Mississippi native Topher Payne brings his play “Morningside” to New Stage Theatre. Image: Sherry Lucas

By Sherry Lucas

From the moment I met playwright Topher Payne, we were sharing a laugh.

He’s a Mississippi native, and it only took a single email to find that 1.5 degrees of separation we enjoy down here in the South. His aunt’s my sister’s childhood best friend’s mom. So, maybe I’m exaggerating. What’s that — 3 degrees?

OK, count the New Stage Theatre connections and the fact that I’d previously thoroughly enjoyed a couple of Hallmark movies he’d written, without a clue to the man behind the pen, and we’ve easily backed down to 1.5.

His play “Morningside,” finds a lot of humor and heart at a friends-and-family baby shower in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood, and the play kicks off the “Power of Place”-themed 53rd season at New Stage Theatre. It’s onstage through Sept. 23, so don’t miss it.

You also don’t want to miss the first Soggy Sweat Craft Beer & BBQ Festival on Saturday, and its nod to Judge Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat Jr. and his renowned “if-by-whiskey” speech.

That’s just the tip of the activities iceberg on happenings around town.

Singer/guitarist Jason Eady, Mississippi-bred and celebrated for his take on classic country, maximizes a roots-oriented sound to let his songwriting shine. Hear it, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Duling Hall. Mississippi singer/songwriter Cody Rogers opens. Tickets are $10.

Cody Rogers opens for Jason Eady Wednesday at Duling Hall. Image: ardenland

The Village Social: Bend & Brew, 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Highland Village, is a way to get sweaty with fellow yogis at all levels, and earn a complimentary craft beer or pop from Deep South Pops.

“Morningside,” written and directed by Mississippi native Topher Payne, continues at New Stage Theatre through Sept. 23, with its story of the worst baby shower ever — ripe for laughs and emotional tugs galore, in a Southern setting with an ensemble of great actresses in top form. For tickets, visit newstagetheatre.com or call 601-948-3531. Ramp up the experience with a post-show party on Thursday ($5 cover) to celebrate the birth of New Stage’s 53rd season with Prosecco, cake, games and prizes.

Ali Dinkins is part of the ensemble cast in “Morningside.” Image: New Stage Theatre.

An Evening with Chris Robinson Brotherhood, 8 p.m. Thursday at Duling Hall, delivers the earthy blues-rock/psychedelic roots goods in a show bound to set that classic rock chord to vibrate. Tickets are $25 advance (ardenland.net) and $30 day of show with VIP packages ($249) also available.)

An Evening with Chris Robinson Brotherhood is Thursday at Duling Hall. Image: CRB.

The Magnolia Classic Dog Show is Thursday through Sunday at the Mississippi Trade Mart, with confirmation and junior showmanship all four days, best puppy groups on Friday, best veteran groups on Saturday and much more. Find details at msstatekc.org.

FLEET — September Portfolio Social, 5:30 p.m. Thursday at The Flamingo, features the portfolio of designer/photographer Drew Dempsey, so come mix, mingle and check out the portfolios of the cities’ cool creatives.

Food Truck Friday, Friday at Smith Park from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., presented in part by The Greater Jackson Arts Council, features a host of lunch options. The theme is tailgating, so wear your favorite school colors!

A Friday Gallery Talk at the Mississippi Museum of Art explores “The Visual Rhythm of Cultural Identity” as curator of art and civil rights Redell Hearn takes visitors through the current “Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer” exhibition, at 11:30 a.m. Friday. Make a mid-day out of it and stick around to enjoy Live @ Lunch with Krystal Gem, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.

See the exhibit “Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer” through a curator’s eyes at Friday’s gallery talk. Image: Mississippi Museum of Art.

Also on the art front Friday, hear artist O. Gustavo Plascencia’s insights on her exhibition “(Dis)connections: Land and People,” 2 p.m. at Millsaps College, in the Academic Complex room 335, with a closing reception to follow in the Lewis Gallery.

District Yoga at 7 a.m. Friday, is a complimentary yoga class on The District Green at The District at Eastover, led by yoga instructor Rick McKnight. Bring your own mat and water bottle. All experience levels are welcome.

Boy Scout Saturday, 10 a.m., and visiting artist Kathryn Wilson at 11 a.m., liven up Saturday fun at the Mississippi Children’s Museum. Tuesday at the museum, 6-7:15 p.m. the free educational series “Play. Eat. Learn. — The Overactive Brain” is geared to parents, caretakers and educators and offers a peek inside the mind of a child and a chance to learn more about ADHD at home and school. Childcare is available for ages 3-10 and dinner is provided (first come, first served).

Join Saturday’s Spider Trail Hike at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, at 11 a.m., as Millsaps College’s Brent Hendrixson leads a guided trail hike about spiders and explores habitat along the trail. It’s included with museum admission or membership.

Millsaps College’s Brent Hendrixson leads a guided trail hike about spiders and explores habitat along the trail. Image: Simon Maage

The Soggy Sweat Craft Beer & BBQ Festival, 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Smith Park in downtown Jackson celebrates Mississippi craft beers and even hosts the release of a collaborative beer brewed especially for the Mississippi Brewers Guild. Get your taste buds in gear for Lucille: Drink ‘em on Down, a light, refreshing Czech style Pilsner. Groove to music by John Causey Music and the Jason Daniels Band. You must be 21 or older to drink but accompanied minors are welcome. There will be beer and barbecue samples until they run out, with additional beer for purchase and food trucks onsite. Find tickets, $20, on eventbrite.com.

Marketplace Festival, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center, showcases and promotes entrepreneurs, authors, profit and nonprofit organizers, presented by the Empowering Progressive Women’s Association. It’s a great opportunity to shop, network, hear great speakers and be on hand for door prizes every hour.

The Queendom Come Concert is 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday at The Flamingo and features Krystal Gem, Vitamin CEA (Charity Hicks) and Yung Jewelz. Limited pre-sale tickets are $10, and it’s $15 at the door.

The Pearl River Clean Sweep 2018, 8 a.m. to finish Saturday and Sept. 22, celebrates drinkable, swimmable, fishable water in the Pearl River watershed. LeFleur East east cleanup locations include Mays Lake at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park (watercraft based); Jackson Waterworks (watercraft based); Belhaven Beach (land and watercraft-based, wear long pants and bug spray, meet at Laurel Street). Learn more and register here.

The Pearl River Clean Sweep celebrates drinkable, swimmable, fishable water in the Pearl River watershed. Image: Pearl Riverkeeper

The album release party for Shawty 4’8”s album “It’s My Season” is 8-11 p.m. Saturday at Hawks, 2649 Livingston Road. It’s hosted by Mista Maine with DJ Phingaprint on the turntables.

Rainbow Local Market, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative, opens the plaza to local vendors of healthy natural products to sell their wares once a week, as Rainbow works on a new place.

Cabaret at Duling Hall is back for the season Monday, as Mississippi Opera presents “My Way — Frank Sinatra Tribute,” 7:30 p.m. at Duling Hall, with vocalist Peter Lake steps into the shadow of Old Blue Eyes and shares those enduring songs. Admission is $25.

Vocalist Peter Lake steps into the shadow of Old Blue Eyes and shares those enduring songs. Image: MS Opera

Authors Joseph Crespino (“Atticus Finch: The Biography”) and Joe Crespino (“Can I Get a Witness: Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders and Agitators for Faith and Justice’) discuss their recent works, 7 p.m. Tuesday at Millsaps Arts and Lecture Series’ annual Writers’ Program. It’s held in the Ford Academic Complex Recital Hall on the Millsaps College campus. Tickets are $10 at the door or at millspas.edu.

Also Tuesday, the Mississippi Humanities Council’s “Ideas on Tap: The Politics of Sports,” 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at Hal & Mal’s, explores protest politics in sports and the history behind it, with panelists D’Andra Orey, political science professor at Jackson State, and Rick Cleveland, sportswriter for Mississippi Today. Sportscaster Jon Wiener will moderate. Stick around to soak up cool jazz with Raphael Semmes & Friends in the dining room.

Sherry Lucas, a features writer in Jackson for the last 34 years, is here on Wednesdays with “The Mix,” highlighting a curated sampling of creativity and culture from across the metro area. For additional Fondren events, see our online calendar here. Reach Sherry at sherry@finditinfondren.com.

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