October 21, 2010

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Going to nationals
Eric Grant Band finds success at Northeast Country Showdown
By Angel Roy aroy@hippopress.com

One year ago, Eric Grant pulled together a group of musicians and laid out a plan.

“I told them, ‘For the next two years we are going to live the dream. I believe we can do something special, make a hit CD and do this for a living. If you believe that can happen, or want to believe that can happen, you’re in the right place — let’s go for it and do it,’” Grant says.

“No one got up and ran out of the room, so I said, ‘Alright, let’s do it,’” Grant recalls.

Now, a year later, the Eric Grant Band has won Band of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Best New Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2010 Northeast Invitational Country Showdown, held Oct. 10 in Bedford, Mass. The regional competition was a follow-up to the statewide competition, hosted by the New Hampshire Country Music Association, where the band was named Band of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

Winning the regional competition, Grant said, is “just another stepping stone.”

“We haven’t gone backwards, that is the exciting part about everything,” Grant said, citing the whirlwind year of headlining shows and awards. “It is a forward momentum that we don’t want to lose.”

The momentum will continue as the Eric Grant Band will take the stage March 7 through March 13 at the national competition in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

“Hopefully we can just represent New Hampshire and get recognized as a new country act that came out of nowhere,” Grant said. “Hopefully we will get some recognition and make some contacts that are interested in EGB and take us another step further.”

The awards were won not only by the musicians taking the stage but also by the network of people involved with the band, “the people that help you build what you are experiencing and winning,” he said.

In a 365-day period, the Eric Grant Band performed more than 220 times, Grant said.

“That is a lot of time away, so, when you win a Band of the Year award, it is for everybody,” he said.

Before forming a band of his own, Grant, of Gilford, performed with pop and rock and roll cover bands but was seeking an outlet to showcase his original music.

When he found that his recorded ballads brought tears to the eyes of grown men at his studio, Grant realized it was time to get his own music career going.

“I said, ‘If I can make people cry, it’s got to be worth something …. When I saw my music connecting emotions to people, it flipped the switch in my head,” Grant said. “It was time to get rid of the cover stuff and go for my original music.”

At the same time, the music scene in Nashville, Tenn., shifted from traditional country to a demand for what is referred to as “crossover country,” a genre that Grant said gave his sound a home.

His lyrics, Grant said, come at any given moment and are sparked by his emotions.

“They take shape and I put more words and phrasing to it and before you know it, it becomes a song,” Grant said. “Without a doubt, it’s the emotion that is the trigger for the direction of the music.”

Grant serves as the eight-member band’s lead singer and acoustic guitarist. His sister, Sherry, also lends her voice to the group.

“Having female and male vocals gives our music a good variety so people don’t have to always listen to the same person or same style of voice all night …. With all of the fans loving her so much we might have to change our name to the Sherry Grant Band,” Grant said.

Many people, Grant said, do not know they are ready to like country music.

“I think people hear ‘country’ and associate it with a very old-school, maybe traditional kind of sound — very twangy,” Grant said. “New country is more classic pop rock and roll with typical sprinklings of country — guitars, banjos and fiddles.”

It is the flavor of country that drew Grant in.

“I like the big vocal sound, the themes the inspire the songs, the stories that are told — that is my favorite thing about it,” he said.

Grant said he had never realized what a fan meant to him until he began seeing people drive two hours just to enjoy his music.

“That is the fuel behind what we are doing,” Grant said. “We are receiving these little glass trophies because of those people sitting in that room … I don’t like to call them fans, I like to call them family. At the end of the day we all support each other and push each other to go to the next level and keep the fire burning.”