January 31, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
For the past two years, the Mississippi''s Best Grassroots concert and exhibition has excelled in shining a spotlight on the state''s rich musical heritage and artistic talent. On Tuesday, Feb. 10, that light will illuminate another diverse gathering in Lee Hall Auditorium on the campus of Mississippi State University.
The third annual Grassroots showcase begins at 6 p.m. with an art exhibit, followed by a concert at 7 p.m. featuring five eclectic musical styles. There is no admission charged, however donations in support of North Mississippi''s excelling talent are appreciated organizers said in a press release.
Tupelo area native Paul Thorn headlines the 7 p.m. entertainment. A skydiver, boxer, chair maker and story teller, his music fuses blues, rock and roll and classic R&B to generate an exceptional sound with an intuitive sense of blue-collar, working man poetry. Thorn will also emcee the event along with MSU student Sarah Beth James, the reigning Miss MSU.
The host band, Nash Street, of Starkville, consists of five young local musicians dubbed the "best new act in country music" when they won the Colgate Country Showdown last year. Melding mandolin, guitar, fiddle, bass and vocals, Nash Street delivers their own arrangements of old time, bluegrass, folk and blues music.
The Mississippi Delta''s Eden Brent hails from Greenville. The big-voiced jazz, blues and boogie woogie siren won the solo/duo competition at the prestigious International Blues Challenge in 2006.
Great music stays in the family, or so it seems with Kent Burnside and The New Generation. The grandson of blues great R.L. Burnside brings his own urban blues sound and "Cotton Blues Disco" to the Golden Triangle.
Members of The Doss Family from West Point have grown up singing inspiring, heartfelt gospel. They frequently perform at area churches and community events.
The art exhibition coordinated by the Starkville Area Arts Council''s Art In Public Places Committee will encompass drawings, paintings and sculpture of a wide variety from 10 uniquely talented artists.
Works by Linda Cambre, Brad Coleman, Drew Divilbiss, Brian Earwood, Liz Johnstone, Dylan Karges, Joe MacGown, Anthony (AJ) Meadows, Patrick Tranum and Cindy Villavaso offer a range of visions.
Many of the artists have strong connections to Mississippi State University.
Cambre, Karges and MacGown work with MSU in different capacities. Cambre''s pastel landscapes will join Karges'' ceramic sculptures and MacGown''s surrealistic pen and ink creations in Lee Hall.
Coleman, Earwood and Johnstone are recent graduates of the Fines Arts program of the Department of Art. Earwood and Johnstone occupy studio space in the downtown Starkville arts collaborative, The Cre8tive Warehouse. Coleman''s ambitious large-scale work features wooden drums.
Divilbiss and Meadows are currently Fine Arts students and bring inquisitive and unique approaches to their work. Meadows recently took Best in Show at the Student Fine Art Competitive Exhibition.
The Mississippi Grassroots event is sponsored by Grassroots Entertainment, Music Maker Productions, Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, WMSV and other local business. This project, a collaboration between MSU and the Starkville community, is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, please contact Music Makers Productions at 662-325-2930.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.