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Big Boss Man Arden Barnett had the idea to perform re-entry into the music business back in 2001. After getting laid off from his “real job” as the best golf course mapper man this side of the Mississippi, Arden said, “every day I was out there, all I could think about was bookin’ bands.”
With a ~not all who wander are lost~ personality and a need to share his love of music with anyone and everyone, Arden put down the gps backpack and set out to do just that. 12 years later, Ardenland has produced events in every corner of Mississippi and across the country. The only thing Arden loves more than his job (and family) is his perfectly tuned listening room and collection of 45,000 records from every artist imaginable. Arden also provided a list of eight (8) albums (music people, am I right) to describe himself:
- Genesis: Foxtrot
- Willis Alan Ramsey: Willis Alan Ramsey
- Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
- Pat Metheny Group: Pat Metheny Group
- Gregory Alan Isakov: That Sea, the Gambler
- Henryk Górecki: Symphony No.3
- Roberta Flack: First Take
- Frank Sinatra/Count Basie: It Might as Well Be Swing
With the energy and sleep schedule of a kid in their 20s, Arden can truly always be found at the office with a record on, glass of wine in one hand and planning his next event with the other.
TJ aka Tommie Jo aka animal enthusiast #1 is Ardenland’s band booking queen. A Jackson, Mississippi native, her love for concert promotions was born when she interned for Ardenland all the way back in 2017 during her freshman year of college. With a penchant for historic, independent venues and a deep rooted love for Jackson, it’s no surprise that TJ spread her freshly college-graduated wings and flew right back to Ardenland. We asked TJ to choose one (1) album that describes her best, and she promptly sent back this list of TEN (10):
- Patsy Cline: Sentimentally Yours
- Laurie Anderson: Mister Heartbreak
- Margo Guryan: 27 Demos
- Michael Kiwanuka: KIWANUKA
- John Prine: Souvenirs
- Wilco: A Ghost Is Born
- Silver Jews: American Water
- The Modern Lovers: Precise Modern Lovers Order: Live in Berkeley & Boston
- Broken Social Scene: You Forgot It in People
- Sparklehorse: Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
And before you ask—no, she is not related to Arden.
Box Office Manager
Born and raised on the sparkling coast of Ocean Springs, MS, Emily Wright is the boat captain of the SS Picantes and Ardenland box office manager. Ignoring her chosen engineering major while at Mississippi State, Emily gave her heart and soul to Music Makers productions. Fast forward a few years to what Bob Ross would certainly call a “happy accident,” Emily met Arden while bartending at Cathead one day and was easily convinced to make the switch from slingin’ drinks to slingin’ tickets. Her favorite thing about Ardenland is showing TJ how to use Excel and bringing in artists that make you want to get down. She is the embodiment of Paul Simon’s Graceland.
Lydia Martin, sometimes referred to as The Goddess of Duling Hall, makes all your wildest private event dreams come true. Wandering to Jackson from Laurel, MS, Lydia found her way to Ardenland after working as a freelance designer and slinging drinks in a few of Jackson’s best restaurants. Recognizing Duling as a place for the wild, the weird, and all those in between to come together for a few hours of friendly mosh pitting and drinks, her wildly creative mind found itself right at home at our venue. She’s got more sarcasm in the tip of her little finger than there is salt in the ocean, but she’s also the most soothing presence you can find in the whole promotions industry. She’ll pick you up and put a smile on your face the same way Edwards Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros does.
Every venue needs a man in a chair who makes it all happen and JT is that man. He’s always passionate about working with the smorgasbord of bands we book, so sometimes we throw opera, country music, and rock’n’roll at him all in the same week just for fun. He makes every artist feel completely at home on the Duling Stage and we always let his tech nerd side shine because it means we have the best sound and lights in the state. Sometimes we let him get on stage and blast his favorite Kanye album, Graduation, to relax after a long day.