Schoolhouse Rock | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Schoolhouse Rock


Jazz musician Russell Thomas Jr. teaches at Jackson State University.

Many musicians here live an almost "Hannah Montana" lifestyle—going to school daily as a teacher, yet rocking the masses at night. I've been teaching 11 years in the Jackson metro area, and even my one-man band Clinton started out as a teacher.

Singer-songwriter Taylor Hildebrand (Horse Trailer, Passenger Jones) taught second grade in JPS, and returns to the classroom next year. Songwriting siren Emma Wynters has also taught middle school in JPS, where teenage girls ooh and ahh over her songs and the fabulous heels she wears to her many gigs. Baby Jan Smith taught exceptional education in JPS, and now teaches remedial reading at St. Therese Catholic School. Smith is a member of the all-girl group The Earth Angels, and now sings with the band Jambeauxx and piano man Chalmers Davis. Guitarist, mandolin player, singer and banjo picker Edwin McAlister, who often plays with Soundwagon and other bluegrass bands in the South, teaches English at Belhaven. Singer-songwriter David Womack teaches music at Galloway United Methodist Church's preschool program, and his children's songs can pass for "grown folks' music." Former Hal and Mal's general manager Charly Abraham is now at Delta State University teaching music industry studies.

Jazz saxophonist Russell Thomas Jr. is a professor of music, director of jazz studies and coordinator of music theory at Jackson State University. Thomas has played with such acts such as Dizzy Gillespie, The Little Milton Band, and the Montreaux Jazz Festival, as well as all over the U.S. and the world.

Hattiesburg also has teacher rockers.Justin Martin from Fling Hammer teaches radio production at USM and administers the college radio station, WUSM. Casey Phillips, who has played with one of my idols Suzy Elkins, The Hounds, and Chris Sartin's Soulshine All-Star Band, formerly taught in JPS and now teaches at Forrest County Agricultural High School.

Check out these awesome educators when they play at a venue near you. Check the listings here in the JFP so that you can make plans to hear these talented teachers!

This week's lineup of music is impressive. On Wednesday, Fenian's has Sherman Lee Dillon playing at 9 p.m. Burgers and Blues hosts Jesse "Guitar" Smith from 5-9 p.m. Also, F. Jones Corner has Virgil Brawley, Poets II has DJ Phingaprint, Centerstage has Doug Frank's Wednesday Nite Jam and Dreamz, Jxn has Wasted Wednesdays.

Thursday night is Ladies Night at Martin's and Ole Tavern, The D'Lo Trio play at The Cherokee Inn at 6 p.m., Adam Faucett plays at Hal and Mal's, Underground 119 has John Wooten Caribbean Funk, Burgers and Blues has Mark Whittington. Country music legend George Jones plays at MSU's Riley Center in Meridian.

On Friday, kick off the weekend with Cary Hudson with Grayson Capps and the Lost Cause Minstrels at Fire. The doors open at 8, so get there early for a good seat because this show is going to be a fab one. Get a great steak and hear some blues at Kathryn's when the Lucky Hand Blues Band plays at 7 p.m. Rockers Train pay a visit to the Jackson Convention Center. Call for ticket prices and start time for the show. Also check out Underground 119's Sunset Series with Raphael Semmes. Each week he has a different "machine" playing with him from 5-8 p.m. This week he has "Rock Machine" Hunter Gibson, so come out for some great music from two awesome performers. It's Back to Basics Friday at Suite 106 and Dreamz Jxn has SPRUNG.

Saturday night Reed Pierce's has Fade 2 Blue, Otis Lotus is playing at Pelican Cove, Brady's has karaoke, Cultural Expressions has Gospoetry and Suite 106 has Back to Basics: Away Team Edition. Sunday, Semmes starts a jazz brunch gig at the new restaurant Table 100 in Flowood.

Have a good one, and support teachers who rock!

Visit the music calendar at

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