By Ed Grisamore 2012 Conference Chair
In its 84-year-old history, the song “Makin’ Whoopee” has been sung by everyone from Eddie Cantor to Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Mel Torme, Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
In recent years, it was recorded by actress Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” And Dr. John joined Rickie Lee Jones to whoop it up in “Sleepless in Seattle.’’
But the song was also the inspiration behind the nickname of a famous, but short-lived hockey team in Macon, Ga., called the Macon Whoopees.
Johnny Carson once mentioned the Whoopees on The Tonight Show and, before he was walking on the thin ice of Watergate, President Richard Nixon owned a Whoopees T-shirt.
Since the 2012 National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference on May 3-6 will be held at the new Marriott City Center hotel connected to the Macon Coliseum, where the Whoopees made a name for themselves, it will be the fun-filled theme of this year’s meeting.
The logo for this year’s conference will be unveiled later this month. We’re putting together a lineup of guest speakers and lecturers that will offer something for everyone. I also promise a surprise guest appearance or two.
We won’t be playing hockey but, in keeping with the musical theme, we want to share some of Macon’s rich musical roots. The city was home to Otis Redding, Little Richard, country music superstar Jason Aldean and two of the former members of rock band R.E.M. James Brown recorded his first song in Macon. And, in the 1970s, Capricorn Records on Cotton Avenue made Macon the epicenter of Southern Rock, with such bands at The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker and Wet Willie.
After a full day of seminars, we will unwind Friday night at the Big House, where the Allman Brothers lived and wrote many of their songs. It will be a ‘70s theme, and everybody is encouraged to bring out their bell-bottoms, beads and mini-skirts. We hope to have an Allman Brothers cover band and a meal catered by local legend chef Paul Harpin, who was brought over from England (where he was once recruited to be Mick Jagger’s personal chef) to cook for the Capricorn folks.
On Saturday, we will follow up a morning of more sessions with lunch in the park, a trolley/walking Rock Candy tour of downtown’s musical and architectural heritage, with a final stop at the breathtakingly beautiful St. Joseph Catholic Church. Our banquet that night, where we will honor another outstanding columnist with the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement award, will take place at the historic Hay House, which has been called the Grand Palace of the South.
The conference rates for the Macon Marriott City Center are $112 per night (single or double). You can make your room reservations by calling 866-882-4465 or Register online using this link http://tinyurl.com/6sjnm6g The special NSNC rate is already loaded.
April 13 is the deadline to receive the group rate. Come make some whoopee down in Macon.