Professors and their Hobbies is a new series that profiles various Murray State professors who have unique hobbies. This is the first installment.
Most college students tend to think the idea of Murray State faculty members having hobbies outside the classroom is unimaginable. Believe it or not, most staff members at Murray State have lives beyond their classrooms and office walls.
Kevin Qualls, professor of Journalism and Mass Communications from Ashland, Ky., has worked at Murray State for four years.
In his free time, however, Qualls plays bass guitar with the band he put together a year and a half ago, called Soul Dog.
“I played guitar a lot when I was younger,” Qualls said. “But how boring is playing guitar by yourself? So I started playing with my brother-in-law who is now the (lead) guitarist in the band.”
Later, the two began inviting other musicians to play with them, eventually forming what would be Soul Dog.
According to Qualls, the band was created for only one purpose with a few simple rules.
“This band isn’t anything other than let’s get together and have fun.” he said. “We had three simple rules when starting out: no girls allowed, if anybody wants to tour and it requires being gone overnight or if anybody wanted to try to make a living off the band, they weren’t allowed in (either).”
Soul Dog is made up of five members, including Qualls. David Booth is the lead guitarist, Rick Burres plays drums, Terry Fox plays the keyboard and Gary Moore plays the saxophone. Booth and Moore are vocalists as well.
As for the name Soul Dog, the band spent weeks trying to come up with it.
“We wanted a name that named the genre of music, soul,” Qualls said. “Our guitarist was drawing a little dog with sunglasses on, and really that cartoon gave us the name, Soul Dog.”
For the most part, the band plays covers of soul music from the 1960s and ‘70s. They often play music by artists such as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Al Green and Smokey Robinson. The group also performs some classic rock by The Beatles, Van Morrison, Grass Roots and David Bowie.
“We are a bunch of white guys playing old black guy music,” Qualls said. “For a lot of people, if you hear these songs, you would recognize them, but most have never heard them performed live before.”
In addition to cover songs, the band also performs one original song. However, they are currently writing new songs to add more original soul music to their set list, Qualls said.
Despite the bands’ existence as being solely a hobby, Soul Dog gets together at least once a week for practice unless they have a show. They have performances about twice a month, mostly at restaurants in Paducah.
“When I’m playing with the guys, it’s the only moment that exists,” Qualls said. “What happened earlier today, what’s going to happen later or tomorrow, it just recedes from your thoughts.”
Last Saturday, Soul Dog performed its first show in Murray at the Big Apple Cafe.
Besides catching a show, music by Soul Dog is posted on its Facebook page, facebook.com/paducahsouldog. Some tracks can also be found on reverbnation.com.
Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.