SouthSounds Music Festival returns to Mobile, Ala., this weekend, bringing three days filled with nonstop music from regional acts spread across a network of downtown establishments.
Those who attended last year will be able to spot quite a few returning acts on the lineup, along with a number of new names. Although the lineup continues to expand, the goal of the festival has remained constant since day one—introducing festival goers to their new favorite (Southern) band.
“It is getting a little tougher each year because every band that has played, if they have the availability, wants to come back and play again,” explained organizer Emily Hayes. “We certainly don’t want to book the same acts over and over and not expose anyone to any other kind of artist, but it’s good that we are doing our jobs well enough to make artists want to come back to this area.”
In South by Southwest fashion, festival organizers have set things up in a way that allows flexibility to bounce from one venue to the next to catch most, if not all, of the bands.
One standout addition to this year’s festival takes things in a more visual direction. A music video block includes music videos from SouthSounds artists and filmmakers, plus a music video panel will be held, featuring both filmmakers and sound engineers.
Once again Hayley’s returns as the festival’s official bar, and will be offering discounts to those fest-goers with wristbands all weekend long.
“Bless their hearts, they aren’t quite large enough space wise to house any artists, but they love and support what we do and have shown that love and support since day one,” Hayes said.
For VIP ticket holders, this year brings an added perk on top of other thrills that come with the wristband—a musical trolley.
“If I wasn’t working the festival, I would buy a VIP ticket just to go on trolley rides—Mr. Rogers style,” Hayes said. “That’s what it makes me think of. The little trolley going from his house to the imagination land.”
The trolley take VIPs from stop to stop, including the one venue that is a slightly longer trek than the rest, Callaghan’s. All the other venues are in such close proximity to one another they are readily navigable by foot.
“Callaghan’s is such a destination venue in the South. We’ve never had any issues with folks not going over there during the festival just because it was a hop, skip and jump away,” Hayes affirmed.
Ultimately, once again Hayes and other partners have put together a festival they personally believe in, on top of being one that allows individuals to hear some of the best music in the South.
“It wouldn’t be SouthSounds if we took the focus off of Southern musicians. That is why we started this festival. It will always be to heighten the profiles of working Southern musicians and to expose them to audiences that will continue to support them throughout their careers,” Hayes said.
“That is our motivation, and it makes us all really happy to see people afterwards gushing about a band or grabbing up all their merchandise. Mobile is our home and everyone has been supportive. We gain a little bit more each year and honestly couldn’t be more pleased with the pace we are rolling at right now.”
SouthSounds Shake Down
If you need a little guidance throughout the weekend, the following is a loose path of suggestions.
After getting off work Friday afternoon and heading toward Mobile, if you are looking to ease into the festival experience upon your arrival, consider starting things off at the Southern Music Video Block in the early evening hours before making your way to Callaghan’s. Situated just outside of the heart of downtown, this Irish Social Club makes for an intimate space to get up close and personal with the acts and perhaps even grab some grub. Friday night, Callaghan’s plays host to returning acts Jesse Payne, of Birmingham Ala., immediately followed by Nashville’s Great Peacock.
Taking you into the post-dinner hours at Alchemy tavern and putting a little dance in your step, is Atlanta-based, Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun. Meanwhile, if you’re hoping to catch one of Mobile’s very own, Underhill Family Orchestra kicks things off at the Alabama Music Box, followed by Banditos. If you stick around until the end, the evening finishes off with Moon Honey.
If you missed Jesse Payne or Banditos Friday night, you have opportunities to catch both acts, amongst others including the Creole-inspired, New Orleans’ Sweet Crude, at their free shows in Cathedral Square in the afternoon and early evening hours. As night falls, the upstairs venue space of local bar and eatery The Blind Mule hosts a variety of acts kicking off with the upbeat Teen Getaway. A bit later, Alchemy hosts Mississippi Shakedown. Both Alchemy and The Alabama Music Box offer steady lineup of acts carrying late into the early morning hours. Although Alchemy’s late night lineup takes a bit of a turn to include standup comedians, AMB is nonstop music.
Although the music on Sunday is a bit more low key and slightly shorter-lived than the two days prior, both Alchemy and Callaghan’s offer steady music in the afternoon hours to close things out nicely.
For a complete look at the schedule, visit SouthSoundsFest.com.
WHEN: Friday April 11-Sunday April 13
WHERE: Downtown Mobile, Ala.
COST: General admission tickets are $25, VIP are $75.00 for one or $120 for a pair