Arrived in Biloxi after a drive through the windblown, woodsy/marshy Hwy 10. Evidence everywhere of the storms. Fallen lamposts, litter, even still some abandoned cars that are gradually getting cleared away.
First stop was the Government Street Grocery cafe in Ocean Springs, a quaint little town that was spared the flood because it sits on higher ground. After a nice evening chatting with local musicians/fans, and a beautiful sunset, I headed out with my guide, Justin Hooks, the entertainment editor for the Sun Herald for a tour of the local music scene. (Justin thanks for everything).
We wound up out in the woods several miles off the main highway at a storage shed that has been adopted as the rehearsal space for a bunch of local bands…
Was warmly welcome by local metal band Feid and their storage mates Kiss the Cop. They’ve completely decked out their shed – knocked down walls, put up carpet and insulation, even moved in a fusball table. Nice PA system. The perfect practice spot -miles from civilization so they can crank it up… which they indeed did!
Both bands are managed by Jon “Fat Guy” Marte, a promoter and real champion of local bands. A Sacramento transplant, he’s been at it for years and clearly cares about the musicians. One thing EVERY young band needs is a good manager or mentor to help them be smart about their careers. Fat Guy also gave me a pile of other local selections. What really needs to happen is a joining of these local music communities with other towns across the country.
Three doors down (band of the same name is a local group) were Down II None, another pretty hard-edged rock band. They’ve also created a nice space – which had not long ago been under 5 feet of water. (one amp was found floating and was salvaged!)
I remain really inspired by all of these musicians. They’ve been together for several years, practicing 3-4 times per week, and touring regionally, while holding down jobs to pay the rent. It’s true dedication. The music was really solid – good musicianship and plenty of intricate part-writing. Could only get there through a lot of work. Most have learned to play on their own.
Headed back in the wee hours to the bed and breakfast I shared with some displaced families and some FEMA contractors in town for the reconstruction. Even though this is my first time to MS and I don’t have a sense of that the state was like before, it has clearly gone through a trauma. Wishing everyone the best.