Behind the Badge of Southern Soul
What do lawmen do when they aren’t pinned to a badge? In the case of Delta County Deputy Adam Hall and Investigator Ryan Brown it’s belting out some rock and roll tunes with guitar and drumsticks in hand.
The two formed a band with friends Jacob Mazoch and Salvador Castro. Together, they are Southern Soul with Hall playing guitar and lead vocals, Mazoch on lead guitar and backing vocals, Castro on bass and backing vocals, and Brown playing drums.
Mazoch is office manager at the family-owned Sunbelt Custom Mineral Company and Castro is a sales representative at McKay Music Company — both companies are in Sulphur Springs.
Within weeks of practicing together, the group entered and won the Hopkins County Fall Festival Battle of the Bands held at Muddy Jake’s Sports Grille and Pub Backyard last October. They filled North Davis Street with fans and impressed the judges.
“We were shocked,” Hall said. “We were really thankful for our friends and family that supported us. They made that show for us. As a whole package, we performed to the crowd.”
The “garage band” literally gets together to practice in a decked-out garage with a simple philosophy of “just having fun.” Watching the magic happen among old license plates and neon beer signs one cool East Texas evening, dust rolls in from the nearby county road. The band members slowly begin the process of setting up their instruments and the heckling commences as they joke over amusing text messages. Taking care of some duct-tape surgery on equipment and working out cord kinks, they finally get down to business.
Lead singer Hall straps on his guitar adjusting the law enforcement badge on the strap, hoping his microphone doesn’t deliver a shock. A loud pop and a few choice non-lyrics indicate all the kinks are not quite worked out. Some troubleshooting later, consulting Google, the guys solve the electrifying case.
“This is what we do. We yell at each other for three hours and maybe play one song,” joked Hall.
The group found their love for music individually at church, being in the school band, and some self-exploration long before they decided to see what they could do together.
“We had talked about playing together and one night we got a wild hair to come over and jam together and it really sunk in,” Hall remembers.
But it was the Battle of the Bands event that solidified their current journey.
“Battle of the Bands hit, and we have been running ever since,” said Hall, who enjoys the “no pressure” practices.
With the take off of their small-town fame, they are working on expanding their fan base. They’ve created a Facebook page and have Twitter followers at @SouthernSoulTx and are scheduling events and writing new songs. They’ve played gigs including The Drunken Mule in Commerce and are scheduled at Mardi Gras Seafood in Mount Pleasant March 20.
“I love the shows,” Mazoch and Castro said in unison.
“The fans are great. The fan base is already starting to form,” Brown said. “They are making their own band shirts and following us to shows and showing up at our practices. They have been extremely loyal in the small amount of time we have been together. It has been really nice.”
Looking on as he watches two of his officers follow their passions, Delta County Sheriff Ricky Smith is supportive.
“I think it is something they really enjoy, and I support it,” he said. “They are doing a great job, and I’m pleased with their work (both on and off the stage).”
Many of their fellow local law enforcement officers are found in the audiences during their shows.
Like many start-up Texas musicians, Southern Soul is discovering their style.
“It is all unchartered territory,” Hall said. “We come from a diverse musical background. We all listen to everything, but we are still just trying to find our sound. We are just trying to make good music.”
A couple of their cover tunes are Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and The Black Keys’ “Little Black Submarines” and much of their show leans towards Southern rock with some country and blues blended in.
The talented group naturally rolled in to songwriting and performs many of their own songs as well with titles like “All Wrong,” “Your Heart is Mine,” “In my Dreams,” “Tell Me,” and “Feeling Free.”
“I am actually enjoying most of our new songs we have been writing,” Brown said. “It is all original stuff and flows really well.”
Short-term goals for Southern Soul are trying to get a record produced. Long term is, of course, what every garage band dreams of — getting paid to do what they love.
“We are just trying to find our permanent groove. It is great having a good, solid group of guys that are supportive and push you to do better,” Hall said. “We just slid in and fit.”
Cindy Roller is a freelance writer and the editor of the Cooper Review.