Classic red beans and rice with sausage. Image: Southern Living/ Iain Bagwell

by Sherry Lucas

Red beans and rice. So humble, but boy, when it’s done right, it sure packs that comfort food punch, right? I didn’t grow up on the combo, but when I moved to Jackson, I practically lived on the stuff. I had a particular fondness for the restaurant dishes with a creamy consistency, spicy round notes spiked with a few drops of Tabasco, and sausage grilled to a tight, slightly hot side that I could slice and savor with every bite. When I saw little ham hock flecks, I knew they’d done it up right.

I loved it that the dish turned out to be a good fundraising vehicle for Stewpot Community Services for years. It’s accessible, it’s tasty, it pulls all folks to the table and it gets the job done.

So, I’m really thrilled to see the festival back on the calendar at a new site with the same ol’ things going for it: great cooks, devoted volunteers, cheerful supporters, a great lineup of musicians and as many samples as your tummy can hold. Grab a fork and support it, as the BankPlus Red Beans & Rice comes to the Renaissance at Colony Park Saturday.

But get primed at Arts, Eats & Beats Thursday on our Fondren home stomping grounds first.

Classic rock band Boston, propelled to fame with hits such as “More Than a Feeling,” “Amanda” and “Peace of Mind,” comes to Jackson for a Wednesday night show at Thalia Mara Hall. The band’s Hyper Space Tour lands on the stage at 8 p.m. For tickets, $59.50-$99.50, visit ardenland.net.

Boston’s Hyper Space Tour lands at Thalia Mara Wednesday. Image: John Viscott

Arts, Eats and Beats brings its trio of can’t-miss spring street fun back to Fondren Thursday with a whole slate of cool stuff to accommodate the crowds. Among the draws are: superb tunes from the 35-piece Hinds Community College Jazz Band and Fondren Guitars rock band; the renowned Budweiser Clydesdales; the Fondren en Plein Air event as artists paint by day at Mayes Lake Wednesday and in Fondren Thursday, wrapping up with a Wet Canvas show at Brown’s Fine Art & Framing, 5-8 p.m. Thursday; a Mississippi Mad Mod Affair Fondren hosted by Mississippi Heritage Trust with an architectural tour starting at 5:30 p.m. that takes in midcentury modern architecture gems such as former Kolb’s Cleaners  (designed by Robert Overstreet), architectural firms Duvall Decker and CDFL, Brent’s Drugs and more (tickets $25 Mississippi Heritage Trust members, $35 non-members at lovemsmod.com); the Patty Peck Honda Doo Dah Day Blue Car Giveaway drawing; delicious eats throughout the district and much more. Stroll, socialize, sip, sup and go right on loving our neighborhood.

Plein air painters will dot the neighborhood on Thursday with a wet canvas show at Brown’s Thursday evening. Image: Frank Farmer for Find It In Fondren™

Singer/songwriter Cary Hudson, whose ever-growing bank of Mississippi songs is always a welcome listen, plays Thursday night at the Iron Horse Grill, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Hudson. Image: Chris Valentine

The Sunset Concert Series at the Rez, 6 p.m. Thursday at Lakeshore Park, offers music by Chris Gill.

Gill. Image: Leslie Joseph

The funny, sharp and provocative play “Smart People” by Lydia Diamond May is next up in the Unframed Series at New Stage Theatre, with performances 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the Warehouse Theatre. In it, four bright characters associated with Harvard, on the eve of Barack Obama’s fist election, try to discover how the human brain responds to race. The characters — a neuroscientist, a psychiatrist, a young doctor, and a talented actor — also try to find love, success and identity within their pursuits, in this witty comedy. Tickets are $10 cash or check at the door.

Tessa Thompson and Mahershala Ali in ‘Smart People’ at Second Stage Theatre in NYC. Image: The Hollywood Reporter/Matthew Murphy

Jockeys & Juleps is the theme for Saturday’s fundraiser for the USA International Ballet Competition that’s once again really all about hats & horses, dollar & dancers, too — you get the pretty picture. The annual Kentucky Derby party has plenty of stylish splashes and we’re not just talking ‘bout those awesome hats. The festivities are 4:30-7 p.m. Saturday at the home of Rachel and John Ravenstein, 2377 Twin Lakes Circle in Jackson. The fun includes the televised race, a Derby Day Raffle, Derby Day Winner’s Circle and hat and tie contest and the chance for ticket package for the 2018 USA IBC. Tickets, $75 each, include Derby Day fare, mint juleps and more; visit usaibc.com.

Cassandra Burney Walter enjoys last year’s Friends of the USA IBC’s Kentucky Derby party. Image: USA IBC

Take a stroll and a sip or three through the Craft Beer & Bloody Mary Garden and the Craftsmen’s Guild Spring Showcase, noon to 5 pm Saturday at the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland. Along with those beautiful crafts in the showcase, the libations show off a creative skill set, too, in the craft beers from Capital City Beverages and Bloody Marys with Cathead Vodka. Tickets are $20 advance (craftsmensguildofms.org) and $25 at the door. Guitarist Barry Leach and the MSO Woodwind Quintet will entertain during the event.

MSO’s Woodwind Quintet and guitarist Barry Leach (not pictured) will be playing during the Craft Beer & Bloody Mary Garden event Saturday. Image: Mississippi Symphony Orchestra

Sippin’ Saturday at Lucky Town Brewing Company, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., features tunes by Katie and Doc Patterson, and plenty of good beer to sample with a brewery tour.

Image: Lucky Town Brewing Company

Pearl Day Festival, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at Trustmark Park Stadium parking lot, features a carnival (Friday night and all day Saturday), inflatables, arts and crafts vendors, local live entertainment all day and an antique car show. On the big stage, Burnham Road plays at 5 p.m., Jason Miller Band at 6:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m. country music headliner Easton Corbin. A huge fireworks show wraps up the night. There’s no admission fee. Lawn chairs are welcome.

Easton Corbin headlines Saturday’s Pearl Day Festival at Trustmark Park. Image: Pearl Chamber of Commerce

The BankPlus Red Beans & Rice Festival Benefiting Stewpot elevates the humble dish to star status again Saturday, when the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. fest camps out at Renaissance at Colony Park with 13 to 15 teams and full afternoon into early evening of great music, including the Sofa Kings, Lisa Mills, Southern Komfort Brass Band, the Mulligan Brothers and Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ to close. The music starts at noon, admission’s free, and this year brings a chance to really work up an appetite with the Magnolia Meltdown 2017, a halfl-marathon, 10K and 5K race and Kids’ 1-mile, presented by St. Dominic Hospital, on scenic courses through Ridgeland. Races start at 6:30 a.m.; register to run at magnoliameltdown.racesonline.com.

Drivin’ ’N Cryin’ plays at Saturday’s BankPlus Red Beans & Rice Festival. Image: ardenland

Let the libationary fun of Cinco de Mayo linger with Saturday’s 10th annual Seersucker and Sombreros3-8 p.m. Saturday at Cathead Distillery. The Phoenix Club of Jackson blends the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo in a single party that also includes music by Cary Hudson & the Piney Woods Players, the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby and tasty food and an open bar, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi. Tickets are $50 advance (until 11:30 p.m .Friday, at www.eventbrite.com) and $60 at the door.

Image: Phoenix Club of Jackson

Calvin Richardson and Vick Allen headline Sunday’s Zoo Blues concert, a pre-Mother’s Day celebration which also features Lacee’, JWONN and Big Robb, starting at 4 p.m. at the Jackson Zoo. Tickets are $25 advance at www.ticketmaster.com, $30 at the gate. Gates open at 2 p.m. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Jackson Zoo. Coolers, lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.

Vick Allen performs Sunday at Zoo Blues. Image: WJMI/WKXI

Fondrenite Sherry Lucas, a feature writer in Jackson for the last 33 years, is here on Wednesdays with “The Mix,” highlighting creativity and culture from Fondren and beyond. Reach her at sherry@finditinfondren.com.