Live music has been an integral part of Hattiesburg’s history from the first traces of rock ‘n roll in the 30s to the perhaps unlikely thriving underground punk scene of Hattiesburg today.
If you ask local musicians who are active in this scene, they’ll say live music is the lifeblood of this community.
Hampton Martin is the bassist for Judy and the Jerks and a member of other bands. For him, attending a live show is an entirely different experience than listening to a recording.
“I like music that you can tell a human is playing. The mess ups, the unnecessary flourish, the non-perfect human nature of it all. A lot of that is lost in recorded music,” Martin said. “Too much polish. Too much tinkering on the back end to get that perfect snare tone that in the end hardly resembles what it actually sounds like in real life.”
Nicky Violet, member of local band Nicky Violet and the Night Terrors and manager of Devastantem, said live music is an involved experience.
“The most important aspect of a live show is the energy,” Violet said. “If the audience and the artist isn’t present with an energy to want to be there, the show just won’t be good.”
The local musicians maintained that it is essential to see a band play live to appreciate the technical skill and precision that goes into a performance.
“I just love being able to see the skill behind someone playing their instrument or the physical passion they’re putting into it,” Martin said. “You ever watch a band and the bass player is playing a super slick riff and starts making funny faces, either because it’s so sick they’re grooving to it or it’s so hard they got to strain for it? The bass face. I love it.”
David Fink, guitarist for local band Fumes, agrees.
“Live shows have energy and theatrics and people around to share the experience with,” Fink said. “Watching musicians perform is like watching any other sport or dance or anything that requires pretty diligent practice.”
Martin said live music is a great way to connect with people.
“I have literally met people all around the world through live music,” Martin said. “Japan, Brazil, Spain, everywhere in between. Booking touring bands and being in a touring band I’ve met some of my dearest and closest friends through live music. On a local sense, I’ve met a ton of incredible people in town simply because we both were at a show seeing a band play.”
From the practices to performing and the connections and memories made in between, live music has changed the lives of these local musicians for the better.
“It’s become a hobby, a pastime, an occasional bad-paying part time job. It encompasses my life. I would 100% be a different person if live music wasn’t a part of my life,” Martin said.
This article has been updated to correct how Nicky Violet was identified. The first version of the article said he was a member of Devastantem. He is the manager of Devastantem.