Local band Proud Hound expands further outward 

By Davis Coen

A great recent addition to the local music scene in Oxford and North Mississippi is the memorably-named Southern rock and blues band Proud Hound.  

A family band consisting of Kane Harrell on bass guitar and brother Kody Harrell on guitar-vocals, also includes friends: guitarist-singer Connor Alexander and drummer Justin Webb. That’s how Proud Hound became like-minded players who musically meld well.

This dual county band – Panola and Lafayette – plays strong with tight grooves so fluid that one might assume all members of the band are kin, not just brothers Kane and Kody.

Steeped in the North Mississippi Hill Country style of blues, Proud Hound is versed in the songbook of its patriarchs R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Mississippi Fred McDowell.  Hill Country standards like “Goin’ Down South,” “Nobody But You” and “Write Me A Few Lines” make up a good portion of its live set, mixed with classic rock and strong originals – which essentially fuse it all together.

The band was formed when Kane Harrell returned to Mississippi from Wisconsin during the darkest days of COVID-19, when opportunities were seemingly more scarce than he could find in his home state.  

At that point, his younger brother Kody had been cutting his teeth with bluesmen like Grammy-nominated R.L. Boyce, playing his style of bottleneck slide-heavy guitar around the Mid-South with various groups, aiming to assemble a steady crew to pursue something more personalized.  

Guitarists Kody and Connor had played together in the blues-rock trio Woodstomp, but were using a digital octave pedal to “split the signal” to make an electric guitar sound like a bass guitar.

Both were friends with Justin, who maintained a fully operational practice space on Main Street in Como and had a drum kit and other sound gear.

“Once I moved back, I wanted to get involved,” said Kane, who was a very welcome addition to the group.  “I kind of helped put the final piece in place.”  

Both Harrell brothers attended Ole Miss, although Kody stayed in the area after graduation, unlike his brother, who relocated to Florida and then the Midwest.

The four quickly found common ground in their deep appreciation for Hill Country blues, which was a springboard for collectively coming into their own.

“We listened to and played with people on the scene, so we wanted to start with a bunch of Burnside, Kimbrough and Ranie Burnette songs, and just let all our other influences expand and make the sound from there,” said Kane.

Although seven years apart, the Harrell brothers grew up in southern Mississippi listening to the same rock bands, including the Allman Brothers, Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  “So we looked at the local scene and tried to filter that through the lens of how we grew up,” he said.

After several months of regular practice, Proud Hound played its first live show at Rooster’s Blues House Oct. 22, 2021, the Friday before a LSU home game.  “It was crazy,” Kane recalled.  

Since then, they’ve done numerous shows at Oxford venues Proud Larry’s and Lamar Yard, which helped rein in their sound.  “They’ve given us a chance to get a lot of hours together on a stage playing in front of many people, but still low pressure,” he said.  “You gotta reel those people in and kind of work the crowd a little bit.”

Proud Hound also leaped right onto local festival bills with the help of connections Kody had built.  Notably, they performed at the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Waterford and the G.O.A.T Picnic in Coldwater. 

During a weekend last fall, Proud Hound laid down eight tracks at the late-great Jim Dickinson’s famous Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater, all of which Kane feels good about.

He believes the tracks that have stood out at live performances also translate well in the studio.  Kody’s “Free Man,” and the Hill Country-flavored “Nothing That You Say,” are standouts, as is Connor’s original “You Love,” which conjures the band The Black Keys.

Kane highlights the importance of guitar interplay, especially on their originals, which harks back to some of the aforementioned classic Southern Rock influences. 

Proud Hound is not only a refreshingly great band, but also a nice brand.  “I thought it kind of fit the ‘porch-type’ music,” he said.  “A lot of those old R.L. and Otha Turner stories seem to revolve around a front porch.  It kind of painted a mental picture that we liked.”

(Ricki Harrell)

The brothers presented the idea to their sister who dabbles in art, and she worked up the logo that they’ve been using for a couple of years.  It depicts a hound dog with tie-dye psychedelic glasses on, which Kane feels suits the band well – mixing the image of a mellow dog with the spirit of some of the late 1960s-1970s rock bands they enjoy listening to, along with their love for animals.

“I think people will remember it when they see it,” he said. “It’s just kind of a cool picture to us. We’re all pretty laid back and everything.  We thought it kind of fit.  We’re just pretty satisfied with things…whatever life throws at us.”

Kane also teaches guitar at Roxbury University, an Oxford music school for young musicians, which uses the 2003 film “School of Rock” as a model, and provides individual lessons for keyboards, vocals, guitar, bass and drums, and finishes the semester with a collaborative effort. Roxbury musicians recently opened a show for Proud Hound at Voyager’s Rest, a popular new music venue and gathering place in Water Valley adjacent to the Crawdad Hole restaurant on South Main Street. 

“It was a cool package deal to have them open up for us,” said Kane.  “They’re such good hosts down there. It was fun.”

With regard to a possible CD release event for the band’s upcoming album, Kane expects the likelihood that it will take place later this year at Proud Larry’s, which has always supported the band.

“We’re trying to figure out what to do with it, and the right way to launch it,” he said.  That’s kind of where we’re sitting right now.”

In the meantime, the band has some live shows available for streaming on YouTube, as well as the Live Music Archive website.

Kane also plans to expand their live performances further beyond the Oxford area in the coming months, since the vast majority of their shows have been around Lafayette and Panola counties.

“We’re trying to stretch out a little bit, maybe up toward northern Alabama, Memphis or across the river in Arkansas,” he said.