All Photos © Paragon
Music is symbiotic. For some people, music is just the background noise to their daily lives. For others, music doesn’t even exist for them. In my world music is as important to me as food and air. There have been some low times in my life and the only thing that was there to see me through it was music. There are so many musicians out there in the world that have no clue how close to the edge I was and their songs put things in a different perspective and gave me the clear path that I needed to follow. To put it succinctly music is my religion. Not a day goes by that I’m not listening to some sort of music, whether it’s in the car getting me to and from work, or wiling away the hours at the nuthouse.
My newest way of listening to music is getting to hang out with the guys in Charlotte, NC’s very own Paragon and watch them prepare for a big show coming up at The Chop Shop on November 2. Since two weeks ago when I got to witness them craft their songs for the first time I have eagerly awaited my next trip to Charlotte to do it again. I was curious to see how much the songs had grown in this short amount of time. My excitement was nearly dashed when guitarist Marc Crotts called me as I pulled into the McDonalds drive-thru to get me a sammich to tell me that practice was being either postponed or canceled for the day. Due to an expected situation they were unable to get into their practice area at the storage facility. I was riding the high of not only getting to see my friends in Paragon, but the previous night I witnessed for the first time legendary Charlotte punk band Antiseen. My weekend full of music was going to be cut short. Lucky enough Marc got back with me and told me that the issue was taken care of and rehearsal was back on. Without hesitation I got back in the car and got there as quick as I could.
They were already a couple songs into working on their setlist by the time I got there. I waited outside a moment or two to listen to them from that perspective. Man they were sounding so good! I walked in and was immediately surrounded by good friends and great tunes. Also present for the rehearsal was Katherine Mejia Alexander, Director of Artist Management for Coco Mejia Entertainment. I recalled seeing her at the show at Amos’ and the band giving her a shout-out, and was pleased to see her rocking her Paragon shirt. Obviously she is a fan of the band, which is a nice thing to see. She also told me she was very pleased with my last write up that was featured on My Global Mind and took the liberty to post it to her Facebook page as well. The band took a quick moment after my arrival to welcome me back and tell me how awesome it was to see MGM promoting their show and music. Even more so than two weeks before, I felt that the band had indeed brought me into their fold as a friend and member of not just the band, but the family. If nothing else comes of our “partnership” I have made four wonderful friends sharing a common love of music.
After the brief catch-up, the band went back full force into their preparations of the upcoming show. If I recall correctly the first thing they played at this point was the last new song they had started working on at the tail end of last rehearsal. I was simply blown away at the progression they had made on this track. Seriously, they were just starting to really get the feel of the song, and in two weeks damn near had it “show ready.” I’m not one to show my emotions very often, but I felt like I had this huge smile on my face just loving the abilities of these four men. I was literally giddy inside, feeling like I was privy to this great musical secret that is about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. I felt like people must’ve felt in the early stages of any big band be it Led Zeppelin, KISS, or Dream Theater, that if anyone was allowed into those bands world like I have been extended with Paragon, they must’ve felt that buzz in the room as greatness was being created. No, I’m not necessarily putting Paragon on the same level of those bands, however I don’t think it’s that out of the way to see them being worthy of someday being spoken in the same breath as the greats. There’s something that is perfect about their music that is missing in so many others. There was several times this Sunday that I wanted to jump up and take the microphone from singer Sonny Reynolds or bassist Shawn Love and just say, “Hang on a second guys. Do you have any clue just how freaking good you are?” Seriously, I want everyone in the world to hear these guys and the music they create. Their songs deserve to be heard all around the world. Is it for everyone? Of course not. There will be some folks out there that won’t appreciate them simply because it’s not their style of music. However, even those people should be able to appreciate the immense talent coming from all four members.
Much like my last rehearsal I noticed how they would spend what to some may seem an inordinate amount of time deciding if this drum lick should be 8ths or 16ths, or should this guitar solo extend over the chorus two times or four times. The meticulous work they put into each minute section of a song perfecting it is truly what sets them apart from other bands. I’m sure other groups use this same philosophy; however I’d say that it’s more of a rarity than a common practice, and likely not to the extreme that Paragon does. For these guys to spend so much time dealing with such a small part of a song that will likely flow so perfectly the audience will just assume that it was the natural progression of the tune instead of such focus and dedication going into it. I was also glad to hear more vocals from Sonny. His voice is definitely the fireworks of the band if you will. His range and abilities surpass those of so many other singers. It was funny watching him sing complex vocal runs and lyrics while fooling around with the mixing board, or working on the pre-recorded background sounds. Even more impressive was the fact that Marc admitted that Sonny probably shouldn’t have sang so much as he was just getting over a sinus infection. If he’s that good under the weather…
One of the highlights of the day for me personally was the callback of a joke from the prior practice I shared with drummer Scotti Montagnino. Two weeks ago he referenced a joke from Triumph the Insult Dog who was at some sort of Sci-Fi convention where Triumph approached someone dressed as Darth Vader. He asked the guy which button on his suit was the one to call his Mom to come pick him up. Well while Marc was fiddling around with his effects pedals Scotti asked him that same question. This provided a good laugh. Fast forward two weeks later and they were going to pick up at the start of one of Marc’s solo’s and someone asked if everyone was ready, and Marc indicated he was not, again doing something with his pedals. I leaned over to Scotti and said, “Hang on, I think he’s calling his Mom.” Scotti and I shared a good laugh over that.
Once rehearsals were done we all kind of circled up and talked about various things, very little to do with the practice. While I was talking with Katherine and Marc, Shawn walked over and presented me with a poster advertisement for the upcoming show at The Chop Shop to have as a memento. I was absolutely touched by the gesture. Sure, on the surface it wasn’t a big issue per se, but it means a lot to me. These four men are class acts and are such genuinely warm and engaging guys. I’m honored to be a part of Paragon and look forward to being along with them for many years to come. Now I just have to wait another two weeks to catch my last rehearsal (the bands next to last) before the big night. I have no fear that practice will be much fun and that the night of the show will kick some major ass!
Editor’s Note: The band Paragon is performing a special show on Saturday, November 2nd at “The Chop Shop ” in North Carolina. Please be there if you are within reach and support this great band, they truly need your backing if we want their great music to reach a greater audience. No excuses make it happen!!!
Written by Chris Martin
Senior Staff Writer