Rosco Bandana, a young, seven-person country-rock band from Gulfport, Miss., has a Cinderella story to tell.
The group entered an international Hard Rock Café battle of the bands in 2011. At the time, the band’s individual members had little experience and the group had been together only a few months.
Singer-songwriter Jason Sanford, drummer Barry Pribyl Jr., and singer-songwriter Jennifer Flint, the three Rosco Bandana members who continued with the band from then to now, were skeptical about their chances.
“We were like, ‘Ah, I don’t know, because we’re not really hard-rock material,’ ” Flint recalled a few weeks ago as Rosco Bandana drove back to Mississippi following the band’s first trip to the South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin.
“We figured a rock band would do this competition and win,” Flint said. “Playing big stages and playing with other bands, that was new to us and a little scary.”
Yet Rosco Bandana survived through three on-stage rounds at the Hard Rock Café in Biloxi. The group later advanced through round after round of online competition consisting of musicians from throughout the world.
“And we won,” Flint recalled. “It was just crazy to be such a young band and to make it that far.”
Rosco Bandana’s prize was a performance at the 2011 Hard Rock Calling festival in London’s Hyde Park. The group played the same day as Bon Jovi and Stevie Nicks.
Even as the band from Gulfport went to London, more opportunity was knocking. Hard Rock Café picked Rosco Bandana to be the first act on its new record label.
The group flew to Los Angeles to record the album with producer Greg Collins (U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt).
“He opened our eyes about songwriting,” Flint said. “It was almost like going to class every day. He was a teacher for us, not just a producer.”
Hard Rock Records released the band’s debut album, Time To Begin, in September. Flint is glad the group didn’t release its earlier attempts at recording.
“Everybody in the South was wanting a CD,” she recalled. “So we recorded three different times, just in small studios. But we were never really happy with what came out, so we didn’t put them out. It’s a good thing we didn’t.”
Rosco Bandana’s unexpected trajectory in the past few years has puzzled Flint and her bandmates.
“We were like, ‘Is this a blessing? Is it luck?’ It’s strange how things have fallen into place. It’s kind of crazy, what we’ve been through, what we’ve done, the things we’ve seen. It’s almost unexplainable.”
The band now has seven members, all of whom write songs, as well as three lead singers and a drummer who can sing a fourth harmony.
“It’s like a Crosby, Still, & Nash thing going on,” Flint said. “We surprise a lot of people. Anytime we go to a new city, people are so enthusiastic about what we’re doing. That keeps us going. The fans are our biggest inspiration.”
Flint found more inspiration at South By Southwest.
“We weren’t really sure what South by Southwest was,” she said. “We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.
“But it was amazing for us, seeing all the different bands that are in the same position as we are. Some were humble like us. Others were a little too much. But it was so neat to see the other styles of music. It almost makes you want to invent a new genre.”