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Buie, Semmes: filling EXPO with Mississippi music

Last year, local favorite Raphael Semmes filled the halls of the Mississippi Technology and Business EXPO with a strong dose of music from The Big Easy.

Semmes’ Metro Jazz Krewe kicked off EXPO 2005’s Salute to Business and Industry Breakfast, with foot-stomping Dixieland jazz tunes, which then transformed into a New Orleans Second Line parade group, marching through the Trademart and leading attendees to the ribbon cutting.

This year’s entertainment will be no less exciting and will once again feature the best offerings of Mississippi’s professional musicians. Semmes is once again the facilitator for presenting three completely different but equally enjoyable programs.

The 500 attendees at each of the three awards events will be surprised by different musicians and music styles — always with a thread of Mississippi tradition thrown in. Semmes has been hot on the trail of several displaced Coast and New Orleans musicians, hoping some of them can join in the fun.

Fortunately, some displaced musicians relocated to Central Mississippi. Charlie Miller, a fabulously talented trumpet player who also tickles the ivories, lives in Vicksburg now, displaced from New Orleans, and is regularly booked at Char, where he played on New Year’s Eve. Miller will join Semmes on stage for at least one of the awards events, along with performances from a variety of personalities that typify what makes Mississippi’s music scene so unique.

“Among the most interesting and moving musical experiences of the past year has been meeting and performing with musicians from New Orleans who passed though post-Katrina, and in some cases, have stayed in the area,” said Semmes, who the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau honored in 2005 with the Hometown Hero Shining Example Award for his work as a “musician, songwriter and impresario.”

In addition to performing and recording last year, Semmes hosted the “FUSION Coffeehouse Jazz Series,” showcasing the area and the region’s top jazz talent. He regularly appears at Char for the Sunday jazz brunch and also performs with his own “Mississippi LIVE!” orchestra promoting Mississippi’s music, musicians, songwriters and heritage.

Working with Bell “usually means I’m going to get to do some cool stuff,” said Semmes. “She is very creative and energetic, and her aim is to present something at the functions that is entertaining and a little unpredictable. If you’re attending an event like EXPO, or one of the awards ceremonies, then chances are you’re all about business, and a little entertaining diversion is a good thing.”

Business After Hours

For the Business After Hours Party on Wednesday, January 18, which draws a record crowd every year, Debbie Buie and The Yes Men will begin performing at 5 p.m.
Buie, lead vocalist of the five-piece band formed five years ago, calls their style “rock-it science.”

“Our approach is to blend straight ahead guitar-driven rock with a strong dose of rhythm ‘n’ blues and blues,” she said.

John Broderick, rhythm guitarist for The Yes Men, who is also known locally as the lead vocalist with The Bluz Boys, mimicking the John Belushi character from the Bluz Brothers from Saturday Night Live, heralds Buie as “not just any female singer … Mississippi’s reigning queen of rock and roll.”
“We’ve picked a repertoire of songs made popular by music’s most well-respected women performers, such as Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Melissa Ethridge, Sheryl Crow, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders,” said Broderick.

The band also taps into Buie’s versatility by performing songs by the Black Crowes, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tom Petty and other blues-rock luminaries. The twist: now a female vocalist interprets these songs, adding freshness.

The band’s members, also well-known veterans of the Mississippi music scene, include bass player Dan Harrison, another member of The Bluz Boys; lead guitarist John Hamman, who plays with Buie in the popular acoustic rock group Buie, Hamman and Porter; and drummer Jon Moorfield, who keeps the beat for The Johnny Crocker Band and Hunter Gibson and the Gators, and has spent many years on the road touring with various bands.

Debbie Buie and The Yes Men will perform at the Business After Hours Party until 7:30 p.m.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.


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