Take three respected blue players, add one Florida festival to bring them together, and mix in an impromptu, post-festival jam session that happens to have the right people in the crowd.
For blues guitarists Damon Fowler and JP Soars and piano player Victor Wainwright, it was a recipe that worked better than they ever could have imagined. The three friends, who had already performed with their respective bands at a Florida festival in July 2011, decided on a whim to hit the stage together afterward at a local bar.
It was the first time the three men shared the same stage - and the musical chemistry was evident immediately.
"Everything was falling right into place," Soars says in an interview from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. "There was nobody stepping on anybody's toes. Every little part was there. It felt very natural and unforced. Very organic."
Fowler, too, realized how well they worked on stage.
"I was like, 'Man, I think we stumbled on something,'" Fowler says, speaking from his Bradenton Beach, Fla. home.
Others in the audience noticed as well. By the time the three were finishing their impromptu performance, the South Florida Blues Society approached the trio, asking them to play for the Rhythm & Blues Prep-Cruise Party.
"It was called the 'Southern Hospitality Tour,'" Fowler recalls. "And from there, basically, gigs just started coming in."
The "Southern Hospitality" name stuck to the newly formed band. Soon, they were hitting the road.
"We didn't have a website, and we were getting gigs opening for Buddy Guy," says Fowler. "Victor (Wainright) and I have a lot of the same musical tastes. JP and I, we've been good friends for years. Just personally, we clicked. It just grew from there, it happened really naturally."
Southern Hospitality will come to New Jersey for the first time when they perform a free beach concert in Somers Point on Friday, Aug. 9. The performance, presented by Tony Mart Presents, is part of the Somers Point Beach Concert series, a series of free, weekly shows which kicked off June 14 and run through Sept. 6.
Southern Hospitality first released their debut album, "Easy Livin'," on Blind Pig Records in March. The album is a collaboration, featuring several original songs by each band member – each track giving a unique Southern flavor.
"Oh man, (recording) it was crazy," Fowler says. "We did it over the week of Thanksgiving. We all had Thanksgiving dinner together. We recorded it down at Tab Benoit's studio. We went down - I know it sounds kind of clich� - but we went down to the bayou and made a record. Tab is a fun guy to work with, so there were a lot of laughs. We had a blast."
The experimentation will be on full display at the Somers Point show, Soars says.
"Expect a little taste of Southern hospitality," Soars says. "We're going to play some blues, we're going to play roots music and they can expect a well-rounded show… and some surprises too."
Outside of Southern Hospitality, the bandmates are plenty busy. Fowler is recording with his band, The Damon Fowler Group, Soars is recording with JP Soars and the Red Hots, and Wainwright, who also performs with Victor Wainwright and the WildRoots, is preparing for the release of his band's latest album.
"It keeps the juices flowing, and it keeps it fresh," Fowler says of the group's individual projects. "You're not on the road with any one group of guys for too long. We actually genuinely like each other."
The double duty can mean a lot of time on the road touring. But for Soars, it's all worth it.
"When the fish are biting," Soars says. "You got to go fishing."
Somers Point Beach Concerts schedule
Friday, Aug. 16 – Preston Shannon & His Band
Friday, Aug. 23 – Bryan Lee & The Blues Power Band
Friday, Aug. 30 – Dr. Bobby Fingers Band with Danny Eyer
Friday, Sept. 6 – The Eddie Morgan Jazz Ensembke with special guest Jackie Greggs
All shows are free and begin at 7 p.m.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9
WHERE: William Morrow Beach/Municipal Beach Park, located Between Higbee and New Jersey avenues on Bay in Somers Point.
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: Go to SomersPointBeachConcerts.com or