If you’ve noticed the green bus in Fondren over the last few days, chances are, they’ve noticed you, too. “Everyone here is so friendly and willing to talk” says 27 year old Brandon Stanley and 23 year old Gypsy, both from Charlotte, North Carolina. Traveling across country in a vegetable oil powered school bus converted to living quarters, the pair have been in the neighborhood for three days, soaking up the local culture. “We came looking for New Vibrations (the bookstore that once occupied the current location of Sneaky Beans)”, she says, “and just decided to stick around”.
That came at the insistence of Fondren Guitars’ Patrick Harkins who told the couple they should be here to check out Fondren Unwrapped. “We have been really disappointed in some of our travels”, Stanley says “and the lack of hospitality.” But not here. “People have been super cool. First impressions mean a lot. And the vibe is good here”.
Stanley also notices another standout in Fondren: pride. “We’ve never been to a city that had so many people wearing shirts that promoted their hometown. This is what we’re about, so it’s refreshing to see it”.
The nomadic lifestyle may not be for most, but this duo says it allows them to be in touch with the people they make music for. As producers of music shows and parties, Stanley and Gypsy hear from their fan base first-hand and, they say, it gives them the chance to really explore. “The world’s big”, he says, “and we just want to see it”.
This current trip is two weeks in and both say the time spent in Fondren has been transformational. “Before we got here, we were not in the best of spirits”, Gypsy tells us. “We had been looking for oil for our bus and even people who couldn’t help were still interested. To come here, everything did a 180. People are so welcoming, and curious and like to hear what we say and vice versa. It turned our trip around”.
The accolades continued: Will at Sneaky Beans hooked them up with someone who could get more oil, Gypsy picked up some kicks at Orange Peel (“great store”), and, they say, Rooster’s and Swell have really been “cool”. And they noticed the camaraderie amongst the neighborhood shops and restaurants. “Every business we have gone in to has sent us on to their next door competitors so that we can try different things”, Gypsy says. “I’m thinking, ‘really’? Wow, they help each other out and that’s the way it should be”.
The couple paid it forward yesterday afternoon after meeting a lady at Unwrapped who told of her son awaiting a heart transplant at UMC. “She asked if we would visit him”, Stanley says, “and so we did, just to give him some interaction with some people his age. It was hard, but we knew we were in that spot, meeting her for a reason”.
When they’re not on the road, they’re planning their own organic garden back home. “We just need an acre. You can produce insane amounts of food, and we want to feed a bunch of people”. With friends back in Charlotte, they plan to make this a reality. For now, they’ll travel on to New Orleans with plans of returning to Jackson. “This place”, they say, “gives us hope again in humanity”.