by Sherry Lucas
Happy 200th birthday, Mississippi!
That’s the candle count for statehood, although the history goes further back than that. With two brand new museums opening — the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum — it’s that crystallizing moment when we all can look hard at our past, honestly assess our present and do our part for a better future.
The opening day program for the two museums starts at 11 a.m., on the Entergy Plaza out front and includes music from the Mississippi Girlchoir and the Utica Jubilee Singers and Madison Central High School Brass Quintet performing the fanfare composed by James Sclater and a Bicentennial Choir performing “This Little Light of Mine.” Remarks by project partners, elected officials and local and national civil rights figures will precede the ribbon cutting. Tickets for opening weekend museum entry have been claimed, but tickets aren’t needed for the opening day program; free parking is available at the State Fairgrounds.
Live music continues through the day, with Heart Society featuring Teneia Sanders-Eichelberger and Ben Eichelberger at 1 p.m., gospel singer Doug Williams at 2:30 p.m. and Steve Azar and the Kings Men (all-star musicians who’ve played with B.B. King, Elvis Presley and other musical royalty) at 4 p.m. Also, Capitol Street, closed to vehicles 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., becomes the “Mississippi Mile,” a pop-up, open-air gallery with artists and craftsmen with booths up and down the street and about 200 large-scale images showcased in storefront windows from State to Mill streets (part of Blue Magnolia Films’ “Celebrating Storytellers” project).
“Picturing Mississippi, 1817-2017: Land of Plenty, Pain and Promise” the Mississippi Museum of Art’s unprecedented Bicentennial exhibition takes over the whole building with more than 175 works by 100 different artists, including masterpieces by George Caleb Bingham, James Audubon and Tomas Hart Benton and more, as well as works by native Mississippians such as James Tooley Jr., Eudora Welty and Sam Gilliam and more. Viewers have a chance to see the evolving depiction of the state, as well as art made in response to events, victims and heroes of the civil rights movement. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, “Picturing Mississippi” and the installation “White Gold” by artist Thomas Sayre open to the public, with tours at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Admission is free, with free shuttle service to and from the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
The Street Corner Symphony Christmas Show, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Duling Hall, spotlights the Nashville-based a capella group that scored a runner-up spot on NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” Tickets are $20 advance (ardenland.net), $25 day of show for the full seated general admission show.
Find out more about “How Mississippi Changed America,” 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Old Capitol Museum’s House Chamber, as historians, scholars and experts discuss the civil rights movement in Mississippi, which was ground zero for the national struggle. The timely program, on the cusp of the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, includes a panel discussion followed by a conversation. The event is hosted by the Mississippi Book Festival, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Old Capitol Museum.
Fondren Unwrapped, at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Downtown Fondren Historic District, puts jingle bells on the district’s seasonal open house, featuring The Bluz Boys holiday show on Duling Avenue. Amidst all the fun, be sure to catch the showcase of Andre Bucci’s art at Brown’s, gingerbread and peppermint shakes at Brent’s, live music by CalligraphyX at Hops & Habanas, stellar mixed media at Spirit House/Glass House and artwork by Lauren Stennis, Ink. at The Studio, plus so much more.
An opening reception for artist Richard Kelso, 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Fischer Galleries, 736 S. President St., showcases the artist’s lovely landscapes and more.
Continue to make an art night of it, with VSA Mississippi’s Community Art Group Exhibition and a Book Signing of Mary Kitchens’ ‘Bear’s Special Christmas Tree” with illustrations by Community Group artists, 5 p.m. Thursday at the Arts Center of Mississippi.
The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum opens its gates, free to the public, for a Country Christmas, Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m. both days. Enjoy a sampler breakfast for supper, story time with Mrs. Claus and get your picture made with Santa and Rudolph! They will have carousel and wagon rides available as well as hands-on historic crafts that you can participate in and live music throughout the grounds.
Tickets are going fast for New Stage Theatre’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” with public performances starting Thursday — so fast, in fact, much so that’s held over by popular demand! The initial slate of shows is already sold out, but the addition of an extended run offers hope. You won’t want to miss such an enchanting tale in such an intimate space! Shows are 7 p.m. Jan. 3-6 and Jan. 12-13 and 2 p.m. Jan. 6 and Jan. 14. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 for students, seniors and military. Visit newstagetheatre.com or call 601-948-3533.
Fam Friday: Jingle & Mingle is
Friday Monday at Highland Village. The center’s holiday open house features live music, selfies with Elfies, story time with Santa, s’mores, carols by First Pres Day School and more. Activities get underway at 5 p.m.
Interactive storytelling of “The Cajun Night Before Christmas” brings to life the Mississippi Natural Science Museum Saturday with Cajun Christmas where you will encounter swamp animals and meet the Christmas Gator, make Cajun Christmas crafts, write letters to Santa and take your photo with him, listen to beautiful holiday music and see Santa dive in the aquariums. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 3 and up and under 3 are free. Museum members are free.
“Jujutsu: Vibes, Anime, Chill Dandy Edition,” 8 p.m. Friday at Offbeat, showcases chill, lo-fi, boom bap hip-hop beats, with cosplay and costumes encouraged and much more. It’s hosted by DJ Young Venom and features special beat sets by Gios4ma, DJ Ricky Rich and The Late Years.
The Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center, shares the timeless holiday classic of a young girl’s dream of the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets. The ballet features more than 100 dancers from metro Jackson. Ashley Ellis, a principal with Boston Ballet, and USA IBC medalist Joseph Gatti are guest artists in the roles of The Sugarplum Fairy and Her Cavalier. Ballet Memphis dancer Oscar Fernandez joins the cast as The Snow King and George Sanders, also with Ballet Memphis, will dance the role of The Nutcracker. Performance tickets are $20-$25; visit msmetroballet.com or call 601-853-4508. Tea party tickets, $25 each, are sold separately.
Roots musician/songwriter Pokey LaFarge (check out the seriously cool tracking shots in his video!) and his five-piece band bring superb storytelling in song to the stage at Duling Hall Saturday night. The Easy Leaves, a top country outfit from San Francisco, sets the tone as the opener, 8 p.m. Wear your boots — it’ll be a good ‘un. It’s $15 advance (ardenland.net), $20 at the door.
“Behind the Music: A Meet and Greet with Dee-1” spotlights the artist and meaning behind his new album “Slingshot David,” 8 p.m. Saturday at Offbeat.
Bring on the ladies! The Great Xscape Tour, with a lineup featuring R&B vocal quartet Xscape, Monica, Tamar Braxton Zonnique and June’s Diary, is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mississippi Coliseum. Find tickets, $46-$211 and up, on ticketmaster.com.
The Mississippi Opera’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Duling Hall. The three kings, following the star to Bethlehem, stop for shelter at the home of a poor, crippled shepherd boy, Amahl, and a miracle ensues. Tickets are $20, $5 students and active military; visit msopera.org or call 601-960-2300.
Roll on over to Swell-O-Phonic, 2906 N. State St., 1-5 p.m. Sunday for the free Skate Jam and best trick contest with loads of great prizes. Or, just show up to spectate, grab a hot dog from Small Time Street Eats and fit in a bit of Christmas shopping.
Monday, join the conversation on “Masculinity, Mental Health & Hip-Hop,” 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Afrikan Art Gallery, 800 N. Farish St. It’s free. The event explores the intersections between state violence and inter-community violence, current and historical trauma, hip-hop, love, education and manhood.
“Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party” at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Mississippi Coliseum will tickle the young set. Tickets are $15-$75. Pre-show experiences, at 12:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., are $20.
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 email@example.com.