Local band wins independent award, Battle of Bands

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Brookhaven-based band has won Rock Duo/Group Song of the Year at the 7th Annual Josie Music Awards and the top spot at Mississippi State University’s Battle of the Bands.

Four Way Stop’s song “Wicked Woman” — written by vocalists/guitarists Ryan Purser and Kyle Graves — won the independent music award. Graves accepted the award at the Josie ceremony Sept. 18 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

“I really was not expecting to have this award because there are so many talented people in this room,” Graves said in his acceptance speech. He thanked “the Lord above,” track personnel, friends and family, before apologizing to anyone he may have neglected to mention. “My mind is going in three billion different places right now, so if I missed you, I am so sorry!”

Graves closed his speech with comments on the hardships of the pandemic and thanking event founders for continuing to support independent music.

“This right here gives us hope,” he said.

Founded in Nashville by mother-daughter duo Tinamarie Passantino and Josie Passantino-Boone in 2015, the Josie Music Awards has quickly become one of the largest independent music awards shows in the United States.

Just a few days after taking home the Song of the Year award, Four Way Stop advanced to the final five in the online fan vote of MSU’s Battle of the Bands. The live finale took place on campus Sept. 24 with hundreds of attendees and a three-judge panel. In addition to “Wicked Woman,” the band played covers of “Hard to Handle” and “Whole Lotta Love.”

Four Way Stop’s B.O.B. win earned them the opening spot for country singer HARDY at MSU’s annual Bulldog Bash. Originally a songwriter for top country acts — including Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett and Florida-Georgia Line — Mississippi native HARDY recently scored a Billboard Top 40 hit with his song “One Beer.”

The Bulldog Bash in Starkville has become the state’s largest free outdoor concert, attracting approximately 35,000 attendees annually.

“This means open doors,” Graves said of the competition win. “There was a refined newness for us. It felt like the first time we had ever taken the stage.”

Members of Four Way Stop are Graves, vocals and lead guitar; Purser, vocals and rhythm guitar; Joe Cranfield, bass; and Wyatt Brady on drums.