Press is a Tool for Musicians, Not a Destination

Working at the Jackson Free Press, I get quite a few emails from local and national musicians, authors and artists requesting press coverage. That is to be expected—we are a newspaper, after all—and I’m actually grateful for those emails. For one, I’m a fan of the new and the interesting, from music to literature to theater. Finding out about the unfamiliar can be rewarding in itself. For another thing, those emails also serve a practical purpose, of course, in that they tell me things I might otherwise have forgotten or not known about at all. Continue Reading

2018 State Fair Music Lineup Announced

There are a few sounds that attendees can always expect from the Mississippi State Fair—the braying of barn animals, kids screaming in delight, the whirring of rides, and of course, the sounds of a star-studded music lineup. On Tuesday, July 17, the Mississippi State Fair Commission announced the headlining artists for the 159th annual fair, which will take place Oct. 3-14. Country singer Chris Janson will be leading off the entertainment schedule on Wednesday, Oct. 3. Continue Reading

Organizers Unveil Indie Music Week Year Four

The eyes of Mississippi music icons, such as Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters and Jaimoe, watched on—quite literally—as a group of Jacksonians met to discuss one of the capital city’s biggest annual events. In a room beside the Iron Horse Grill’s wax-figure-filled Mississippi Music Experience, the team behind Jackson Indie Music Week hosted a press conference Monday, July 16, to announce details of the seven-day festival’s 2o19 installation, which will take place Sunday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, Jan. 20. With the conference came the unveiling of the new JIM Week logo, a golden design honoring Jackson record label Malaco Music Group’s 50th anniversary, as well as announcements about changes on the financial side of the festival. Continue Reading

Symphony Orchestra Holds ‘Ransom’ Fundraiser

The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra is known for many things, from elaborate themed concerts to outdoor events, but now, it is adding kidnapping to that rap sheet. A recent post on the orchestra’s website features the tell-tale sign of a kidnapping—a hodgepodge of cutout letters—asking supporters to send in funds for the return of Crafton Beck, the MSO’s music director and conductor. Of course, in actuality, the “ransom” is just the orchestra’s latest fundraising effort, and Beck is likely busy preparing his troupe of musicians for the very season that his ransom funds will help produce. As the MSO website states, the organization wanted to ask Mississippians for donations while “sparing you yet another gala event.” The donation drive will end tomorrow, Thursday, June 7, and features five comedic tiers: $1,000 (“I love Beck and would do anything to get him back”); $500 (“The show cannot go on without Beck”); $250 (“At least you didn’t take our Concertmaster Marta”); $100 (“Couldn’t you have taken a horn player instead?”); and $50 (“He’s just a conductor”). Continue Reading

Mississippi House Declares ‘Paul Thorn Day’

The Mississippi House of Representatives will vote to pass Resolution 66 this Tuesday morning. Unlike most house resolutions, however, this one comes with a pretty stellar soundtrack. The resolution honors the accomplishments of musician Paul Thorn by naming today, March 27, as “Paul Thorn Day.” After the ceremony at 10 a.m. at the State Capitol, he will also perform acoustic renditions of a few songs. The singer-songwriter, who was born in Wisconsin and raised in Tupelo, Miss., is a former middle-weight boxer and National Guard serviceman whom a record-label executive discovered while performing at a local pizza place in 1997. Continue Reading

Local Labels Release “Welcome to Mississippi” Vinyl

A lot of things happened immediately after Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote to become the 45th United States president in 2016. For Garrad Lee and Cody Cox, it was a conversation. On the night of the election, Lee posted on social media, saying something along the lines of, “Now America gets to be Mississippi for the next eight years,” commenting on the idea that Mississippi was one backward place in an otherwise progressive nation. The next day, he and Cox, who co-own indie record labels Homework Town Records and Elegant Trainwreck, began discussing a new release that would do more with that sentiment while also showcasing voices that speak to the issues facing the state and the country. “We talked forever ago about doing some sort of compilation, probably four or five years ago,” Cox says, “and we were like, ‘Right now is a good time. Continue Reading

UPDATE: Spencer Buys Out ‘Panther’ Screenings in Mississippi

UPDATE: Octavia Spencer announced the screenings for underprivileged youth on Instagram, with showings at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. at Cinemark Pearl and XD (411 Riverwind Drive) on Feb. 17. She also shared that “The Help” director Tate Taylor and producer John Norris purchased a 2:30 p.m. at United Artists Natchez Mall 4 (350 John R. Junkin Drive, Natchez) on the same day. All screenings are first come first served. Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer’s response to Marvel Studio’s latest superhero film, “Black Panther,” stands out even amid praise from other celebrities at early screenings. Continue Reading

Former Jacksonian Wins 2018 Blues Challenge

Mississippi blues societies may not have earned top marks at this year’s International Blues Challenge. However, at least one name on the winner’s list has close ties to the Magnolia State. The Keeshea Pratt Band represented the Houston Blues Society at the 2018 IBC in January, taking first-place in the band category, but local music fans will best remember singer Pratt from her tenure in Jackson. She grew up in the capital city, and attended Callaway High School and Tougaloo College. Pratt began singing at about 6 years old and officially launched her professional music career in 2008. Continue Reading

Jacksonians Raise Funds for ‘Panther’ Youth Screening

Before actress Octavia Spencer made national news for planning to buy out a screening of Marvel’s “Black Panther” for an underserved Mississippi community, residents were already on the job here in Jackson. Khalid and Khadijah Rashid Hudson began a GoFundMe page for the “Jackson Black Panther Challenge” on Jan. 15, hoping to raise $4,000 by the film’s release date, Feb. 16, to allow underprivileged Jackson youth to see the new comic-book movie. “Black Panther” is the first Marvel film to feature a mostly African American cast, with actor Chadwick Boseman as the titular lead, and an African American director in Ryan Coogler, who is best known for films such as “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed.” Continue Reading

Young Valley Releases New Single

The twang-a-rang has come back around again. Jackson alternative-country act Young Valley released its latest single, “Hang Me,” via YouTube on Wednesday, Jan. 24. The song, a longtime fan favorite at concerts, is the first new recorded material from the band’s core trio—lead guitarist Dylan Lovett, acoustic guitarist Zach Lovett and drummer Spencer Thomas—since their debut album, “No Filter,” in November 2014. “Hang Me” is the lead-off track from Young Valley’s upcoming self-titled sophomore album, which the band recorded at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, Miss. The record is scheduled for release on April 20 and is currently available for pre-order on Dial Back Sound’s website. Continue Reading