High South is a southern stoner trio featuring layered vocal harmonies, rustic guitar melodies and plenty of friendly stoner vibes. They win live crowds over with a rich acoustic sound and creative melodies played on guitars and harmonicas. The High South trio all come from different backgrounds and their story together has only just begun. They have become popular in far away countries like Germany and the Swiss Alps where they tour festivals and dance halls regularly. You can catch the guys on tour all over the midwest supporting Mary’s Meals USA, a wonderful organization that raises money to feed kids all over the world.
High South is Kevin Campos, Jamey Garner and Phoenix Mendoza. Their original song “Joshua Tree” mixes emotional vocal melodies with beautiful storytelling “If I’m gonna live this dream, I gotta leave Joshua Tree… somehow.” Their cover songs always have some instrument additions. “One Night At a Time” is a beautiful country ballad written originally by George Strait and Jamey Garner adds a beautiful harmonica layer over the vocals and guitars. European festivals love the energy from the American Country music. High South plays tons of classics and many of their own titles in some of the most beautiful cities around the world. They are also one of the first Nashville acts to embrace the cannabis community worldwide. We caught up with founding members Jamey Garner, Kevin Campos and Phoenix Mendoza to talk about how the band formed and what it’s like to help break the cannabis stigma in the conservative country scene.
Geiselwind, Germany. Makin’ good use of that green lighting for our tune ‘420 on 62’
When did the band form?
Jamey: Kevin and I joined forces with our compadre Phoenix in 2015, after inviting him to meet us in Dallas. We all wanted to see how we got on as songwriters and if we had a good vocal blend. Also to see if the “hang” was as good as we had hoped. The hang turned out to be epic! We had tons of laughs, wrote three new songs together and made big plans for our future…. and we smoked a whole bunch of green to sort of bless the whole thing. Now here we are 4 years later, still writing songs, hangin out, harmonizin and smokin a bit of the ganja.
What is the hardest part of touring in foreign countries?
Jamey: The hardest part for me is being away from my wife, Geralyn and our two yorkies, Boo and Lulu. Ideally, they would all be on the road with me. But that’s a lot to deal with, for everyone. Not in the cards just yet. Occasionally too, we run out of the devil’s cabbage, and that is always a bummer. But we’re having more and more luck with that in Europe these days. Amsterdam, anyone??
What has been the most memorable country to visit?
Jamey: Austria holds a special place in my heart. We’ve spent so much time there and we have so many special friends that we’ve met over the years. We half-jokingly call Austria our second home. But, it really has become that for us. Our Manager lives near Innsbruck, in the heart of the Alps. Breathtaking views in every direction.
In a farm on a hill overlooking a valley at sunset in Switzerland.
Who spends the most time on hair in the band?
Jamey: I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but I suppose I would wager that Phoenix and I probably spend the most time on our hair. If I could just cut back on hair products, I could take a smaller suitcase out on the road! Kidding. Not kidding.
What is the best thing about Nashville Tennessee?
Jamey: The best thing about Nashville is also the worst thing. It’s fantastic to be surrounded constantly by ultra-creative people, writing songs, recording amazing records, making all kinds of art! It’s also annoying at times to be surrounded constantly by ultra-creative people, writing songs, recording amazing records, making all kinds of art! Occasionally, it’s nice to be around people who aren’t consumed by the exact same things that I’m consumed with. I guess we all need a little diversity in our lives.
Where must I eat and visit if I have one day in Nashville, Tennessee?
Jamey: Apparently, THE ONLY place to eat in Nashville is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken joint down the street from me. There is a 50 person line out the door and down the street every single day. I still haven’t eaten there because I refuse to wait in the line!
If you only have time for one stop in Nashville, see a show at the Ryman Auditorium. It’s a spiritual place and commonly referred to as the Mother Church. If you have a chance to hear music reverberate through this historic room, go!
Closing out the tour in Winterbach, Germany. Opening for Roger Hodgson
Who smokes the most cannabis in the band?
Jamey: Hmmmm… I’m gonna say, Kevin. I’m probably a close second. But Phoen-doggy is right there too! So, really it’s anybody’s guess depending on the day and who’s holdin. Haha.
Do you guys prefer edibles, vapes, dabs or flower?
Kevin: As we say on stage sometimes, “All forms of ‘green’ currency accepted. Although, as a band, we feel nothing beats a well-rolled joint being passed among friends. And we’ve made some great friends in different parts of the country that make sure to have edibles when we come to town. They’re perfect for long drives. We do A LOT of driving.
Where can people find your music and what song do you recommend to start with?
Kevin: You can buy CDs from our website! www.HighSouthOfficial.com. And you can find us on all the major streaming platforms. Spotify, Apple Music, ITunes, Tidal, Amazon, etc. I’d say play the EP from the top. Make It Better is a real dope intro to High South. Harmonies throughout, timely and positive lyrics, very throwback 70s vibe.
Tell us about your High Tuesday Smoke Break on Facebook?
Kevin: The Tuesday Night Smoke is a weekly, LIVE broadcast on Facebook we started to keep in touch with our fans. We play some music, make announcements, talk about tour dates, etc. It’s been really well received. We’re looking to up the production value now, and include guests not only from the music world but also comedians, writers, chefs, cannabis advocates, the list goes on…
Where was the most memorable High South show so far?
Kevin: Last August, we played a music festival in Grundlsee, Austria called De Seer Festival after this legendary Austrian band, Seer. The setting alone was breathtaking, overlooking an alpine lake with the literal Alps in the distance. But the crowd was what made it special to me, the largest we’ve played so far, around 10,000 people all holding up ‘peace’ signs and singing our songs. Hard to top that. Then there was that time we played in Bowling Green, Kentucky to about 7 people. Or the time in Key West when the venue didn’t have a PA and our 5 piece band played through ONE speaker. Ha! Lots of highs and lows.
When can we expect an album release? How many projects have you already completed?
Kevin: We just got done recording a whole batch of new songs that we’re stoked about. Co-produced by Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Stan Lynch. It was such a dope experience working with him and our producer, co-writer Josh Leo in the studio. With them and a dream team of studio musicians, I think we captured our most real and raw sounding record to date. Aiming at putting out a full length album later this year.
What’s the biggest change the band has been through this year so far?
Kevin: I’d say the size of our team. For so long, we were wearing ALL the hats it takes to keep our band on the road. From booking to promoting to designing merch to filing for taxes. We have a tour manager now. A guy keeping an eye on our finances as a band. It’s a good problem when you have to let someone else take care of business ‘cause the band’s so in demand. Leaves more time in the day to smoke a fatty.
What is High South doing to change the stigma behind cannabis consumption?
Phoenix: Consuming it… and then being compassionate, considerate humans… who smile a lot.
Concert poster in Austria
How does cannabis help you as medicine?
Phoenix: Being an artist of any kind requires digging through emotions that are buried deep within your mind and soul. Sometimes when you do that; brilliance can come out… but sometimes you can stir up the exact opposite as well as some other things you didn’t know were there. Things like anxiety and depression. (Common traits in creatives) In my personal experiences, Cannabis has helped me navigate the corners of my mind more carefully. Allowing me to access positive creativity without disturbing its negative counterpart.
What is one thing the world should know about High South?
Phoenix: We’re trying to help.
What other artist should we all be listening to right now?
Phoenix: The sheepdogs
What artists influenced your sound collectively?
Phoenix: The Band, Flying Burrito Bros, Brewer and Shipley, Eagles, CSNY, doobie bros… you know, the good kind of retro that never gets old.
Thank you so kindly to Phoenix, Kevin and Jamey for taking time out of their busy tour schedule to meet with us for this interview. We can’t wait to hear more harmonies live and smoke some fatties with you. Find out more at www.HighSouthOfficial.com.