Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Residents in the Meridian area will once again have the opportunity to enjoy a weekly, family-oriented, free mini-festival series beginning in March and continuing throughout the month of April thanks to Meridian Main Street. The Downtown - After 5 Alive series will take place on five consecutive Thursdays beginning March 28 and will continue through April 25 at Dumont Plaza in downtown Meridian. The events will last from 5-7:30 p.m.
The dates for the events are March 28, April 4, April 11, April 18 and April 25.
Local and regional artists and musicians will headline the events. The Cross Mountain Praise Band along with opening act Gypsy Carns will kick off the first of the five week series on March 28. Other artists will perform each week. These artists include Homemade Jamz, Amy Lott & the Usual Suspects, and Steve Wilkerson. Grady Champion will conclude the series on April 25.
Opening act Gypsy Carns, also known as “The Blues Preacher,” is a Grammy nominated co-songwriter and recipient of the Christian Blues Artist of the Year Award. His act features a “stompbox” tambourine/kick drum combination, harp, and 12-string resonator guitar to accompany his rough-hewn vocals. Carnes will be followed by a surprise act with strong Meridian roots. This rising star recently released her first Christian CD in Nashville.
The Cross Mountain Praise Band, a Southern gospel-bluegrass ensemble, is from Porterville, MS. They include a broad range of instruments as well as powerful voices, with a powerful message. They have recently returned to Pigeon Forge, TN, showcasing a command performance that is becoming a staple of the east Tennessee Christian praise/gospel scene.
In addition to the array of musical talent present, event chairperson Leesa Harris said that there will be a number of great food vendors at the five concerts. “The concessionaire for March 28th will be Bobby Roger’s Pony Express. They are known for their Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, hot wings, and famous Phat Burgers, which were all big hits at last fall’s concert series,” according to Harris. “We had excellent food available then, and we expect people to be very pleased again.” There will also be activities for kids. Kimbly Sutton and her two daughters will return to paint faces, and a balloon artist/magician will also be on hand.
John McClure, executive director of Meridian Main Street, said that downtown Meridian offers a variety of different forms of entertainment each day, and having the Downtown - After 5 Alive series simply gives the residents another event to enjoy. “Part of our mission is to bring people downtown for a positive experience and also to support downtown businesses,” McClure said. “People can enjoy themselves, and if they’ve got the kids and they want to go home so the kids can do their homework, they can do that. If they’ve got the time, they may go to a restaurant and go to another venue and listen to more music.”
The Presenting Sponsor for the series is Beyond Capital, and the Weekly Sponsor for the first evening’s concert is Slay Steel. In addition, Main Street officials noted that March 28 is Maundy Thursday, and, in deference to the Holy Week, there will be no beer garden at the event, and the performers are well known Christian musicians.