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The Sounds of the South Meet the Heart of Mobile

By Sarah McCartan

It started with a single question. “Why don’t we have accurate representation of our local talent at area music festivals?” asked SouthSounds co-creator/director Emily Hayes.

Recognizing the missed opportunity of our region’s festivals in showcasing the best up and coming Southern bands, Hayes joined forces with fellow music pioneers Ted Flotte and Kris Skoda. The answer then began to blossom in the form of two, single-day festivals—Loda Live and Coastline Chronicles. From here, with the trifecta’s combined forces, three-day SouthSounds Music Festival was born. As the name suggests, SouthSounds sets out to represent the sounds of the South, or according to Hayes, “all points of the Southeast where music is appreciated.”

Presented by Back Forty Beer Co., SouthSounds returns to the heart of downtown Mobile, Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14. In its second year, the festival has expanded its reach and is generating a buzz throughout the entire Southeast.

“SouthSounds is about three things,” explains Hayes. “It’s about fostering relationships between artists. It’s about music lovers who want to be exposed to new music, and it’s about up and coming musicians. And of course it’s for Mobile—I love this city.”

Modeled much like Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW), SouthSounds is hosted across a variety of local establishments, with many of the artists playing multiple time slots and locations, including free daytime shows in Cathedral Square on Dauphin Street. Due to the close-knit proximity of participating venues and thanks to the added convenience of staggered show times, festival attendees have the opportunity to soak up as much music as humanly possible.

“This year the bands have been coming to us, and a lot of that comes from the way the artists are treated,” said Hayes. “They get the star treatment while still getting treated like true Southern boys (and girls)—all the food you can eat, all the beer you can drink and a nice place to rest your head.”

“This is our second year playing SouthSounds and we are more than excited to be included with all this great talent,” said Jason Leger, of Pensacola’s Pioneers! O Pioneers! “It’s a great platform to hear and be heard. I’m excited to see Gashcat for the first time, and I always love watching Jesse Payne and El Cantador.”

Birmingham-based Jesse Payne returns to SouthSounds this year bringing along new band members and new songs from the upcoming album, “Heirloom.”

“SouthSounds is one of the best festivals we’ve played,” said Payne. “Everyone we are in contact with is super helpful and a pleasure to work with, and the lineup that they put together is like no other festival. There is so much great music coming out of the South these days, it’s nice to have a spotlight on it.”

“A lot of these bands are our friends,” said Hayes. “We want to be that kid that goes into show and tell with a shiny new toy and says, ‘Look what I’ve got.’ But we don’t just want to keep it to ourselves. We want everyone else to enjoy it too.”

As much as SouthSounds is about the bands and the listeners, it is also about the local businesses that welcome the festival with open arms, and benefit from the increased traffic it brings. In show of their support, Hayley’s, one of the event sponsors and the official bar of SouthSounds, will be offering drink specials throughout the weekend.

Still the thrills don’t stop here. This year SouthSounds introduces comedy into the lineup. These performances are held at Alchemy Tavern, an arena quickly becoming a hub for the growing scene. SouthSounds also runs concurrently with Mobile’s premier performance arts festival, Arts Alive!, hosted in Cathedral Square.

The Official Lineup

With staggered start times and multiple performances, there are no excuses to miss any of this year’s festival acts. Here are just a few of the bands that have made their way onto the IN’s shortlist.

El Cantador—Mobile, Ala.
These tried and true, Mobile music veterans have recently released a new EP, “Translation Wave.” Listen at elcantador.bandcamp.com.

Saturday: 11:15 p.m. – 12:00 a.m., Alabama Music Box
Sunday: 1:15 p.m. – 2 p.m., Cathedral Square (Free)

Great Peacock—Nashville, Tenn.
As if being listed as one of the “100 Great Bands to See at SXSW” by Paste Magazine wasn’t enough, this duo’s track “Take Me to the Mountain” from their Debut EP is listed by Paste as one of “The 25 Best Songs of 2013 (so far).” Listen at greatpeacock.com.

Saturday: 3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Cathedral Square (Free)
7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Callaghan’s

Jesse Payne—Birmingham, Ala.
Performing three times throughout the weekend, Jesse Payne brings new band members and new music to SouthSounds. Listen at jessepayne.bandcamp.com.

Friday: 9:15 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Alchemy Tavern
Saturday: 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Cathedral Square (Free)
8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Malaga Inn

The Pollies—Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Also fresh off of SXSW, The Pollies are back. Fun fact—The Pollies share a keyboardist with Alabama Shakes when they are not on tour. Listen at polliesband.com.

Saturday: 9:15 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Malaga Inn;
12:15 a.m. – 1 a.m., Alabama Music Box

Pioneers! O Pioneers!—Pensacola, Fla.
One of Pensacola’s very own, Pioneers consistently couples genuine lyrics with memorable melodies. Listen at pioneersopioneers.bandcamp.com.

Saturday: 7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Blind Mule

For the full lineup of artists, list of participating venues and to download the official festival schedule, visit Southsoundsfest.com.

SOUTHSOUNDS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2013
WHEN: Friday, April 12 – Sunday, April 14
WHERE: Cathedral Square, Alabama Music Box, The Blind Mule, Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, OK Bicycle Shop, Alchemy Tavern, Haberdasher and Malaga Inn
DETAILS: Advance tickets are available for purchase online at southsoundsfest.com. Tickets will also be available onsite at the event.

Ticket levels are as follows:
General Admission: $10 in advance; $15 day of show. Includes entry into Alabama Music Box, Blind Mule, Alchemy Tavern, Haberdasher and OK Bike Shop.
Callys Gold: $25 in advance; $35 day of show. Includes entry into all venues covered by the General Admission ticket with additional entry at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club.
Southern Music Lover VIP Package: $100 includes entry for two. Limited availability.