Best of Jackson 2020: Nightlife and Music | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2020: Nightlife and Music

Photo courtesy Shaggy's on the Rez

Photo courtesy Shaggy's on the Rez

We here at the Jackson Free Press like to keep our focus on local: local people, local business, local food—you get the idea. There's nothing to us more local than Best of Jackson. We're officially in our 18th annual award season.

Here is who you voted as the best local people, places, food and more.

Best Happy Hour; Best Open-Mic Night; Best Outdoor Dining: Shaggy's on the Rez

(1733 Spillway Road, Brandon, 601-724-2990,

Ron Ladner had been buying real estate in Pass Christian, Miss., shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. He had already been thinking of turning one of his properties into a place that could serve fresh seafood and cold drinks alongside scenic surroundings. When Katrina swept his newly bought bait shop off the map, Ladner decided to pursue his goal after all and began developing plans for his restaurant. After three months of construction, Shaggy's opened its doors.

Shaggy's on the Rez, which opened in fall 2018, brings an island-style atmosphere to the Jackson metro, as it overlooks the reservoir.

The menu features seafood options like fish dip, crab cakes, oyster baskets and shrimp tacos, as well as cheeseburgers, po-boys, wraps, nachos, pasta, fried eggplant and more. Shaggy's also hosts family events throughout the year, and it has its own prize-winning fishing team. Shaggy's also participates in food drives, a scholarship program and fishing camps. To learn more, visit — Mike McDonald

Best Happy Hour

Finalists: Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, / CAET Seafood and Oysterette (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 9015, Ridgeland, 601-321-9169, / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899,

Best Open-Mic Night

Finalists: BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Martin's Downtown (214 State St., 601-354-9712, / Synergy Nights @ Mediterranean Grill (1200 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-0082)

Best Outdoor Dining

Finalists: Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, / Fine & Dandy (100 District Blvd. E., 601-202-5050, / Keifer's (710 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825,; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976, / Sophomore Spanish Club (200 District Blvd. E, 601-203-3333, / Walker's Drive In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633,

Best Blues Artist/Band: Bobby Rush


Bobby Rush Photo courtesy Rick Olivier


Bobby Rush is immortal. This is not purely a turn of phrase. At age 83, he clinched his first Grammy Award for his 2017 album "Porcupine Meat." Its followup, "Sitting on Top of the Blues," is nominated for the same award in 2020. Just last year, Rush appeared in Eddie Murphy's hit comedy "Dolemite Is My Name." Most legends may get a comfortable cameo: seated and smiling, honored in passing. Rush performed "I Ain't Studdin You," backup dancers and all.

Who else could believably rewind time a half-century, back to when they were merely entering the third decade of their career? Bobby Rush does it countless nights every year. — Nick Judin

Finalists: The Bailey Brothers ( / Chad Wesley ( / Chris Gill ( / Dexter Allen (

Best Country Artist/Band; Best Musician; Best Singer: Zach Bridges


Zach Bridges Photo courtesy NBC/The Voice


After being a contestant on the 2019 season of "The Voice," Pearl native Zach Bridges has witnessed a rise in his local following, with his shows often packed with supporters.

The 29-year-old grew up loving sports, playing baseball in college before deciding to pursue music more seriously after chancing upon the opportunity to play for a bar in Hattiesburg, where he studied kinesiotherapy at the University of Southern Mississippi. After graduating, he moved back to the Jackson area and has been a mainstay in the local music scene ever since.

He and his wife, Taylor, are expecting a daughter in March this year. Outside of music, Bridges works as an X-ray technician at G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center and also enjoys hunting and woodworking. To learn more, visit — Nate Schumann

Best Country Artist/Band

Finalists: The Ballard Journeay Show ( / Burnham Road ( / Chasin' Dixie ( / Jason Miller Band ( / Young Valley (

Best Musician

Finalists: Ariel Blackwell ( / Brian Jones (Lillian Axe, / Chad Wesley ( / Gena Steele (Steele Heart, / Hunter Gibson (

Best Singer

Finalists: Ariel Blackwell ( / Brooke King ( / Chris Boyles / Gena Steele (Steele Heart, / Hunter Gibson (

Best Place to Watch the Game; Beer Selection (Restaurant): The Bulldog


Photo courtesy The Bulldog

(6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502,

The Bulldog is very serious about beer, with 62 beers on tap and more than 75 in bottles. The company uses nitrogen and CO2 pump to serve beer. The restaurant has more than a dozen large-screen televisions distributed throughout the restaurant for patrons to watch various sports games, and customers are able to cheer or boo over replays over in the New Orleans-style patio. It also dontates to local charities each year. — Richard Coupe

Best Place to Watch the Game

Finalists: 4th & Goal Sports Cafe (5100 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 769-208-8283) BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Capitol Grill (5050 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite F, 601-899-8845, / Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Georgia Blue (multiple locations,

Best Beer Selection (Restaurant)

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

Best Place to Dance: Shucker's Oyster Bar

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

A frequent finalist and winner in Best of Jackson, Shucker's Oyster Bar rings in 2020 as this year's winner for Best Place to Dance. It is also a finalist for six other categories this year, including Best Bar, Best Live Music Venue, Best Place to Drink Cheap, Best Place to Play Pool and Best Hangover Food.

Every Friday and Saturday, Shucker's hosts "On the Deck," featuring live music, seafood, cold drinks and many opportunities for dancing. Additionally, on Wednesdays, the bar holds "Terry's $2 Takeover," a ladies night event that offers $2 wine, beer and mixed drinks, as well as music by Proximity. For the bar's specials, menu and live entertainment, visit — Sarah Pollard

Finalists: BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Ole Tavern on George Street (416 George St., 601-960-2700, / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747) / Bar 3911 (3911 Northview Drive, 601-586-1468)

Best Bar: Fondren Public

(2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589)

Jackson resident Brad Dreher, owner and general manager of Fondren Public, first opened the popular hangout in September 2013. Fondren Public's drink selection includes 24 beers on tap, including craft brews, as well as bottled beers, cider, liquors and mixers. The menu includes public chips, five flavors of sliders with house cut fries; chicken and waffle sandwiches; and more.

The bar also has a bocce ball court, a shuffleboard court, arcade games, cornhole and giant Jenga pieces. Fondren Public is open from 4 p.m. to midnight on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday. Find it on Facebook. — Dustin Cardon

Finalists: BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Ole Tavern on George Street (416 George St., 601-960-2700, / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747) / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105,

Best Club DJ: DJ Finesse


Photo courtesy DJ Finesse


Award-winning DJ Finesse, real name Chris Carr, has been in the industry for more than 30 years. Finesse started out as a DJ with a local rap group by the name of Profile Crew and later branched out on his own. He now promotes club events and some of the world's biggest record labels, including Interscope and Warner Brothers; and ends his nights with the number one Arbitron-rated radio night show in the state of Mississippi, 99 Jams WJMI. His motto is: "I just love to party!"

Finesse fell into the radio business by being a club DJ. He later began traveling with the station making a name for himself. Born and raised in Jackson, he has taken his love for music and transformed it into Finesse Entertainment, a multimedia company where he serves as CEO. His is also the current president of Core DJs. "My goal is to make sure that my mixes will have everyone enjoying themselves," he says. For bookings, questions and more information, find him at — Deja Davis

Finalists: DJ 901 (97.7 WRBJ) / DJ Mason ( / DJ Tank / DJ Unpredictable / DJ Young Venom (

Best Cover Band: 601 LIVE


Photo courtesy 601 Live


While 601 Live has performed in many cities and states, band manager Cario Armstrong says there is nothing better than playing in the Jackson area. "We're like Dorothy, you know? There's no place like home," he says. "Not only do we have our fans and supporters, but we have our friends and families with us (in Jackson), too. Having it all right here means so much."

Armstrong says one of the band's favorite parts about performing is simply having the opportunity to share the band's musical gifts. "Whether it's one person or one thousand, we wanna be able to deliver a good experience," he says. "The band definitely loves interacting and engaging with the crowd. Having them participate and get up there to sing or dance with us is always a great part of performing." Find the band's performance schedule on Instagram or Facebook. — Sarah Pollard

Finalists: Hunter Gibson & the Gators ( / Just Cauz ( / Keys vs. Strings ( / Pop Fiction ( / Steele Heart (

Best Gospel Artist/Group: Mississippi Mass Choir


Photo courtesy The Mississippi Mass Choir


In the song "This Morning When I Rose," the instrumentals suddenly turn an upbeat tempo, and the vocals thunder across a sound system as a burst of energy might radiate across a flat surface. Even if the listener is not partial to the gospel sound, he or she may find it difficult to remain seated without moving as the Mississippi Mass Choir almost mandates movement through performed song and accompanied motion.

The Mississippi Mass Choir can be traced back to 1988 when a man named Frank Delano Williams formed the collective. Williams was a member of the gospel group The Jackson Southernaires, who enjoyed national success during the 1970s and 1980s. He had a partnership with Malaco Records during his time with that group, and while working as director of gospel promotions, decided on the creation of a statewide mass choir. To date, the choir counts 230 members, has performed in 40 states and numerous countries, and is the only choir to perform on location at the Grecian Acropolis. It also boasts 10 albums among its many accolades. — Mike McDonald

Finalists: Benjamin Cone, III & Worship ( / Four Washington ( / Jason Gibson & Destiny Project ( / Rhonda Chambers-Davis

Best Jazz Artist/Group: Southern Komfort Brass Band


Photo courtesy Southern Komfort Brass Band


Long-time Best of Jackson winner Southern Komfort Brass Band rings in 2020 with the Best Jazz Band honor. The band, which formed in 2010, found its footing squarely in New Orleans-style jazz, but members pride themselves on the flexible nature of their playing. The band also won BOJ awards in both 2013 and 2014 for Best Jazz Band, as well as the Best Original and Cover Band honor in 2013 and 2014.

One of the band's drummers, Tim Boyd, says what makes the band so unique is not playing solely brass band music, also fluidly cycling through jazz and reggae or even pop. Boyd says the band's focus is to make people feel good and dance.

From Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" to Pharrell's "Happy," the band has a large repertoire of covers to pull from as well as original songs like "Jacktown" and "SK Theme." The band's core group of members are Jamie "Blophish" Abrams, Tim Boyd, Cedric Eubanks, Lorenzo Gayden, Joseph Handy, Corey Hannah, Gerard Howard, E. Antony James and Terry Miller. — Caleb McCluskey

Finalists: Barry Leach ( / Gena Steele & Buzz Pickens ( / Raphael Semmes / Tiger Rogers (

Best Pub Quiz/Trivia Night: Lost Pizza Co.

(multiple locations,

College roommates Brooks Roberts and Preston Lott had a dream of opening a restaurant with great beer and even better pizza. But college graduation and jobs deferred those dreams as the duo immersed themselves in the "real world." However, they reunited in 2007 to make their college dream come true with the opening of Lost Pizza Co.

They opened the first restaurant in their hometown, Indianola, Miss., in September 2007 and have since opened up locations in the Jackson metro. On Tuesday nights, the restaurant hosts a Trivia Night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. that offer gift-card prizes, and live music on Thursdays. Trivia Night draws a lot of regulars. "They take up a whole half of the restaurant. They come every single week. They're very serious about it. It's definitely a big night for us," Assistant Manager J.D. Fike says.

Lost Pizza Co. makes its pizzas with no preservatives, fillers or artificial ingredients. They use house-made dough and sauces as well. — Aliyah Veal

Finalists: Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Library Lounge (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429) / The Pig & Pint (3139 N. State St., 601-326-6070, / Urban Foxes (826 North St., 769-572-5505,

Best Place to Play Pool: The Green Room

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

Manager Theresa Burgardt says her number-one rule when people walk into the Green Room is safety, particularly when it comes to the well-being of women. "I always try to keep the women safe and just have a fun atmosphere. No clowning around. No fights. People get loud, they can go out. We don't put up with nothing," Burgardt says of the venue.

The Green Room is a sports bar and pool hall open for 20 years. Burgardt says the laid-back atmosphere and the customers have kept her around for her 11 years. The establishment is popular for its drinks, food and monthly 9-ball tournament. People from all over the southeast come to play in it. People from Texas, Alabama and Georgia come to play," she says.

The bar's most popular drink among male customers is the Leg Spreader, which is a combination of rums and different juices. "I want (customers) to leave with a smile on their face and to be glad for whatever money they spent, that they had a good time," she says. — Aliyah Veal

Finalists: Dockery Grill (6791 S. Siwell Road, Byram, 601-665-4758) / Capt'n Jack's Hot Shots (6034 Interstate 55 S. Frontage Road, Byram, 601-376-0141) / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747) / Sam's Lounge (5035 Interstate 55 N. Frontage, 601-983-2526) / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105,

Best Hip-Hop Artist/Group: Dear Silas


Dear Silas Photo by Justin Hardiman


Silas Stapleton III, known as Dear Silas, used to blend into the crowd, but after embracing his authentic self he is more recognizable than ever. The rapper, anime-lover and trumpet player's song "Gullah Gullah Island" from his 2016 album "The Day I Died" caught listeners' ears. But it was "Skrr Skrr" that sealed the deal, literally and figuratively. The song acquired viral success after the chorus was dubbed over a Dexter's Laboratory meme.

It grabbed the attention of various record labels, and he eventually signed a partnership deal with RCA in 2018 and released his second album, "The Last Cherry Blossom," the same year. Dear Silas is a shining model of success amid a narrative that local artists have to leave home to achieve success. In October 2019, he headlined the Mississippi State Fair's Music on the Midway and performed at comedian Hannibal Buress' first Isola Fest in Isola, Miss., in December. The emcee's success is a big win for hip-hop culture in Jackson. — Aliyah Veal

Finalists: 5th Child ( / Timaal Bradford ( / Vitamin Cea ( / Yung Jewelz (

Best R&B Artist/Band: Stephanie Luckett


Photo courtesy Stephanie Luckett


Stephanie Luckett embodies the soulful roots of Mississippi with vocal ability that is full of heart and lyrical content that connects with listeners. Her debut LP "Kemistry" features the track "Intoxicated," a vocal and emotional melody produced by Donovan Scott.

"When I perform, I perform with the thought that I want someone to enjoy my show. So, I give 1,000%," Luckett says. "I want people to leave my shows with the thought that they got more than what they paid for."

Luckett was thrilled to learn she was a finalist for this award. "To know that Jackson supports me fills my heart with so much joy," she says. "Being a finalist chosen by the people in my hometown tells me I'm doing exactly that. Jackson, Miss., has some of the most creative, artistic and amazing artist musician on earth."

When creating, Luckett draws inspiration from the people she meets, including the local artists she has sung background for in the past before taking the spotlight herself. "I get my creative process from everyone I encounter. ... Sometimes it's surreal to hear me call myself an artist. I get goosebumps at times thinking about it because I'm living my dream. (I had) a late start, but when God says it's time he will move you," she says. — Robin Johnson

Finalists: Alexander FRE$CO ( / Kerry Thomas ( / Lari Johns'n ( / Paige Dineen (

Best Karaoke DJ: Angela Pittman


Photo courtesy Angela Pittman

(Krazy Karaoke)

Krazy Karaoke's origins begin around 25 years ago. After Angela Pittman started singing at an attorney friend's parties, more people started to ask her to perform at their events. Eventually, Pittman decided to turn her talents into a business, giving birth to Krazy Karaoke, a family-friendly band of singers who invite others to participate and sing. Pittman describes herself as a "paralegal by day and rockstar by night."

Along with working in the Jackson metro, Krazy Karaoke has also traveled across the state as well as around the country. Krazy Karaoke has had several different promotions wherein the winner could open for a national recording artist.

Pittman gives credit to Krazy Karaoke's loyal following, saying she could not do what she does without their support, and she calls her team "the best." — Brianna Gibson

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

Best Rock Artist/ Band: Steele Heart


Photo courtesy Steele Heart


Steele Heart stole the hearts of this year's voters with their classic-rock inspired covers. Husband and wife duo Gena and David Steele started playing together in 2010, and the pair evolved into a five-piece group.

"It's quite an honor (to be recognized)," Gena Steele says. "It was kind of strange, too, because I've been playing in Jackson since 1984, and this is the first time I've been recognized, so this is neat."

Steele says what makes their band stand out is the musical blend the group offers listeners. "It's a unique sound—kind of our own sound," she says. "We do covers, of course, but they just don't sound like a jukebox. It has its own style."

Band members include David Steele, Gena Steele, Carlos Calabrese, Cucho Gonzalez and John McNaughton. — Caleb McCluskey

Finalists: Brian Jones (Lillian Axe, / Empty Atlas ( / Just Cauz ( / Lovin Ledbetter ( / Sweet Tooth Jones (

Best Service Industry Hangout: Last Call Sports Grill

(1428 Old Square Road, 601-713-2700)

After a long day of work, sometimes people need a place where they can kick back and recover, let their minds and bodies reset before they dive headfirst into their next shifts. Last Call Sports Grill provides that atmosphere for many in the local service industry. The restaurant and bar features a full kitchen for the peckish, large-screen televisions for sports fans, DJs hosting late-night dancing for the spirited, and karaoke for the brave and talented. Last Call also hosts special events throughout the year, such as last November's best pajama or December's ugly-sweater contests and a "Grown Folks Day" earlier this month featuring with specialty drinks and prizes. Last Call also has hookahs available. Find it on Facebook. — Richard Coupe

Finalists: BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / F. Jones Corner (303 N. Farish St., Suite 3227, 601-983-1148, / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Sam's Lounge (5035 Interstate 55 N. Frontage, 601-983-2526)

Best Live Music Venue: Duling Hall

(622 Duling Ave., 601-292-7121,

Arden Barnett, founder of entertainment company ardenland, has been operating Duling Hall in Fondren since finalizing a long-term lease with the building's owner, Mike Peters of Peters Development, in January 2014. Barnett had previously run ardenland out of his home. Barnett has since hosted everything from concerts and private parties to weddings and high-school proms at the venue, which has space for up to 400 people without tables.

The venue has housed concerts for hip-hop artists like Isaiah Rashad, indie-pop bands such as The JAG and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, reggae group The Wailers, a cappella group Street Corner Symphony, Led Zeppelin tribute band Zoso and more. Visit or — Dustin Cardon

Finalists: BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / Brandon Amphitheater (8190 Rock Way, Brandon, 601-724-2726, / Hal and Mal's (200 Commerce St., 601-948-0888, / Martin's Downtown (214 State St., 601-354-9712, / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105,

Best Place to Drink Cheap: Capitol Grill

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

Capitol Grill strives for affordability and fun, branding itself as a sports bar obsessed with everything SEC that tries to have everyone's favorite college team on at least one television inside. While watching the game, customers can enjoy affordable drinks from cocktails and wines to beer. The bar has seven beers on draft, 12 craft beers, 11 domestic beers, eight imported beers and varying seasonal beers.

The bar is open Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. with happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. everyday with a nightly dinner special. From Thursday to Sunday, the bar has a second happy hour from 10 p.m. to midnight for those who either missed the first one or want to come back for more. To learn more, see — Caleb McCluskey

Finalists: Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, / Martin's Downtown (214 State St., 601-354-9712, / Pop's Saloon (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-961-4747) / Sam's Lounge (5035 Interstate 55 N. Frontage, 601-983-2526) / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105,

Best Place for Cocktails: 4th Avenue Lounge

(209 S. Lamar St., 855-246-9636,

Ja'Nee Powell says she and her husband, Chad, wanted to create a place that offered diversity and felt safe, which led to them founding 4th Avenue Lounge, a culmination of the couple's concepts from travels to cities such as Atlanta, Dallas and Miami. "It's supposed to feel intimate. We wanted to do a contemporary feel and really enhance the ambiance that you can embody when being downtown," she says.

Powell wanted "Instagram worthy" cocktails, which are made with freshly squeezed juices and premium liquor. "We're just making sure people get their dollars worth when they are looking for something to cut the edge and want to relax and want a refreshing cocktail," she says. "I want them to really feel like it was worth getting dressed and coming downtown." — Aliyah Veal

Finalists: The Apothecary at Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., 601-366-3427, / Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, / Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, / BB'S LIVE - Bonny Blair's (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-447-5788) / CAET Seafood and Oysterette (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 9015, Ridgeland, 601-321-9169,

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