Mississippi College

Brick Street Trio Brings Mississippi College Flavor

December 14, 2012

Award-winning composer James Sclater joined music professors Ben Williams and Michael Rushing for weekly lunches in the summer months followed by jam sessions.

But getting these talented Mississippi College educators together for a few hours to play music for fun didn’t last long in 2011.

They formed a combo and called themselves the Brick Street Trio, a tribute to Clinton, the city they love and have put down roots.

“We still basically just play for kicks during the summer, but have had the opportunity to perform around the Jackson and Clinton area from time to time,” says Rushing, director of the Taylor School at Mississippi College. It’s the university’s community arts program working with students of all ages to promote artistic development and spark a lifetime of music enjoyment.

Take a listen, and it’s obvious that members of the Brick Street Trio enjoy what they’re doing on stage or in a recording studio. Rushing is the group’s drummer, Sclater is featured on piano, and Williams, an excellent composer, plays bass.

People may have heard the Brick Street Trio’s commercials a few months ago. The group did a musical version of the MEA Medical Clinic jingle that received a good amount airtime on Jackson TV stations over the summer.

But the three-man group really cherishes their live performances.

Their next gig will be at the Underground 119 on January 14th. It’s a leading music venue at 119 South President Street in Jackson, just blocks from the Mississippi Capitol. Beginning that evening at 7:30 p.m., the program will spotlight vocalist Kristen Johnson, a member of the MC Music Department faculty. Johnson will join the Brick Street Trio for an evening of American musical standards by legendary artist George Gershwin, including “Summertime” from the Broadway classic Porgy and Bess.

During other nights of the week, patrons in the capital city club hear jazz, blues, Latin and bluegrass musicians perform.

The trio’s mid-January show is part of the Opera Underground Series sponsored by the Mississippi Opera. Tickets can be purchased at msopera.org.

A Clinton resident, Sclater is already a familiar face to musicians in Mississippi and around the nation. The Mobile, Alabama native retired from Mississippi College in 2010 after teaching on the Clinton campus since 1970.

 The James S. Sclater Chamber Series at MC is named in his honor. A member of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra clarinet section from 1971 to 2000, Sclater has been paired with Mississippi College music professor Angela Willoughby in the chamber duo LYRICAS since 1998.

During the second year of the Sclater Chamber Series, professor Williams was the headliner on piano in a concert at the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall at Mississippi College in the fall of 2011.

For Rushing, who’s also a superb piano player, performing with the Brick Street Trio is a thrill, and he’s not letting go of the experience anytime soon.

What does he like best about music?

“As someone who makes a living in music, it’s great to get together with other musicians in a low-stress environment and just play,” Rushing said.

Being in the Brick Street Trio reminds him of his experiences as a young musician years ago.

“It’s nice to get together with friends and make music,” Rushing said.

“We enjoy doing it,” Sclater said after a dozen performances in Central Mississippi so far. “We play wedding receptions and recently did a breakfast reception for retired doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.”

For more information on the Brick Street Trio, go to brickstreettrio.com or call 601.924.7270.

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