Last week I agreed to do freelance writing work for Jackson Symphony Orchestra, even though I know almost nothing about classical music. “If you pay me, I am ethically bound to never write another column about the symphony for the Citizen Patriot,” I told them. The word “another” was an unnecessary flourish, since I don’t recall ever doing it. I tell that less-than-fascinating story up front as a gesture of extra-full disclosure. Seven days later, my new ethical rule feels less important than the need to describe a previously unnoticed scene in the evolution of downtown Jackson. “Do you want to go to a concert tomorrow?” I asked my wife Wednesday. “Where at?”
“In Jackson,” I said. “It’s three sisters from Sweden who have some kind of indie alternative country band.” Her eyebrows arched to say: “You dirty old dog.” Clearly, she assumed my interest in three Swedish females was more visual than musical.
“That has nothing to do with it,” I lied. “They’re supposed to be pretty good. They’re playing in Jackson between shows in Cleveland and Chicago.”
The band, called Baskery, was booked in a non-classical concert series launched this year by Jackson Symphony Orchestra. Their show was at the downtown building usually called JSO’s headquarters or rehearsal hall. Now it’s called Weatherwax Hall, at least for these new concerts. Until last week, I was only vaguely aware of these developments. My wife and I had no idea what to expect. We found a small stage with candles burning in front. The audience sat close to the performers in rows of chairs on risers. Beer and wine were sold from a table off to the side. The crowd, which I haphazardly estimated between 100 and 200 people, included a significant representation of young hipster types.
I won’t try to describe the music, except to say many spectators seemed almost shocked by how good it was. The crowd hooted and clapped along and gave a standing ovation that seemed more than polite good form. “This place was rocking!” one spectator declared afterward. The Swedish sisters seemed surprised to find such an enthusiastic reception in a little town along the road between Cleveland and Chicago. “We’ll be back!” one sister declared, which seems quite unlikely. “Support your concert hall,” she said later. “It’s a luxury to have one.”
That’s when it hit me: People from Sweden noticed downtown Jackson has a concert hall before almost anyone who lives here noticed. It’s an oversight that deserves correction, even if an ethical rule is bent in the process. — Contact Brad Flory at firstname.lastname@example.org