by Kristin Holloway
Not since the late ‘90’s/early ‘00’s heyday of the Jackson Jubilee! Jam (where the phrase ‘Jam, Y’all’ was first coined, FYI) has the Jackson music scene truly prospered. Okay, there was that brief time around 2009 when the other kids that straightened their side bangs and wore too much eyeliner, and I gathered almost weekly at Sneaky Beans to watch homegrown bands like The Weeks and Colour Revolt play, but that fizzled out after Colour Revolt broke up and The Weeks moved to Nashville to pursue greener pastures. However, I believe the makings of a renaissance are upon us.
First of all, the number of venues has drastically increased over the last six to seven years. Back when I first started going to local concerts, there was The Red Room at Hal & Mal’s (where the fancy bands that charged a cover played), WC Don’s (where I once so elegantly had to step over a used syringe), Sneaky Beans (where the pre-hipster, post-emo Jackson kids hung out), and my middle school’s gym (which strangely enough only allowed straight-edge Christian bands to play… anybody else remember TopherMan?). Nowadays, we have more venues than you can shake a stick at. Seriously,—Duling Hall, Soul Wired Café, One Block East, Shuckers, and the list goes on and on.
Not to mention, Arden Barnett recently started ardenland, a booking company based in Fondren that aspires to bring great music to Jackson and all surrounds. Ardenland has ties to Duling Hall but also doesn’t mind outsourcing their artists to other venues like Proud Larry’s in Oxford or The Thirsty Hippo in Hattiesburg, which is great for helping newly starting out Oxford bands like And the Echo and Young Buffalo gain a following.
Now that the hurdle of the venue is past us, I think the Jackson music scene can only go up from here. With the recent resurgence of banjos and fiddles as popular instrument choices, OG Jackson bands like The Vernon Brothers/The D’Lo Trio have found a new niche with the indie folk crowd. (Interestingly enough, the frontman of both bands, Hal Jeanes, is the brother of Millsaps alum and life trustee William Jeanes.) And now that Arden Barnett is on track to become the next Paul Moak (but for Jackson instead of Nashville), more bands than ever are viewing Jackson as a possible destination for their next tour. Still, Jackson needs a new band to call “ours.” Sure, The Chad Perry Band and The Steve Deaton Three are stellar, but right now the scene is in the most conducive environment for a brand new darling or two to emerge. Who will seize this opportunity?