Born in College Station, Texas, Alex Coats grew up in the lone star state but lived in Mississippi off and on as a kid.

Coming from a family of Mississippi State University alums, Coats ended up in Starkville, too. He was involved with the student-run concert committee as well as developing the school’s yearly Bulldog Bash. When he graduated college, Arden Barnett offered him a job with Ardenland. Coats has been in Jackson since 2017.

Why the music biz?
Music is so emotionally affecting for not only the performer but also the audience. The first time I ever worked a show, I looked out at the crowd and watched how thousands of people were moved by the music — dancing, singing, etc. — and I was hooked.

What’s most rewarding about your job?
Being a part of a business that brings music to a state like Mississippi — one that’s outwardly perceived in negative ways, but has been (and still is) the birthplace of countless talented musicians that have shaped American music — is super rewarding.

Most memorable show at Duling
One of the greatest experiences was hosting The Wailers in 2017. These guys are living legends, and it was such an honor to have them in Jackson. The crowd was incredible and there was so much passion from folks singing every word to the kid who exclaimed “best first concert ever” as he was leaving. It was a very magical night.

What are you working on this year?
I want to become proficient in at least one other language. I learned Spanish in college, but I feel like there’s so much more there to learn and improve it.

I want to ace the introductory sommelier course and exam. Wine has become a sort of hobby recently and is a very fascinating subject to me

I’m super competitive and somewhat of a board game geek. I’ve started looking into it, and I think that if I start training, I could win a qualifier tournament and make it to the United States Championship for Settlers of Catan. I think the competition’s gonna be stiff, but I’ve got a good feeling about my chances. If anybody wants to meet up and “train,” let me know.

When the topic turns to edibles and elixirs, Coats said, “Word of warning: you shouldn’t have asked me about food — I’m very passionate about it.”

Favorite drink in Fondren
Easy. A bottle of this great Californian red blend called Sexual Chocolate from SLO Down Wines from Fondren Cellars. I also love the Hemperor that’s on tap at Saltine or the Tamarind Margarita at Babalu.

Favorite snack in Fondren
The Feta Mozz Gratin at Saltine is my number one go-to when it comes to snack time. The best part is the olives. You scoop that up in one cheesy dollop with the bread, and good gosh almighty, it’s heaven. The Tuna Nachos at Barrelhouse and chili at Brent’s Drugs get high marks, too.

Favorite meal in Fondren
Walker’s Redfish Anna is phenomenal. That tuna served rare on top of those grits are to-die-for. But at the end of the day, I would do unspeakable things for that filet in the red wine sauce. Oh, Barrelhouse has got the best shrimp and grits in town. And, the blackened salmon at Babalu is STUPID good.

Favorite dessert in Fondren
My girlfriend’s go-to is the Banoffee Pie at Saltine (which is incredible), but the banana pudding at Rooster’s is amazing. Awe-inspiring. Delightful. Life-changing. Runners-up: Tiramisu at Walker’s (when I die, bury me in a coffin made of tiramisu) and the chocolate chip cookies at Basil’s are fire.

My newest Fondren palette discoveries
The carne asada fries at Green Ghost are a work of art. If you like potatoes, queso, and meat, get it. The newest menu offerings at Saltine (wings, crawfish queso dip, lobster pasta) — all great. And, lunch at McDade’s is a spiritual experience.

Best kept secret in the neighborhood
My go-to is the free retro arcade machine at Hops and Habanas. Their cabana is my favorite post-work beer and chill spot with friends. Second of all, I bail on friends to go play Dig Dug and Rampage way more often than I’d like to admit.

Best way to kill 30 minutes in Fondren
Sit on the front of Sneaky Beans with a beer and a buddy and watch the world go by.

Best advice you could give about living/working/playing in Fondren
Take advantage of the opportunities, and especially the people, in Fondren, but if you want to see something change, make it happen.

What are you listening to?
Favorite album: Suburbs by Arcade Fire

Favorite album of 2018: Joy as an Act of Resistance by Idles

A few tracks I’m listening to on repeat in the office right now:

“Mile High” by James Blake ft. Travis Scott and Metro Boomin

“Boss” by Little Simz (explicit)

“The Bug Collector” by Haley Heynderickx

“Lioness” by Songs: Ohia (an oldie, but a goodie)

“MALAMENTE -Cap.1: Augurio” by ROSALIA

“Love it if We Made It” by The 1975 (explicit)

“My Queen is Harriet Tubman” by Sons of Kemet

Ardenland concert I’m most excited for in 2019: Cathead Jam is going to be incredible. We’re working on some exciting stuff in that world and all over the place that I’m very excited about. I am over the moon excited about the Jenny Lewis show at Duling Hall on April 10. She is an indie rock icon and it’s going to be an incredible show.