On April 21, High Mountain Prospect played its first live show at the Cavender Creek Vineyard in Dahlonega and gained attention from the University of North Georgia as a home-grown folk band made up of several UNG students.
The nine band members, all musicians and full-time students, are close friends who not only attend UNG together, but also go to the same church. Two of the band members are soon to be married and some of them live together as roommates.
The band plays mostly folk music, but has slowly started slipping into the funk genre. They try to meet up once a week to practice and write new songs.
By nature, the band members describes themselves as unique and definitely unorthodox.
“It doesn’t matter how many shows we put on, we’re really just a jam band,” said Sawyer Soucie, vocalist and guitarist. “Before our show at the vineyard, instead of making sure that we were perfecting our music, we wrote a new song. We try to stay serious, but not too serious.”
HMP was founded on the notion that it would only play original songs. Most of the band’s songs are written by Soucie and Aidan Lyerly, although some were written by the entire band.
“We made a pact to do no covers,” Soucie said.
“People would tell us, ‘Oh, if you want to get big, do covers because that’s what gets popular!’ and with us being stuck-up, stubborn artists, we were like, ‘we’re not going to do any covers,” said Lyerly, who plays banjo.
The only concerning factor as a brand new band playing only original, unrecorded songs is the audience’s reaction to the show as a whole because of people’s unfamiliarity with the music.
“People that come to our shows are like, ‘cool music … Don’t know a single one of ‘em!’” Soucie said.
According to Soucie, the band had a preflight garage concert to practice and prepare its setlist where about 40 people showed up. On April 16, HMP signed up to compete in the Battle of the Bands hosted by MadLife in Woodstock, Georgia.
The competition took place on April 18. HMP placed third out of eight bands and have been invited back to continue the competition on May 16. According to Soucie, the band members were surprised to have won third place because of the hard-rock nature of the concert.
“We didn’t fit in at all,” Lyerly said. “We were the youngest!”
“Half of the judging is based on what the judges say, and the other half is based on crowd noise,” said Soucie.
After that, HMP debuted at its first real concert on April 21 at Cavender Creek Vineyards in Dahlonega.
“We expected only our grandmothers to show up,” said Soucie. “Maybe two or three aunts.”
To the band’s surprise, about 200 people, both familiar and unfamiliar, came to the concert to support the band. The members decided to charge a small admission fee for this performance so that they could earn money to finance whatever the band may need extra money for.
The band was formed in October of 2017 and has since become determined to produce and release songs to the public.
“In December, when we first started getting serious about the band, we sat down with every individual band member and asked them what their goals were,” Lyerly said.
In the end, they decided that their main goals were to put on a show for friends and family and then work on getting their songs out on streaming services like iTunes and Spotify.
Now that the band has put on several shows, it has started recording its songs.
“We’re doing everything in-house currently,” Lyerly said.
Despite their desire and determination to reach their goal, they have encountered frustrating setbacks.
“We figured out soon enough that having a mic and recording individual instruments and parts in places like closets and rooms is miserable, so that’s one of the main reasons why we decided to charge money at this last show,” Soucie said. “We wanted to earn money to pay for a studio so that we could record everything more easily.”
The band is planning to have another concert in August or September, and encourage all UNG students to come out to its next live shows to support them.