Artists To Watch | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Artists To Watch

Mississippi has a lot of talent, especially music. With that talent, there is a broad range of music to enjoy and listen to. Here are a few new and upcoming artists that should be on your radar. Read on, and give your ears a listen.

Calico Panache

by Jordan Lashley
June 22, 2011

When this group of musically oriented females came together to make music, the result was a powerful, soulful sound that they wanted to share with the world.

The all-girl rhythm-and-blues group Calico Panache includes six members: Jessica Smith (piano), Olivia Walker and Amanda McDaniel (vocals), Chiquita Adams (bass guitar), Cherita Brent (drums) and Larissa Hale (keyboard, trumpet, saxophone and French horn).

Adams, Smith and Walker met at Tougaloo College and discovered a common denominator: a passion for soulful music. In 2009, they formed Calico Panache. "Calico," which means unusual and diverse, represents the different personalities and interests of each member. "Panache," meaning style and flair, represents the group's spirited sound and appearance.

"There's a certain essence when all of us are together," Walker says. "It's just a vibe we can't feel anywhere else."

In January, Hale joined the lively four as their second keyboardist and brass and wind instrumentalist. In February, McDaniel became the band's second vocalist.

All residents of Jackson, the group plays in venues such as Level 3, Suite 106, Last Call, Dreamz JXN and many more. They also perform at events for Jackson State University and Tougaloo College.

Recently, however, they have been out of the public eye and composing original music. Hard at work in the studio, Calico Panache is recording a mix-tape set to release this month.

Calico Panache is planning a huge event that will provide exposure for local musicians. While surprise is key, the band encourages others to contact them for information.

"We don't want to give away too much information now and give away the surprise," Smith says.

You can also hear Calico Panache perform at the JFP Chick Ball July 9.

For information, visit or follow on Twitter @calicopanache.

Doe Hicks

by Briana Robinson
June 22, 2011

Jackson native Donnie "Doe" Hicks says he wants to put the capital city on the map for rap geniuses. Independent rapper Hicks, 25, has performed at just about all of the local clubs and is known for his high-energy performances.

"Everybody loves my music," Hicks says. "The whole club sings with me."

While Hicks has been rapping since he was 15, his professional career only started within the past year. Living by the motto "work hard, pray harder," Hicks has already released four mix tapes, with another, "Streets or Beats," coming out July 4. He is selling them online at and iTunes.

"It was either gonna be the streets or the beats," Hicks says about the motivation for his newest mix tape's title. "I hope rapping works out so I can stay out of the streets." He uses his music as an inspiration, showing him that a person can move forward in life.

"I'm hoping that God will bless me with something, so I can let the world see what I do," Hicks says. He anticipates extending his tour to surrounding states and performing on television.

In his short career, Hicks has performed with Rocko and David Banner and has collaborated with most of the local rappers. His music is a blend of local and national trends. Acts such as Outkast have influenced him.

"Music is life for me, it's all I got," Hicks says.

Constantly playing shows, he already has had four this month. He is part of Supa Kidz Music Group, FKMZ and First Up Fly Gang.

His new single, "No Booty Pads," has been popular, and listeners can request it on WJMI-FM 99.7 and WRBJ-FM 97.7.

For information, contact Doe Hicks directly at 601-497-7811 or {encode="[email protected]" title="[email protected]"}.

Courtesy Doe Hicks

Risko Danza

by Briana Robinson
June 22, 2011

This time last summer, the members of Risko Danza had no idea that they would soon be part of a successful band. After meeting through mutual friends, vocalist and guitarist Matthew Nooe, 18, and drummer Perry Townsend, 18, started to play together, seeking a bassist to complete their line-up.

"We're in Jackson, and there's nothing else to do, so we learned to play music," Nooe says. "After getting good and learning that it's fun, we decided to make a band."

Risko Danza was complete after Jacob Lewandowski, 20, came in to play bass. In January, everyone in the band started taking the music more seriously.

"It's been hard, especially to find venues because we're young and people assume that we're not serious about our music," Nooe says.

They've played multiple times at Sneaky Beans, Cups, Wingstop on North State Street and at house parties, and they hope to find more places.

Now, Risko Danza is making its way around Jackson, playing original songs and various covers ranging from blues to classic rock, and its original music, which the members write together, is somewhere in between. They have had nine live performances and released a CD called "Live," that sells for $5.

The band strives to touch on most genres, including indie, classic rock and blues but is mostly influenced by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, John Coltrane and The Black Keys.

For booking, call Matthew Nooe at 601-665-2073 or email at {encode="[email protected]" title="[email protected]"}. Visit to hear the band's music.

Dane Austin Carney

Thomas Jackson Orchestra

by Brianna White
June 22, 2011

The sweet sound of a guitar chord greet listeners on the Thomas Jackson Orchestra's new single, "Attack of the Mean Eyed Waitress." The song is the essence of the band: a witty message combined with soulful rock to create good old southern blues.

The three-member group, based in Hattiesburg, has entertained listeners since 2007 with blues-inspired indie rock.

Dubbing themselves an "orchestra"—with irony— the group creates a mesh of guitar solos and drum beats to evolve its unique sound. Influenced by Muddy Waters and Steely Dan, the Thomas Jackson Orchestra is comprised of bassist Sam Adcock, drummer Scott Street, and lead singer and guitarist Thomas Jackson.

The group mainly plays in Hattiesburg, Jackson, the Gulf Coast and north Mississippi. Known for the wide range of genres they embrace, TJO gives fans a mix ranging from hard rock to pop.

"We write stuff that will appeal to a lot of different people," Jackson says.

During a show, TJO is likely to play pop-inspired "Super Girl Blues," an uplifting song about a former sweetheart, and the blues-driven, "Don't Be So Sad," a melancholy song lamenting heartache.

The Thomas Jackson Orchestra plays at local venues such as Hal & Mal's, Fenian's and Ole Tavern on George Street, often wearing nifty pairs of shades.

The group plays with a common goal: "to get better," Jackson says.

With three strong rockers, one full-length album and a new EP, the band is working hard to develop its music and fan base.

To learn more or find out about upcoming shows, visit their Facebook page or email {encode="[email protected]" title="[email protected]"}

Courtesy Thomas Jackson

Logan Mason and The Old Family Circus

by Callie Daniels
June 22, 2011

Logan Mason says with a wide grin, "I would like to keep on playing. Just keep on playing as long as possible."

His blue eyes lit up in the rain as he introduced his girlfriend of two years, the harmonica-playing guitarist Jennifer Kennedy, and his violin-playing best friend, Redin Spann. Three of them make up Mason's new band, The Old Family Circus. The musicians have played together for three years, initially as Logan Mason and the Natchez Trace Bandits. They have been playing for seven months under their new name.

Old records that his grandfather would often play inspired Mason's love of music. His piano teacher often pushed Mason to strive for the best in music. In addition to a background that gave him his passion for music, Mason's love for the Natchez Trace adds flair to his song writing. He pulled back his shirtsleeve to show a tattoo of the state of Mississippi with the Natchez Trace outlined in blue.

"My favorite song would have to be 'Jesse and Joe' because it's a story-telling song," Mason says.

Young Joe lost a gambling game to a man on the Natchez Trace, and he shot the guy he lost to. He became a better gambler as he got older, and he settled down with Jesse. Soon enough, his past caught up with him, and he was tried and hung. Heartbroken, Jesse hangs herself, too.

Mason loves writing story-telling songs. His voice croons and echoes on songs such as "Eula," "My Sweet Louise" and "Rocky Springs." He is working on releasing a record within the next two months.

The band's genre is folk and story telling. The band's names point to influences on Mason's song-writing: the Natchez Trace, antique records and poetic lyrics. Mason has been playing all over Mississippi, especially in Jackson.

Visit to learn more about Logan Mason and the Old Family Circus.

Courtesy Logan Mason

Da A$tronautz

By Amelia Senter
June 22, 2011

Music lovers and Martians are abuzz about Jackson hip-hop duo Da A$tronautz, composed of "Sir Flywalker"—Darrin Givens—and "Co$ign"—Cory Archie.

"I do all the score and make all the instrumentals," Flywalker says. "(Co$ign) brings a different creative outlook. ... I do the beats, and he constructs the songs. It's kind of perfect."

The pair met in high school—Flywalker attended Ridgeland High School and Co$ign attended Murrah—while on a double date with their then-girlfriends.

"I was going to sell him beats, just going to make money," Flywalker says."But the way that he rapped on them, I was like, we can make some nice songs together."

The two didn't see each other again for another three years, but reunited in the winter of 2009 and began making music together.

"We thought our music was regular, until people were like, 'this sounds like nothing like the stuff around here!'" Flywalker says. "That (reaction) drove us to get in a group together and to keep making music together."

Flywalker says their music evades singular categorization. "A lot of people classify it (our music) as alternative hip-hop," Flywalker says.

"We are talking about something of everything. We touch everything."

Flywalker is a self-proclaimed "jazz-head" and lists his musical influences as John Coltrane, Naz, Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. Flywalker says the band also draws inspiration from music in Bruce Lee movies. He adds that the name, Da A$tronautz, comes from "being different."

"The way we look at the music industry is that we try to go outside the spectrum," Flywalker says.

"We really just used the solar system and space in saying 'we're exploring space like astronauts instead of just walking
on the ground.'... (We're) doing something different."

In spite of the implications of their name, the group realizes the gravity of music as a motivating force. "We don't really rap about a lot of violence," Flywalker says. "We're trying to make positive look cool."

Da A$tronautz has performed at Hot Topic in Northpark Mall, Dreamz JXN, Jackson State University and this spring's Skate MS's "Kids Need Fresh Air" CD release party at Sneaky Beans.

The duo now plans to focus on graduating from college—Flywalker from Mississippi State and Co$ign from JSU—and are working on a mix tape, "Grand Theft Audio," to be released in September as well as an album, "NASA" ("Not Another Sucker Album")—to be released in January 2012.

Contact Da A$tronautz at their website,, or email {encode="astronaut [email protected]" title="astronaut [email protected]"}.

Courtesy Da A$tronautz


by Rebecca Wright
June 22, 2011

Fans know Adrian Jackson better as Peewee, an MC in the Jackson area. His latest single, "Go Peewee," is in rotation on WRBJ-FM 97.7.

Peewee, 25, is a Mississippi native who has always had a passion for music. He worked hard to get where he is and has no intention of slowing down. He works as a barista at the King Edward Hotel and is also a student at Jackson State University, where he is majoring in health and recreation. Between work and school, he manages to DJ, write, record music and perform his own work.

The musician also works with children. He recently helped to incorporate his song, "Go Peewee" into a program to help fight childhood obesity with music and dance, trying to get kids to be more active. He strives to be a role model to children and youth.

"Go Peewee" has a hip-hop sound, but he doesn't want to box himself into a specific genre.

"I try not to classify my music, because music can go anywhere, and that's the type of person I am. I really just label it as music," Peewee says. "If you listen to my music, it varies —it gives you different styles, and I like that."

His passion as an artist is evident in his conversation and in his music. He recently released a mix tape titled, "Hello My Name is Peewee." He will make a music video for "Go Peewee" later this summer and will release a second recording later this year.

Peewee's music is available online at and

For upcoming shows, follow Peewee on Twitter @GoPeewee, or find him on Facebook at "Go Wee Pee.'" For bookings, contact {encode="[email protected]" title="[email protected]"}.

Courtesy peewee

The Narwhals

by Brianna White
June 22, 2011

Led by female singer-songwriter Sarah Bryan Lewis, the Narwhals have brought a new kind of rock to the Mississippi scene. The Hattiesburg-based group formed last summer, and their journey since has been a whirlwind.

The Narwhals' line-up consists of Sarah-Bryan Lewis (lead singer and guitarist), Jaime Jimenez (keyboardist), Stephen Scott (guitarist) and Coday Anthony (drummer).

A self-described "mid-level band," The Narwhals' folk-rock influences are The Mountain Goats and Bob Dylan. The band's songs cover a wide range of topics, including societal conflict and relationships.

"I want our music to make a statement," Lewis says.

A blaring statement can be found in "Another Statistic," a track off the band's latest live EP, "The Narwhals Live on WUSM." In the song, Lewis croons about difficult relationships and the challenge to overcome mistakes: "Drink your wine / pop your pills / take it in till it kills."

The Narwhals have a deeper understanding of the music business because three of the band's members—Lewis, Scott and Anthony— graduated as entertainment industry majors from the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Narwhals' music is readily available. You can find the band's four-track EP on Fans can name their own price for the EP, and the website offers assistance for the download.

The Narwhals have plans to relocate to Los Angeles next January, but until then fans can catch them at Ole Tavern on George Street in Jackson and other venues throughout the southeast.

For more information, email {encode="[email protected]" title="[email protected]"}, or listen to The Narwhals' music on Facebook.

Santore Bracey

by Alexis Goodman
June 22, 2011

From traveling back and forth from Jackson to auditions in Dallas, to writing music for stage plays and working on his album, Santore Bracey is a busy man.

A Jackson native, Bracey began singing gospel in church when he was 5. At 14 he was backing other artists, and he realized that he was passionate about singing. "I just love seeing how music makes a person feel and seeing how people enjoy true music," he says.

Bracey is working on his first album and writing music for stage plays, including "Congregation Gone Wild," "P.S. I Love You" and "Vengeance is the Lord." Bracey often uses the stage plays as an outlet to get his own music in front of an audience.

"Santore," Bracey's self-titled album, is scheduled for release in February 2012. "The album is about living, loving, and being happy and excited," he says. "One day love can make you happy, and the next day you might not care about it, so I just want to get it that out there."

Bracey, 29, is not signed with a record label but is not bothered by paying for everything on his own.

"Before my first daughter, I had a lot going on, but when she came along, it changed my whole outlook on life," Bracey says. His three children are his biggest inspiration, he says.

Bracey attended Forest Hill High School, Jackson State University and Belhaven University. He is working on a degree in business management to help his entertainment career.

The most rewarding experience for Bracey has been to be able to grace the stage with famous artists. He has opened for R&B artist Dave Hollister and gospel artist Paul Porter, and has sung background for Porter. In May, he competed on FOX TV's "The X Factor" where he made it through two rounds.

"Jackson really has a lot of good talent, but no one is looking here," Bracey says. "I just want to open the door for others, as well as for my own children."

Connect with Santore Bracey on Facebook.

Courtesy Santore Bracey

Topher Brown

by Jonnett Johnson
June 22, 2011

"My goal in life is to play music," Topher Brown says. That is what he's been doing since he started playing guitar 15 years ago. His musician father Ricky Brown and blues legend Robert Johnson, his musical idols, sparked a love of country and blues music.

Brown, 28, grew up in Brookhaven and attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.But when disaster hit, his love for music took over. "When Katrina came through, I hit the road and been on the road ever since," Brown says.

He formerly played with The Colonels. He became a part of The Band Perry, when lead singer Kimberly Perry, a good friend of Topher's, asked him to join in 2010.

"They needed someone they knew and trusted," Brown says. He's been playing guitar with the folk/country, Country Music Television award-nominated band for a year.

The Band Perry keeps Brown busy, but he also has his own band, Topher Brown and the Family Business. "We're all really close friends. We hang out every day. That's how I came up with the name," Brown says, describing its music as a combination of rock 'n' roll and blues. Topher Brown and the Family Business play mostly in and around Brookhaven, sometimes in McComb and Jackson.

"I'm kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of guy," Brown says.

He is unsure of his future other than the fact that he will continue to play music. "It's the one thing that truly makes me happy."

Visit and the Topher Brown and the Family Business page on Facebook for more information.

Courtesy Topher Brown

Slimm Pusha

by Pamela Hosey
June 22, 2011

Slimm Pusha (aka E'Sirah Harris) found his way to Jackson after living in Montgomery, Ala., Georgia, Tennessee and the Mississippi Delta. While studying English at Jackson State University, Slimm felt he wasn't serving his life's purpose: to produce and make music that everyone will enjoy.

"Music has always been my passion," Slimm says. He was playing drums at age 3, writing music at 13 and recording at 18. He also plays the piano.

Without hesitation, Slimm says that he doesn't want to be referred to as a rapper. At 25, his appearance is clean cut, and he doesn't travel with a large entourage. He plans to keep it that way.

Not only is Slimm smart and funny, he also has a plan. Instead of nailing the songs on an album and pushing it into the hands of every radio station, Slimm took his time to learn the industry first. He then researched and developed a strategic plan for his music career, especially promotions.

Slimm has a mix up (his rendition of a mix-tape) titled "The BingBangBata Mix-up" which is getting a lot of positive feedback. His next mix up, "IfPushComes2Shove" has 13 tracks, half of which are fun summer music, including the slamming summer anthem, "Pool Party."

The other half is music with strong messages. The song he is most proud of is "Lady Friend"

To download "The BingBangBata Mix-up" and to find out more about Slimm Pusha, visit his website at and follow him on Twitter @slimmPUSHA.

Courtesy Slimm Pusha

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