Three bands brought the soul to Soul Fest

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The third installment of the Leaf River Fall festivals hosted by WUSM showcased Hattiesburg’s most soulful acts in Soul Fest, which included Brotha Josh and the Quickness, Icemen and the Stooges Brass Band of New Orleans.

Much like the previous festivals, Soul Fest started at 3 p.m. Loyal music lovers began to trickle into chain park for the first act. Brotha Josh and the Quickness took the stage with their new lead guitarist, Thomas Catlett.

Harrison Cunningham is a senior advertising major. Cunningham enjoyed the show but felt the venue was harder to find than it should have been.

“It is a nice thing to do—I just wish it was in a more central location,” Cunningham said, “It is kind of out of the way. I actually got lost getting [to Chain Park] because my GPS didn’t work.”

Cunningham appreciated the mellow atmosphere of the festival. He said it fit the mood of the day and was very relaxing.

The festival was held at Chain Park in Downtown Hattiesburg. Assistant professor of Entertainment Industry in the School of Communication Jonathan Pluskota, Ph.D., said they chose the park because of its wonderful acoustics.  

According to Southern Miss Now, Hattiesburg was one of 15 small-to-mid-sized towns to be awarded a grant from the Levitt Foundation in the summer of 2017. The Levitt Amp Hattiesburg series is what brought rise to the Leaf River Fall Festival series.

In 2018 Pluskota said he applied for a different grant, which they were not awarded, but the Levitt Foundation stepped in to offer a continuing development grant to keep music going in Chain Park.

Pluskota, with the help of a few colleagues, set up the festivals’ line-ups. “We wanted each week to be themed something different because it sends a message to people so they know what type of music out there.”

Each band was given 90 minutes to play on the stage with the show running until 9 p.m. The second band to perform, a six-piece band known as the Icemen, played a little over the time limit. On stage, lead vocalist and bassist Bill “Bass Picker” Harris told his bandmates they would play until they were kicked off stage.

Harris said though they played at the Levitt Amp Hattiesburg series last year, they are still more used to playing in a more cramped venue. The Icemen plays at Nick’s Ice House every Thursday.

“It’s strange for us to play the big stages. When we play at [Nick’s Ice House], it is a tight little spot.” Harris said “When you take seven or eight of us and squish us in a little stop, its great, and we can hear each other.”

J’Marcus Alfred, who works for at University Communication at Southern Miss, is an avid music goer in Hattiesburg. As a photographer, he goes to different shows and venues to photograph bands for fun. Alfred said he thinks it is cool that it’s a free event for the public because it gives people a chance to come out and together.

Alfred said he likes events like the Fall Festival because there are not interferences. “There isn’t any real hindrances for me. You can just show up and do what you want to do,” Alfred said, “Obviously, you can’t jump on stage, but no one is going to be like, ‘Hey you, stop taking pictures.’”

The next installment of the Leaf River Fall Festival is Future Fest that is centered around up-and-comers in the Hattiesburg music scene, according to Pluskota. Groove House, Floridamen, Midnight Revel and Paul Johnson and the About Last Nights will play at Future Fest Saturday, Oct. 13.