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

Hal’s St. Paddy’s Lineup Announced

Jackson restaurant Hal & Mal’s and entertainment company Ardenland announced plans for the 2018 Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival, one of the largest annual events in the downtown area. This year, the grand marshal will be V.A. Patterson, a founding member of the Krewe of Kazoo parade group and 2017 Governor’s Arts Award recipient. The theme of the parade, which will take place on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, is “Artfully Alive at 35,” and celebrates the event’s 35th anniversary. Continue Reading

Brandon Amphitheater Announces Lineup

The Jackson metro area may be covered in snow, but the City of Brandon has its eyes on warmer months. Officials from the City and music-promotion company Red Mountain Entertainment held a press conference on Tuesday morning, Jan. 16, to announce the first string of concerts at the incoming Brandon Amphitheater. The Jackson Free Press acquired the slate from the website for the 8,000-plus-capacity venue, which is scheduled to open in the spring. As many residents were anticipating, the schedule features plenty of country-music stars, including Chris Young on April 18, Brantley Gilbert on May 3, Hank Williams Jr. on May 12, and Alan Jackson on June 22. Continue Reading

Warped Tour Winds Down in 2018

Kevin Lyman, founder of alternative music festival Vans Warped Tour, announced on Nov. 15 that the 2018 installment of the long-running national event will be its last. “I have been a very lucky person to have traveled across the country and sometimes around the world as one of the founders and producers of the Vans Warped Tour,” Lyman wrote in a press release on the tour’s website. “Today, with many mixed feelings, I am here to announce that next year will be the final, full cross-country run of the Vans Warped Tour.” While the tour itself will not continue into 2019, the release does promise a special celebration for the event’s 25th anniversary, and it does not rule out shorter tour runs or one-off events. Continue Reading