No record deal, no radio play ... no problem. That was the history of Columbus-based indie rockers Red Wanting Blue, a band that spent 13 years playing clubs throughout the Midwest and building a loyal fan base the old-fashioned way.
It all changed this past year as the group landed a three-album deal with Fanatic Records, signed with Paradigm booking agency (which also represents Coldplay and Dave Matthews) and made a memorable appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Their current fall tour stops at the House of Blues Nov. 9, featuring songs off the latest album, From the Vanishing Point.
Debuting at No. 10 on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart, the band's signature guitar-driven rock and lead singer Scott Terry's booming baritone (he's been compared to both Eddie Vedder and Darius Rucker) are punctuated by country and blues influences on the January release. It's all part of a welcome — if somewhat wistful — series of events for Terry, who formed the group at Ohio University in 1996.
"The reality of this is a sledgehammer the size of a skyscraper," says the 36-year-old Terry, who still drives the band's tour bus from city to city. "It's taken well over a decade to try and figure this stuff out. It's great to feel validated, but it definitely tastes different than I would have thought."
In June, Red Wanting Blue played to an overflow crowd of 9,000 at Rockin' on the River in Cuyahoga Falls. "We've never been part of a show with that many people [when] someone wasn't playing after us," Terry says. Then in July, he and bandmates Mark McCullough, Greg Rahm, Eric Hall Jr. and Dean Anshutz took to the stage at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater for the Letterman gig, performing the song "Audition." "It was so disarming," says Terry. "I looked out in the audience and saw this gathering of RWB fans and I was put at ease. Even if just for a few minutes, this was going to be our show."
It was also a long way from those fondly remembered sets at Peabody's DownUnder and the Grog Shop during the group's early years, though they certainly don't feel they made it this far on their own. "I'm so proud of what we've built. We owe so much of it to people in Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown," says Terry. "We all did this together."