Before heading downtown last night for the Papa M show I killed some time at a new coffee house called The Artery on State Street on the north side of Fondren. The place is huge, with 3 or 4 rooms to choose from, all with hanging art. There’s also a deck on the back that makes for perfect sitting this time of year in Jackson. Best of all, the whole place is wi-fi wired. I setup shop outside with my laptop, headphones, a tasty iced latte and worked on the new Lemuria web design and followed the evenings baseball games via ESPN GameCast (way to go Sox/Cubs!).
If you live in the Jackson area and like good coffee and a nice atmosphere to drink it in, please visit this joint, we need to keep it open. It’s big enough you can choose to mingle up front or find a place to hide and read/work in the back. I’m definitely planning on making it a regular hang out when I’m staying in Jackson for the evening.
After a nice time on the deck of The Artery I headed over to Hal & Mal’s for dinner. The special was a grilled tuna sandwich served with swiss on wheat loaf bread and it was great. They hadn’t grilled the tuna too much so it was very juicy and tender, a definite recommendation if you’re in there and see it on the message board. On the way out the door I ran into Gabe Golden who told me he was sitting in with Josh Little’s newly formed band, The Grocers of Despair, to open up for Papa M. He’d just gotten together with the rest of the group that afternoon and their first time to play together was opening for some indie-heavies. Not a bad way to start off at all.
I walked down to the Old Capitol hoping to get some shots of the State Fair from the ridge that overlooks the fair grounds. Unfortunately, all of the nice new construction on Jefferson now blocks the view and I couldn’t get a shot of all the lights of the rides framed with the Coliseum. I walked back over to Martin’s stopping to take some night time shots of the memorial next to the Old Capitol building.
The crowd at Martin’s was light. The Grocers of Despair had just started to set up when I arrived and I sat around rapping with Melissa and Jay. Josh and The Grocers played 5/6 songs and were a lot of fun. Though you could tell that they had just started to play together I think you can expect some great things out of this band once they gain a little more familiarity with each other. After The Grocers finished up a guitar/drum duo from Baltimore called Entrance played 5 or 6 songs. I’d seen the guitarist/singer earlier watching bluegrass at Hal and Mal’s and when he took the stage he was nice enough to say he was glad to be in Mississippi, as a lot of the music he liked was from here. He then backed up the compliment by playing two Skip James songs. It was very loose, with a lot of distortion, and was a good blues romp.
Once they were done it was midnight and time for the main event. Papa M took the stage with Dave Pajo and Paz Lenchantin starting off with 2 guitar/electric violin duos. Martin’s is one of the de facto punk venues in the South and it was a nice alternative to have a little of change of pace. The first couple of songs were slow, introspective, folksy tunes. About 5/6 songs in they started to get cranked up and played some very interesting tunes. My ability to describe musical performances is not great, but let me give it a shot. These songs weren’t really jams, though they were fairly free form at their beginning. Iit was as if they were building the song on-stage, catching a riff, running with it for a bit and letting it work itself into something else. After a while they would hit the break and all the sudden would be into the song, melody and rhythm all the results of a few minutes of tonal meanderings that made the experience of the song much more worth while than if they had just begun with ‘the song’ itself.
Watching them play was a joy as well. These people were friends who enjoyed making music together. It was funny to think that only a couple of months before Pajo and Paz were playing huge shows as part of Zwan and were now playing for 50 people at a dive in Jackson, Mississippi. They didn’t seem to mind the small crowd, while at the same time not being oblivious to us either. Over the course of the show they joked with the crowd, each other, said happy birthday to Bingo, and discussed some Paz-related graffiti in the men’s bathroom. While the crowd wasn’t large, I was really excited that everyone in the room was there to hear Papa M. No one was being loud during the soft songs, which can be a problem at any small venue.
Papa M called it quits at 2 am. By then about 15 people were up at the front right below the stage and begged for more. Bribery was attempted with shots of liquor, but to no avail. They had a long drive to Texas and had to get going. I think everyone could have stayed for another full set easily. They sat around and rapped with a few people after they were done. Pajo mentioned they had looked forward to playing in Jackson, which I hope means that he and whatever incarnation Papa M might take in the future will be back to share an evening of great music with us again soon.
Mark Roemer, lead clown/singer for the legendary Superband Waistband, just stopped by the store. He and Barry Leach (The Vamps) are playing at Hal and Mal’s tonight. As always, I’m sure Mark will put on quite a show. The Jackson Free Press will also be there celebrating their 1 year birthday issue. Should be another nice out in Jackson!
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