My "One" is actually Three. There are three loving hearts down in Nashville that I’d like to tell you about who practice Random Acts of Kindness year round. In fact, they make it a part of their daily existence. These three hearts are Jamey Garner, Kevin D. Campos, and Phoenix Mendoza.
You might not think, at first glance, that these stylish, cool, tough guys are truly softies at heart who do Random Acts of Kindness all the time, but it’s true. In fact, spreading ‘Peace, Love, and Harmony’ is their band, High South’s, motto. They are not only talented singer-songwriters, but they also truly care about people, animals, and our planet and they show it in their efforts every day.
In 2018, they had an amazing year and performed over 130 shows, traveling thousands of miles here in the U.S. and in Europe, and yet they still made time to do Random Acts of Kindness, like a surprise fundraising concert in Florida to raise funds to help people who had been affected by Hurricane Michael. But that’s not all! Every year they perform at not just one, but several fundraising shows for Mary's Meals, a non-profit that helps to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day. They helped Mary’s Meals raise thousands upon thousands of dollars to help feed those impoverished children. This month they're doing a school fundraiser to raise much-needed funds for a school music program in Wisconsin. They even took time in the middle of their European tour to help out a cerebral palsy organization. That is High South for you. Whether it's random acts of kindness (which are often) or planned, these guys exemplify kindness, generosity, and making things better in every way they can; in addition to making amazing music, it's kind of their thing.
During a recent interview, they were asked about their song “Make It Better”: “We’re positive dudes,” Garner says. “We want to put forth a positive message. And we honestly believe that in the course, together we can make it better. That song is about people coming together. Even in the video, we made sure to show a lot of images of people coming together — people of all colors, all races, all genders, all religions.” This song is 'Make It Better' from my favorite guys from Nashville: https://youtu.be/3BOULOOySQc I think everyone will agree that this song is amazing, and yes, I'm biased.
But this is not some saccharine effort on their part: Being kind, being protective of people and animals, and wanting the best for the world is in each one of their DNA. Here’s where it gets even harder to write about them from an objective ‘casually knowing the guys and the band’ and instead, morphs into 'that enthusiastic, gushing fan'. You’ll see why in a moment, and a warning, after reading this: You may become one yourself!
If you’d like to read about each of the guys’ individual music history, Jamey, Kevin, and Phoenix have their fascinatingly, impressive individual musical backgrounds on their own website. But for the purpose of this Random Acts of Kindness article, I will now unapologetically gush about them as the amazing human beings they are, below:
Jamey is a huge animal lover, which I personally love. He frequently posts photos of his two adorable pups that he dotes on with his wife, Geralyn. He calls them his ‘kids’, because, as all of us pet parents know, they really are! But he cares about all creatures, great and small, not just his own. In fact, recently, in another random act of kindness, Jamey reposted a Facebook post about a donkey that was left outside in the polar vortex in his hometown, to make sure the donkey was rescued. And not sure if he's okay with me sharing, but this will bring a collective "Aww!", as he’s a follower of Esther the Wonder Pig’s Facebook page. Not sure how Kevin and Phoenix feel about wonder pigs, but everyone can confirm that they all love dogs, and Kevin’s recent post about losing his beloved dog, Bebe, brought so many of us to tears. They’re strong guys who are totally fine with showing sensitivity, and that, to me, is great male leadership in itself.
I’ve had numerous conversations with Jamey, Phoenix, and Kevin, and it’s clear how much they all care deeply about all people and animals. They’re stylish, hip, pretty tough guys who give a damn and aren’t afraid to show it. They make caring look cool. That’s how it should be because caring IS cool! Their love and their music are forever intertwined: You feel the love when you talk with them, you feel the love when you see their shows, and you feel that love when you listen to their music. All the more reasons that they have such a devoted following. They're all kind, genuine beings. They notice you and pay attention; it’s not artificial with these three. They talk proudly about the women in their lives, their families, their fans, and their dogs.
I’ve seen them perform live 7 times in one year. This is something I've never done before. We drove to a different state to see them several of those times. Their music is phenomenal, their live performances are so fantastic, and I admit, I never was into the harmonica before, but hearing Jamey play it, I was sold. I hadn't listened to their genre of music in years, but the way they played it, I was sold and now I love it. Their enthusiasm and incredible natural talent, plus all those years of paying their dues and putting in the hard work? Sold!!
But I have to say, I’m equally drawn to them because of their values; our shared values. That is something I feel a deep connection to. I think, also, one of the joys of Random Acts of Kindness are witnessing them in action in real time. High South takes time for people. All the time. Everywhere they go. If they're not doing something nice to you or for you, you're seeing them doing something nice for someone else. A lot. And sure, you see other bands doing this, signing autographs, etc. and some performers are truly kind and friendly. But there’s something different about these guys. There’s not a mentality of, "Okay, we’re the performers and you’re the fans;" it’s more of a “We” thing. Granted, they’re aware of their talent and their greatness – not to mention the long, hard hours it takes to be at their level – and they never seem to take a bad photo (which is maddening for those of us that do!!) but they still maintain that "Hey, we’re all here together" point of view, which is refreshing and all the more reason they have such a devoted following.
Individually, they're just as kind. So many people can attest to this. Personally, I benefit from them in many ways. When I’m in a good mood, I put on their music. When I’m feeling anxious, as I often do, I put on their music. Music can inspire and heal, and theirs does both for me. And when I see them in person, they see me. I get hugs, I get smiles from them from the stage (Kevin gives these big huge “Oh Hey! It’s You!” smiles from the stage and they’re really sweet), and overall, it’s just really, really nice. And that’s what Random Acts of Kindness are all about: They’re really nice!
As he does for so many others, Jamey goes out of his way to like my Facebook posts, even though the band has 12,000 followers that he needs to keep updated, not to mention focus on the band, his job, his family. How they all find the time to juggle all of this, I’ll never know. I don’t seek out his likes, and I post about a wide array of things, so wide it probably causes their heads to spin, but there the ‘likes’ will be!
In another random act of kindness, as my grandmother was dying last year, I had canceled our hotel reservation to see High South play on New Year’s months in advance, because I didn’t know what the family would be doing, what would happen with my grandmother, etc. After she passed and we had spent time with family, I realized I really needed a good High South show and their smiles and a happy New Year’s. So I went to book the hotel and it was much more expensive than before. I mentioned this to Jamey via Facebook message, as I was disappointed, and to my surprise, he started doing research for nearby hotels for me and sent me links to the hotels! He didn’t have to do that, but he did.
All three guys are very engaging after performing, and we enjoy talking to all three, in their own ways. Phoenix takes the time to talk with us after shows, and not just about small talk or the weather. I love how he gets right into the heart of things and just goes with it. Shared values connect quickly. He’s animated and lively and his enthusiasm is contagious. Kevin and Jamey each have their own approach with their great personalities, and they too, offer more than small talk, being good listeners and ask questions. They’re all interested; despite how interesting they are, even as their stardom continues to rise, as they intuitively know each human being has something to offer. But, then again, they don't have to do these things. They're all handsome, incredibly talented, and popular. They don't have to be that generous or kind, but they are. They each have such unique personalities and beautiful voices, yet they mesh and get along so well, and their voices often become one in their songs.
But they never take themselves too seriously: They perform in onesie pajamas - full-length man-sized onesie pajamas - at their Pajama Jam concert on New Year's Day, every year. I shyly showed up in my pajamas, robe, and Christmas slippers and there they were proudly wearing their onesies, so I shook off the shy and happily enjoyed myself. At 2:00 in the afternoon, there I was dancing in my pajamas, in public. Everyone was smiling, laughing, singing and/or dancing, thanks to them.
I gush because they’re worth gushing about. I fully admit, kicking back and having dinner with these guys from time to time would be on my list of things I’d love to do. Something tells me I’m not alone here. But again, it’s not because I want to hang out with rock stars, it’s because I want to hang out with great hearts and minds who just happen to be also musically gifted. But, in the large scheme of things, that doesn’t matter. They make me feel like I’m an old friend every time I see them, regardless, and that feels very nice. They have a large, devoted following because they make every person they meet feel special. And then you hear them play, and that really makes you happy, too.
High South is a walking, talking Random Act of Kindness AND their music is awesome, especially live! And because good people hang out with other good people, their producer Josh and his brother Chris, are kind, caring and fun, too, as are their significant others, and collaborators. Although in one sense, I think we all want to keep them a secret; they’re just too amazing not to share with the world. And that is why, Jamey, Kevin, and Phoenix are my "ONE" favorite example of Random Acts of Kindness!