The Billy Sunday Band
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The Billy Sunday Band


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The best kept secret in music



Entertainment Columnist Lawrence Specker

Baldwin band hits it big on music forum
Thursday, August 02, 2007
"It's kind of like 'American Idol' for hippies," says area songwriter James Floyd of his band's prominence in an online music forum created by famed rocker Neil Young.
Not quite. There's no glitzy production, no panel of professional judges. There's only a list of "Songs of the Times" on Young's Web site, where "To Be Strong," the first tune ever recorded by the Baldwin County-based Billy Sunday Band, has risen to No. 23.
That's No. 23 out of some 2,000 listed songs.

The list, at www.neilyoung.
com, is an offshoot of Young's protest album "Living With War," released in 2006.
At the time, the Billy Sunday Band didn't exist. Floyd, a contractor from north Alabama, was finding a new life on the coast. He'd discovered Pirate's Cove in Josephine, fallen in love with the area and moved his family (temporarily) aboard a 42-foot trimaran.
In short, says bandmate Suzi Spies, he was another free spirit who'd fallen into the "Perdido Triangle."
"It's one of those cosmic places," Floyd said. "I thought I was a character until I moved down here. I'm minor league at best."
He and Spies got acquainted through playing in the loose group of musicians known as the Pirate's Cove Riff Raff. They and a few others soon saw the potential for a focused effort.
"We formed a band and recorded one of his songs and put it on the site, and it's all been very fast," Spies said.
Floyd says he thinks the song entered the list at No. 1,920. It then rose rapidly through a field that "runs the gamut." Judging from song titles alone, the submitted songs range from anger ("The Great Misleaders") to comedy ("Arlo for President").
Clicking on the link for "To Be Strong" takes the viewer to, a site that actually plays the song. It sounds more like a demo than a polished commercial recording, and Floyd readily admits that it's an incomplete version hammered out in a home studio.
What comes through is the message, a somewhat mournful rallying cry calling for people opposed to the nation's course to stand up and speak their minds. "When all of our heroes are gone/ It's time for you and me to be strong," Floyd sings.

"I try to be more positive" than some of the other writers featured on Young's site, Floyd said. But he's serious about the song's opening line, "It's just like it was in '68."
He was 8 years old then, unconcerned with the draft. But looking back, he says, it's clear that today's songwriters aren't living up to the legacy of forerunners who actually changed the world with their music.
Other Billy Sunday Band participants are Lee Miller, Pat Pulaski, Jim Trapp, Steve Mears and Floyd's wife, Elizabeth Floyd. Daughter Luna Floyd, 10, also sings a couple of lines on "To Be Strong."
The band's prominence on the Living With War site has gotten it considerable feedback, Floyd said, and it also led to the band being booked to play at a peace concert Aug. 26 in Covington, Ky.
That leaves the band working to catch up, building its repertoire and laying down enough recordings for a full album. But that's a good challenge to have.
"This response on the Internet has come as an unbelievable turn of events," Spies says.
For Floyd, the biggest reward is simply the knowledge that his music has gotten people thinking.
"It really touches me that people respond to it," he says.
Lawrence F. Specker is the Press-Register's entertainment reporter. He can be reached by phone at (251) 219-5606; by e-mail as; by fax at (251) 219-5799. Mail notices of upcoming events to him at the Press-Register, P.O. Box 2488, Mobile, AL 36652.


We are now recording the first BILLY SUNDAY BAND CD. It should be completed around September 15. Our single TO BE STRONG is currently #23 on NEIL YOUNG's LIVING WITH WAR TODAY protest song chart.
TO BE STRONG was also featured on Jim Hightower's nationally syndicated talk radio show on the 4th of July. A sample of our work can be heard at


Feeling a bit camera shy


We stand in reverence on the backs of giants. We do our best to carry the flame that Woody lit and Bob Dylan kept burning so bright in our youth. Ours is the sound of bald tires on the back road to the party where you learned to dance. And kissed that girl. And got in that fight. We are a great speckled bird with Rock and Roll stuck in our craw. We live in that space between a hot Saturday night and a cool Sunday morning. We all grew up where Elvis drove a truck for money. And Hank used to play for whiskey. Our separate voices become some new greater thing. With words, we hope ring true. We have played at festivals big and coffeehouses small.Bars dank and sweaty. In front of 100 drunks at the FLORA-BAMA and to 3000 people at the Flatrock Music Festival in North Carolina.