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Southern Sunday

BY JUDD MANUEL PHOTOS BY ERIC MARCUS

Southern Sunday has been playing in and around Panama City in one form or another for the last three years. The fact that this band has been able to consistently book gigs in many respectable venues in the area and build a fan base with no formal recordings, press kits or other PR should tell you that they know how to make an impression. Or rather, that they just ARE impressive.

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The group consists of four young Panama City natives with a passion for making country music. Vocalist Kyle Mitchell is simply everything you want him to be. He was a pitcher at Gulf Coast State College and then played for Auburn University in Montgomery. Lately he has been working hard for a contracting company rebuilding a mill in Alabama when he is not playing music. Kyle’s voice stands out. “This is not a hokey, put-on, I’m moving from a Detroit to a Nashville type of country voice. This is the real deal.” Kyle explained during our interview that it was somewhat of an undiscovered talent.

After moving back home from Alabama, Kyle decided he liked singing and met Pam and Stephen Elliott at Elliott Vocal Studios. Pam encouraged Kyle and introduced him to Alec Koutrous who was teaching guitar lessons at the time. They hit it off and began making music together. Alec was well-versed in the genre and has spent time in Nashville as a guitarist at Tootsies. After playing together for a year, they brought in lead guitarist TJ Dorman. Alec knew TJ previously from late night bonfire jams and decided he would be a good addition. TJ doesn’t come specifically from a country guitar background, but he is a mean lead guitar player. He studied for two years under one of everyone’s favorite local guitarists, the late, great Justin Ayers. TJ is always entertaining to watch, as he tends to improvise and work on the fly rather than write rigid riffs, so you never get the same show twice. Most recently, Scott Fryer of the band Barbed Wire Creek has joined Southern Sunday band and plays percussion.

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Southern Sunday during one of their recent gigs at g.Foley’s restaurant, from left: Kyle Mitchell, vocals; Alec Kotrous, acoustic rhythm guitar; TJ Dorman, electric guitar, plays lead. Scott Fryer (not pictured), lead drummer for Barbed Wire Creek, plays with the band almost every gig.

Southern Sunday is currently nearing completion of their first four-song EP which they are recording at Boogie Tracks Recording Studio with J.J. Cruz and Chaz Butler. You can expect to hear a moderately modern take on country music with plenty of genuine classic charm. I can’t wait to hear Mitchell’s voice in all its mastered stereo glory. The EP is tentatively scheduled to drop sometime in late September, but you can catch Southern Sunday live most weekends somewhere between Panama City and Apalachicola. Their sound accurately encompasses all those feelings that their name might stir in you. As I think about it, my family, big breakfasts, church services, lunch with cousins, and aunts and uncles at my
grandparents’ house in Bonifay come to mind. Then, hunting. My grandpa didn’t hunt on Sundays, but my Pa always did.

In general, these memories are a wealth of positive feelings. There is also the type of Southern Sunday referenced in the Johnny Cash classic, Sunday Morning Coming Down. This particular type of low is also quite common in the South. Cash referenced the Sunday morning experience rather than just any ole morning after.

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There’s a slow reverence about a Sunday. I can’t quite place it, but you can feel it in the South. It’s almost mythical, intangible and not often spoken of, yet I think most of us can relate. In addition, it’s one helluva name for a band.

These boys can make it, and I highly recommend catching them here in our hometown before they inevitably set out for the big time. You can find out how to catch them by checking their schedule on Facebook at facebook.com/ southernsunday850 or you can email them for bookings at southernsunday850@gmail.com.

Diane Mercado

Diane Mercado-Mouskourie grew up in Miami and moved to Panama City after high school. She earned an Associate in Science degree in commercial art at Gulf Coast State College and worked as a technical illustrator and graphic designer for 15 years. She later earned a Bachelor of Science in mass communication at the University of South Florida. She returned to Panama City in 2010 after spending the last 20 years of her journalism career writing and editing for mid-size daily newspapers in Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Diane occupies her time volunteering, freelancing, painting, gardening, and traveling.

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