Music can be a most powerful and moving force in our lives no matter the genre or style because it has a way of reaching out. Throughout our days, certain songs can play on the radio, in a movie, television commercial or simply someone humming a tune, and this force can bring back memories of moments both good and bad. No matter which way it affects us, no one can say music doesn’t move us to feel some particular way. It has the power to shape our memories and lives! For this reason The Southland Music Line was developed as a vehicle to provide and share these experiences with others.
“Southern Highways” (Photo by J. G. Cole)
The Southland Music Line: The Origin
Many hours of thought and discussion have gone into the development of The Southland Music Line and everything associated with it. Since 1988, there have been numerous attempts at putting together an outlet for music discussion. Throughout the years, my colleagues and I have developed several online sites and web communities that were established to explore a wide range of topics pertaining to music. Some of the sites have had great success and some have fallen by the way. Those who started several of these projects went on to find success in various other areas and occupations, two of the original developers moving on to deals with other sites, one of which writes for a highly established music magazine and website. The one remaining was left to search out what was next and to determine if this venture was worth it.
Jason Sanford of Rosco Bandana (Photo by Stephen Anderson)
That brings us to the summer of 2011, and one very hot summer night, I (being the one left from the original project) was with friends in search of a good band to see on the local music scene, someone good and original. As we drove down Government Street in the Gulf coastal city of Ocean Springs, MS we saw a sign at a venue known as Mezo’s Juke Joint that read: “Rosco Bandana Performing Tonight”.
Rosco Bandana Live at Mezo’s in 2013 (Photo by Stephen Anderson)
I told my friends I had heard that this band was good and had won a national contest that allowed them to perform in the UK. We decided to check the band out. Mezo’s is a unique, almost one of kind music venue, and on this given night the band was playing on an outdoor stage that had been set up behind an old Southern home under huge Live Oak trees. The stage itself was quite colorful (at that time I didn’t know it had been stylishly painted by artist and now good friend, Robby Amonett). There was something special about this band! To make a long story short, it was on this pivotal night, I realized it was time to return to the original idea and concept for a website that we had pondered years ago. I was inspired to set out again to develop a site even if I had to go solo with the project.
Stephen Anderson photographing at The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm (Photo by Chad Edwards)
I found out soon I didn’t need to be alone. In the upcoming months, I met many individuals that shared my love for music. I also received much encouragement from previous colleagues and, of course, friends and family. One such person I met is Stephen Anderson, aka “Andy,” who quickly became a good friend. He and I met at a “Rosco Bandana” show at Ben Kaufman’s Irish Coast Pub in Gulfport, MS. Andy is a gifted photographer and has an extended knowledge of music history. His countless tales of great concerts from as far back as the early 1970’s at The Warehouse at 1820 Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans or the hitchhiking adventure to the 1970 Atlanta International Pop Festival (which was attended by some estimates as high a 500,000 fans) are some of the best I’ve heard. Coincidentally, he was at The Warehouse in the beginning, and I was there years later when it closed.
“Robert Amonett” (Photography by Stephen Anderson)
Another such friend is Robby Amonett who is the true definition of “Artist”. I had frequently seen him as he painted numerous bands’ performances in real time, and we were eventually introduced by Jason Sanford of Rosco Bandana, who, by then, had become a friend. Since our first meeting, I’m glad to call Robby a friend as well. Robby, Andy and I have had some of the best discussions about music, and particularly the music deeply rooted from The South. Whether it is Rock, Country, The Blues, Blugrass, Americana or Jazz, we enjoy talking about it and relating our experiences and telling each other about something fresh, new and original that we just heard. These two guys, along with many others, is the reason The Southland Music Line was formed. (*see more about Stephen Anderson and Robby Amonett near the conclusion of this article.)
The Southland Music Line:
Behind Its Name & The Mission
For starters, the name chosen for the site had to based on our mission and what we are setting out to accomplish. The Southland Music Line is made up or inspired by a combination of things:
Music, Travel, Search, The South, People and Buses.
….Buses you may ask (?)
For many years now I have had an interest in concert touring buses and their endless road journeys across this great land. One of the essential characters in the Cameron Crowe film ‘Almost Famous” was the tour bus named “Doris” used by the fictional band Stillwater. The Southland Music Line’s love of the road provided the idea for naming the site after a bus line. This fictional bus line is on a Southern Pilgrimage in search of great bands or artists, music venues (old, new and some long gone with little remains.), Southern Music landmarks and then, of course, the phenomenal music from the South. The Southland Music Line is deeply determined to travel the back roads and highways of The South looking for that perfect sound, amazing musician and perfect stage large or small. Our intentions are to find something new and undiscovered, but at the same time we are also interested in retracing our travels to places worth rediscovering. In order to go forward, one has to know where he or she has been. We also embrace the many websites and magazines that promote the richly inspired music that comes from “The South” regardless of the genre – “Good is good, no matter what you are listening to or what band/artist you have gone to see perform.” These are the reasons we are on a Southern Pilgrimage.
The term “Pilgrimage” in this case means: “a long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or an act of devotion. Or a search made for exalted purposes, significance and sentimental reasons.”
We plan to relate various stories of the road and our quests in finding what we’ve set out to accomplish. We will revisit Athens, Ga (home to some of the greatest bands/artists and venues in Music history); Tupelo, MS (The Birthplace of Elvis); Nashville, TN (not only The Country Music Capital of the World, but also home to an amazing Rock music scene.); New Orleans, LA and its wealth of musical history; Austin, TX and its amazing music scene and the SXSW Festival held each year; as well as places like: Macon, GA; Gainesville, FL; Galveston, TX; Memphis, TN, Muscle Shoals, AL and more…..
“The Line” will visit venues such as the 40 Watt Club; Mercy Lounge; Eddies Attic; Tipitina’s, and others not as well known. Our travels will be many and hopefully, something we say will inspire you to visit some of these places and most definitely hear the music by the great bands and artists we discuss.
A Special thank you to Stephen “Andy” Anderson and Robby Amonett for all their help and contributions. It’s most appreciated. *Stephen Anderson’s incredible photography will be featured here. He has photographed many recording artists including Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash (on one of their final tours together), Billy Joel, Diana Ross, The Allman Brothers Band (with Duane Allman), Boz Scaggs, The Police (at a concert attended by both he and I- obviously long before we met each other) and also many up and coming artists such Rosco Bandana, The Wooden Wings and The Mulligan Brothers. Many of his photos are rare and can be considered “a real find”. He is truly a gifted photographer and his work is most appreciated. All photos used here will be credited to their photographers, including those by Stephen Anderson or others who may contribute in the future. *The artwork of Robby Amonett will also be featured and available for purchase. So often people come to the shows and would like to buy one of his paintings, but for some reason, miss the opportunity the night of the show. Well now they can get a second chance. (See both Anderson’s and Amonett’s bios in “About Us: The People page at this site.)
*In the upcoming months more writing contributors will be made known to all. The website is a group effort made by ones mentioned previously and some that will be made known to our readers in the near future. In conclusion, you never know when The Southland Music Line Tour Bus will be pulling into your town or ‘neck of the woods’. So be prepared and ready to climb aboard to join our continued journey throughout The Southland. ~ J.G.C. 12/11/2013
The Wooden Wings from New Orleans being painted by Robby Amonett. This photo was taken at the famous Julep Room in Ocean Springs, MS (Photo by J. Cole)
© The Southland Music Line. 2014. All rights reserved