Tonkel. Image: wellschurch.org

by Sherry Lucas

Saturday’s 34th edition of WellsFest will be its first without its founder, the Rev. Keith Tonkel. The beloved pastor of Wells Memorial United Methodist Church died this past March and while Jackson’s original music festival will miss him dearly at every turn, I trust the celebration will be as open-armed, spirited and joyous as it’s ever been, in his honor.

Keep an eye and a smile out for the Rev. Heather Hensarling, now at Wells, while you’re on the festival grounds, Saturday at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park, next to Smith-Wills Stadium on Lakeland Drive. This year’s festival will highlight Tonkel’s legacy. And what better honor it than with all the good spirit, good will and good-cause support the festival has generated since its very inception. The 2017 festival benefits the Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi.

So go spend some time, spend some money and spread some love along with the peace, understanding and authentic friendship, love and concern. Keep Tonkel’s signature message in mind, and if you don’t already know it, find it on the poster and keep it top of mind: “Always Love, Always.”

WellsFest gets an early start with a 5K run and walk at 8 a.m., followed by a one-mile fun run at 9 a.m. and the pet parade at 9:30 a.m. Nonstop music on two stages kicks and keeps going, 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The Saturday festival at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park promises a fun, family-friendly and drug- and alcohol-free day with the run, pet parade, plant sale, arts and crafts vendors, kids area, food and soft drinks and of course, two alternating stages packed with a variety of music. Hear the gospel of Embrace United, Latin jazz from Cucho’s Amigos, R&B and funk from Aa’Keela and the Beats, blues and R&B from Chris Gill and the Sole Shakers, rock and soul from the Patrick Harkins Band and plenty more. Admission is free. The 2017 festival benefits the Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi.

WellsFest is Saturday at Jamie Fowler Boyll Park. Image: Wells Church

The New Bourbon Street Jazz Band kicks up the tunes with a session of New Orleans-style jazz, free Wednesday night at Hal & Mal’s.

“The Farish Street Exhibit: Where Do We Go From Here,” a student symposium about Farish Street and the Jackson civil rights movement 2-7 p.m. Thursday at Jackson State University, opens at the JSU Student Centre Theatre with panel discussions, followed by a reception. At 6 p.m. join the unveiling of a new photography exhibit by civil right activist and professor Doris Derby, along with a lecture about her experiences on Farish Street during the civil rights movement.

“Verses and Voices: A Creative’s Open Mic Night,” Thursday at Kundi Compound, 256 E. Fortification St., allows creatives a chance to speak up, sing out or just share a feeling or thought you want to express — no matter how controversial or raunchy, word is. Just bring the energy to this gathering each month. Hosts are Funmi “Queen” Franklin and Valencia Robinson. A poet or artist from the sign-up list will be chosen to be featured in a year-end event and a chance at a cash prize courtesy of the Compound. Email kundicompound@gmail.com for more info. It’s $5 advance, $7 at the door.

heARTworks, the annual art show and sale benefitting Stewpot, opens Thursday at The Cedars. A non-profit art program for the homeless and less fortunate in our area, heARTworks classes meet every Tuesday morning where they produce one-of-a-kind pieces. Prices start at $40 and 80 percent of proceeds go to the artist.

The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band brings the sort of rootsy country blues that’s a great fit for Mississippi ears, to Duling Hall Friday night. The show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $10 advance (ardenland.net), $15 at the door.

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band plays Duling Hall Friday. Image: Tyler Zoller

Mississippi College’s opera production of “The Magic Flute,” 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m.Sunday in the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall at MC in Clinton brings Mozart’s beloved music to life (in German with English subtitles and dialogue in English). Tickets are $20 adults, $10 for students, at mc.edu/marketplace or 601-925-3440.

Mustache the Band, the greatest and funnest ‘90s country party band on the planet, brings all that fun to the Hideaway, 9 p.m. Friday. Saturday night, see and hear singer/songwriter Austin John Winkler (formerly of Hinder), with Smile Empty Soul, Madame Mayhem, Candybone and more among the seven bands performing; bands start at 8 p.m. Saturday, with tickets, $20 or $65 VIP reserved table and meet-&-greet, on eventbrite.com.

The Jane Austen Film Series in the Welty Garden at Eudora Welty House flickers back into action Friday with a 7 p.m. showing of “Becoming Jane,” a 2007 biographical romantic drama of the author’s early life. The movie stars Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy and Maggie Smith. It’s a chance to look at similarities in the lives of Austen and Welty. Carolyn Brown, Welty biographer and state coordinator of the Jane Austen Society of North America, will lead a 6:30 p.m. program before the film. The garden opens at 5 p.m. at 1119 Pinehurst St. It’s free. Bring a chair or blanket for seating. In case of rain, the movie will be shown across the street at Belhaven University.

“Becoming Jane” screens at 7 p.m. Friday in Welty Garden. Image: Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Art Soup Fall Edition 2017, 11 a.m.  to 9:30 p.m. Friday at Hal & Mal’s, features more than a dozen artists showing their creations 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along with live music by the Stonewalls, and then live music by the ZZQs 5-9:30 p.m.  Silent auction proceeds benefit the Hal White Scholarship Fund. Admission is free, some come get an eyeful and earful, and stick around for a bellyful too!

“Deer Sky” by Laurin Stennis is among the artwork at Friday’s Art Soup at Hal & Mal’s. Image: Laurin Stennis

Jackson Newcomers & Natives, 5:30-8 p.m. Friday at Lucky Town Brewing Company, 1710 N. Mill St., welcomes newbies to town with food, drink, music and chat about what makes Jackson, Jackson — the equivalent of a modern-day welcome basket.

Two Saturday performances in Jackson Saturday of “Momma’s Boy,” starring Robin Givens, Nephew Tommy, Anthony Brown, Shirley Murdock and more, share the story of a man forced to turn the title character into a grown man. The shows are at 3 p .m. and 8 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall. Find links for tickets, $24.50-$74.50, at ardenland.net.

The play “Momma’s Boy” has two shows Saturday at Thalia Mara Hall. Image: ardenland

King Edward delivers the blues Saturday night at Underground 119. Work up your blues music mojo with Lady L & The River City Band there Thursday night, and Fred T & The Band on Thursday.

Singer/songwriter Chris Knight, whose emotional truth in song has developed a loyal following, returns to Duling Hall, 8 p.m. Saturday, with Grayson Capps opening. Tickets are $20 advance (ardenland.net), $25 at the door.

Chris Knight plays Duling Hall Saturday. Image: Cactus Records

Be sure to take in “The Wolfe Family Legacy” at the Mississippi Museum of Art before the exhibition ends Sunday. The gorgeous retrospective is a treat indeed with a showcase of lovely, intriguing works by one of Mississippi’s most influential artist families. See a wide range of media in the works by Karl Wolfe, Mildred Nungester Wolfe and Elizabeth “Bebe” Wolfe — painting, printmaking, mosaic, stained glass and ceramics. It’s $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 students and free for museum members. Artists with previous drawing experience may want to sign up for the day-and-a-half figure drawing workshop with Bebe Wolfe, 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday; it’s $100 per participant, and limited to 12 people, with registration at msmuseumart.org.

Mildred Nungester Wolfe’s “Remembrance” is among works in “The Wolfe Family Legacy” at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Image: Mississippi Museum of Art

Monday, catch the all-ages show of Rainbow Kitten Surprise from Boone, North Carolina, bringing harmonies and dynamic instrumentation to their introspective songs. Elliott Root opens. Tickets are $12 advance (ardenland.net), $15 at the door. The show’s at 7:30 p.m.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise plays Duling Hall Monday. Image: ardenland

The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi honors Women of Vision 2017 5-7 p.m. Monday at the Mississippi Museum of Art. It’s a celebration of honorees and grantees, along with a tasty appetizer menu. Tickets are $75, $50 for young professionals (age 35 and younger). Visit womenofvision.swellgives.com.

Planned Parenthood Young Professionals in Jackson hosts a fall Happy Hour, 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at Fondren Public, with coloring, condoms, conversation and snacks. It’s free and there will be a cash bar. Let them know if you can make it so they’ll have enough snacks; RSVP on eventbrite.com.

Care about green communities and sustainability? Don’t we all? Check out next week’s conference, “All Things Green: Sustainable Community, Home Business and Urban Farm” in Jackson by the Mississippi Urban Forest Council, at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum (Heritage Building), about how communities can maximize their natural capital — their very setting and surroundings — for prosperity, appeal and disaster preparedness. The event starts with a pre-conference Forestry Tour Tuesday at the Ag Museum with a tree tour and identification, 9 a.m. Conference registration is open and walk-ins are accepted day-of the event, Oct. 4 and 5. See the schedule and more at msurbanforest.com.

Here’s some jazz you won’t want to miss: Musicianer + Alvin Fielder & Stephen Roach, 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at And Gallery, 133 Millsaps Ave. New York-based Musicianer, a trio led by Josh Sinton, is followed by Alvin Fielder in an improv performance with tenor saxophonist Stephen Roach. Music starts at 7 p.m. and there’s a $5 cover.

Fondrenite Sherry Lucas, a feature writer in Jackson for the last 34 years, is here on Wednesdays with “The Mix,” highlighting a sampling of creativity and culture from Fondren and beyond. For additional Fondren-centric events, see our Fondren events calendar. Reach Sherry at sherry@finditinfondren.com.