Local band ready to return to live music performances in-person

By JENNA SKARLUPKA & DEVIN BROOKS, NEWS3 Reporters

MACOMB, Illinois – Many musicians have struggled to perform under COVID-19 restrictions, but one local band said the pandemic has made them even stronger.

Mississippi Dogfish formed during the pandemic after a one-time performance for a friend’s music event. The band, made up of Ben Clemmens (drums), Trustin Kimbrough (drums), Leisha Stevenson (upright bass), Trent Stevenson (guitar and vocals), Justin Taber (keyboard) and Droopy Tomlinson (guitar and vocals), said the lockdown helped them grow together.

“We all became, really, better musicians during the beginning parts of the pandemic,” Tomlinson said. “We had nothing else to do but play instruments and be alone for a little while.”

Their musical styles include roots, blues, rock and other music genres, which influence the performances of covers and original music. Clemmens said the six band members’ different music tastes end up working well.

“You add everything together, and it makes a really unique combination of sound,” Clemmens said.

Much of the band’s time spent practicing did not take place in a studio, and their upcoming album was even recorded in Tomlinson’s home. Trent Stevenson said this helped the band to focus on what’s important to them.

“I was a little surprised by how removing these structures lets me be a little more creative with my time and focus on things I like doing,” Stevenson said. “That’s kind of a powerful realization.”

As the band returns to live performances in person this month, they look forward to continued support from the public. Leisha Stevenson said the public has shifted to a “small business mentality” during the pandemic.

“I think a lot of people, even if they’re not playing music, just like listening to music,” Tomlinson said. “People use music as a way to cope.”

“I’m feeling fairly optimistic about music for the first time in a while,” Trent Stevenson said.

You can learn more about Mississippi Dogfish on Facebook and Instagram, and look for their debut album this June.