Local musicians in The Southern Express Band, will make their debut in Nashville’s famous Hard Rock Cafe on Friday, Nov. 22.
Including Nashville’s restaurant, there are 163 Hard Rock Cafes, Hotels and Casinos in 52 countries around the world. The first restaurant began as an American diner in London in the 70s. Famed guitarist Eric Clapton, a regular at the diner, donated a guitar for display on the wall, and soon other famous musicians followed suit, donating not only guitars, but a multitude of other items, including instruments, sound equipment, handwritten lyrics, vehicles, clothing and assorted rock memorabilia.
Founded in 1997, the Southern Express repertoire includes Southern Rock, as well as both older and newer country songs.
“… Places we have played are Tha Holler, Pat and Bobby’s, Tammy’s Outback, Knight Moves, The Castaway, VFWs — we also got invited, (and went) to the Upper Cumberland Music Festival in Cookeville,” said Mark McNeal.
“We also play a lot of benefits, weddings, private parties and just about anything else you can think of where people wanna hear live music,” added Mark. “We also play at the Lincoln County Fair in the The Cowboy Cafe each year to help support literacy.”
Mark McNeal, lead guitarist and vocalist, and his brother, Jeff, bass player and vocalist, early in life developed a love for music. Mark at age six and Jeff, around age nine, sang with their family’s Gospel quartet. Mark began teaching himself guitar at age 11 and was also mentored by his uncles and other musicians. He formed his first band in junior high school then continued forming bands until the formation of The Southern Express Band.
In addition to managing bookings and being the front man for the band, Mark’s other talents include rhythm, drums guitar synth and some on the keys.
Jeff fell away from music in his teen years, but later, at Mark’s request, learned to play bass and has been with the band ever since then. In addition to his musical talents, he also has had the role of soundman and operating the p.a. equipment. Both Jeff and Mark are songwriters.
Jason Mires, rhythm, lead, guitar and vocalist, has been with the band for around seven years. He has a background in music with his older brother and father. Bobby “Dab” Jeans is a veteran in the music business, a well-seasoned drummer. Dab has played with a host of bands, including a band formed by Mark and Jeff’s uncle. The band’s new soundman, who runs the p.a., is Barry May.