After cryptic statements here and there and word of a return to New York, Fondren's First Thursday founder Ron Chane announced that his monthly event would be back in Fondren once more, though rumors of its demise weren't entirely unfounded.
Chane, who also owns local businesses Studio Chane, Swell-O-Phonic and Soma Wilai, took to Facebook to tell the event's many attendees that FFT will be reinstated starting March 3 and will continue each month through December 1.
"A new monster is coming," he wrote.
"54 days ago, things were left in limbo. The load of running the event was bearing, and the need for support was eminent. Leaving FFT as a cliff-hanger was intentional as strategy, as well as not knowing for sure it would return (without community help). We proved it could be revived and thrive. The new challenge was to build it around community involvement with shared ideas.
"Hence, the future of a new FFT is now. We have divided the district into four main zones: Duling, Fondren Plaza, State Street and the Capri Strip. The hybrid energy of shared decisions in each zone will now fuel the ever-changing shape of the event. Zones will make their own decisions on activities, music, vendors, food, etc. This will take the load off for us, allowing FFT itself to focus on the PR and creative direction so necessary to offer you an out-of-the-box experience. We will still stand for the same platform of offering a positive night of neutrality and equal community without political, religious or social activism. The same community-conscious rules will apply for music, vendors, etc.
"We ask that our supporters please be patient as we put the finishing touches on the structure, protocol, etc. We are not open quite yet. Our FFT.city site will resurface with new information and direction next Friday February 5th by noon. All inquiries will then be greeted with an auto-reply that points you to the link necessary. Two-way communication will start at that point.
"FFT will now go all months March 3rd - December 1st (including July 7th) and will remain 5pm until. The event will focus more heavily on the arts now. Vendors will still be represented, now on a rotating basis due to increased activities and available spacing.
"I still plan to focus on split-timing in Brooklyn, N.Y., as a source of pursuing creative ventures and creative inspiration both for myself and the event. As stated before, we will soon play again as less than perfect adults (kids, dogs, community lovers, corporation-haters, weirdos, creative liberal minded scarf wearing types, etc.)."
"Thanks again for reading long posts with bad grammar and misspelled words and for supporting unrealistic ideas."
From its industry panels to artist showcases, the team behind the first Jackson Indie Music Week, which ran Jan. 11 through Jan. 17, wanted the festival to recognize the talent and achievements already active in the capital city. Of course, nothing things says “recognition” like a shelf full of trophies, so JIMW was happy to oblige with the Jackson Indie ICON Awards on Thursday, Jan. 14.
The award show took place at Duling Hall and was a tribute to four of Jackson’s music-industry trailblazers: Freddie Young, Arden Barnett, Charlie Braxton and Bebop Record Shop owner Drake Elder.
Young has produced a variety of albums for Jackson hip-hop and R&B artists and was a big player in the local music scene in the 1970s, providing lead vocals for the funk act Sho-Nuff, which featured an ensemble of Jackson music stars, including bassist Sky Chambers, who presented the award alongside Bridget Archer of “Soul Train” and Jackson State University J-sette fame.
Barnett is the show promoter behind entertainment company Ardenland, who also appeared on JIMW’s “Do the Knowledge” panel where he discussed his philosophy on booking events. Ardenland mostly brings national touring acts, which has caused some to question why the company doesn’t do more for local acts. There are already great venues for local artists, he said at the panel, but he saw a niche and knew he could fill it.
Braxton, a McComb native, is an author, poet and music journalist best known for his various high-profile stories for hip-hop music publications such as The Source, Vibe and Murder Dog. In his articles, he often discusses the cultural impact of artists including OutKast and Notorious B.I.G. as much as the elements that made them singularly influential in the music world.
Elder’s name was a surprise addition to the proceedings—JIMW organizers had announced the other award recipients prior to the event—but given his legacy and deep connection to the local scene, his inclusion was more than welcomed. When the owner of the now-closed Bebop Record Shop died on Aug. 14, 2015, at age 62, friends, family and music lovers across Jackson mourned his loss and celebrated his commitment to music. Fellow ICON Award winner Barnett even held a memorial concert at Duling Hall on Aug. 19.