The smooth melodic songs of the late 1960s and early 1970s were more than just easy listening; they also brought people together during tumultuous times. High South, a trio of singers/songwriters/musicians, would like their music to have the same effect on audiences today.
The band will be stopping off at the River Club Music Hall on Friday, Aug. 10 as part of a nationwide tour.
“We’ve got to love the road,” said band member Jamey Garner, “being together, playing together, just hanging out.”
Garner jokes he has an apartment in Nashville that he’s only been to once.
“We tour a lot,” he said.
The band was traveling through the cornfields of Iowa during the phone interview with the Mariner.
“A really good gig at the end of the road really makes all the traveling worth it,” said Kevin Campos, another member of the band.
The band just returned from playing in Europe, which included a music festival in the Alps.
“It was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had,” Garner said. “It was fantastic.”
The band was well-received in Europe.
“Our last show was a festival in Austria and there were about 10,000 people there,” Campos said. “They love American music. They love live music in general. They have festivals almost every day. Our strong suit is our live act; it’s really up our alley.”
High South has a sound reminiscent of the late 60s/early 70s, the band members said.
“People tell us we sound like the Eagles, Crosby, Still, Nash & Young – we’re driven by vocals and harmony,” said the third band member, Phoenix Mendoza. “The undertone is peace, love and harmony.”
The music comes together through a lot of different muses, Mendoza explained.
“I think of the movements that happened in the late 60s and early 70s and how love was spread through music," said Mendoza. "That era for music was one of the most creative and for me it feels good to be able to make that sort of music; to reach people in that way. Our producer was around in Laurel Canyon at the time. He was right in the thick of it. And when we hooked up with him he started showing us some of the little secrets to music that aren’t practiced anymore.”
Mendoza is originally from Pasadena, California, not far from where Campos grew up. His family eventually moved to Arizona. Garner has lived in various cities across the country.
All have a place in Nashville.
Growing up, members of the band were influenced by a variety of music.
“My parents’ musical tastes reflected what I listened to,” Garner said. “I discovered the Allman Brothers when I was still young and sort of lean towards 70s kind of music. For me, this is why the band works so well.”
Mendoza and Campos agree.
“My mom had a pretty extensive collection of vinyl,” Mendoza said, “Neil Diamond, Jim Croce; everything from folk to country to rock.”
As for what influence’s the band with their own songs, Garner said they’re “just like every other band and write songs about relationships and that sort of thing.
“We try to have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on socially, culturally, and around the world,” he said. “We find ourselves writing songs that affect us about what’s going on in the world. We’re not preachers, we’re rock and roll guys, but we feel deeply about what’s going on.”
“The sounds that were coming out of that time, the late 60s and early 70s, and the music that came from that culture, is coming back,” he said. “Young people are aware of what’s going on and they want their voices heard. What’s happening now sort of echoes what was happening then.”
Though they have played to thousands at European music festivals, the band enjoys playing smaller stages as well.
“One of our favorite things to do is to unplug our guitars and walk to the edge of the stage and sing acapella,” Mendoza said. “As an artist there is nothing more moving or powerful than when you can get a room so quiet, and that’s when the ultimate connection has been achieved. That’s just magic.”
Garner feels the same way, he said.
“It’s nice to be on a big stage, it’s very gratifying, but the small rooms are where the intimacy lies and where people are really listening and intent on understanding what you’re trying to say. It allows you to tell more stories, and that’s a great thing as well.”
Campos hopes those who attend the show are “so full of love when they leave they have to give it away and spread it out.”
The band actually uses those words in the show, Garner said.
“When you leave you’re going to feel a lot better than when you came in,” he said. “It’s the power of music.”
High South will be performing at the River Club Music Hall, 78 Border St., at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $30 reserved. For more information visit theriverclubmusichall.com.
For more information on High South visit highsouthofficial.com or find them on Facebook.
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth.
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