Hit a high note

Darius Fant, left, a band director at Tupelo High School, keeps the beat as Jermaine Morgan, plays bass, at the Chickasaw County Instrumental Music Festival. Saturday's event at Joe Brigance Park drew talent from across Northeast Mississippi to the innaugural event. (Photo by Floyd Ingram)

Darius Fant, left, a band director at Tupelo High School, keeps the beat as Jermaine Morgan, plays bass, at the Chickasaw County Instrumental Music Festival. Saturday’s event at Joe Brigance Park drew talent from across Northeast Mississippi to the inaugural event.
(Photo by Floyd Ingram)

HOUSTON – Top talent from around Northeast Mississippi performed beyond expectations Saturday at the inaugural Chickasaw County Instrumental Festival at Joe Brigance Park.

The stage saw musicians from Tupelo, Atlanta, Ole Miss and Itawamba Community College wow the crowd with their ability to play just about everything from a steel drum and bass guitar to a keyboard and tambourine.

“Everybody brought a little something different,” said event organizer Jermaine Morgan. “We had a number of highly trained musicians and it was great to see them hit the stage with their best.”

The Chickasaw County Instrumental Music Festival got underway about 10 a.m. On the main stage at Joe Brigance Park and wrapped up about dusk. The event was free and open to the public.

“We didn’t know what to expect or how Houston might respond,” said Morgan. “The weather was perfect and the crowds could have been better, but it was our first time and I was pleased.”

The festival featured Dr. Cass Patrick of the ICC Music Department, Jeremy Freelon, who is a Risen drums artist, Ole Miss percussion instructor Ricky Burkhead, Houston native and Tupelo High School Band Director Darius Fant, Jason Palmer Band and The Jermaine Morgan Band.

“It was great to get all these people to show up and do a little something for us,” said Morgan. “Everyone who took the stage is an expert in their own style of music.”

The day was not just about performing.

“A big part of this was to expose the community and especially youth to the more formal side of music,” said Morgan. “There is a lot to be said for natural talent, but there is also a technical, historical and organized side to music.

“We are just telling youth to go for it,” he added. “A little bit of talent with a good dose of training and music education can carry you a long way.”

Morgan said exposing musicians to different styles of music was a secondary goal of the festival.

“The goal was to play a variety of different types of music and sounds,” said Morgan. “We had a wide range of very talented musicians come and play.”

Saturday’s event saw everything from Blues and R&B to Gospel and even Caribbean sounds. Instruments ranged from steel drums and bass guitar to keyboard and tambourine.

“We had a number of vendors selling food and drinks and there really was a family atmosphere,” said Morgan. “We would have liked to have had more people come out, but it was our first time. The weather was perfect, we had a good time and I was pleased.”

Morgan said he does hope to make the Chickasaw County Instrumental Music Festival an annual event.

“I’m from Houston and several of the musicians on stage were from Houston,” said Morgan. “The park was a perfect venue and it was great to play here. I hope we will be able to bring this back to town next year.”

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