In-person arts events returning at last
Nearly six years ago, when I was asked to write a monthly column about the arts for the Wesson News, I didn't think there was enough material about I could write every month. I thought maybe an occasional column as a guest writer would be better. I was convinced to give it a try. I've learned a lot and have had good advice and countenance from my editor. Trying to tell a 300 word story in a 700 word article is harder than a thousand word story. For the most part, however, it has been fun.
Now, I am no new writer. I've never been on a school newspaper staff. The only reason I knew the lingo was because my friend Tricia Walker's mother was an owner/publisher/editor/columnist of a local newspaper when I was at Co-Lin. She let me fold papers in a hot press room, where I recall, four machines, including the press, all running, carrying out their particular function, producing a rather percussive sound that caught my attention. When all the old machines were working, I found the rhythms relaxing. My brother and his wife were also in the newspaper business during their entire lives.
Over the last 12 months, I've missed the pleasure of covering in-person arts events. I've written eight columns about virtual concerts, a drive-through art show, which really was cool, and conferences that had to go virtual for safety's sake. I've written about musicians, actors, stage hands and others who bring us the arts being out of work. Trucks and buses that transport big shows are sitting idle in lots. I follow a few roadies and stagehands, and I can tell you, these folks are bored and need to go back to work.
At last, it now gives me pleasure to write about some events that will be in-person.
Hazlehurst is once again sponsoring an art walk-through in its downtown area and in local bank lobbies and offices. More than 50 Copiah County artists will be displaying their work in windows easily accessible by taking the walking tour.
One of my personal favorites is photographer Ben Foy. I called him a photographer, but "artist" describes what he does much better. He has photographed old barns and churches that jump off the page. I could use the same camera and get a picture of barn, but Foy makes art. You can view his work at Allred's pharmacy.
A new Hazlehurst business is the Groom Room, which will feature the works of Sheila Sanders focused on animals. What else at a pet grooming business?
Moving to corner and east on Gallatin Street will bring walkers to you to Luv's Coffee Bistro, a recently renovated antique store. The windows display gorgeous quilts and needle work by Susan For, Connie Anderson and Mary Rutledge.
A former jewelry store houses intriguing miniatures from an antique store and the old Rockport Store lovingly created from reclaimed wood from the now dilapidated building. Darlene Corr has recreated most unique structures complete with electric lights from her childhood memories.
The Rockin Railroad Festival on May 1 will end the month devoted to the arts. This festival is always well attended, and the folks on stage have fun. Headlining this year is a former Copiah Countian who is making her way in the tough world of American Idol. Tatum Henry, 18, who now lives in Ridgeland, has earned The Golden Ticket, which sends her to Hollywood and a live performance on the popular television show. American Idol include now superstars Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwod and long list of others. Good luck, Tatum.
Also performing at the festival is the ever-entertaining Babs Wood. Another crowd favorite is Zach Day.
The music starts at 10:30 a.m., and Henry appears from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
On May 1, stop by the Mississippi Music Museum located in the old train depot. It's a great place with unique exhibits.
In the coming months, I will be writing about other in-person event, with the return of Brookstock and the Overbrook Songwriters Festival. Until then, get outside, wear a mask and hit the streets. It's spring in Mississippi. Support the arts, my friends. Local artists are ready to bust loose after the year they've had.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Shaw Furlow is a local composer, musician and arts promoter. He produces an internet-based video show -- From the Shadyside -- that spotlights area musical talent and is a consultant to school bands in the region.