Art of Live Music Productions”.

Program Director/Executive Producer and 7 Cinematics CEO Adam Paul believes the word art is important and said his job is not just to capture and present images and sound, but to do so. a way that conveys emotion and the feeling of being involved.

“We were honored to be contacted for the show,” said Paul. “I try to be at the cutting edge of what we do and to undertake a performance like this with some of the greatest musicians there are and the students who have matched them every step of the way, well , I knew mixing these people, Georgian music and these old and new forms was going to create magic. When we did dress rehearsal, man, it was mind-blowing. It gave me chills. »

Paul said he and his team wanted to visually capture the experience with rhythm and fluidity suited to the music. And just as the musicians on stage had spoken in March about depending on and relying on each other to “create magic,” Paul credited his team and executives, Adrian Westendorff, production, Ben Walter, cinematics, and Mark Maness, post-production, as integral to capturing the magic and presenting it to others.

“We do improv filming,” he said. “There is always movement and fluidity, like in a symphony. We plan and improvise in the moment. You could just do a well-composed shot of Robert McDuffie playing his iconic violin, but it’s best to capture the feel of his movement, the bow sliding over the strings. There are ways to convey emotion visually, and just as music comes in waves, layers, and builds, so should visual representation. It’s a matter of heart and soul.

Paul praised not only the musicians involved, but also the staff at The Grand and the sound work done by Rob Evans, chief engineer and manager of Mercer’s Capricorn Studios. And by the way, the show will include a few moments with Mills, McDuffie and Leavell touring the historic Capricorn facility – which in itself is worth a watch.

So this fourth offers special treatment via GPB. Paul said “A Night of Georgia Music” at 7 p.m. leads directly into PBS’s “A Capitol Fourth” celebration at 8 p.m.

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at