Live from Mad Cat Alley Jazz: Join the Movement


There’s a movement afoot in Farmville, and it’s coming from a funky little place called “Mad Cat Alley”. You can catch it this Thursday night during the Main Street Music Series at Crute Stage.

As students in Charlie Kinzer’s Jazz Ensemble A at Longwood University, Jay Coward, Max Doss, and Spencer Smith brought their individual talents to the unique blend that becomes jazz. In music, blended parts compose a complete piece called “a movement.” In “Live from Mad Cat Alley Jazz”, Jay Coward, Max Doss, and Spencer Smith are the blended parts creating not only a movement, but a stir in the Farmville music scene.

The eccentric Jazz trio’s manager, keyboardist, and tenor saxophonist Jay Coward describes the group itself as “a movement” influenced by music legends John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Charles Mingus, but with a funky flair: Rockabilly. The band got started playing at The Fishin’ Pig for their Mardi Gras celebration. They never expected to become the Fishin’ Pig’s Thursday night house band and a household name throughout the south central Virginia music community.

“With the influences we incorporate into our music,” Coward commented, “it’s easy to see why our music is anything but ordinary.

While in Kinzer’s Longwood class, the original trio learned that true Jazz is like a conversation they fill with their own energy and soul. Today the diverse trio carries on this belief. Their sound comes from watching the conversation that they have with the audience and formulating a response based upon the audience’s energy. Their music is not limited to the ears. It is a feeling, a movement.

The group’s eccentrically contained sound comes from the diversity of their individual musical interests. Coward has a heart for jazz; bassist Max Doss is a fan of Rockabilly, while Spencer Smith on drums loves it all. As Smith says, “We’re very different people who come together to share one great thing, and that’s music.”

Just as in life, nothing is certain in Jazz; each performance is unique. The element of individuality is what distinguishes jazz from other music genres and holds true for the artists in Live from Mad Cat Alley Jazz. The music is built on a framework embellished by emotion, experience, and a dash of experimentation.

To guarantee the freshness that signifies their trademark sound, the trio limits the amount of group practices. They are passionate about playing live performances. Coward explains that “this is how their energy is maintained.” They know that music is never complete without the magic a live audience provides.

The Live from Mad Cat Alley Jazz movement is coming to Crute Stage this Thursday, June 19th, at 6pm. The band will be opening for regional jazz favorite Richmond’s own Butcher Brown. Bring your lawn chairs and plan to have supper with The Cafe’ at Poplar Hall featuring locally sourced foods prepared on site.

Main Street Music is a summer production of Farmville Downtown Partnership. The 2014 series is presented by WFLO Radio AM & FM; Real Living Cornerstone; Fourth Street Motors; Virginia Credit Union; Terri Atkins Wilson, Attorney & Counselor-at-Law; and Mainly Clay. Concerts are held from 6 – 9 pm the third Thursday of each month May through September at Crute Stage on the corner of N. Main and Fourth Streets in Farmville Downtown.

For more information on the programs, services, events, and volunteer opportunities with Farmville Downtown Partnership, please contact Executive Director Helen Person at 434-392-3060 or