Sitting in on The Porch Sessions

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Since last year, YouTube music project the Porch Sessions, based here in Hattiesburg, has grown and flourished, attracting thousands of views from all across the world.

The Porch Sessions was founded in September 2013 when Drew Young, artist-in-residence for the entertainment industry program at USM, and Paul West, one of Drew’s former students, decided to work together and form something that they could both be passionate about.

Young spoke on the need for positive publicity for the South and southern talent in the wake of television programs such as TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” or CMT’s program “Party Down South.”

“The idea came from a personal desire to represent the South as it really is,” Young said. “(There are) such great stories (and) talented people that are not getting the exposure they deserve. As a Southerner, that bothered me.”

With this vision in mind and a desire to do something new, Young and West invited artists they knew from around the area to come join them on Young’s front porch in order to hear their stories and listen to their songs.  “The Porch Sessions is a video conversation with talented people in an informal scenario,” Young said.

In the beginning, they had mostly Southern Miss students and alumni on the porch such as Gary Stanton, Josh Rosonet and Raven Jackson.

Connor Holland, senior entertainment industry major, serves as the audio engineer and works alongside “The Crew,” a film and video production student organization, in order to produce each episode of the sessions. Holland spoke well of his experiences with the show and explained how it has helped him in his growing career as a music industry professional.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It really is, and it’s a good opportunity for me while I am student here.  It is an opportunity for me to get experience recording on-site location from both a video and audio perspective.”

The Porch Sessions recently went international with Young traveling to Stockholm and Amsterdam to film episodes for Swedish, German, Australian, English and Canadian bands.

 West and Young recently traveled down to New Orleans for a special “Women of New Orleans” series featuring female artists such as Aurora Nealand, torch-style vocalist Sophie Lee and the Bulgarian gypsy-style band Mahala. They also paired with a record label run by a local Vietnamese woman.

Despite the serious amount of work going on, it is not all business over on Young’s porch. Holland related a story about the time that Jeremiah Stricklin of Oh! Jeremiah appeared on the show. As audio engineer, Holland had his headphones on while testing the sound from the standing microphones, which were very sensitive.  “Jeremiah just leans in and (jokingly) whispers (into the microphone), ‘I think you’re kind of pretty,’” Holland said, laughing. “Whenever we were on break, he’d lean down and whisper sweet nothings into my ear.”

Even with all the laughs had on set and all the beautiful music, the fans are responsible for putting smiles on the creators’ faces. 

“What really makes my day is when an artist or someone I don’t know comes up to me and tells me how much they appreciate what we are doing,” West said.

Interested viewers can find photos from each video shoot on the Porch Sessions Facebook page, where they will also be linked to their YouTube channel.