Best of Jackson 2019: Music and Nightlife | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2019: Music and Nightlife

Photo courtesy Facebook/Southern Komfort Brass Band

Photo courtesy Facebook/Southern Komfort Brass Band Photo by Facebook/Southern Komfort Brass Band

Best Musician; Best Rock Artist/Band; Best Singer: Jason Turner


Photo courtesy Jason Turner Band


Seeing Jason Turner take three titles in this year's Best of Jackson won't be too surprising for frequent voters—after all, he has won Best Musician, Best Rock Artist/Band and Best Singer on many occasions. However, one person who may be surprised is Turner himself.

"I don't think I'm the best at anything," he says of his nominations. "So maybe it's seeing the name a lot like, 'I know Jason's out there doing a lot of playing.' Or maybe they like it. I don't know."

In September 2018, he released a new EP, "In Honor of Number 8," a tribute to his late 
father. Turner says the passing of his father was the hardest thing he ever dealt with, and making the EP helped him cope with that loss.

"I kind of always try to write from a standpoint of, 'This is what I went through, and how can this help others?'" he says. "... I hope, in some capacity, it maybe helps them go through something they're going through."

Turner already has two albums worth of new music written, but before tackling that, he plans on making a live solo record. Although he says he's proud of his albums, he sees himself as a live act, as he plays more than 200 shows a year.

"That's what I've always done. Since I was in high school, I've played live. That's something I want to do, just to capture it because I'm sure one day I'll get old and won't be able to do it," he says with a laugh. —Micah Smith

Best Musician

Finalists: Brian Jones (Lillian Axe, / Chad Wesley ( / Ron Etheridge ( / Topher Brown / Zach Bridges (

Best Rock Artist/Band

Finalists: Empty Atlas ( / Framing the Red ( / Pop Fiction ( / Proximity / Young Valley (

Best Singer

Finalists: Chris Link ( / Krystal Gem / Lari Johns'n ( / Pam Confer / Ron Etheridge (

Best Bar; Place to Dance; Place to Drink Cheap: Shucker's Oyster Bar


Photo courtesy Shucker's Oyster Bar

(116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland; 601-853-0105;

To have a good time at a bar, you don't have to go broke. Shucker's Oyster Bar, this year's winner for Best Bar, Best Place to Dance and Best Place to Drink Cheap, understands the importance of that. The business has specials throughout the week, such as Ladies Night on Tuesdays from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. with $2 drinks and $4 Crown Royal shots on Mondays. For those who want to partake in the second part of Shucker's name, the business also has oyster specials, such as a dozen for $8 and six for $6. Happy Hour is Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The specials include $1 off drinks, with the exception of nightly drink specials from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

For those looking for a good place to dance, Shucker's also takes pride in its lineup of live music, including bands such as Proximity and Acoustic Crossroads, Tuesday through Saturday.

For more information, find the business on Facebook. — Armani T. Fryer

Best Bar

Finalists: The Apothecary at Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / 
Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Martin's Downtown (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712, / WonderLust (3911 Northview Drive, 

Best Place to Dance

Finalists: Bee Hall (Hinds Community College, 608 Hinds Blvd., Raymond, 601-857-5261, / Ole Tavern on George Street (416 George St., 601-960-2700, / WonderLust (3911 Northview Drive, 337-378-9003, / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747)

Best Place to Drink Cheap

Finalists: Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Martin's Downtown (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712, / Sam's Lounge (5035 Interstate 55 N., 601-983-2526) / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747)

Beer Selection at a Restaurant; Place to Watch the Game: The Bulldog


Photo courtesy The Bulldog

(6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502,

Drinking beer and watching a game go hand-in-hand for many people. For those looking for a game spot outside the home, Jackson has many options, including this year's winner for Best Beer Selection at a Restaurant and Best Place to Watch the Game, The Bulldog. Company owners Alec Wilder, and Eddie and Herbie Dyer, opened the true beer tavern in Jackson in 2007.

The bar sports 62 beer taps, 30 of which change out seasonally. As of Jan. 10, they included Lucky Town Brewing Company Hop Fiasco IPA, Natchez Brewing Company Kettle Sour Series-POG and more.

The business also has more than 75 beers in bottles. The Bulldog has beer flights and Pint Night on Wednesday nights. For those looking to watch a game, The Bulldog has 12 TVs and two projector screens, so no matter where you are in the restaurant, you can probably watching something ... and drink beer.

For more information, visit —Amber Helsel

Best Beer Selection at a Restaurant

Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, / Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, / The Pig & Pint (3139 N. State St., 601-326-6070, / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899,

Best Place to Watch the Game

Finalists: 4th & Goal Sports Cafe (5100 Interstate 55 N., 769-208-8283, / Bonny Blair's Sports Cafe (1149 Old Fannin Road, Suite 16, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Capitol Grill (5050 Interstate 55 N., Suite F, 601-899-8845, / Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Last Call Sports Grill (1428 Old Square Road, 601-713-2700)

Best Cover Band; R&B Artist/Band: 601 LIVE


Photo courtesy 601 Live


When performing covers, 601 LIVE band manager Cario Armstrong says the members use no sampling, no tracks and or voice-overs. "We are as the name says. ... We live," he says.

601 LIVE consists of Terrell, Brinson, Sedric Brinson and John "Tice" Majors on lead vocals; and friends Donnell Williams and Tony Reaves on keys, Mike Smith on guitar, Greg Richards on bass and Eric Richards on drums.

"We are strictly a cover band for now, covering the hits of the past and present, and our fans appreciate that we can actually sing the songs and play the instruments," Armstrong says.

The band has performed at Jackson venues such as Ish Bar & Lounge, South Street Live, Lounge 114 and more.

For more information, find the band on Facebook. —Brinda Fuller Willis

Best Cover Band

Finalists: Acoustic Crossroads ( / Keys vs. Strings ( / Mustache the Band ( / Pop Fiction (

Best R&B Artist/Band f

Finalists: Kerry Thomas ( / Krystal Gem / Lari Johns'n ( / Stephanie Luckett (

Best Blues Artist/Band: Bobby Rush


Photo courtesy Rick Olivier


Eighty-five-year-old blues musician Bobby Rush is a legend in his own right. He is a 12-time Blues Music Award winner, a 2006 Blues Hall of Fame inductee and a multi-year winner for Best Blues Artist/Band in Best of Jackson. His most recent album, "Porcupine Meat," also won a 2017 GRAMMY Award for Best Tradition Blues Album.

On his website, Rush estimates that he has produced more than 370 songs in his 50-plus-year career. To this day he still tours 200 days a year, and has toured in countries from Japan to Lebanon. In 2007, he made history as the first blues artist to perform on the Great Wall of China.

"I am grateful to be considered among the best in Jackson because it gives me a reason to continue doing what I do, and at a level that keeps me relevant to young and old blues lovers," Rush says. "In this day and time of my life, I appreciate the accolades, and I'm blessed to be among the last bluesmen standing." —Brinda Fuller Willis

Finalists: Chad Wesley ( / Chris Gill ( / Stevie J Blues ( / Topher Brown

Best Club DJ: DJ Young Venom


Photo courtesy Curt McAfee/242 Creative


Taking the title of Best Club DJ is a bit of a mixed bag for Phillip Rollins, mostly because he has steered away from the club scene for much of his career as DJ Young Venom. In a club setting, he says the owner often makes a decision on the music, rather than allowing the DJ to cater to the audience.

"That's why I've been doing events like at Offbeat and doing stuff with my friends, like DJ Breakem Off and DJ Scrap, so just trying to stay busy," Rollins says. "And then, at the end of the year, I made a conscious effort to do some rebranding and try to do more stuff outside of Mississippi and just some traveling. So that's kind of the beginning of trying to do more stuff."

Over the past year, that effort included deejaying for hip-hop artists such as 5th Child, creating new mixes and performing for events at local venues such as his The Ecoshed, Hal & Mal's and Martin's Downtown, and beyond. —Micah Smith

Finalists: DJ T Money ( / DJ Tank / DJ Glenn Rogers / TVBOO (

Best Open-Mic Night: Fenian's Pub

(901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055,

For the ninth year in a row, Jacksonians have selected Fenian's Pub for Best Open-Mic Night, but that is not to say it's business as usual. In July 2018, singer-songwriter Ariel Blackwell became the new host for the local haunt's Tuesday open-mic.

"It's been really fun," Blackwell says. "I'm their first female host. It's been really exciting to watch people grow because that's where I started when I started booking gigs—I was playing at Fenian's open-mic."

The appeal of the long-running event is its relaxed, encouraging atmosphere, she says, as many in attendance are also performers. Some are acoustic artists, rappers, comedians or even vocalists looking to collaborate with a musician in the audience.

"Plain and simple, just do it," she says. "All it takes is that one time, and you realize how not scary it is." —Micah Smith

Finalists: Bonny Blair's Sports Cafe (1149 Old Fannin Road, Suite 16, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Offbeat (151 Wesley Ave., 601-376-9404, / Ole Tavern on George Street (416 George St., 601-960-2700, / Synergy Nights (The Med Bar & Grill, 1200 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland)

Best Live Music Venue: Brandon Amphitheater


(8190 Rock Way, 601-724-2726,

The Brandon Amphitheater, voters' choice for this year's Best Live Music Venue, hit the ground running in its first year, bringing in big names—and with around 8,000 seats, big attendance numbers—to the Jackson metro area.

As many anticipated, the venue's opening salvo of sound featured plenty of popular country acts, including Chris Stapleton, Hank Williams Jr., Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert. However, it also hosted more surprising selections, such as Imagine Dragons, the "I Love the '90s" Tour, Dave Matthews Band, The Beach Boys and ODESZA.

Looking ahead at the lineup for 2019 
announced thus far, concertgoers can already expect a wide variety of acts, including the Zac Brown Band, comedian Jim Gaffigan and the Kidz Bop World Tour, so the amphitheater might be branching out even further in the near future. —Micah Smith

Finalists: Bonny Blair's Sports Cafe (1149 Old Fannin Road, Suite 16, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Duling Hall (622 Duling Ave., 601-292-7121, / Hal & Mal's (200 Commerce St., 601-948-0888, / Martin's Downtown (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712, / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105,

Best Country Artist/Band: Jason Miller Band


Photo courtesy Jason Miller Band

The past year has been full of new steps for four-time Best Country Artist/Band winner, the Jason Miller Band, which features musicians from Jackson and 
around the state.

For one, vocalist Jason Miller, drummer Nathan Spears, bassist Anthony Daniels, and guitarists John Andy Bowen and Jamie Bright, brought in keyboardist Matt Hancock. They also performed at new festivals and cities, delving into the music scenes at major universities. Now, the band is preparing for another big step: recording an album.

As for the Best of Jackson nomination, Miller says: "If it works out, and we win this again, big shout-out to everyone who comes out week in and week out, and listens to us whether they've heard 100 times. ... Thanks to everyone out there that supports us and believes in us. And hey, stick with us, because we've got some big things coming this year." —Micah Smith

Finalists: Burnham Road ( / Chasin' Dixie (
chasindixie) / South of 20 ( / Young Valley (

Best Gospel Artist/Group: Mississippi Mass Choir


Photo courtesy The Mississippi Mass Choir

Last year was a momentous one for the Mississippi Mass Choir, which voters have selected as the Best Gospel Artist/Group for the fourth year in a row. In addition to its regular stream of television appearances and performances around the country, the choir celebrated its 30th "birthday" in 
October 2018.

In honor of the occasion, the choir posted a variety of historic photos and interviews with its founding members discussing the choir's landmark debut, "The Mississippi Mass Choir Live," which it recorded on Oct. 29, 1988.

The Mississippi Mass Choir's most recent recording project, "Declaration of Dependence," came out in 2014. However, since the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary with the release of 2008's "The First Twenty Years," the choir may have some new music coming sooner than later. —Micah Smith

Finalists: Brandon Mitchell & S.W.A.P. ( / Four Washington ( / Jason Gibson & Destiny Project ( / Rhonda Chambers-Davis

Best Hip-Hop Artist/Group: 5th Child


Photo courtesy Adrienne Domnick


For Stephen Brown, whom fans know as rapper 5th Child, winning Best Hip-Hop Artist/Group is the cap on one of the most successful years in his 15-year career.

In 2018, he chose to pull back from live shows to focus on his eighth album, "Which Way Is Up," which then opened the door for bigger shows, including a performance with Big Freedia. It also allowed him to create music for film scores and advertisements, and lead a songwriting workshop for the Better Together Commission. He also teaches music to third- and fourth-graders in the Poindexter Park afterschool club.

For his latest Best of Jackson win to come at a time when he was doing fewer live performances, "It means people are still checking on me, basically," he says. "That's what's really rewarding. ... After all these years, it's been great being able to, I guess, still be relevant when you have so many new faces." —Micah Smith

Finalists: Alexander FRE$CO ( / 
Dear Silas ( / Dolla Black ( / Vitamin Cea ( / Yung Jewelz (

Best Service Industry Hangout: Capitol Grill


Trip Burns/File Photo

(5050 Interstate 55 N., Suite F, 601-899-8845,

For regular customers of Capitol Grill, it won't be too surprising to learn that voters selected it as this year's Best Service Industry Hangout.

"We've always had a big backing of service-industry personnel," General Manager and Executive Chef Lance Gammill says.

"You know, most of my staff—and myself, as well—have all been in the industry for a long time, so we all sort of know each other."

Part of the appeal for service-industry workers, he says, is that Capitol Grill often keeps its kitchen open late, sometimes until 1 a.m. The restaurant also offers half-price appetizers from 10 p.m. to midnight during the week, as well as a happy hour during that time.

"We'd like to thank all of our friends and family," he says of the nomination. "We've been doing this a long time now, and we've gotten to know and love all of you, and we thoroughly appreciate it." —Micah Smith

Finalists: F. Jones Corner (303 N. Farish St., 601-983-1148, / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Sam's Lounge (5035 Interstate 55 N., 601-983-2526) / WonderLust (3911 Northview Drive, 337-378-9003,

Best Jazz Artist/Group: Southern Komfort Brass Band


Photo courtesy Facebook/Southern Komfort Brass Band


Jackson-based Southern Komfort Brass Band, a long-time Best of Jackson favorite, has livened up the City With Soul just about everywhere. Whether they're packing out local music venues, performing in parades such as the Zippity Doo-Dah and Hal's St. Paddy's Day Parades, or leading second lines down our city streets, chances are high that you've seen this talented group of musicians performing.

The band's members are Jamie 
"Blophish" Abrams, Tim Boyd, Cedric Eubanks, Lorenzo Gayden, Joseph Handy, Corey Hannah, Gerard Howard, E. Antony James and Terry Miller.

For more information, find the band on Facebook. —Natalie Long

Finalists: Barry Leach ( / Pam Confer / Raphael Semmes / Vibe Doctors Jazz Project (

Best Karaoke DJ: DJ Stache


Photo courtesy Casey Hardigree

(Ole Tavern on George Street, 416 George St., 601-960-2700,

This year's Best Karaoke DJ, DJ Stache, also known as Casey Hardigree. has been keeping the City of Soul entertained with his live karaoke events for nine years, hosting karaoke at Ole Tavern on George Street. In Best of Jacksons of years past, Hardigree has managed to be a finalist in the category, but this year, Jacksonians voted him as the best.

Just in time. On June 20, 2018, he decided to retire 
from karaoke.

"I'm so grateful for being able to do this as long as I have," he said on his Facebook page.

Though he is no longer a karaoke DJ, you can still check him out at his day job at Walker's Drive-In, or entice him for a reunion karaoke showdown at Charlie's F'in 
Karaoke at Ole Tavern on Wednesday nights. —Natalie Long

Finalists: Angela Pittman (Krazy Karaoke) / Charlie 
Keister (Ole Tavern on George Street, 416 George St., 601-960-2700, / Matt Collette / Rob Lehman 

Best Pub Quiz/Trivia Night: Lost Pizza Co.

(500 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 769-300-3116; 144 Friendly and Fresh Drive, Flowood, 601-345-8679;

Pub quiz is something that allow participants to practice important life skills such as team work and collaboration in a sometimes extremely competitive setting. The pub quiz at Lost Pizza Co. is no exception to this.

Locally, the Ridgeland and Flowood locations host trivia night on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. For the game, teams have to have two or more people. Before trivia night begins, they pick a name, and then play nine rounds of trivia with three categories in each round. Participants will answer questions about everything from "Lord of the Rings" lore to Super Bowl trivia to fashion. -Winning teams also have a chance to compete in regional, state and national trivia nights.

For more information, find Lost Pizza Co. on Facebook or visit —Amber Helsel

Finalists: Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., / The Flamingo (now closed, / Highland Village (4500 Interstate 55 N., / Library Lounge (Fairview Inn, 734 Fairview St., / The Pig & Pint (3139 N. State St.,

Best Place to Play Pool: The Green Room


Trip Burns/File Photo

(444 Bounds St., 601-718-7665)

It is no small feat to conquer a Best of Jackson category the way that the Green Room has with Best Place to Play Pool. Every year since 2005, voters have selected the local pool hall for the honor, which is not to say that the metro area is lacking in places to play. From beginners to the most hardcore of pool aficionados, customers can enjoy league and team play on top-notch pool equipment.

On top of its pool offerings, the Green Room is known for its bar foods and drink specials. Even people who would be more likely to hit a cornea than a corner pocket will likely find something to munch on, with 
options such as Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, burgers, nachos, cheese sticks and chicken wings. —Micah Smith

Finalists: One Block East (642 Tombigbee St., 601-944-0203, / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747) / Sam's Lounge (5035 Interstate 55 N., 601-983-2526) / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105, / WonderLust (3911 Northview Drive, 337-378-9003,

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