These days, people are yearning for the end of 2020 while trying to re-establish what was considered “normal” in 2019. One break of normalcy on the local level is the return of the Greater Gulf State Fair (Oct. 30 – Nov. 14) to The Grounds (1035 Cody Road North, Mobile). Of course, “The Fair” will be taking all the necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including a two-week residency. However, this beloved annual event will maintain its formula for fun with plenty of thrill rides, carnival foods and daily entertainment.
Carnivals and fairs are known for bringing rare, thrilling experiences to the masses. The Greater Gulf State Fair will be giving its patrons a rare dose of open-air, live music in the closest environment to a festival that can be allowed. Each weekend, the SunSouth Stage will come alive with a lineup of regional favorites.
On Thursday, Nov. 5, Symone French & the Trouille Troupe will take the stage at 6 p.m. The Azalea City has watched as French has evolved. French’s elegant soul vocals first turned heads while performing as the lead vocalist of Infant Richard & the Delta Stones. Afterward, she embarked on a series of solo performances. Now, French has gathered the Trouille Troupe, which features Christian Heiden (bass), Justin Skinner (drums), Frankie Crawford (lead guitar) and Trey Norman (rhythm guitar). With its rock ’n’ soul originals, crowd favorites and a passionate live show, French’s new musical concoction has become one of the city’s hottest groups.
Yeah, Probably will entertain the crowd on Friday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. The Nappie Award-winning band has used a fresh delivery of indie R&B and soul to establish a regional following. As with many groups, Yeah, Probably has been re-establishing a regular schedule of shows in the post-lockdown music scene. However, the behind-the-scenes challenges have not tarnished this band’s bright, seductive grooves. Before lockdown, Yeah, Probably had been laying down tracks at Dauphin Street Sound. The band’s set on the SunSouth Stage might be a good opportunity to hear this new material.
On Saturday, Nov. 7, the SunSouth Stage will feature a regional favorite. The Red Clay Strays will give a hometown performance at 6 p.m. The Strays’ indie country sounds make a big impression from the first lick, which is seen in a fanbase that reaches beyond Mobile. With lockdown being eased in regions across the nation, the band has been getting back on the road to continue the spread of their dirt road country rock to a variety of locales. Local fans should continue to take advantage of these local shows before the road reclaims them.
La’Key The SoulChild will debut on the SunSouth Stage on Friday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. This Mobile native established a childhood passion for music. Over the years, she has embraced a number of instruments ranging from piano to clarinet. Now, La’Key is showcasing music from her debut EP, “How It Feel.” “How It Feel” is four tracks of new-school soul goodness featuring La’Key’s translation of life into music. Lyrical and vocal prowess take the forefront through this EP. La’Key’s live performance at The Grounds should be a great introduction to this artist’s musical reality.
Singer-songwriter Laurie Anne Armour will complete this event’s featured musical entertainment on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. Earlier this year, Armour was among the many brave artists who decided to release an album during lockdown. Since the reopening of some stages in the area, Armour has busied herself performing tracks from “Led by the Light” both as a solo artist and her acoustic troop, The Speaking Sparrows. The Greater Gulf State Fair will not deny the sparkling persona that flows through Armour’s music and lyrics. Fans of folk and country who are unfamiliar with Armour’s original material will want to spend the evening sampling her sounds.
Once again, the Greater Gulf State Fair is offering a mode of escapism during a time when people are looking for a positive distraction. Even though this event will not be featuring any nationally touring acts, the Azalea City is filled with an abundance of musical talent that will more than add to the colorful world of the Greater Gulf State Fair. This will also be a chance to support a variety of local artists who want nothing more than to feel the love a live audience brings to a performance. Tickets can be purchased at the event’s official website (greatergulfstatefair.com) and at the gate.
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