Music Lover - Visit Meridian

Music Lover

Music Lover


Meridian Celebrates with Music

Traditionally in May, a music festival celebrates Meridian-born railroad worker, guitarist, and singer Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music. Meridian also remembers his life and legacy with a quaint museum downtown.

During his travels, Rodgers heard the popular music of his day as well as rural African American blues and jazz artists. He put all those sounds together and popularized what was then known as hillbilly music. Rodgers recorded for only six years before dying of tuberculosis in 1933 at age 35. But he achieved immense popularity — and not just among country music fans — with such songs as “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas),” “In the Jailhouse Now,” and “Waiting for a Train."

Other music-oriented annual festivals downtown include Juneteenth in June, a celebration of the abolition of slavery. Music also accompanies all kinds of smaller events the way fried chicken goes with church picnics. Just about every kind of Meridian get-together, from birthday parties to business networking mixers to farmers markets, inevitably includes a musician or several. Check out upcoming events here.

You’ll hear country and blues, soul and jazz, rock and folk. The thriving music scene has spawned national stars, such as the rapper Big K.R.I.T. (known to old friends back home as Justin Scott), lead singer Hayley Williams of the rock band [INVALID]ore, and country singer Randy Houser. Newcomers include Holly Brand, a rising star and participant on Season 23 of The Voice, and Season 18 winner, Todd Tilghman. Strong school music programs produce first-rate bands and choirs. Several Meridian Community College student instrumental and vocal groups perform free concerts every year.

MCC also presents an annual Arts & Letters Series that features high-quality MCC-produced concerts, theatrical productions, and other entertainment events, all at bargain prices. The shows take place at MCC’s McCain Theater.


Oldest Live Music Scene

It’s a pleasantly warm Thursday evening at Squealer’s Hickory-Smoked Bar-B-Que in north Meridian. There’s no special occasion, no big event in town. And yet people fill every seat at the dozens of tables on the covered porch and the open-air patio.

Why the happy, ages-7-to-70s crowd? It’s not just the juicy, tender barbecue (although that’s definitely a major attraction). It’s also the live music that draws throngs to Squealer’s every Thursday. Tonight, a duo is playing rootsy country and folk. Other nights may feature different musical styles from a solo artist or a full band. Always, the musicians are local. And the tables are full.

Local boosters say their city has Mississippi’s oldest live-music scene. Historians say they’re probably right. After the Civil War, railroads made Meridian boom; the city was Mississippi’s largest between 1890 and 1930. Those railroads also brought touring musicians to town, many of them on their way to or from the clubs of New Orleans. The Queen City became a regional music hub, a distinction it retains to this day.


2 Grand Theaters Feature Big Touring Shows

Two historic downtown venues host national and international touring acts (and, occasionally, local stars). The MSU Riley Center is a painstakingly restored Victorian gem dating back to 1890. It is also home to Meridian Symphony Orchestra performances. The Temple Theatre for the Performing Arts opened in 1928 as a lavish movie palace and Hamasa Shrine Temple, designed in Moorish Revival style by noted New Orleans architect Emile Weil.

For a list of upcoming events, including live music, click here.

On the Trail(s) of Meridian Musical History

Two statewide music trails celebrate Meridian’s contribution to music with seven markers across the city. See them all for yourself.

1-Day Stay

The interactive musical displays at The MAX are addictive (and informative). You can listen to amazing Mississippi musicians from all genres and have your favorites play together (virtually) in your own personal supergroup. Check The MAX’s calendar for the monthly Brown Bag Lunch day, when musicians perform free on the courtyard patio at lunchtime. In the evening, go on a musical treasure hunt. Several local restaurants present live music on various nights each week. Venues vary from cozy and intimate to big and energetic. Have fun exploring.

Mississippi Blues Trail Markers

  • Jimmie Rodgers & the Blues, Front St. at 18th Ave.
  • Meridian Rhythm & Blues and Soul Music, 7th St. and 23rd Ave.
  • Peavey Electronics, 5022 Hartley Peavey Dr.

Mississippi Country Music Trail Makers

  • Country Music Comes of Age, 22nd Ave. and 4th St.
  • Elsie McWilliams, 5th St. and Constitution Ave.
  • Jimmie Rodgers, Father of Country Music, 801 Oak Grove Dr.
  • Moe Bandy, 1901 Front St.

In the Mood for Local Music? Here’s Where to Go

Here are some places around town to hear local musicians (and, in most cases, get something good to eat and drink):

Make it a Weekend

Almost every weekend features live music somewhere. If there’s a festival, it includes tunes. And it will probably occur downtown, where you can take a tasty lunch break at Aie's Taste of Thai or Weidmann’s . Plan ahead to catch a concert at the MSU Riley Center or Temple Theatre. And check out the Mississippi Country Music Trail and Mississippi Blues Trail markers.

Meridian has nurtured stars from Jimmie Rodgers and Motown’s David and Jimmy Ruffin to today’s Hayley Williams ([INVALID]ore) and Big K.R.I.T. to our latest sensation, Todd Tilghman, winner of NBC's The Voice, Season 18. So look for the next big thing at local restaurants or clubs. Or take in the annual Jimmie Rodgers Festival, which brings top musicians to town and includes a talent competition for the up-and-coming.