Networking, networking and more networking while putting forth the best presentation possible for your business will be the first order of business at the state’s largest business-to-business EXPO at the Jackson Trade Mart. But there is no reason you can’t combine business with some excellent food, music and fun while you are at it.
Jazz music by the well-known Raphael Semmes group will be a highlight of the EXPO breakfast for alumni of 50 Leading Business Women of Mississippi at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 4.
“The EXPO is definitely one of the premier events that I play each year,” said Semmes. “I was born in Grenada and lived around different places outside of the state. I have traveled and toured all over the U.S, and in Japan and Europe. But I’m proud to call Mississippi my home, and am always excited to be working with the Mississippi Business Journal, especially at the EXPO. We have done the EXPO for many years.”
At press time Semmes was still tweaking the lineup to decide which special musicians to include at their performances. He likes to bring in different folks each year to provide something special musically speaking for each event. For example, for Business Woman of the Year, they try to feature an outstanding female vocalist. For the Top 40 under 40 Luncheon, he thinks in terms of some of the outstanding younger talent around that will be of interest to that group.
Semmes said playing at Mississippi Business Journal events over the years has been enjoyable.“Tami Jones and the staff do a wonderful job for these events,” Semmes said. “It is a really good environment to present live music. We try to create a musical environment that is interesting and enjoyable. Over the years we have done the EXPO we have done some performance style presentations. But, generally speaking, we are there to provide a pleasing musical environment for people to visit and network.”
Like the businesses who have booths at the EXPO, Semmes gets good exposure to the business community of the Metro area. “It is a wonderful opportunity for the musicians involved to perform and network in much the same way that the business folks do because there are lots of businesses out there who hopefully will be needing music at an event,” he said. “Any business event is enhanced with live music. I certainly enjoy the opportunity to make myself available to anyone who needs it.”
About 2,000 people are expected to attend the EXPO this year, including the vendors and their customers who come in after work. Mississippi Business Journal Advertising Director Tami Jones said the Business After Hours event gets more popular every year.
“Last year it was standing room only,” Jones said. “Business After Hours at the end of the day is a nice time to unwind to some different tastes and choices. You can listen to some live music and network in a very relaxed atmosphere. People enjoy this event because they get to see old friends and meet business associates face-to-face that they might only know from the telephone and e-mail.”
The evening musical entertainment for Business After Hours will be by Chris Gill and the Sole Shakers, who are returning after being a hit during the 2012 EXPO.
“Last year was great!” Gill said. “There was a nice crowd, a superb sound system, and everybody was having a ball. We are very excited about playing the EXPO again this year.”
Chris Gill and the Soul Shakers play a number of favorites from artists such as Bob Marley (Lively Up Yourself), B.B. King (The Thrill is Gone), Eric Clapton (Crossroads), Bonnie Raitt (Louise), the Rolling Stones (Beast of Burden) and Little Feat (Dixie Chicken).
The group will be playing at the Rhythm and Blues Fest at the Ag museum in August, and Gill will be in Canada for a couple of festivals in September. They also plan to participate in the Juke Joint Fest in Clarksdale, the Sweet Potato Queen Ball and also on the VERDE DO KREW float for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year.
Chris Gill and the Soul Shakers received a 2005 Hometown Hero Award from the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau for promoting Mississippi music and tourism.