MIDDLEBURG – A victory at the North Central Florida Blues Society competition elevated the status of the six people who make up Southern Junction and earned them a spot at the International Blues …
MIDDLEBURG – A victory at the North Central Florida Blues Society competition elevated the status of the six people who make up Southern Junction and earned them a spot at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, in January.
The win means the band will spend weeks working on their setlist.
“I think we were working on a couple of new songs right now, and I’m hoping that we can get at least one of those out before we get to Memphis,” said singer Mike Hale. “We’ve got some stuff that we haven’t played in these challenges yet, so we’re going to bring that with us.”
All six members – singer Mike Hale, bassist Gerry Goyette, drummer Steve Gard, keyboardist Debbie Stokes, guitarist Pops Stokes and harmonicist Dave Hockman – are from Middleburg. They played three original and two cover songs in Gainesville last week to win the regional competition. And they have plenty of new material they can work into their routine before hitting Beale Street from Jan. 16-20.
“Wow, you’ve got to be excited about that,” said drummer Steve Gard. “We aren’t sure what we’re going to do for Memphis. We have several originals we didn’t play (in Gainesville). We have covers we didn’t play. We’re going to try to work it down to our four or five best songs.”
Whatever they pick, Hale said it would be “tight.”
“I think I think the secret is just being a very tight, tight, well-rounded band,” he said. “I mean, from the guitar to the keys. I mean, from the bass player to the harmonica – the harmonica adds dynamics to the band. So, I mean, a very tight band is what I think is the best thing about being a great blues band.”
Blues music started in the Deep South in the Mississippi Delta about 160 years ago. It originated in the working fields and features distinctive melancholic subjects and sounds. Blues influences can be found in jazz, rhythm, and rock and roll music.
Three of Southern Junction’s originals that earned them a spot in Memphis were “Makin Shine,” “Hard to Believe” and “Cajun Queen.” Hale said the band was comfortable with its setlist for Gainesville, but they weren’t sure how they’d stack up against the competition.
“We knew we knew we had a chance, but I mean, there was definitely some good competition there,” he said. “We didn’t go in there with a heavy head. You know what I mean? We kind of felt like we could win. We were runner-up two years ago. I had a little bit of new material, and we came out with the win.”