• Featured BAM Members

    Featured: Lucas Simmons

    Lucas Simmons is a co-founder, co-owner, and head brewmaster at Lucky Town Brewery, a place where passion and pastime meet beer and business. Located on North Mill Street between Downtown and Fondren, Lucky Town is the only brewery in Jackson, MS, and Lucas handles everything from operations, management, and accounting, to the actual brewing of the beer. With the passing of House Bill 1322, which will allow breweries to sell their product on-site starting July 1st, there is a lot of excitement surrounding Lucky Town, as work begins on installing indoor seating, cooling fans, and thirty taps. This growth opportunity will also allow Lucky Town to position itself as a “culinary beverage center,” offering customers a selection of wines, meads, and ciders, in addition to its craft beer, which already boasts a wide variety of tastes and styles. We sat down with Lucas to learn more about Lucky Town, and its place in the eclectic and creative Midtown community.

    Why did you decide to bring your business to Midtown?

     

    “It was actually kind of a perfect storm of circumstances. We wanted to be surrounded by a community, so being somewhere way out in the suburbs didn’t make sense, especially in Mississippi where most of the suburbs are not real keen on having an alcohol producer. So Jackson made the most sense. We got contacted by the Midtown Partners, they wanted us to come down, they had a few properties for us to look at, and the first one they showed us was the one we ended up with, which is this gorgeous old building that was originally a Greyhound bus service depot, World War II steel river architecture you don’t find anywhere, lots of land. It was just an old building that needed a lot of work, but it was beautiful, and on top of that we’re right next to an amazing, flourishing arts community, a great neighborhood, and we’re right in the middle of everything. It’s a little out of the way for people who don’t know what Midtown is, but I think that’s going to change in the next five years as people realize all the wonderful things that are happening down here.”

     

    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?

     

    “Just the camaraderie of the people, you’ve got such a varied group of individuals down here, from all walks of life, all areas around the country, and all different skill sets, and even though I might not understand some of them or they might not understand some of the things I do, we can sit there and talk about it all day long, and there’s always been a very tightknit group of people down here. When you go from a brewery, to what Philip is doing at Offbeat, to what daniel johnson is doing, who is an amazing creative mind, to Chad over at The Reclaimed Miles, you have all these somewhat like-minded people that just do completely different things, and that’s very cool.”

     

    With the passing of House Bill 1322, what does that mean for Lucky Town?

     

    “It is huge. Number 1, as a business it means a lot more revenue, and the bottom line is, being able to keep the doors open, paying the bills, paying our employees, we’re going to be able to expand faster, we’re going to be able to hire a lot more people, which helps me and helps everybody. The second part of that is, it gives us a better tie with the local community, because people can just come in here and buy a pint, or they can buy a six-pack to go. Someone working in Midtown that doesn’t want to drive, if they want to come and get a six-pack and then go head to the house, they can, which is awesome, but if they want to come in, sit down and hang out, have a pint, they can, which is awesome. This industry is very, very huge in tourism now, and because we are at the crossroads of the South here with I55 and 20, we have tons of people that pass through this town every single day going somewhere, and we have a lot that stop here just because there’s a brewery in town, and to be able to sell them a pint or a six-pack so they can get back on the road, that’s huge. And then they get to spread the word, and say, “Hey, this is an ultimate cool place, stop down here. Around the corner there are a bunch of artists, and a record shop, and this is going on,” and they’ll put it out there, so it helps everything around it, it helps tourism, it helps us grow, and it’s just good from every angle.”

     

    What do you think Midtown’s superpower is?

     

    “The ability to open people’s eyes with something completely different. Everybody down here is a maker of something. Mississippi has never been known for being the maker of something, even though there are so many amazing products that are built in this state. So having a complete center right here in Jackson where everyone is making something different and making something that usually people haven’t seen or done before, right here in their home town is pretty cool.”

     

    Anything else you’d like to for people to know?

     

    “If you haven’t been here, get down here and experience what Midtown is doing, it’s very cool.”

     

    For more information on Lucky Town Brewery, please visit http://www.luckytownbrewing.com/

     

    Featured: Karen Clem

    Located in the heart of Midtown, the Good Samaritan Center and their resale store NUTS help serve the Jackson community by assisting families in crisis. The local non-profit serves clients from Midtown as well as Hinds, Rankin, and Madison counties, helping nearly 300-400 people a month with basic needs, mainly clothing and food. Clients can go to the Good Samaritan Center directly, but are also referred there by other organizations and churches.

    We met with Director of Operations Karen Clem to find out more about NUTS and the Good Samaritan Center and their impact in the Midtown Community.

     

    Why did you decide to bring your business to Midtown?

    “It was 24 years ago and the Good Samaritan was looking for a permanent location. Since the Good Samaritan services the tri-county area, we wanted something that was centrally located, something that was along the bus line for easy access. So we got looking around and Midtown seemed like a nice area at the time, and it was kind of unknown. When we got this building there was not a lot going on, at that time Andy Young and Chris Porter were here. Plus it was affordable at the time, because this building was foreclosed for a couple years, so we were able to get it at a good cost, and we thought it would be a good place to grow. When we got we thought we would never fill it, but now it’s busting at the seams, so we’re blessed in a lot of ways.”

     

    As a member of the Midtown community, what role do you see yourself playing?

    “I think probably just a quiet supportive voice. We’ve been here a long time, we try to help our neighbors out as best we can. And I think with us starting to be more involved with BAM I think that has given us an opportunity to get to know a little more about what’s going on in the are, and it gets people to know a little more about us. Because I think there has been a little disconnect for a while, because everyone knows Midtown as an arts district, or they know Lucky Town, they don’t really think about a non-profit being here help people. And sometimes it’s not fun work, it’s not easy work, but it’s something that is very important. I think it’s just trying to be a part of something that helps complete the community, because we have a little bit of everything in Midtown. And I think the Good Samaritan Center is offering a part of something that can better the community and the people who live here.”

     

    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?

    “Well there is always something going on and I like that, and I like the diversity. And not just the diversity in people, but diversity in the groups that are within Midtown. Whether it’s Luck Town, whether it’s the Good Samaritan center, whether it’s the Thrift Store, whether it’s artists, whether it’s the neighborhood association putting on different events, Midtown Partners has always got something going on. It’s like a combination of a lot of different things and I think that is what I like most about it.”

     

    What are you currently working on and/or plan on doing in the future?

    “Well the biggest thing we have going on right now is our community container garden and the Cooking Matters, which is a big thing because we have a huge food pantry and we help a lot of people with food, but sometimes it isn’t the most nutrsious food. So the community garden will give us an opportunity to provide better balanced meals, and also inform and educate people on healthier eating and that they can cook. A lot of people think they can’t cook, or they don’t want to take the time, and they can do it. I think it’s a slow process to get people more aware of that, but that’s something we’re going to be working on this year.”

     

    For more information on NUTS and the Good Samaritan, visit http://goodsamaritancenter.org

    featured: daniel johnson

    Meet daniel johnson! daniel johnson is a socially engaged artists who serves as both the Director of Engagement and Learning at the Mississippi Museum of Art, and as the Chief Aesthetics Officer at his company Significant Developments LLC, which he describes as the “primary vehicle by which I formalize relationships around building projects”. Although neither of these are located in Midtown, daniel has been and continues to be an extremely active member of the community. He has been involved in past Figment arts festivals in Midtown, and will participate in the upcoming Verge interactive arts festival. We spoke to daniel about why he is dedicated to helping the Midtown community and what he believes makes it special.

    Why did you decide to bring your business to Midtown?

    “It’s important for me to be in conversation with other artists, and there is a congregation in Midtown of artists who are working in different disciplines, who are thinking very differently about the application of their art, and who come from very different backgrounds, but still see value in intentionally being in community together. Where as Significant Developments is often about working with non-artists, as an artist it is important to receive critical feedback from other artists about what I’m doing and just to be in ongoing conversation about our work.”

     

    As a member of the Midtown community, what role do you see yourself playing?

    “I think in Midtown you already have a lot of strong leaders that are taking initiative in ways that are complex, that are interrelated.”

    “From this moment where you have all of these leaders to 10 years ago when it was like ‘Hey, here’s this empty building. We should do something with it,’ I think my role has been to be an engaged member of the community. To show up when there were conversations about how do we relate to each other, how do we do things in coordination, and to serve in a role.”

    “I think it’s also to be a “dramaturge”, which in theatres is the person who helps to ensure that the story doesn’t disappear in all of the activity, and all the actions and all of the individual scenes that are created serve the point of this play. And so I think that when you’re doing that for theatre you only have one constituent, the director or the playwright. But to be the “dramaturge” for a community, although I haven’t been elected to that position so I don’t assert myself very strongly in that role, but at the same time when I’m involved in conversations, it’s to remember what all of these different people have articulated on their personal goals, on their hopes for Midtown, and to continually feed that back into the conversation and say, ‘Well remember this?’ or ‘Do we still believe this?’ or ‘This is what I hear us saying. Is this really what we’re saying? Is this really where we want to move based on what we’ve said before?’ And to try and just be a voice that helps Midtown and everyone involved continue to reflect on what is the coherent narrative of who we are.”

     

    What’s your favorite thing about being a part of BAM?

    “The forgiveness with which we all approach being busy individuals and coming together with an intention to do something at a thousand-foot level for this group of people, but recognizing that it’s difficult to do things in an intentional way for a group like this.”

     

    What do you think Midtown’s superpower is?

    “That the arts district itself, that it’s character is one of potential. That it’s not a clarification of this is good for this particular kind of artists. That it’s character is that we are a community of artists who believe in community and are open.”

     

    For more information about Daniel Johnson and Significant Developments LLC, visit www.danieljohnsonmakesart.com

     

    Featured: Darrell Troth

    Darrell Troth’s company, Live Interactive Video Events (L.I.V.E.) LLC, is bringing live video streaming services to the Midtown community and Jackson. The goal for the company is to stream live events from Midtown with "TV production quality without the TV price." L.I.V.E. has covered a wide variety of events ranging from wrestling matches to the Mississippi Lights Festival, which have been viewed across the United States, in Europe, and by soldiers in Iraq. With his experience in media, Darrell hopes to bring this same kind of exposure to the Midtown community. Darrell plans to promote and get the word out about the exciting things happening in Midtown, a community that he believes is filled with talent, but has had difficulty gaining exposure. He also hopes to eventually be able to start a community television station that is operated completely by children.We spoke to Darrell to learn more about how he plans to use his video streaming to promote the Midtown community.

    Why did you decide to bring our business to Midtown?

    The reason I’m doing business in Midtown is because that’s where our venue is. To showcase the live streaming we are brining live wrestling to Midtown. We are going to be right there in Lucky Town Brewery a month from tomorrow, and it will be a free show. We did some tests on it a couple months back to get everything set up and figure out how we’re going to do it. We’re going to be live broadcasting from Lucky Town, so since I’m going to be there, and I love to Midtown artist community anyway, I decided I should be a friend of it. I figured that I should be a part of the voice so that I can helpspread the voice.

     

    As a member of the Midtown community, what role do you see yourself playing?

    Promoting the town. Promoting what’s going on down there to the world. When we did our two shows at Lucky Town testing it all, thanks to the Internet, we had analytics. Our show was watched in England, but I have relatives who were watching. We had five people in Paris watching our show and several of our soldiers in Iraq. And that’s the kind of reach that I’m hoping to bring to Jackson’s only arts community.

     

    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?

    It’s a real arts community. I’m an artist; I grew up in Smith County. I don’t know if you know where that is, but that’s where the best watermelons come from bar none. I grew up in Raleigh and there’s no arts education there, at least back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So being an artist, I had to do everything on my own. It’s a true community. That’s what I love about it; it’s my people.

     

    For more information about Darrell Troth and Live Interactive Video Events LLC visit http://livellc.net

    Featured: Dr. Kristi Hendrix

    Located at 329 Adelle Street (or two doors down the road from the famous CS’s), Midtown Partners is a community development corporation that focuses on supporting the revitalization of the Midtown neighborhood. For over 25 years, Midtown Partners has provided comprehensive assistance to households in the area with a focus in five specific areas: community engagement, education, economic security, health, and housing/economic development.

     

    Executive Director Dr. Kristi Hendrix takes a lesson from Disney’s 2008 animated film Bolt in how to inspire “superhero” qualities. In the film, the titular character’s “superpowers” derive not from any supernatural source, but from the unfailing reinforcement from his friends. The belief that we are great and able to do great things is itself the thing that makes us great. Dr. Hendrix uses this belief to motivate herself, her staff, and the Midtown community to reinforce the community’s unbreakable strength and resilience.

     

    Among Dr. Hendrix’s stated priorities for Midtown Partners: to help provide avenues by which the business owners in Midtown can get to know the residents and vice versa. In essence, to help build a community.

     

    We spoke with Dr. Hendrix to get to know a bit more about her and about Midtown Partners.

    Can you tell us a little about your origin and your ties to Midtown?

    I grew up in San Diego in a military family. My father retired and we moved to Kemper County during my high school years, so that’s how I made it to Mississippi. My husband and I, along with our two children, relocated to Jackson from Philadelphia in 2007. My background was in family and community development so Midtown became a perfect fit!

     

    What is your favorite thing about being a part of BAM?

    It provides me with the opportunity to engage with the business sector of Midtown! The entrepreneurs are so creative and I’m always impressed with the diverse quality of work.

     

    What is on the horizon for Midtown Partners that really excites you?

    We just finished up our $9 million dollar West Project in conjunction with our housing partner, which added 31 units of affordable housing. That was exciting! We are rolling out the redesign of the Prosperity Center and will be reopening the Family Resource Center which will focus on children 0-5. In addition, we’ll be ramping back up our creative economy efforts and business recruitment.

     

    For more information about Midtown Partners and the work that they do, visit http://midtownpartners.org/.

     

    Featured: Andy Young

    Since it first moved to Midtown in 1976, Pearl River Glass Studio has been an integral part of the Midtown business district.

     

    “We were the first artist studio in Midtown, so we’ve always been there as sort of the anchor for the whole arts district idea. So that’s what I see our role as, as sort of the grandfather figure,” says founder Andy Young.

     

    A true artist’s haven with its numerous studios and open courtyard, Pearl River Glass produces a versatile set of artwork, everything from stained glass windows for churches to architectural art glass to Christmas tree ornaments.

     

    Occasionally, they take on larger tasks. Among the projects Pearl River Glass has tackled: the Holocaust Memorial for Beth Israel Congregation, an intricate and powerful installation just completed in mid November.

     

    We spoke with Andy to gain some insight into both his person and the business:

    Tell us a little more about how Pearl River Glass Studio works.

    Pearl River is the place where I would want to work if I didn’t have a job. The primary purpose is art, then production, then business, which makes the other parts possible, is last on the list. Anything done as an art form has to have very precise craftsmanship. We strive to make well-made things. There are very few places in our culture where you can actually make art on a day to day basis and get paid for it.

     

    What’s your favorite thing about being a part of BAM? How about being based in Midtown?

    I guess that would be developing relationships with other entrepreneurs and the neighborhood.

    One of the things about Midtown that I like is that everyone can work and live together in parity.

    If you come down to Midtown to one of our events, you will definitely see a mixed crowd and I can’t think of another venue in Jackson where you will see that.

     

    Outside of your business, what do you do in your spare time?

    I’m a gardener. I do my artwork, I do paintings and drawings when I have time. I take care of two teenage children four days a week, so that occupies a good part of my energy! I also write poetry, and I’m actually trying to get a poetry reading off the ground as part of Final Fridays.

     

    For more information about Andy Young and Pearl River Glass Studio, visit http://pearlriverglass.com/.

    Featured: Quincy Grant

    Quincy Grant may be the newest friend of BAM, but it is clear after just a few minutes of speaking with him that he is one of Midtown’s most enthusiastic fans.

     

    Quincy has an easygoing demeanor and a smile that springs easily to his face. His passion, he says, is event planning, something he came to realize several years ago when creating awareness for what would become Jackson’s Juneteenth celebration.

     

    If you’ve spent much time in Midtown, you have likely seen Quincy riding his bike through the neighborhood or hanging out at OffBeat.

     

    Though he does not yet have a physical location in Midtown, expect to see Quincy’s involvement in Midtown’s events increase, since he sees himself as an advocate for the neighborhood as a whole.

     

    “I like to believe that I’m sort of a bridge to bring people over and introduce them to Midtown,” Quincy says when asked about his role in the community.

     

    We asked Quincy some questions about his connections to Midtown:

    What do you enjoy the most about Midtown?

    I enjoy the youth of Midtown. I like that a lot of the businesses are owned by younger people; I like that a lot of them are start-ups. A lot of these things that are in Midtown started as a passion and then moved into a business. I just really want to promote that to a lot of other people, that your passion can turn into a profit.

     

    What are you currently working on or planning for the near future?

    So, I am working with BAM to help with Holiday Studio Tours this year. I have teamed up with Final Fridays to try and get more people to go business to business. I teamed up with Spokes, who donated some bikes to let us do bike tours around the neighborhood. We’ll play some music, hook up a speaker to a back pack or something like that and take five or six or seven bikes around during Final Fridays.

     

    Last year the Midtown Public Charter School E-Club created a comic book starring the scrappy local superhero Midbot, a robot that used its superpowers to improve Midtown. In that spirit, if you could possess any superpower, what would it be and why?

    Mind control. I wish I could mind control everybody and just send out this message: Go to Midtown! Whenever there’s something going on, go to Midtown, spend your money, hang out with your friends and drink beer!

     

    What do you think Midtown’s superpower is?

    Midtown’s superpower is its ever-changing face. It can go from new to old and old to new and start over again and it can just be recreated. Buildings can be repurposed and events can be anywhere and everywhere. I feel like that’s what Midtown is: always moving and changing.


    For more information about Quincy and his involvements, his social media pseudonym is Q Hefner and he can be found on Instagram or Twitter at @q_hefner_