Gary Jackson has heard the comment often over the years, that’s he’s the one who has ignited the growth and maturation of the Blue Ridge Region’s music scene.“People tell me all the time that I’ve been a catalyst for how the music scene has exploded in and around Roanoke,” Jackson said recently.
The scene, of course, has been listed as one of the quality of life factors that have induced a recent spate of economic development for the Roanoke Valley. In other words, music and arts events equal jobs in the minds of companies such as Deschutes, which earlier this year announced that it will spend millions and bring jobs by opening a new brewery in the region.
The truth is, Jackson says, the growing sophistication of the music scene is a combination of factors and the work of others that has been just as important as his influence.
“Would it have happened anyway?” he asked. “Probably.”
Still, there’s no denying that Jackson has served as an agent of change to take Roanoke and its surrounding venues to a new level of respect and maturity in the music business.
There’s no better evidence of that than the fact that Parkway Brewing Company has named one of its brews, a kölsch, after “The Reverend.”
A longtime industry figure who has decades of experience in the business engaging bands and musicians, Jackson has been spreading his gospel of great music since he relocated here more than a decade ago.
Suddenly, top music acts that had never played Roanoke on a regular basis began looking at it as a friendly spot on the map.
It was Roanoke real estate developer Ed Walker who first nicknamed Jackson “the Reverend” after becoming infatuated with the top shelf shows that Jackson was staging at the old 202 Market.