Soul Sessions Podcast: Jim Beaugez
On this episode, content marketer and freelance music writer Jim Beaugez is here.
Jim’s insightful look into Mississippi’s music culture brings awareness to not only the historically relevant blues genre, but, modern music like Jackson’s hip hop and rap scene, too.
Jim talk withs Soul Sessions host Paul Wolf in today's episode.
IN THIS EPISODE:
Note: Soul Sessions is produced as a podcast first and designed to be listened to. If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes the emotion and inflection meant to be conveyed by human voice. Our transcripts are created using human transcribers, but may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.
Paul: This is Soul Sessions, conversations on culture from Jackson, Mississippi. I'm your host, Paul Wolf, bringing you a look at the people, the places, and the events that make us the City With Soul.
On this episode, content marketer and freelance music writer Jim Beaugez is here. Jim's insightful look into Mississippi's music culture brings awareness to not only the historically relevant blues genre, but modern music like Jackson's hip hop and rap scene, too.
Paul: Hey Jim, welcome to Soul Sessions.
Jim: Hey Paul, thanks for having me.
Paul: Excited to have you on as a guest today, and we're going to talk more in a moment about some of the things that you've written lately that bring a positive light to Jackson, Mississippi. But in case people don't know who you are and don't know what you do, how about a quick rundown?
Jim: Well, I'm from Ocean Springs originally, and I'm in the Jackson area. I'm a music writer, and then I also have a job in content marketing during the day. But the nighttime is when I get out and get to see music and get to write about music and get to talk to people who make the music that we all love so much.
Paul: What kind of music do you gravitate toward when you're writing or when you're just listening for your own pleasure?
Jim: I have so many musical loves. I started out as a kid on, I guess, punk rock and skateboarding music, and got into what they call Americana now. So alt country, and then a little bit of jazz, and, of course, hip hop all through that. I can't sit here and tell you that there's any form of music that I don't like.
Paul: You've recently written a piece for a little publication some people might have heard of, Rolling Stone Magazine, about Southern rap and hip hop here in Jackson. That's been really well received. How did that piece come about?
Jim: Well, thank you. I have a relationship with Rolling Stone that goes back a couple years, started writing for them, the editor out of the Nashville office. Then after a few years of doing that, you build up a good relationship and rapport. They do an annual piece called Cities and Venues, and that's where they profile what some people may see as unlikely or unknown music scenes around the country.
They were interested this year in talking about Mississippi and seeing what was happening here. The first thing that they threw out was, "What about Clarksdale?" Of course, everyone knows Clarksdale for its rich blues history, and there's a lot going on there today. Of course, Kingfish is from there and several others as well. But I felt that that was what people expected. I was aware of what's going on in Jackson with hip hop through Crown Studio and Shell Enns, Kamel King, and Dear Silas, and was just really just fascinated that there's this organic scene here in Jackson, Mississippi that a whole lot of people just don't know about. So I brought that idea to them, and I said, "Mississippi's great. We're not a nostalgia act. There's something really vital and current happening in Jackson, and I think y'all need to pay attention to it."
Paul: How does it feel to be in that position to make that choice to say, no, I'm not going to go for typical. I need to highlight something that maybe is not getting enough love?
Jim: Well, it just felt like the right thing to do. I love the blues. I write about blues. I've written about Mississippi blues for Smithsonian and Rolling Stone and lots of other publications, and I just thought that the scene that's happening right now in Jackson is very important to the city. It's important to hip hop as a genre. It just felt like the right time, even before all of the water stuff and the national attention was brought to Jackson and Mississippi for the water crisis. This was originally supposed to come out in June, so this was long before that. It just so happened that it hit at the time when I think we needed a boost more than anything else.
Paul: Yeah, being in the business of content marketing, you understand what it takes to help shift the narrative and get a positive message out. What have been the things you've seen that have come out of this article in Rolling Stone?
Jim: A lot of pride, really. Just a lot of people being really happy to see their friends and even their collaborators in a national spotlight, being able to open up a Rolling Stone that you can buy anywhere and see 5th Child staring back at you doing his thing on Farish Street. It's a point of pride for so many people here. Man, it's just so cool to be able to be part of that.
Paul: What's next on the horizon? Do you have any pieces coming out that we might see in national publications or regional publications that will help shine a light on Jackson? What are we looking for next?
Jim: Well, I'm hoping to get to talk with Bobby Rush at some point and do something big with him, just another legend and deserves to have his story told. He's 87 now, I believe. I've talked with his publicist a little bit about doing something there.
My folder of work has an entire folder basically filled with pitches. As you are a content marketer, you have been involved in creating stories and all that for so long. Most stories that make it to print or to broadcast end up being pitched, whether it's inside a newsroom, the reporter's pitching their editor, or it's a freelancer like me pitching my editors. So I think the outside perspective maybe is that people just come to you and out of some serendipity and say, "You're in Mississippi. Tell us all the wonderful things about Mississippi." That just doesn't happen. You have to do your groundwork. You have to kick the stones and see what's there, and then create a story out of it and pitch it and hope that an editor takes notice. I don't want to tip my hand or anything, but I am hoping that I'll be able to place a Bobby Rush story here in the next year or so.
Other than that, though, that folder of pitches just keeps growing and growing. I have some other things that involve music in Mississippi that are really still in that idea percolation stage.
Paul: Jim, I know you've been to a lot of places in Jackson that you probably have an affinity for now, places you've been to, covered stories, but places you just love to go. So if you had family or friends come into town, you had 24 hours to show them the Jackson you love, where would you take them?
Jim: This is probably going sound like a cliche answer for local folks, but you can't beat Fondren. It just has everything, and it keeps getting better and better. The places to eat, Highball Lanes, Barrelhouse. There's lots of great food, lots of great environment. You can bowl after you eat. You can go catch a show at Duling Hall. You can go shop for records at End of All Music. You can go have dessert at Brent's. There's so much to do in just this really small area. Of course, the shopping as well. Chaney's shop, you can go in and check out some new shoes and skateboards. There's just a lot of fun. There's so much energy happening there. Not to discount anything happening elsewhere in the city. I certainly love other areas of the city as well, but I would say if we've got one day to really make it happen, we're going to Fondren.
Paul: Jim, you're a difference maker with the work that you do. Whether you even realize it or not, you are a positive light for Mississippi and for Jackson, especially in our case. I want to know, why do you do that? What makes Jackson so special to you?
Jim: Well, being a music fan since I can remember and being a quote-unquote musician I guess in some way, I do play music and have for a long time, but it gets in your blood. Once you get older and you start learning more about where the music that we call popular music, whatever genre you're talking about, it all comes from here. You can all trace it back here.
In fact, the Grammy Museum up in Cleveland has this awesome table where you can pick a contemporary artist and it will trace out the lineage. Nine times out of 10, that lineage is coming right back here to Mississippi. There's so much of that that is tied to Jackson, the soul blues of Malaco going back to Trumpet Records, a lot of that happened here. I got to write about Malaco a couple years ago when they had their 50th anniversary and got to learn even more about what incredible stuff happened there. It's just a vibrant musical community.
Paul: We'll put links to that Rolling Stone article and some of your other recent work in our show notes. Freelance writer Jim Beaugez, thanks so much for being here today.
Jim: Thanks for having me.
Paul: Soul Sessions is a production of Visit Jackson. Our executive producers are Jonathan Pettus and Dr. Rickey Thigpen. To learn more about our organization and mission, head to visitjackson.com. I'm your host Paul Wolf, and you've been listening to Soul Sessions.