Looking to fill the void left by Jubilee!JAM, Chris Nolen and a handful of music fans and Jackson supporters decided to create a new music festival. The result of their hard work is Jacktoberfest, a day-long festival on Friday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Nolen, 30, an art director for a Jackson ad agency, has also been making a stir with t-shirts featuring Mayor Frank Melton's face in place of infamous Argentinean revolutionary Ché Guevara's iconic portrait. He took time from wife, Kelly, and his first anniversary to explain.
What is Jacktoberfest?
Jacktoberfest is a free-admission, family-friendly music and arts festival with an Oktoberfest inspiration. Visitors will be treated to some great local music and talented local artists. There will be bratwurst and burgers on the grill, and some quality German and domestic beers on tap, one of which is Mississippi's own Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan. It really is a melding of German and southern cultures.
What can visitors expect?
There will be a lunch and evening happy hour. There will be music all day long. Come out, hear some great local music, eat some bratwurst and drink some beer.
What bands will be playing?
Los Buddies, Goodman County, Central Mississippi Blues Society All-Star Band, Scott Albert Johnson and more.
Will Jacktoberfest be an annual festival?
Absolutely. We'd love to have something that evolves into an annual festival that is long-lasting. For the inaugural festival, we're really focused on making this one a success.
How did you put the festival together?
Jacktoberfest has three members of Jubilee!JAM board as organizers, so that has certainly helped, as well as the experience of the Downtown Partners. For the rest of us, we're figuring it out as we go. There's a certain amount of legwork involved in putting together a festival, such as phone calls to city authorities and permissions to be granted. Connecting with the right talent is obviously a huge part of it. Thankfully, we have some capable folks making our little dream come together. John Lawrence and Bryan Keller, who've really been the force behind the nuts and bolts of the festival, have been key. Melody McAnally has been a fund-raising guru. Scott Allen, a very talented local artist, has helped us get the arts portion together. And finally, Mac McKeigney and myself are working on the promotional side of things.
What makes Jacktoberfest different from other music festivals Jackson has seen?
This one is all about Jackson: Jackson talent, Jackson organizers and Jackson backers. We're going to hopefully turn you on to some bands that maybe you haven't heard before, even though they're in your own neighborhood, so that you can go out and see them again. We want this festival to not only entertain, but promote the community and its music scene.
What's your assessment of Jackson's music scene right now?
There's a little bit of something for everyone here. On any given week I can go out and hear good blues, punk rock, indie rock, DJs, Irish, bluegrass and hip-hop music. We've got some good venues, too. It's not that Jackson doesn't have the talent or means with which to have one of the best music scenes in the South; it's that we all could probably do more to nurture that scene.
What future do you see for Jackson's music?
I think there is a very bright future in store for Jackson's music scene, with much of it tied to the downtown renaissance that's happening. If these well-laid plans are realized, by 2008, downtown will be a very different place than it is now. This will bring people in from all over the region to see the "new" Jackson. That tourism revenue means more options for where to see music, bigger ticket shows and a more attractive setting for future festivals to be held. There is also a new generation of promoters and music entrepreneurs. All this is good, and I'm pretty stoked.
What inspired the t-shirt?
I enjoy pop art, so I like the idea of taking popular icons and mixing them together to say something new. Both individuals have a polarizing effect in that some people see them as heroes, while some think they are villains. They're both iconic in Jackson.
Are the shirts for sale?
For sure. Just contact me at [e-mail missing] for details.
Jacktoberfest runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 27, on Congress St., near Amite St. Free.