Southern Avenue set to make their mark in Middlesboro

Published 3:18 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Southern Avenue has performed in over a dozen countries, making their mark at festivals like Bonnaroo, Firefly, Lockn’ and Electric Forest, but this Thursday they will be playing right here in Middlesboro for the Levitt AMP Music Series.

“We tour all over the country and the world from Romania, Norway, to Spain, Australia, Canada and even in America,” guitarist and one of the bands founders Ori Naftaly explained. “We really tour all over the place and weirdly, we don’t play Tennessee, Kentucky and even Mississippi. We rarely get to play here.”

Naftaly said that what they look forward to most about performing Thursday night is building their fan base and making friendships in the area.

Email newsletter signup

“We drive through there and actually drove through there last night,” he said. “It’s really important to make fans and build those friendships and spread our message to what we consider close to home. It’s something that we really care about.”

The message that they bring with them to the stage can be heard through their music and its positivity and encouragement.

“We try to inspire people with our songs,” he continued. “We don’t write about the sun or the moon or the ocean. We write songs like don’t give up, and keep on, and we’re going to make it. We are really trying to make people feel good and relate to one another.”

He said their music is about uplifting people’s spirits as much as they can.

“That’s the mission that we set for ourselves with our songwriting, and there’s nothing better to do than perform them and get it to the highest level,” Naftaly said. “It’s really an honor for us to be a part of the lineup (for Levitt AMP) and the history and tradition. Playing small towns, we always have more fun than when we play the big cities.”

Naftaly explained that the communities are more receptive and the people are thirsty for music.

“It allows us to really connect with people and that’s another thing that our best shows. Of course, some of them were in big cities and settings but even the biggest festivals are in the smallest towns and people come from all over the place. That sense of community is something that we all really like,” he said.

Their name pays homage to the group’s Memphis roots and pulls musical influences from funk, soul and rock and roll, but they firmly remain grounded in their blues foundation and southern traditions.

Tierinni and Tikyra Jackson, their lead vocalist and drummer respectively, got their start in music by performing in local churches, which primed them to stand out in the Memphis soul scene. They are rounded out by Naftaly’s guitar skills, bassist Daniel McKee, and keyboardist Jeremy Powell. Together, they create a sound that layers a throwback style of music with a fresh, contemporary feel.

Southern Avenue will take the Levitt Stage this Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.

Opening for Southern Avenue is Mighty Blue at 6:30 p.m.

According to the band’s website, after a memorable win at 2017’s Regional International Blues Challenge in East Tennessee, Mighty Blue is poised to put on an unforgettable show at Levitt AMP Middlesboro. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based group gets crowds on their feet with their funky and soulful take on the blues.

Food vendors will be set up to serve food on the blocked off area of Cumberland Avenue beginning at 6 p.m.

New this year, a local artist, such as sketch, photography, painter, etc., will be featured each week with their works of art being displayed. This Thursday, Southeast Artist in Residence Jamie Corum will have her art on display.