Chris McCarty Band returns to Common Grounds


Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 10:41 p.m.
It's 10 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, and the five members of the Chris McCarty Band are playing poker in Massenutten, Va.
The Gainesville-based acoustic-rock group is playing three shows at a resort where the hotel, ski slopes and indoor water park are free for their six-night stay.
It was frontman Chris McCarty's first attempt at snow sports, and a cute girl he met taught him the basics of snowboarding. In just a few days, he and the band will be back in Florida soaking up the sun.
For now, he's winning the poker tournament.
Not a bad start for the new year. Indeed, it is good to be king. And, make no mistake, the Chris McCarty Band has enjoyed its kingdom since bounding onstage at the 2003 Gator Growl in front of thousands and thousands of amped Gator fans.
A regional favorite known for its constant touring, driving acoustic melodies and McCarty's smooth, distinctive voice, the band has been making a name for itself in the Southeast.
They return to their old stomping grounds Friday, playing their first Gainesville show of the year at Common Grounds.
Though the venue doesn't host many pop-rock bands, Common Grounds co-owner Jason Rockhill said the Chris McCarty Band is unique.
"I like their work ethic," he says. "There aren't pop-rock bands that are from Gainesville that are ambitious."
Phil McCarty, bassist and Chris McCarty's brother, says the feeling at the show should be comparable to a date with a long-time girlfriend: comfortable.
"We're playing about five shows in various places in the Southeast; we're going on five back-to-back first dates," he says, sticking with the date analogy. "It's awkward, it's getting to know each other."
But in Gainesville, he says, there is no first-date awkwardness. The audience and the band know and care about each other.
They will expect guitarist Greg Riddle to play with a clove cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth and percussionist Julius Tobin to have girls flocking around him.
The local crowd also may notice a change during Friday's performance, however. Chris McCarty says the band has a new-found identity since the addition of drummer Tim Mulberry in June; Mulberry replaced Gabe Fleet, who left in February.
"It's the energy," he says. "(Mulberry and I) see eye to eye. I'm claiming him as a McCarty."
Though the songs haven't changed, Chris McCarty considers this an entirely different band.
"I think everything happens for a reason," he says. "I'm more confident now than ever before."
Ultimately, the band seeks, as they say, "world domination." In reality, they'll settle for a record deal and a larger national stage. Chris McCarty expects to move closer to that goal when they record their third full-length CD in Charlottesville, Va., in February.
Rockhill says the sky is the limit if the band can write "that one song," like Gainesville band Sister Hazel's "All For You," which was a Top 10 hit and an international launching pad for the acoustic-based rock band that - like McCarty's band - saturates the Southeast when touring.
"It's all about the power of that one song," he says. "I don't think they have that song yet."
But Chris McCarty has a feeling about Charlottesville.
"I know we're on the right track," he says. "To me, it's just a matter of time."
The Chris McCarty Band has enjoyed its kingdom since bounding onstage at the 2003 Gator Growl in front of thousands and thousands of amped Gator fans.

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