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Graham Colton to perform at Jammin' Java in Vienna

By: Tamika Matthews
Published: December 04, 2011

VIENNA, Va. --
Graham Colton has come a long way from belting out “Oklahoma!” on a barstool at age 3 to now.

Still, that’s where he says his career began, thanks to his dad’s participation in a cover band with some old college friends.

“They’re just a bunch of stockbrokers and attorneys playing on the weekends,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Now, the singer and songwriter is making his own waves in the music world with the recent release of his third full-length album, “Pacific Coast Eyes: Vol. II.” It is a revamp of his sophomore effort by the same title.

Colton brings his act to Jammin’ Java at 8 p.m. Friday as part of his Go Natural fall tour.

“I realize the majority of the world has not heard of me and my little independent album, and Vol. 2 is a way for me to reintroduce the album, add some new songs and try some alternative versions,” he said. “I know that as a fan of musicians, I want more stuff – B-sides, acoustics, alternative versions, live versions. My main criteria for adding Vol. 2 was that it had to be moving forward instead of just changing what I’ve done. I hope I achieved that.”

The creation of the original “Pacific Coast Eyes” was a challenge for Colton, as it was developed without a big budget or studio. Those things, he said, also contributed to the most candid, hands-on project he’s put together.

“When you’re just getting out there as an artist, you have to find your way back to what’s honest, and that’s tough to do when you go on stage,” Colton said. “I’ve tried to learn to be myself, and it’s still a process. I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now, and I’m just now figuring it out.”

That near-decade career has also allowed him to open for some notable headliners, including Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer and Maroon 5. He also toured alongside Kelly Clarkson for a year.

Colton may be best known for his song, “Best Days,” which was released in 2007 from his album, “Here Right Now.” The single was used on several national broadcasts, including Oprah Winfrey’s “Big Give.”

“I think it’s a fair assessment to say that brought me my most mainstream success,” he said. “It’s taken me to late-night TV shows, ‘American Idol,’ places I never imagined I’d go.”

At his core, however, Colton treasures his opportunities to visit towns and truly connect with people on a pure level.

“I feel like I have greater momentum and connection with the fans when I play these small, honest shows,” he said. “I don’t always stick to the set list. Sometimes, I take requests. I just really believe in that right now. If I have a show with 200, 300 people, I can meet them all after the show, take photos and chat with them. That’s my major marketing. That’s the way to grow.”

Colton considers the Washington area his “home away from home,” though this is one of his first chances to stand on his own two feet as a solo artist in the region. He is hopeful fans will find something they can hang on to long after his final notes are played.

“I hope people get three-and-a-half minutes of bliss listening to my little pop song,” he said. “I want them to have memories of their lives and loves, and maybe find a piece of themselves in my story somewhere.”