SouthSounds 2017: Meet the Board
Text & Photo by Tim Borland
SouthSounds Festival has evolved through many different forms through the years. The roots of the festival actually began with two separate events. Kris Skoda, of Mod Mobilian fame, hosted Coastline Chronicles in 2010 with acts such as El Cantador and Mob Towne Revival. The following year, radio host Emily Hayes and Ted Flotte helmed LoDa Live with bands like 13 Ghosts and The Great Book of John. The Mobilian triumvirate decided to unite their powers for 2012, the inaugural year of SouthSounds.
In the last six years SouthSounds has only grown in scale. The festival has hosted up and coming bands that have later become household names, namely St. Paul and The Broken Bones. Well known regional musicians like Maggie Koerner and Col. Bruce Hampton have anchored headlining spots as the festival gained more attendance. In 2017, the lineup has swollen to over 65 bands on over 14 stages.
The team behind SouthSounds has flourished as well. Originally founded as a non-profit special event under the Mobile Arts Council, the entire affair would not be possible without the self-less dedication of volunteers. Advertisement in early years was mostly word of mouth, along with exclusive Mod Mobilian coverage. Now the celebration has developed to the point that traffic on Government Street can view banners for the occasion while listening to SouthSounds artists promoted on the radio. New for 2017 is SouthSounds very own Board of Directors, a team of talented individuals who are combining their efforts to make something great for Mobile, much like Skoda, Hayes, and Flotte did back in 2012.
Mod Mobilian spoke with members of the board (as well as yours truly) to ask two simple questions:
Why is SouthSounds important for the growth of downtown Mobile?
Who are your top 5 must-see bands for SouthSounds 2017?
Riley Copeland: Board Member, VIP/Sponsor Chairman, Corporate Tickets
Southsounds is important not only to downtown Mobile, but to all the citizens of our fair city. It is another opportunity to showcase our downtown area as well as get to hear the sounds of up and coming musicians. Who knows? The next St. Paul and the Broken Bones could be playing downtown at this year’s festival.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: Just for the record – I saw 35 acts last year and will attempt to break that record in 2017. Muddy Magnolias, Roadkill Ghost Choir, The Wild Feathers, Humming House, and The Marcus King Band.
Carol Hunter: Board Member, Communication Director with the Downtown Mobile Alliance
The Alliance was a early supporter of SouthSounds because of its potential to create a whole new ‘cool factor’ for downtown. This is important in helping the city compete for 21st century talent. A new audience comes downtown for the music and is exposed to the shopping and dining scene. All of this helps define downtown as a vibrant, essential city center.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: I am most intrigued by Paper Lights. I can’t wait to see Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Big Freedia, Multi N’ Funk, and The Wild Feathers. All over the place, right? I love variety!
Underhill Family Orchestra performing at Alchemy Tavern, SouthSounds 2016
Suzanne Fleet: Board member, Marketing Liaison
This festival is important for Mobile in lots of ways. Growth is certainly one of them. But it’s also about spreading the word about what a great place we have here, feeding our musical community and contributing to Mobile’s cultural scene. The people serving on the Board of Directors care deeply about supporting the arts and about spreading the word that we have something unique and singularly special here.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: I want to go off the beaten path – here are the ones I’m excited about. Diarrhea Planet does not sound like you’d think given their name so go to www.southsoundsfest.com and give a listen. Future Elevators because my nine-year-old son picked this band out and he has excellent taste. Don’t miss Jimmy Lumpkin and the Revival performing “Every time I leave” and “My Name is Love.” I used to manage Eric Erdman when he was with Ugli Stick and I can never get enough of his music, plus “Bird on a Power Line” is my five-year-old son’s favorite song in the world. Finally, Royal Teeth, an electronic pop band that was one of my first band crushes of SouthSounds 2017 back when we first started booking.
Ann Rambeau: Board member, SouthSounds logistics, Special Events Manager City of Mobile
SouthSounds is held downtown but it is important to all of Mobile. I evaluate the importance of events in two ways: Does it add to the quality of life of the people in Mobile? And does it add to the economic growth of the community? SouthSounds does both. SouthSounds provides musical diversity at an affordable price, clearly adding to the fun factor of living in Mobile. It brings people downtown that do not regularly go there. The event has grown each year and this year has crossed the threshold from a local event to a regional event. The money spent in Mobile during SouthSounds is concentrated in the downtown area, providing support for the continued growth there.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: During the event, I will be headquartered near Cathedral Square so I am thrilled to see all of the great music planned, such as Jamell Richardson “The Gulf Coast Blues Boy,“ The Wild Feathers, Jojo’s Slim Wednesday and many more. I am also looking forward to seeing Big Freedia and Muddy Magnolias.
Sweet Crude performing at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, SouthSounds 2016
Ginna Inge: Board member, Owner The Steeple on St. Francis
Southsounds is a uniquely organic festival that focuses on great Southern music. Downtown Mobile and the venues of downtown are the perfect place to host this event for a number of reasons; One is the proximity of all of the venues, second is the beauty and shade of downtown Mobile, third is the convenience of the Cathedral Square stage and the stage near the bike shop and four is this is a great way to get Mobilians to enjoy all that downtown Mobile has to offer and out of town visitors to enjoy Mobiles accommodations, restaurants and venues.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: I can’t wait to see them all but these are some I am particularly interested in: Muddy Magnolias, The Wild Feathers, Big Freedia, Explosions in the Sky, and always love the local talents Eric Erdman, Jimmy Lumpkin, Underhill Family Orchestra, and Paw Paw’s Medicine Cabinet.
Gabe Fleet: President & Co-Chairman
SouthSounds is a unique opportunity for us to show music industry tastemakers and some of the Southeast’s most exciting emerging and independent artists what a unique gem we have here in Downtown Mobile. These folks travel all over the world, and when they come to Mobile and meet the people here and walk these streets and eat in these restaurants, and then talk about how this is one of their favorite places that they’ve ever visited, you know that you’ve created a goodwill ambassador that will go out there and spread the word about Mobile.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: Wait! Do I seriously have to pick only five? There are SO MANY great acts! The Wild Feathers, Young Mister, Big Freedia, Jimmy Lumpkin & The Revival, and Sweet Crude.
Boyfriend performing at The Merry Widow, SouthSounds 2016
Tim Borland: Associate Editor Mod Mobilian, exclusive coverage of SouthSounds 2012-present
I stumbled onto SouthSounds 2012 for a college journalism assignment and was fortunate enough to bump into Emily Hayes and Kris Skoda and be given an official pass to photograph the bands. What I discovered was a diverse community of people, joining together to celebrate music. There was a band scene in my town, and it had been here all along, right under my nose! As I became more involved in festival coverage for Mod Mobilian, I have witnessed SouthSounds grow over the years much in the same way downtown Mobile’s patrons are growing. No-one will go downtown to support independent business without fun events like beer fest, spring crawfish, SouthSounds, and the many events that give people a reason to go to Dauphin Street even when it is not Mardi Gras. These yearly events give travelers and locals alike an excuse to go downtown and ‘stumble upon’ an adventure of their own.
Top 5 Must-see Bands: I am going to stick with local acts that might not have been mentioned yet. Everyone should check out The Dirty Lungs late night show April 8 at Hayley’s Bar; the band has been a popular Birmingham group for more than a decade now. Underhill fans should definitely check out Glass War, Brian Wattier’s new power duo project. I’m excited about Jamell Richardson this year, I’ve been listening to his youtube videos. Infant Richard and the Delta Stones combine a wide variety of genres into their sound. Finally, Black Titan … Black Titan is arguably the most popular act in Mobile right now. Fans of punk, metal, and stoner rock must not miss this show. The band will blow your mind and melt your face off.
Emily Hayes: Cofounder, Board Member, Volunteer Coordinator
SouthSounds is important for the growth of Downtown Mobile because it is a shining example of what can happen when a group of people from completely different backgrounds join forces and commit to create and sustain something great for the entire community. The board is comprised of doctors, event coordinators, marketing geniuses, and legal eagles just to name a few. But when you strip all of that title business away, we are all huge music fans and nerds. When we started all of this years ago, the goal was to grow at a sustainable rate so it would be possible to have the festival annually. We wanted everyone in Mobile and throughout the South to know that the second weekend of April in Mobile, Alabama IS SouthSounds. I feel we’ve been successful in growing to this point and now this new era of SouthSounds with the board is going to continue to keep us in good shape and bringing the best of up-and-coming Southern musicians to Mobile for years to come. These efforts from these different folks shows what can happen when everyone sets their egos aside, focuses their energy on something positive, and truly believe in the power of teamwork. That is why and how SouthSounds will continue to help Mobile grow and flourish well into the future.
TOP 5 Must-See Bands: Ah! Now to the good stuff! First off, narrowing it down to five when there are over sixty five that will appear the weekend of is a HARD task. But here we go!
1. Bantam Foxes – They are from Louisiana. I’ve been a BIG fan for quite some time now and I am looking forward to seeing them debut some new songs alongside some great tracks from their “Gold Record” EP.
2. Jeff The Brotherhood – The buzz around Jeff The Brotherhood is magnificent on its own but they may be the most buzzed about band among all the artists coming for SS17. I’ve gotten many messages about how excited other bands are to see them.
3. Young Mister – This is a sentimental thing for me. I first met Steven Fiore when I was bouncing all over the southeast watching Jump, Little Children wherever and whenever I could. He’s great and I am happy that he is on SS17.
4. She Returns From War – Hunter Park is flipping amazing and everything you hear from She Returns From War is amazing. I think by the time this gets printed it’ll be safe to say that Hunter gave me an advanced listen to the latest tunes and needless to say, it gave me goosebumps. It was amazing, but would it be anything else? It’s Hunter Park.
5. The Hallers/The Burning Peppermints – Straightforward, unabashed, dirty, sweaty, loud rock and roll shows. I’ve seen them both. I love them both and I can’t wait to lose my mind.