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Senatobia musician says Oxford’s music scene one of best in Mississippi

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Dylan Ballard. Photo by Charles Sleeper

Charles Sleeper
HottyToddy.com
cpsleepe@go.olemiss.edu

Senatobia native Dylan Ballard, 22, was inspired to become a musician by his parents. His father was a guitarist, and his mother was an orchestra cellist. As a result, Ballard played cello throughout elementary school.

In third grade, he moved from Senatobia to Oxford and attended Oxford public schools, graduating in 2012. Growing up, he played PlayStation, Nintendo and guitar and fondly recalls those days when he was free of responsibility.

“My favorite childhood memory is most definitely not being forced to pay all these stinking bills,” he said. “It can be hard to pay the bills with only music around here, if not outright impossible.”

Today, Ballard’s musical talents are varied, but he focuses on playing guitar. He also plays bass guitar and sings, working on his craft every day to create unique and impressive tunes.

Ballard said he spends at least three hours a day working on his music. “I really enjoy the challenge of trying to learn a new song each day,” he said. “Usually, I spend most of my time experimenting and recording the best of what I come up with.

“I basically get all my material from just letting music flow freely in a stream of experimental melodies and alterations on old tricks. It is why I get out of bed each morning and am excited for the day.”

Close friend and roommate Austin Miller said Ballard has musical tenacity and perseverance.

“I hear him working on new stuff every day,” Miller said. “Sometimes, I just have to ask him to take a break so I can actually hear the TV.”

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Ballard’s music instruments and equipment. Photo by Charles Sleeper

Ballard plays a variety of musical styles. He harbors some resentment about spending his entire life in Mississippi, but he is grateful for the state’s blues music influence.

“Some of my favorites right now – they tend to evolve over time – are psychedelic, progressive rock, math rock and jazz,” he said. “Also, I’ve had kind of weird bands that had trouble fitting into genres.”

Ballard is not in band now, but he was once a member of the bands, Galaxy Ducks and The Phlegmatic.

“Neither caught on around here,” he said, “but both were a blast to do, so they were totally worth the time and effort.”

Ballard believes the music industry at large is a necessary evil.

“It sucks,” he said. “It is propagated by bull$#!+. It’s run by money and not music interest or exploration. It’s the only way for musicians to make music with no material limitations in our society, which I find to be a sad comment on our culture as it’s expressed today.”

While Ballard believes Georgia has a great music scene, he thinks Mississippi music tends to be “more narrow-minded.” He said one issue is geography. Bands and venues in Mississippi are nearly always spread apart geographically.

“That aside,” he said, “Oxford has one of the best scenes to be found in Mississippi. However, it is meager in size and variation. People around here tend to vote with their wallets for cover bands, or other things I wouldn’t do because they have been done a million times.”

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