Category Archives: Music

Dexter Allen: Just a Country Boy with a Little Talent

2014 was quite a year for blues artist Dexter Allen and there are no signs that he’ll be slowing down anytime soon. After playing lead guitar on and off for the legendary Bobby Rush for 14 years- four of which he spent traveling the world as his band leader, Allen had a proposition for Rush; his fourth project entitled “Bluez of My Soul.” Allen wanted it released on Rush’s Deep Rush Records label.

dexer allen and bobby rush on stageRush liked the idea and the CD was released in April of 2014 making Allen the first, and so far the only, artist to join Rush on the label. 2014 was also the year Allen made his big screen debut portraying Sam Thomas in the James Brown bio-pic “Get on Up“. Explaining his character he says “[Thomas] was the bassist for James Brown in 1964 [and] played for [Brown] on the T.A.M.I. Show.” dexer allen get on up

Allen is currently marketing and promoting his second release on Deep Rush Records called “Trilogy of My Bluez” available since June 2015. On the title Allen says, “you’ve got some traditional, you’ve got some R&B, you’ve got some soul…three different types of blues all rolled up into one.”

Click to hear samples on Amazon.com
Click image to hear samples. Photo from Amazon.com.

Local fans grooved to some of Allen’s new tunes at the Third Annual Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival this past August. This year marked Allen’s second time performing the event. Before the festival Allen said “I’m excited about meeting the fans, old ones and new ones. And I think this event is so good for the city of Jackson. We haven’t had anything like it since Jubilee Jam.” He added “I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in a long time.” Allen’s hour-long set included “the new single “Put Your Bluez on Me” and some of the old stuff too.”

Allen’s passion for the blues isn’t relegated to just playing and singing, he loves to educate as well. His philanthropic interests were first peaked in 2010 when Peggy Brown- currently the board chairman of the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, introduced him to Blues in the Schools. Brown says, “He did a great job. He interacted with [the kids] and they loved him.” From there Allen did a workshop with autistic children. He was nervous in the beginning. “I didn’t know if my program was going to suffice, not knowing it was just what was needed. It was a humbling experience,” he says. Now, “every time I have an opportunity to work with autistic children or even autistic young adults, I take (it).”dexer allen and kids

Allen recently took on yet another philanthropic endeavor when he was elected to the Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation in Memphis Tennessee, Allen. A personal goal during his term is keeping the blues alive through education. He plans to create platforms that allow artist worldwide to collaborate, thus increasing visibility and ensuring longevity of the genre.

Allen’s work has been impressive to say the lease, but something tells me this self-described “little country boy with a little talent,” is just getting started.

Get show schedule and more at dexterallen.com.

Dexter Allen Trivia

  • He’s been married for 20 years
  • He has 3 sons all of whom are musically inclined. Allen says “I told them to get degrees first and then we can discuss music careers if they want to.”
    • Proud Poppa bragging rights:
      • 25 year old Dexter J. Allen plays football at JSU and plays drums at church
      • 19 year old Devin T. Allen is a band scholarship recipient at JSU. He plays keyboards and drums at church in addition to singing
      • 16 year old Deon M. Allen is an 11th grader at Terry High School. He’s in band and plays football
  • Allen spent 3 days on the set filming his scenes for Get On Up.
  • Allen has 5 albums but only the last two are on Deep Rush
  • Allen will serve a 3-year term on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation in Memphis Tennessee
  • Recently signed on with a new booking agent: Muzik 4 You Entertainment, LLC
  • In February of last year Allen received a resolution from his hometown of Crystal Springs. Less than a month later, in a resolution adopted by the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate, Allen was described as a “Blues artists extraordinaire.” The resolutions commend the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist for his talents, accomplishments, and contributions to the music industry.

All photos courtesy of dexterallen.com except where noted.

A version of this article first appeared in Jackson Free Press Vol 13 No 49. 

Cartoonist demonstrates,talks about his creative process

WISH-TV

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Political cartoons have the ability to say a lot using no words at all.

Dick Wolfsie recently stopped by and talked with one such man who lets his pictures do all the talking.

Gary Varvel is a local political cartoonist whose drawings have stirred up plenty of debate.

Varvel talks about how he comes up with ideas for his cartoons.

He even shows and takes Dick Wolfsie through the process of actually drawing one of his cartoons.

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Father’s Day Gift Guide

We asked some guys their opinion on our Father’s Day gift guide. The feedback was that its missing liquor, football, pool…basically anything sports related. True, but every man isn’t into sports and all men don’t drink. Still the argument was duly noted. We will however, post some other Continue reading Father’s Day Gift Guide

Back to Stevie J Blues

The Jackson based blues and southern soul artist formerly known as Stevie J (Stephen Johnson) now goes by the stage name Stevie J Blues.  Although he still answers to Stevie J as he’s done his whole life, the addendum is so fans can distinguish him from Atlanta based Stevie J (Steven Jordan) of the reality show Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (LHHA). That Stevie J has had an arguably Continue reading Back to Stevie J Blues

Mo’ Better Jazz and Blues

Jai Johanny Johanson, better known by his stage name, Jaimoe, has been playing drums and percussion since he was 16. From the beginning, he was so certain of his career path that he didn’t even want to finish school. “I just finished because my mother asked me to,” he says. Before touring with the likes of Otis Redding, Percy Sledge and Continue reading Mo’ Better Jazz and Blues

Watch: Kamikaze on Mic Magazine TV

Brad “Kamikaze” Franklin is forever grinding. Husband, father, hip hop artist, socially conscious journalist and CEO of OurGlass Media Group, whenever I spot him in public he’s either working or running errands (i.e. still working). Despite the menacing conotation of his moniker, he oozes positivity and intelligence. Watch as he breaks down the meaning of his name,  the reason he is Mississippi’s greatest MC, the importance of supporting local artists, and his OG-ness.

Follow Kamikaze on social media: twitter facebook instagram

#shoutout to #micmagazine

Say ‘Yes, MAAM’ to Classical Music

You may not be a die-hard classical music purist, but the Mississippi Academy of Ancient Music (MAAM) can make you feel like one. The organization’s 2014-2015 concert series consists of seven performances and marks its 30th season of presenting early classical music the way the composers intended it to sound.

People like Bach and Handel sound very different when played on the kind of instruments they intended to be used. (Pictured left to right) John Holloway, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen, Jane Gower.)
“People like Bach and Handel sound very different when played on the kind of instruments they intended to be used.”

When it comes to music from the 18th century or earlier, Dr. Richard McGinnis, a MAAM founding organizer, says  the problem is “we play it the same way we would play [songs that were written] today.  It turns out that’s not remotely what was expected. So people like Bach and Handel sound very different when played on the kind of instruments they intended to be used as opposed to what we do today.” McGinnis says even when we have similar instruments we play them differently.  Luckily there are an elite few dedicated to replicating sounds that are truer to early music.  Beyond authentic instruments, they’ve studied old instruction books on how to properly play those instruments.

Some would-be concert goers may be put off by the term “ancient” but they shouldn’t be.  McGinnis says that by “ancient” they are not referring to music from biblical times. He explains that in the 18th century there was a group called Academy of Ancient Music and “apparently at that time “ancient” meant 20 or 30 years old.” Based on this, Mississippi Academy of Ancient Music was methodically named because its acronym, MAAM, happened to play on the southern term ma’am, used to show a woman respect.  In comparison, the often times difficult classical pieces showcased by the organization merit such respect as do the skilled musicians who interpret them.

Delving further into the origins of MAAM, McGinnis credits former Tougaloo College colleague Dr. Ernst Borinksi for bringing everyone together. Borinski who passed away in 1983, was a Jewish sociologist who fled Germany as a result of the Holocaust. Upon moving to the South he strongly opposed prevalent Jim Crow laws. “Borinksi was very well known in the civil rights period back in the days of freedom summer,” McGinnis says. It was at one of Borinski’s annual birthday bashes that co-founders McGinnis, John Paul and Max Garriott first performed together.

Dr. Ernst Borinski
Dr. Ernst Borinski

After 30 years, MAAM, Jackson’s undisputed official curator of ancient music, continues to show strong support for outstanding local talent while drawing internationally acclaimed artists to the city.  This season’s opening performance on November 20th 2014 featured an über-talented trio made up of John Holloway, violin; Jane Gower, dulcian (baroque bassoon); and Lars-Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord. Holloway and Mortensen have produced works together for nearly thirty years. One of their most significant recordings is “Corelli’s Op. 5 Sonatas,” the only recording to use the instrumentations specified by Corelli. According to the group’s bio Holloway and Mortensen had the trio sonatas for violino and fagotto by Castello and Fontana on their repertoire wishlist. That wish came true when Jane Gower appeared. Gower is one of the very few bassoonists in the world capable of playing this spectacular music.

(front to back) John Holloway, Jane Gower, Lars-Ulrik Mortense
(front to back) John Holloway, Jane Gower, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen

The next performance will showcase Taylis Fernandez- cello and John Paul – piano on Thursday, February 5, 2015. The duo will perform Beethoven sonatas for ‘cello and piano. Get all show dates, time and locations at ancientmusic.org. You’ll also find a full list of performers and prices.

Taylis Fernandez and John Paul perform together February 5, 2015.
Taylis Fernandez and John Paul perform together February 5, 2015.

A version of this article first appeared in Jackson Free Press November 19-26, 2014 issue.

Beat Funktion- Beating a Path from the Seventies

In 2007 Daniel Lantz was approached to play some live jazz for a club in Sweden’s largest college town, his hometown of Upsala. He said yes but didn’t think much of it. “I just felt that…playing traditional jazz for 20 to 25 year old students would be a total failure” Lantz confesses. He had no idea the gig would eventually land his band, Beat Funktion, on music charts in Canada and the United States.  Continue reading Beat Funktion- Beating a Path from the Seventies

Video – Mississippi Roads: Fondren, Food Trucks, Peaches Restaurant

If you didn’t know by now, the Fondren district in Jackson Mississippi is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. From the nostalgic face of the buildings to the allure of walking-distance hot spots, and an even hotter music scene, the area is garnering lots of attention. Mississippi Roads (MPB/PBS) featured Fondren in an episode which originally aired on October 9, 2014. Continue reading Video – Mississippi Roads: Fondren, Food Trucks, Peaches Restaurant