Soul Sessions Podcast: Patrick Harkins
On today’s show, we speak with Patrick Harkins, a musician and owner of instrument and lesson shop and venue Fondren Guitars in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood.
Patrick is also part of the collaborative group who is bringing this weekend’s Memorial Day Music in the City – featuring 18 bands and growing – to three of Jackson’s most popular music venues.
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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 today's show, Patrick Harkins, a musician and owner of instrument and lesson shop and venue Fondren Guitars in Jackson's Fondren neighborhood. Patrick's also part of the collaborative group who's bringing this weekend's Memorial Music in the City - featuring 18 bands and growing - to three of Jackson's most popular music venues.
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Paul: Hey Patrick, thanks for being here today.
Patrick: Hey Paul, how you doing?
Paul: I am excited about some big news coming out of your shop, Fondren Guitars, and some other venues around town this weekend. We're going to talk about that, I promise. But first of all, just in case folks don't know who Patrick Harkins is, why don't you let us into your world? Give us a glimpse of who you are and what you do.
Patrick: Sure, yeah. I own Fondren Guitars right here in Jackson. I've been here open for 16 years. I'm also a local musician that plays all around town. And I'm a family man. I'm married and have three boys that attend school here in Jackson. And we live here in Jackson. So I'm a Jackson man, and I'm glad to be here.
Paul: Yeah, pretty prolific playing around town. We see you at weddings and receptions and high school graduations. You're just all over the place and one of the in demand players here in town. And your shop is a unique meld of vintage and new instruments, lessons, and a performance venue. And that's kind of what brings us here today. You're part of a movement. This weekend coming up in Jackson, the City With Soul Memorial Music in the City. Now this is a brand new event that kind of came together on the fly. You and I were talking off mic earlier. Tell me how this all came about. There's lots of live shows this weekend in Jackson, right?
Patrick: Right. So there are a lot of bands. A lot of these bands have been planning on playing. They're playing a festival, it was supposed to be this weekend, that got canceled. And so a lot of these bands are like, "Hey, we're ready to put on a show. We are ready to put on a show. We've been getting ready. We're excited." A lot of them had contacted me and some of these other venues. And I know a lot of these bands because I'm kind of in the scene. And I was like, "Well, Hey, I've got the venue. I've got one of the venues. Why don't we put together a show here with a lot of these bands that were eager to put on a show?"
Patrick: And then I know some of the other venues around town. So for example, my venue Fondren Guitars, Saturday, we're going to host a bunch of bands. And then on Friday at Hal & Mal's, there's a bunch of bands playing there. And then The Flamingo has got bands as well. We've got just a fun weekend of music. And we've been having shows at my shop Fondren Guitars for about a year now, and I've loved seeing the evolution of being able to have a live music venue.
Paul: Yeah. You've got a brand new location. It's there, I guess, where Hops & Habanas used to be, close to Fondren Fitness and Cups there in Fondren.
Paul: Now you mentioned a festival that had been canceled. We're talking about Jxn Fest, of course.
Paul: And I think that shows the spirit of Jackson, the power of community and collaboration that these live bands were wanting to play this weekend. They were already booked. So folks like you and Ahmad Thompson, Brad Franklin, DevMacc, Alex Coats… you just started working the phones on Friday and it all really came together.
Patrick: Yeah. So what happened was on Friday morning, I had what I thought was an idea. "Hey, we'll take some of these bands and they can all play at my shop." And then when I got to work, Ben Atkinson, who plays in several of the bands that was supposed to play Jxn Fest, he was like, "Hey, why don't we all put on a big show at the shop and some of the other places." And then I got a call from Brad Franklin and was like, "Hey, why don't we get some of these bands and put on a show at your shop and these other places?" And then JD from Kicking called me and said, "Hey, why don't we put on a show with some of these bands at your place and some other places?" And then all day long Friday.
Patrick: And it just sort of put itself together, just kind of taking something that was not great, that the bands were not going to be able to play and the show got canceled, and trying to make something great out of it because I know these bands are excited to play. And I know that people were excited about seeing them and we're excited to be now a part of it. And everybody can have fun.
Paul: It's an eclectic mix of rock music and pop and R&B and rap. And it's kind of all over the city at this point. The Flamingo is at Ecoshed. And of course, Fondren Guitars is in Fondren. Hal & Mal's downtown, you get a little tour of town. Maybe you'll grab a bite to eat while you're out, maybe a drink or two. You have been in business now at your shop for, you said 16 years?
Paul: And that really shows the power of the musical community. I know you've seen that over the years, how bands really help each other out in this town, don't they?
Patrick: They do. But I think it says something about our city, about Jackson and how people, whether it's a rock band, an R&B group, a rap band, a country artist, indie, punk, all this stuff. Well, we all kind of know each other and everybody kind of wants to be involved with each other's scene and wants to help each other out and support each other. I go to shows sometimes. I see a band playing and the whole audience is made up of members of other bands, along with other people that are not musicians, but it's just neat to see how the bands all come together.
Patrick: And this is a great example of that, where everybody's just kind coming together as a musical community. And whether you're a supporter of music or you perform music, or you have a venue for music like I have, it's just neat to see how all kind of puzzle pieces kind of coming together to make a good time.
Paul: There's definitely enough love to go around in the City With Soul. Now I know you can't speak specifically for times at Howling Mouths and the Flamingo, but give us a quick rundown. What's going on at your place on Saturday night?
Patrick: Yeah. So Saturday night, it's action packed. We're going to probably start at about 5:00 PM. We are going to have bands playing, the headliners. We've got JSKO playing. We've got Kicking playing. We've got NF//GS playing. We've got Don Quixote's Horse playing. Those are all huge bands. We've got some other bands that are still being added to the bill as we speak. Just this morning, I've had four calls from different bands like, "Can we get in? Can we?" And right now I've got music playing from 5:00 PM till 11:00 PM. And we might add on, just keep on. We might start early in the morning. I don't know. But right now we've got it starting at about 5:00 PM going till 11.
Patrick: We're going to have music. Of course, I have my bar open. And we're also inviting... I know there were a lot of food trucks that were planning on having a job this weekend, that probably bought food and they can come down here. And we have a spot in the back where we've had food trucks pull in. And so I've talked with a couple of them. We want to add just anybody that wants to be a part, whether they want to do food, or if they have anything they want to sell, vendors just to contact us. And they can come be a part too.
Paul: It's going to be a fantastic weekend here in Jackson with live music, Memorial Music in the City. We're going to put more links about that in our show notes. Now Patrick, I got to switch gears a little bit for you. If you brought family or friends into town and you wanted to show them what your Jackson was all about, what my city looked like to you, where would you take them? What would you want to do?
Patrick: So when I've had friends come in from out of town, which I've got friends out of town that come in and they see Jackson, like, "What do we do?" Well, first what I do is I walk them around my neighborhood. I walk them around Fondren. Fondren has got so much to offer. There's restaurants, there's four or five awesome coffee shops, and then of course the bars, and then there's the retail. There's a record store down the street. And then there's a cool guitar store and there's different places around to go.
Patrick: But then I'd get in the car and maybe take them to Midtown take them down to see my friend Philip at Offbeat, or take them a little bit further downtown and eat dinner, maybe at the Mayflower. And drive around and see the King Edward and places like that. And then wait till late at night and maybe go to Howling Mouths and then go to F. Jones Corner for a late night. That's kind of what I would do to show off Jackson.
Paul: All right, Patrick, I got one more question for you. And I always want to ask this question at the end. And that is, what makes Jackson, Mississippi such a special place to you?
Patrick: To me, I've been a lot of other places. And I've seen smaller cities and I've seen bigger cities. I've seen cities that are real low key and community is great. I've seen big cities that have all the conveniences and fun things to do, and a lot of excitement, but it's missing the community. I think Jackson is just the perfect mix. It's it feels like a small city, but it's got the conveniences of a big city. We've always got tons of exciting things going on, but we're still down home. We're still the City With Soul.
Paul: We'll put links to this weekend's Memorial Music in the City. You'll find those in our show notes. Fondren Guitars, Patrick Harkins, one of the organizers of this weekend's events. Hey, thanks for being here, Patrick.
Patrick: Thanks, Paul.
Paul: Soul Sessions is a production of Visit Jackson. Our executive producers are Jonathan Pettus and Ricky 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.
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