We're just a bunch of little country kids that learned to play in our bathrooms ... - Jennifer Flint, Rosco Bandana
by Shanna Conway Dixon
Rosco Bandana's Southern Americana appeal branches from the down-to-earth background of its members and their authentic love of Southern roots music. The spirited band embraces traditional sounds with flavors of indie rock and gypsy styles freely. I spoke with Jennifer Flint, a vocalist for the seven-piece swamp rock band about the band's beginnings, her musical influences and the future of the band.
It was 2011 when a little known band from Gulfport, Mississippi, won Hard Rock's Battle of the Bands competition, which led to Rosco Bandana becoming the first band signed to the newborn Hard Rock label. Flint praised Hard Rock for their support. "It's been nothing but a blessing. They're completely amazing people to work with, they've done nothing but give .... they made us grow as a band and we could never be the band we are now without them." Flint went on to talk about her beginnings with the band.
Before Rosco Bandana found fame, she was enrolled in cosmetology school. "I was gonna do hair, and Barry was at the same school, so we were both cosmetologists," she says with a laugh. Barry Pribyl Jr. is the percussionist for the band, and he and Flint have been part of the band since its conception.
Flint met front man Jason Sanford back in 2007 while he worked fast food at a mall in Biloxi. Sanford later headed up an open mic night that furnished the core members of the eclectic Southern swamp folk band that would be Rosco Bandana.
"I was playing the keys and mandolin with him," Flint says. "It slowly came down to four people that [Jason] picked. He was like, 'by the way, we're a band now, we need a band name.' I didn't know that was what was happening. I thought we were playing to play, and all of the sudden he said we had a show booked. I was freaking out because I'd never been in a band or done anything like that. So it was very new to me and very exciting."
Now she exudes confidence and joy in performing. Flint's come a long way from sitting at family reunions in Grenada and listening to her family play blues on the porch.
The band has since added several members to round off its sound; today, the group consists of Sanford as lead singer and guitarist, Flint on vocals and percussion, Pribyl on percussion and vocals, Emily Sholes on vocals and keyboard, Josh Smith on bass, Jackson Weldon on mandolin and lap steel and Patrick Mooney on guitar and banjo.
From the pop sound of the title track "Time to Begin" to "Tender," imbued with an alternative country feel, the album will not bore the senses. There's a strong bluegrass and folk vibe throughout that ties Time to Begin together. Flint's influences include Joan Baez and Loretta Lynn, and her voice echoes those.
"There's a lot of energy on stage," she says. "It's fun for us, it's never work. We get up there and we're playing for the fans, but we're playing for ourselves, as well. I think that's why a lot of people get excited at our shows, because they see that we're actually enjoying what we're doing and having fun up there." Rosco Bandana does have plans for a second album, and "we've been playing some of the songs from the next album at our shows to give people a sneak peak," Flint adds, revealing that the next album will be much more upbeat.
As part of Rosco Bandana's summer leg of their tour, they'll be playing throughout the Southeast, hitting North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi. Check out their touring schedule for a full list of shows, and make time to see this high-energy, fun-loving alternative country band play some good Southern music.
- Charlotte, North Carolina June 22, Varsity Theatre
- Memphis, Tennessee June 28, Levitt Shell Memphis
- Monroe, Louisiana June 29, Live Oaks Bar and Ballroom
- Greensboro, North Carolina July 4, 2013, Fun Fourth Festival
- Lenoir City, Tennessee July 6, Rockin the Docks
- Biloxi, Mississippi July 12, Keesler Air Force Base
- Woodstock, Georgia July 13, Woodstock Summer Concert Series
Shanna Conway Dixon is a senior New Media and Communications major at Middle Georgia State College and plans to return home to Biloxi, Mississippi, after graduating. She currently serves as content editor for her college’s literary magazine, The Fall Line Review, and showcases the life and works of modern women poets from the Deep South on her blog Swamp Skirts. Read her own poem Lagniappe here.