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By by Connie Nowlin
Managing Editor
The song coming out of the jukebox is of the classic country style, a song of loss, of love, of liquor.
The voice has hints of Merle Haggard, a little of the soulful sounds of Daryl Worley.
It is really Bobby Lee Stabler, of Atmore, and he really only sounds like himself.
It is a sound that has found favor, not just locally.
Stabler, 26, grew up in music.
"My dad always played guitar, " he said. "Always country music. I got into it by the time I was 12, learned the guitar."
From there, Stabler began singing a little at parties, sometimes by invitation, others because he was hired to sing. But his interest level and popularity grew fast when he hit 21 and could begin singing karaoke in clubs like Odom's in Century and Fat Moe's in Atmore. He was good enough and popular enough on the local circuit that he was allowed to sit in with bands at the clubs during their sets.
When his family bought a bar near Atmore, he was really able to kick his singing into overdrive.
Heavily influenced by the young artists in country music today, acts like Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith, Stabler has still maintained his own style and sound, leaning to slow ballads.
When he was approached by Showtime Records, he signed a contract and in March went to Nashville to record.
There he was able to pick up three songs that his producers had selected for him. Backed up by musicians who have been in the studio with high profile stars like Vince Gill and Patty Loveless, he made the recording, which was shipped to radio stations.
One of those songs, 'Bottom of the Fifth,' has gotten good air play in Atmore and other local stations and good response from listeners.
Those listeners aren't just local, either, Stabler said.
A major label called him at the end of June, and he is in negotiations with it for a contract.
"It's with their lawyers now," he said. "It will go to my lawyers next."
In the meantime, Stabler has a full slate of appearances coming up in addition to his work at the club his family owns.
He will be performing at Thunder Country in Brewton, and at the Opry in Loxley.
The next song on the CD is 'Can't Get Enough of You.'
Stabler wants to begin recording his own songs as soon as possible. That will come with time, though, as record labels look to develop young talent.
"Stuff just works out," Stabler said. Part of that stuff is maintaining an even keel by staying close to his roots and his family.
Both his parents enjoy singing and have been known to join him on stage. And his oldest child, not quite five, wants to sing already.
"Yeah, she knows what daddy does," he laughed.
And does daddy hope to do in the near future?
"Tour. That would be so cool."
Keep an ear on country music. It may not be long before you hear an Atmore twang coming in over the airwaves.