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Texas’ Graham Colton Band living on tour

By Patrick Ferrucci
Register Entertainment Editor

You’d think a band that’s opened for John Mayer, Counting Crows, the Wallflowers, the Dave Matthews Band and Guster could just about open for anyone without batting an eye. But, sometimes, that’s not the case.

In the last two years, Dallas, Texas’ Graham Colton Band hit the road with the aforementioned artists, and more, playing upwards of 400 dates. When the quintet arrives at Oakdale Sunday, it’ll be with a different kind of musician, "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson.

"It’s a new audience," laughs singer/guitarist Graham Colton. "We’ve been associated with these career artists that are well within the mainstream, but Kelly is a superstar." He says the shows have been going very well and that the audience is responding.

"It’s weird, the one thing you can say about us is that we’re able to find a niche in almost any musical environment. Going from DMB to Kelly Clarkson is quite a stretch."

The element allowing the band to so limberly make the jump is the tight, straight-ahead rock of "Drive," the group’s major-label debut on Universal Records. With the soaring single "Killing Me" receiving airplay in many major markets, GCB realizes its tunes have lots in common with roots rocker Tom Petty, another act that defies audience demographics and appeals to just about anybody.

And even though Colton says the band enjoys opening for larger acts and expanding the fan base, headlining is becoming exciting, too. "We’re still a band learning to be headliners," the songwriter says during a conversation from Minneapolis, his third city in 24 hours, including stops in Chicago and Milwaukee.

"But we’re doing it and selling out shows across the country. Right now, opening is cool because it’s a different mindset: We want to win over the crowd every night."

Colton got his start as a freshman at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He played bars and clubs all over the city, and found that when he got back to his dorm, there were e-mails from folks all over the country wondering where they could buy his disc. "It’s amazing what the Internet did," he laughs. Soon after dropping out, the now 23-year-old formed a band because he didn’t want to be a solo artist.

"I never wanted to be in the singer/songwriter scene that got popular a couple years ago. I felt I could do more with a band and rather than pick some obscure band name, it’s just the Graham Colton Band. I’m not a fan of the name, but it is what it is."

It’s the kind of name career artists from the past chose, the kind of acts Colton desperately wants his band to emulate. "I hope we’re getting our mistakes out of the way now before we really go mainstream. Hopefully, we’re picking up steam and going to be around for awhile and be like a band like DMB or Guster.

"Plus, we’re finding a lot of the same people at a DMB show are at Kelly’s shows. So no pun intended, we’re enjoying the ride."