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When you think of going out on the town to hear music, you generally picture the hectic bar and nightclub scene. The idea of smoky rooms filled with loud people can be a turn-off, however, and the distractions of the venue can put a damper on the enjoyment of the music. This is true not only for the audience, but also for the musicians who are often playing to a disconnected crowd.

M.A.D. Studios was created to fill this gap. The brainchild of local music legend John “Stoney” Cannon, M.A.D. Studios is Augusta’s first “listening room” and it’s a place where musicians and music lovers can come together for the sake of music. Short for Music Art Design, M.A.D. Studios is not a bar, restaurant or nightclub, but rather a dedicated performance space. To emphasize that point, it’s also an all-ages venue that is smoke- and alcohol-free.

The room itself is small and intimate, with a seating capacity of around 60 people. There’s a small stage up front that puts the performers right on top of the audience, giving them an up-close and highly personal listening experience. Because of the cozy nature of the room, most of the music played is acoustic and of the singer-songwriter variety. There are scheduled performances by national, regional and local acts as well as regular open-mic nights for anyone wishing to show off his or her musical talent. 

The venue also doubles as a professional recording studio and artists can take advantage of the opportunity to record their live performances for a fee. As a bonus for the struggling musician, M.A.D. Studios offers a package deal where the price of recording can be recouped through ticket sales. It’s a win-win situation for artists who are just starting out and looking to build up a core base of fans.

Slightly off the beaten path, M.A.D. Studios isn’t a place you would generally stumble upon while bar-hopping in the downtown area. It is a secluded, upstairs perch at 307.5 11th Street, a couple of blocks off Broad Street. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But once you find it, you will discover one of downtown Augusta’s hidden treasures. It’s a musical destination that needs to be sought out and savored.

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