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Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column

OFFBEAT: Singer Graham Colton hits Chicago area with new CD and practical performer sense

Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:00 am

It's easy to see and hear how singer/songwriter Graham Colton follows his dreams.

Even though he was never a contestant on the Fox series "American Idol," it's his connections to the show that have often gained him some added mainstream attention.

He spent much of 2005 touring with "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson.

And his hit single "Best Days" was selected by "American Idol" for the featured ending montage for group auditions, which lead to additional use as the 'exit song' for the additional rounds of auditions leading up to the show's 'Top 12.'

He's performed on "Today," "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," "Ellen," "Live! With Regis & Kelly" and "The Late Show with David Letterman."

Oprah Winfrey and her producers even used his song "Best Days" for her 2008 primetime network series highlighting charity projects, called "The Big Give."

And now, he's busy touring and promoting his latest album Pacific Coast Eyes, which is the follow-up to his 2008 breakout album Here Right Now.

I chatted with Colton by phone last week and he describes his new album as highlighting lyrics "about universal themes of love and loss, and everything in-between."

"When I'm writing songs, I want them to be something that not only I care about, but so does the listener," said 29-year-old Colton, who will be in the Chicago area later this month for a 7 p.m. concert June 27 at the nightclub SPACE at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. in Evanston, Ill.

"And as for how much I believe in this new album and the material, I used my own money to finance it."

Colton is someone who has always used his hard work and ambition to follow his dream.

Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in high school he was the quarterback of the football team and teammates with his childhood friend Wes Welker, who is now a star wide receiver for the New England Patriots.

While attending Southern Methodist University and after years of performing in small stage spaces, Colton used the Internet to share his music with others. It was via the web that his music and an early CD happened to reach one of his biggest influences, Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, who asked him to open for his group for their 2002 tour, prompting him to form a band. The exposure helped him score his first label deal.

"It's still amazing to think just a few years earlier, I had been listening to the music of Counting Crows in my car and then suddenly, I'm touring with them," he said.

In recent years, he's also toured with everyone from John Mayer, Maroon 5 and Dave Matthews Band to Train and The Wallflowers.

His new album Pacific Coast Eyes is described as "pop perfect" and "a collection of songs that will stand the test of time."

As for the highs and lows of living and working in the world of entertainment, the down-to-earth, likable and easy-to-read Colton says he's been blessed and enjoys every moment of the ride.

"When someone asks me about who is someone famous I've had the chance to meet that really impressed me, besides getting to know the Counting Crows, I think my biggest thrill was when my friend [Wes Welker] invited me to go to dinner to meet Tom Brady."

"That was like meeting a hero and rock star all in one."

For more information on Colton and his career projects, visit