Students partner with, promote local entertainersBy Katie Huff | 02/11/2018 9:02pm
Between The Jupiter and Druid City Music Hall, The Strip continuously houses the various musical stylings of local, regional and nationally-recognized artists. From The Avett Brothers at The Jupiter in 2008 to Alabama Shakes at Egan’s in 2011 to Moon Taxi’s two-night run at Druid City Music Hall the past two years, Tuscaloosa is largely acquainted with live music.
Haley Atchison, a senior Public Relations major, has started an on-campus organization for students to promote locally-based acts in the Tuscaloosa area, broadening the Tuscaloosa art scene while encouraging student participation in the community.
Atchison’s organization, Local Entertainment Promotional Team, or LEPT, focuses on promotion to broaden opportunities for the entertainment-centric acts that compile LEPT’s roster. Currently, the organization has four music acts, but Atchison plans for the team to reach into other sectors of arts and entertainment.
“We are willing to work with comedians, dancers, theater,” Atchison said. “We just only have musicians right now, but we’re entertainment in general. I would love to take on a comedian.”
Atchison began LEPT to fill a gap in the University’s current organizations available to students. For students pursuing entertainment promotional or publicity careers, an organization such as LEPT provides an array of experiences and opportunities to grow as a professional and develop necessary skills for post-grad success.
“I’m an entertainment PR major and there are really not that many opportunities for us to get involved or to have things to put in our portfolio that we’ve actually worked on,” Atchison said. “I couldn’t find a group like this, so I just decided to create it myself and I started seeking out artists and tried to get people to join. I’ve just been wanting a way to organize artists together, to group them with students so that they can work together.”
LEPT currently works with four bands: SuitJackers, ZEWMOB, Space Phunk Express and Gears. Prior to starting LEPT, Atchison worked with SuitJackers, a DJ duo from Tuscaloosa.
“I organized a few shows and I went with SuitJackers to a couple of festivals to document it, like take pictures and do Instagram and Twitter,” Atchison said. "Back when Druid City Music Hall was Jupiter, they used to have a bunch of shows there. Since then, they’ve rebranded. They used to be known as Second Generation.”
ZEWMOB is another DJ duo from Tuscaloosa. They serve as the resident DJs for Rounders Bar on The Strip. The other two groups, Space Phunk Express and Gears, are Tuscaloosa-based cover bands. Both groups play a variety of shows at Tuscaloosa music venues and bars. In December, Space Phunk Express, an eccentric jam band, opened for Tuscaloosa native band CBDB at Zydeco in Birmingham.
Because of the varying genres and differing goals, LEPT works with each band in different capacities, providing services that match with the band.
“We pretty much do whatever they want us to do,” Atchison said. “They all have different needs and I think that’s part of what makes it so interesting because you never know what you’re going to get. It’s a, ‘tell us what to do and we’ll do it,’ kind of thing.”
This allows for LEPT’s members to exhibit individual strengths and talents depending on the necessary tasks. Students outside of the public relations or communications fields have the opportunity to get involved with the organization in other ways.
“We have a couple of photographers and some people are really into graphic design, so it’s cool how everybody has different talents,” said Irene Richardson, junior public relations major and member of LEPT.
Atchison and team hope to continue to grow the team and their clients throughout LEPT’s duration at the University. In doing so, the arts and entertainment community of Tuscaloosa will continue to flourish and thrive, and students will have the hands-on experience of encouraging further growth.