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The Country Fan's Guide to Georgia: A Musical Road Trip Through the Peach State


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Though its overall music tourism strategy lacks in comparison to those of Mississippi, Tennessee and other Southern states, Georgia offers multiple worthwhile destinations for country music fans.

Sites of note point to everything from the origins of commercial country music to an impactful song in the rise of current hitmaker Ashley McBryde.

Read on for rundowns of the Peach State's best physical representations of the development and sustained excellence of regional music.

Atlanta's Role in the Formation of the Country Music Business

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Before WSM's Grand Ole Opry surpassed the influence of other live radio programs and Music Row made Nashville the international nerve center of country music, Atlanta was among the sites (along with Chicago and the twin cities of Bristol, Tenn. and Va.) playing a pivotal role in the genre's early development.

Still-active radio station WSB introduced local musician Fiddlin' John Carson to a broader audience in 1922-- the same year that Arkansas fiddler Eck Robertson cut the first commercial country songs with Henry Gilliland. In 1923, Carson recorded what's considered the first widespread country hit, a version of "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane," in a storefront on Nassau Street.

Unfortunately, Atlanta has a poor track record when it comes to historic preservation. Nassau Street sits near such area attractions as the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park, making it a desirable site for the Margaritaville restaurant and hotel that's since replaced a key spot in country music lore.

At least one reminder of Carson's impact remains: his grave in the East Atlanta neighborhood. It's one of several burial places of note in metro Atlanta, with others ranging from early country influencer Pete Cassell's final resting place in East Cobb to the elaborate Kenny Rogers monument at Oakland Cemetery.

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Macon's Embrace of Southern Rock Royalty

The Allman Brothers Band's emergence from Central Georgia gets celebrated across Macon-Bibb County. The Big House, the former home of several band members and the group's longtime rehearsal space, doubles as a well-curated museum. More recently, Mercer University converted Capricorn Studios --home of one of the most influential rock labels of the 1970s-- into a recording space and historic site.

For current live music in a historically relevant space, visit Grant's Lounge, a venue in Macon that opened in 1971 and hosted the likes of Tom Petty and Lynyrd Skynyrd early in their careers.

Other Influential Music Venues

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Multiple performance spaces across Georgia influenced today's country music. For example, McBryde's "Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega" is a real (and recently relocated) spot: the Crimson Moon in Lumpkin County. Elsewhere in the state, there's the Athens bar scene that served as an incubator for such talents as John Berry and Corey Smith. Closer to Atlanta, you'll find the Zac Brown Band's former home base: Cobb County's Dixie Tavern.

Highways Named After Country Stars 

There are at least four stretches of road in Georgia named after country music notables. Six miles of Interstate 85 in Alan Jackson's hometown of Newnan in Coweta County bear the Hall of Famer's name. There's also the Chet Atkins Parkway: a portion of Interstate 185 that spans Troup and Harris counties (the legendary guitarist and producer spent part of his childhood in the latter).

Jackson's not the only '90s star to receive such honors. You can find Trisha Yearwood Parkway in her hometown of Monticello, while Travis Tritt Highway leads to the "T-R-O-U-B-L-E" singer's Paulding County residence.

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Ray Charles Plaza

Before Ray Charles became the most recent Georgian in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Albany native got his due back home with a life-sized statue.

Per the Albany Convention and Visitor's Bureau, a sculpture of the soul legend sits at a Baby Grand piano that's on a rotating pedestal. As melodies play at timed intervals, "water flows over the pedestal and spills into a reflecting pool at its base."

READ MORE: The Ultimate Old West Road Trip: From Tombstone to Deadwood

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