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Jackson, TN: Arts for All

Jackson's entertainment scene embraces the past and nods at the future. 

By Lindsey Hyde on December 2, 2022

Conductor Peter Shannon leads the Jackson Symphony during the 41st Starlight Symphony at the First Presbyterian Church Jackson, TN.
Nathan Lambrecht

Jackson has much going for it, including a historic downtown that serves as a flourishing entertainment center. For decades, this second-largest city in West Tennessee has set the stage for emerging talent and laid the groundwork for musicians, small business owners and movers-and-shakers.

Roots & Growth

Jackson locals will be the first to tell you that great entertainment includes some form of art, especially having grown up around great music. Not only was the rockabilly genre born here, thanks to music legends such as Carl Perkins, but it’s a city that has favored the blues for years. Today, its music scene has evolved to include several genres — many of which can be heard in live music venues throughout the city.

One place locals frequent to hear music is downtown’s Hub City Brewing, a brewery with space for up to 700 people.

“I try to have about eight concerts a year that are nationally touring acts,” says Jerry Corley, the brewery’s owner. “When possible, I try and allow a local band to open for those touring acts.”

Even when national acts aren’t in town, the brewery remains a draw for its regularly scheduled music and karaoke nights, sand volleyball, bowling lanes, cornhole and, of course, great beer.

“Being able to bring your kids and your dog and hang out and listen to music and drink a locally brewed cold beer are several of the things (people) love about it,” he says. 

Also making great music is The Jackson Symphony. Founded in 1961, the symphony presents a series of eight concerts — four pops concerts, three masterworks concerts, two family concerts and the Starlight Symphony concert.

“It has its own history with its longevity. It’s never missed a season — we did not even close down during the pandemic — so I think that it has offered kind of that stabilizing artistic opportunity within our community, and we’re the largest live performing arts in West Tennessee,” says Sherry Freeman, the symphony’s executive director.

Advancing in the Arts 

While music has reigned in Jackson for decades, the city has been working diligently to expand its offerings. 

In fact, in April 2022, the Jackson City Council approved a designated Arts District for the city. Located downtown, the district is made up of visual and performing arts venues, such as theLOCAL, a micro-retail development and community space; The Ned, a cultural arts center; the Carnegie theater and museum; Carl Perkins Civic Center; West Tennessee Farmers Market; and Jackson-Madison County Library, among others.

“I think it’s always good to have a focus or an area for something to reside and call home,” Freeman says. “While everything may not be inside of a certain line, it does give kind of a homebase to the art and cultural center that we see lots of progressive communities have … and so I do think that is a plus for the Jackson community to have an art and cultural center.”

Southern Sips & Sustenance

Jackson’s entertainment hub wouldn’t be the same without its abundance of dining and drink options.

A relatively new favorite for residents is Doe’s Eat Place, a Southern staple started in Mississippi in 1941. The restaurant opened a location in Jackson’s old Greyhound Bus Station on Main Street in late 2021. It’s known for its family recipes — particularly those behind its mouthwatering tamales and steaks.

Also serving up scrumptious dishes, like baked potatoes, juicy burgers, and a variety of tasty sandwiches, is The Blacksmith on North Shannon Street. The restaurant uses simple ingredients to create culinary masterpieces.

Another popular spot is Turntable Coffee Counter. Originally housed in theLOCAL for about 15 months, the coffee shop moved to a larger location in downtown Jackson. The inside boasts an inviting space adorned with memorabilia related to Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to learn more about the Jackson area, check out the latest edition of Livability Jackson, TN

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