Natalie Nunn





Booming with talent, the University of Alabama is full of students hell-bent on pursuing their passion for music. 

A college town can be a pipeline for success with a seemingly massive audience, but it’s by no means a guarantee. A new group pops up almost weekly, so fraternity connections, fighting teeth to bone to get exposure, and having advocates give bands a huge boost, but talent and energy are the ultimate criteria once you get the opportunity to rock the stage. I talked to two bands taking our campus by storm with their explosive performances: Five Card Draw and Top Heavy. Here’s some insight to the faces behind the music: 

Sharlene Newman, Executive Director-Alabama Life Research Opportunity

Five Card Draw 

 Formed eight years ago, Five Card Draw is an alternative rock band that can be seen lighting up the crowd at your favorite venues around Tuscaloosa. As current members conclude their college careers, fresh faces get the opportunity to be hand-picked to carry on the legacy. There are five current members: Katie Prewitt (lead vocalist), Holden Keith (guitar), Andrew McNeil (bass), and Dylan Murphy (drums), and, without a doubt, their story is more than meets the eye.

When asked about their off-stage personas, the band instantly agreed that they are all extremely introverted. This came as a shock because they are no short of electric when they cover hits from classics like Fall Out Boy and The Red-Hot Chili Peppers in their 40+ song setlists.

“I’m actually really shy, I hate public speaking which is really funny,” said front-woman Prewitt, “Then I get onstage, and it’s singing songs that I love with the people I love, so then it’s super easy.”

It’s hard to believe, but Prewitt says she goes to class with her headphones in, doesn’t talk to anyone, and heads straight home. The band is their social scene, and they really shine when the time comes.

To prepare themselves for a gig, the band always sits down to eat dinner together. Their go-to is ham and cheese sandwiches and burritos from Taco Casa. The ritual helps them ground themselves and prepare for the wild ride ahead. They seem to light up and activate when they are together as a unit. Anyone can see that they are having the time of their life during performances. No matter the size of the crowd, they load their performance with engagement.

Being in a band requires flexibility, unworldly communication skills, and, most importantly, dedication. The ensemble has a variety of majors with Prewitt in pre-med biology, Keith in general business, McNeil in computer science, and Murphy undecided. Ask him if it’s difficult to manage it all, and Murphy will give a simple response that says it all:

“When you love what you do, it’s pretty easy to make time.”

While they may make it look easy, there is an insane amount of rigor in their work. They have network, rehearse, and bring the equipment to venues independently. In fact, Keith “builds all [his] own guitars.” All while they continue to hit the books, the band collectively hopes to continue being involved in music indefinitely. Unsurprisingly, the social aspect is one of the most demanding.

“The only way you make it in a scene like this is by making friends,” Keith reveals.

This isn’t just music, it’s business, and a whole lot of work goes into it.

If there’s one thing you’ve got to get right, it’s relationships. Whether they need a fill-in for a show or a connection to a venue, it is mega important to develop relationships and engage in the community. Knowing people, networking, keeps you afloat.

With many of the performances being at bars, chaos inevitably ensues. Last minute technical difficulties, location changes, and mix-ups are second nature to Five Card Draw. Prewitt must navigate the fact that she is a woman in a male-dominated environment. Fans and even managers can get out of hand, but Prewitt is confident her fellow bandmates have her back to any extent. When asked if she’s had bad experiences, the band looked at one another with knowing eyes.

“Oh yeah, she can tell you all about that, but we’ve always got each other’s backs,” says Keith.

While they were full of stories, their negative experiences seem to be miniscule in comparison to the good. At the end of the day, passion is the driving force of this band, and all the experiences worthwhile regardless of the obstacles they must overcome. If you want to catch Five Card Draw at their next performance, check out their social media links. They are a must see at the University of Alabama if you want to dance like no one’s watching.