Southern Avenue brought their trademarked blend of Memphis rock soul and funk to the 11th edition of the Purple Hatters Ball for a stellar set that had the Spirit Of Suwannee Music Park shimmying and swaying to their heartfelt sound. The band mixed originals new and old with a pair of impressive classic covers from The Beatles and Bill Withers for a jamming concoction that surely won them hundreds of new fans while delighting their faithful. Though some onlookers wondered how Southern Avenue was able to brave the heat and give such a stellar performance, a simple glance at their history will show that they are a band that isn’t going to let anything stop them from achieving their musical destiny.

Founded by guitarist Ori Naftaly who emigrated from Israel in 2013 to follow his lifelong dream of becoming a bluesman, the band is a rollicking mix of sounds and cultures. Sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson grew up playing in the churches and their sweet sounds reflect that upbringing. Vocalist Tierinii works the crowd like a preacher trying to save the sinners while Tikyra brings a snappy heart to the drum kit that keeps the beat alive and well. Keyboardist Jeremy Powell manages to find the perfect balance between the spiritual and rock sound while never overpowering the overall groove. Bassist Gage Markey helps keep the pocket alive so that Naftaly can unleash the seemingly infinite amount of killer blues licks he has pent up in his heart of heart. The love these five players share for the music and each other is palpable, and was perfectly fitting for the Purple Hatters Ball. Even having all their instruments stolen just a few weeks ago hasn’t slowed Southern Avenue down, perfectly illustrating their drive to share the sounds that clearly permeate their hearts and souls.

The festival was founded to keep the memory of a fallen friend to the Florida music scene, Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, alive and well. Though the story of her death is a true tragedy, the way the community has rallied behind the efforts to ensure her fate never befalls another is one of the more moving stories in the festival world. Check out these exclusive clips from yesterday’s set, including a trio of original and smoking hot covers, brought to you by our own Rex-A-Vision. Oh, and don’t miss these fine folks if they come your way on tour…you won’t regret it!

Southern Avenue – “Don’t Give Up” – 6/1/18

Southern Avenue – “Come Together” – 6/1/18

Southern Avenue – “Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love-Rock Steady” – 6/1/18

Southern Avenue – “Use Me” – 6/1/18