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Southern Hospitality - The South has long been known for hospitality and down home music. Recently the region has seen the emergence of a musical group of young musicians who are masters of their craft and embody the soul and spirit of Dixie. The Band creating all the buzz, called Southern Hospitality, is comprised of lap steel guitar master Damon Fowler, guitarist extraordinaire J.P. Soars, and keyboard wizard Victor Wainwright.
The three artists are musician’s musicians, each bringing a unique style and fresh translation of the great Southern soul, blues, and rock music that came before them. Together, their mutual chemistry, high energy and skill sets create a cohesive vision, with echoes of Muscle Shoals and Macon, that organically flows together into an entirely original and dynamic form of Americana, Southern soul roots music with a modern sensibility.
Damon Fowler is a master of the six string, slide guitar, lap steel and Dobro who’s been compared to Johnny Winter and Jeff Beck, while his slide guitar has a hint of the late Duane Allman. J.P. Soars and his band won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in 2009 and he won the Albert King award as the best guitarist in the competition. A singer/songwriter and guitarist best known for his distinctive gypsy-swing jazz playing with plenty of rock potency, he was nominated this year for a Blues Music Award as the best “Contemporary Blues Male Artist.”Memphis-based Victor Wainwright is known for his high-octane boogie piano, big soul sounds, powerhouse blues, and roots rock’n’ roll. Victor was nominated this year for the “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player” Blues Music Award.
The Band originated when Fowler, Soars and Wainwright, who were performing with their respective bands at a festival in Florida in July of 2011, decided on an impromptu jam together at a post festival party. After witnessing the performance, the South Florida Blues Society approached the trio about playing for the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Pre-Cruise Party.
Fowler had already been thinking about doing a project with other musicians and contacted his pal J.P. Soars. Like Fowler, Soars lives in Florida and traces his family roots back to Arkansas. “I thought it was great idea as soon as Damon called,” Soars said from his home in Boca Raton. “I had jammed with him a few times on stage and was totally excited because there was a natural chemistry that seems to happen whenever we play together.”
The two guitar-slingers with the singular singing voices immediately decided they wanted pianist-frontman Wainwright to round out their aggregation. Soars added, “I had played with Wainwright before, as well, and he has a lot of soul, and we just feed off each other.”
Dubbing themselves Southern Hospitality, the three musicians added bassist Chuck Riley from Fowler’s band and Soars’ drummer Chris Peet to the lineup and made their official debut opening for Buddy Guy in August 2011 at the Heritage Music Blues Fest in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Each frontman sang a couple tunes and the Band jammed them to a thunderous conclusion. Fowler said, “It was cool to have two guitars and piano, it really added to the overall texture.”By the time the performance ended the crowd exploded with cheers and applause.
“We were all ecstatic about the reaction,” Soars said. “I knew it would be good but not that good. The response was overwhelming. Walking around, people kept coming up and telling us how great it was. It felt good.” “It was a super magical experience and excellent response right from the first number,” Wainwright said. “That was something I’ve only experienced a few times after many years of playing. The reaction was amazing.”
BluesWax said of the show, “Southern Hospitality, which after a single gig has significant players in the blues world taking notice. Fowler, Wainwright and Soars share much love for the songs of the South. The hot jazz and funk of New Orleans, classic country, gospel, soul, and blues that became rock ’n’ roll in Memphis and went global by way of a trucker named Elvis.”
Since then the Band had performed at a handful of select dates and been rehearsing for the recording sessions. Fowler hopes to do something like the Traveling Wilburys, where each member brings his owns songs to the table, and then everybody works on them together.“We are representing the South,” he said of the project. “We wanted to put together a package of where we’re from that represents the music we grew up listening to and that we’re making our own today.”