I had the pleasure recently of speaking with Gulfport native Sarah Margaret Hewes. And yes, Sarah Margaret is the daughter of Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, but that has very little and yet everything to do with where she is with her life. Remove the mayor factor and you have a story about someone’s whose father instilled in her a love and passion for music.
I would hope that’s something to which many of us could relate. I know I’m grateful that my parents let me raid their record collection at an early age.
During the 30 minutes or so I spent on the phone with Sarah Margaret it became quite clear that she is passionate about music and her career direction towards the music industry.
She is 24 and in her last semester at NYU where she is a getting a masters in music business. By the way, she’s also tour managing the band AJR on a cross-country tour while she finishes her thesis.
As someone who has also worked in the touring end of the music industry, I can assure you that’s no easy task. If you completely remove all of the rock-n-roll shenanigans and hi jinks from the picture, you're still driving a van or rising on a bus and dealing with a billion different things, from catering to front-of-house sound issues to guest lists to hotels -- trust me, there’s a lot going on.
Sarah Margaret is a modest person and would rather talk about how much she loves Sleater-Kinney or the White Stripes instead of herself and what she accomplished. So allow me to do the bragging for her.
She was part of a concert port at Mississippi State, where she received her bachelor's in history -- she wrote her thesis on Son House; how awesome is that? -- called Music Maker Productions, which has been as influential on the Mississippi music scene as the BeBop Record stores that once graced Biloxi, Jackson and Starkville.
This is a production company that, during its heyday, brought Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, the Go Go's, Bon Jovi, Linda Ronstadt, whose opening act was a little-known band called Alabama, and even Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to Humphrey Coliseum. The list goes on: Cheap Trick, Tina Turner, Chicago -- all at the height of their stardom when they were selling out arenas and stadiums.
Although she made sure I knew it was a “team effort,” Sarah Margaret was instrumental in bringing 2 Chainz, fun. and Jack White to the campus of MSU. The 2 Chainz show was one of the first show Music Maker had sold-out in almost 10 years. She told me that was one of the best feelings of her life.
But it all comes back to how much she loves her dad and how he exposed her to music, including the blues music of her home state, at an early age. Over the last few years, I’ve started curating a record collection for my son. Although he’s only one, he already loves music and he likes to listen to the same Chicago albums that I once listened to with my parents.
My plans are to never push him towards sports or anything that he doesn't want to do, as I want his life to be organic. But I’m certainly glad that he loves music.
Billy Hewes must be feeling the same way.