In a place full of age-restricted bars and venues, younger Hattiesburg artists do not get the chance to work together.
Owner of Jazmos’s Bodega Trey Sullivan brought the concept of the bodega to Hattiesburg and turned it into an all-ages venue and creative space. Bodegas are characterized as small convenience or corner stores. Sullivan took the idea of the bodega and turned Jazmo’s into a convenience store, music venue and a safe space for artistic expression for the youth of Hattiesburg.
The bodega also offers a various selection of barbecue food platters and sandwiches. Located on 631 North Main St. in Downtown Hattiesburg, Jazmo’s wants to appeal to the younger Hattiesburg residents and create a venue for them.
Sullivan, who attented high school in Hattiesburg, dreamed of moving to the East Coast or Los Angeles. He wanted to find where the ‘weirdos,’ as Sullivan named them, roamed. However, Hattiesburg offered the same artistic environment. In a town full of artists, Sullivan was unsure where to find these creative individuals or how to be acquainted with them.
He said the youth tend to run away from Hattiesburg because of being ostracized for being somewhat different. The bodega gives a safe zone for those kids on a skateboard or minorities and artists who have nowhere else to go in Hattiesburg.
“I considered myself a weirdo because of the ambiguousness of Southern Mississippi,” Sullivan said. “I was raised in the rural part of Hattiesburg called Dixie. It was very conservative. I never could identify with a race because even though I was black, I was just never black enough because of my music taste of clothing.”
At the age of 18, Sullivan found out he was going to be a father. Nine years later, Sullivan is the 27-year-old father of two children and the owner of Hattiesburg’s first bodega. Sullivan said the idea and concept of the bodega would never had been thought of if it was not for his kids.
Sullivan appreciated the arts growing up in Hattiesburg and became frustrated with the lack of creative outlets to express them. The idea behind Jazmo’s Bodega is to provide the younger generation of millennials the opportunity to attend all-age events similar to those at establishments like the Thirsty Hippo or Brewsky’s. From hip-hop shows to spoken word poetry events, Sullivan plans to provide the amenity of enjoying music projects and words of different generations.
Quavious Black, 23-year-old musician, graduated from Oak Grove High School. Black related to Sullivan’s angst to be around similar people at young age. He said he was that kid in the skinny jeans and the skateboard who didn’t really know where to go or what to do.
“Jazmo’s is definitely what we were looking for, and that is our outlet,” Black said. “When I talked to Trey about the idea of Jazmo’s and this showcase, I thought it would have been perfect because I had to playing a show in Hattiesburg for a while.”
Black said he wished he had a place like this to go in high school. He wanted to develop his music and work after school instead of doing nothing but didn’t know where to start. On September 2, Jazmo’s doors opened at 9 p.m. to millennials and youth who flocked to the bodega for a rare event in Hattiesburg – a hip-hop showcase. The Chandelier Room, the venue room in the bodega, became packed with bodies huddled around the artists taking turns around the microphone.
Hattiesburg singer and songwriter Joshua Waters and Black came together to perform a rap showcase with six different artists.
“I definitely wish there was a spot for artists and creatives here growing up,” Waters said. “I feel that’s the reason so many of us leave here looking for what could’ve been here all along. And [Jazmo’s] is definitely becoming that outlet for local artists.”
Sullivan said he anticipates more services to be brought out into the community after this exciting crowd turn-out.
Jazmo’s draws a crowd every Thursday with a live band and open mic night.
Jazmo’s next show is on May 5 with SilaS Live w/ Quavius, Josh Waters, Devmaccc and Davante Liv3.
“A startup in general is figuring out it is way more money involved then he initially thought,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t really expect to spend this money. I spent half of my college tuition already. However, it is worth all of it to manifest the community I wish I had.”