Anna Bess Pavlakovich
With its thriving social culture, the University of Mississippi has seen many emerging bands within the past few years. One of the newest on the Oxford scene performing an array of songs is the band Seven South.
The band features the talents of Holly Springs native Stephen Elgin, 20; Memphis native Michael Reddoch, 20; Johny Hallow, 20, of Greenvile, North Carolina; and Collin Curtin, 21, of East Lancing, Michigan.
“We all drive South on Highway 7 to get to Oxford,” Elgin said. “That’s why we named the band Seven South.”
The group of fraternity brothers united through their general interest in music and desire to perform. Curtin plays the drums. Elgin plays bass. Hallow plays lead guitar, and Reddoch commands the rhythm guitar while singing lead vocals.
“We found this drum set in the basement of Sigma Chi,” Curtin said. “It was literally in a closet. I came downstairs one day, and someone was playing it. I played drums in middle school, so I just started bumping it.”
The set of drums led to the band’s formation. “We wouldn’t have a band if we didn’t find that drum set,” Elgin said.
Once this critical instrument was put to use, Elgin’s father gave him the very amp that his own band used in the 1980s and a bass guitar. Hallow was an experienced guitarist, and Reddoch had sung in an a cappella group in high school. The four combined their talents and instruments to form the band.
When the Sigma Chi Fraternity housemother offered a free room in the house, the band began using it as a practice area. Although their practices are noisy, the boys have felt nothing but support from those living in the house.
“A lot of guys will come in and listen,” Hallow said. “They’ll just sit there and watch us for a while, then walk out without ever saying a word.”
The band attempts to practice every day and makes it a goal to learn five new songs for each show they put on.
“It’s definitely a time commitment, but it’s hard to see it like that,” Elgin said. “If you have to study, that’s a time commitment, but when you’re studying, you’re psyched for band practice afterwards.”
The band spends this time choosing what songs they want to perform, learning those songs, then practicing them until they are performance ready.
“We cover everything,” Hallow said. “From pop to 1960s classic rock and everything in between. We also do a lot of songs from the 1990s and early 2000s.”
In addition to covers, the band has begun to dabble with songwriting. “We have played a couple of original songs on stage, but just some melodies, nothing with words,” Elgin said. “But there is definitely song writing potential.”
The brand new band is becoming busy with gigs, having performed three times already, with five more performances coming up. Band members say there is no better feeling than performing.
“It’s just fun,” Curtin said. “It’s good to do something that we love to do. We love to come down to the basement and jam when we can’t study anymore and want to cut loose. We practice a lot, so it’s good to get out there and perform.”
Yet, performing on stage in front of a crowd is definitely different than performing for the occasional bystander in the makeshift music room. To this group, it’s better.
“When you’re clicking as a band up on stage, there’s no better feeling,” Elgin said. “It can be nerve wracking, but after the first chorus, I’m good to go.”
The group uses their connections throughout the Ole Miss campus to inform their peers that they are willing to perform at events.
“Being in a fraternity totally helps because other bands have hooked us up,” Curtin said. “Ebenezer Goodman is an established band that our fraternity brothers perform in, and they’re like our mentor band. They hooked us up with our first gig at Rafters.”
The band also seeks advice from this group of more experienced musicians.
Additionally, their fraternity president is in charge of Coaching for Literacy, a philanthropic organization on campus, which cinched them yet another gig at the beginning of next month.
“I also know girls that are social chairs for their sororities,” Hallow said. “Some of them have reached out to me, and that helps a lot with booking gigs.”
The band played their biggest performance to date at a recent RebelTHON event.
“It was definitely my most favorite show,” Curtin said. “It helped having a professional setup. They had a professional entertainment company hook us up, so we sounded really good.”
The band agrees that this was the first performance during which they truly felt they were clicking as a unit.
The band is enjoying their experience so far, and they feel excited to perform at upcoming gigs.
“We are are a very fun band,” Hallow said. “We’re not the most talented band in the world, but people have a lot of fun listening to us.”
The group plays to the crowd, striving to play songs that the audience will know, enjoy, and hopefully sing along to.
“Come out and see us,” Curtin said. “We’re a pretty good time.”