All Photos © Paragon
So we’ve come down to the end of it, more or less. I just went to my final Paragon rehearsal before the big night November 2. There’s one last practice before then, but my job prevents me from being able to attend. I have had such a blast watching Paragon working together. It’s going to be very sad not getting to go to their storage unit every two weeks to hear these amazing men play these amazing songs. I know that this isn’t the final end, and there will be many more opportunities to not only watch them work on new music, but also hang out with my new friends. And yes, my peep’s, these guys are my friends and some of the best guys I’ve had the privilege to know.
My first write up in this “saga” focused on the magic of music. Part 2 talked more about how the music aspect is as much a part of my life as the air I breathe. This time I want to turn my attention to the familial bond that is found in a music group. Most casual listeners of music never give a second thought to the folks that make the music, how they got to the point of creating what you are listening to, and how much time and energy goes into this crazy business. One of the toughest things about being in a band is…being in a band. To find 4-5 people who have the same musical vision and the same passion and drive to make it happen who are also friends is damn near impossible, despite the fact that there are so many acts of so many varying styles out there. For every Dokken and Oasis, both bands with storied histories chronicling in-fighting and dissolution of the group (or at least the drastic shifting of members,) there is a band like Paragon. There is such a true sense of brotherly love in that room every week that I have been there. On the surface you’ve got the obvious musical chemistry going on between Marc, Scotti, Shawn, and Sonny. Clearly the melding of their abilities with their creative force is a magical thing to create these songs. Yet there is something more going on.
Let’s face some facts: the partnership of Marc and Sonny goes as far back as 1982-83 when the two met up in school and realized they had the same musical tastes and passion to make music themselves. Like most bands, they started out doing covers of Rush and Led Zeppelin, but soon gravitated towards writing their own music. So obviously 30 years or so in the making there is going to be a brotherhood and a special bond between these two men. Though Shawn and Scotti were not there initially, their spirit and bond is just as significant with the others and each other. There is no sense of “rock star” mentality among the band, nor do I imagine there ever would be a time that this attitude would enter into their world. All four guys are so nice and care so much about each other and every single member of the Paragon family that they would never be able to have that prima donna attitude that runs rampant in the entertainment industry no matter the level of success they achieve. It blows me away at how genuine these guys are. At the end of every practice I have attended and I’m sure everyone I have missed, they always shake hands, hug, and even tell each other “I love you’s” like you would any other family member or loved one. This demeanor doesn’t diminish the power of the music created. In fact, it strengthens it and makes me want to listen to it more.
I’m not one for spinning an album or a band’s music repeatedly in a short span of time (unless I’m in preparation mode for a concert,) but I have been listening to the handful of songs I’ve got access to so much. I have about a 90 minute round trip drive to and from work, and no lie I went a few days listening to these 5-6 songs over and over again. I’m finding myself humming or whistling little bits and pieces of the songs (which is totally out of character for me actually, though periodically I will whistle “Jingle Bells” simply because I can. Don’t ask me why, it just happens randomly.) Despite being within the creative fold and hearing some of these songs and/or passages many times I still find myself wanting to hear them again. I really can’t put my finger on it, but there is something about the makeup of their songs that works for me. It’s the perfect mix of technical and melody, and each song is chock full of the main component missing from so much music out today: passion. Essentially anyone has the capacity to create some sort of sound that can be constituted as music, but so few have the ability to construct a song that is at once melodic, interesting, and emotive.
I think that one of the biggest reasons I am so fond of their music is that I’m fond of the members of the band. Even though Marc and I joked in the beginning that what the vision for bringing me in was what happened in the movie Almost Famous, yet instead of me being “The Enemy,” they instantly welcomed me in. Very long phone conversations with Marc typically killing the battery of my Crackberry, sharing jokes with Scotti, talking about new and interesting bands with Sonny (still digging Dirty Loops and Jam Pain Society FYI), and this week Shawn bringing a book for me to read that he thought I might enjoy. I’m an avid reader, and I suppose Shawn picked up on that. This is yet another gesture extended to me that means more than any of them will ever know. Book is excellent so far (Trident K9 Warriors by Mike Ritland for those curious. I actually am taking a brief pause from Game of Thrones to read it, something I didn’t do for the new Stephen King book…sorry Laura!)
I ended up arriving a little late to practice due to an accident on the Interstate, so we missed the first couple songs of the setlist, and only one of those was a new one that I had yet to hear with full vocals. From outside it sounded like we had wandered up to this exclusive club that this incredible band was performing at. AJ and I walked in, warmly greeted by the guys and took our usual positions in the room. Unbeknownst to me practice was going to have to be a wham, bam, thank you ma’am sort of thing as Marc had to be somewhere just after rehearsal. They pretty much just worked straight through each track, in order of how they will be played November 2, with only a couple moments to backtrack and go over a couple sections on the newer tracks. They were even nice enough to go back and run through the one new song we missed so we could hear it. For anyone that has been following Paragon for any length of time will be so mesmerized by the new songs. They’re up to the high standard they have already set for themselves and will be sure to entertain.
Since practice was cut shorter than I anticipated it changed our plans a little. We bid everyone a fond farewell, shaking hands, hugging one another, and getting the flyer I received last time signed by the band, AJ and I headed out. We couldn’t really figure out anything to do to fill a 6 hour gap between practice and the show we were seeing in Charlotte later that night so we stopped at Taste of Buffalo for food and headed back to Statesville to kill time until it was time to drive back to Charlotte. I’m so pumped about the show at The Chop Shop November 2 featuring Paragon and opening band Auxilia, another local band. It’s going to simply be amazing. Paragon has put in so much hard work and countless hours getting themselves ready to entertain their fans for a couple hours. Someone that’s never been involved in a band situation doesn’t realize how much goes in to that relatively short time the band is on stage in comparison that will likely live on as a great memory for life. That’s the goal at least. If you’re still on the fence about coming out and seeing them play, then I implore you to be there. My words do not do the awesome that is Paragon justice. Be there!
Written by Chris Martin
Senior Staff Writer