Up and coming country-rock band, Parmalee, will be bringing its unique sound to the Kiwanis Wyoming County fair on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
Stepping into the music scene with a country-rock sound mixed with its own homegrown style, Parmalee is in Billboard magazine’s “Bubbling under artist.”
The band has also been nominated for a Teen Choice award.
While the band was on tour with country star Jake Owen in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, lead singer Matt Thomas spoke by phone recently of its summer tour.
Parmalee got its start when brothers, Matt and Scott Thomas, and their cousin, Barry Knox, played the club circuit in their North Carolina hometown of Greenville.
Headlining at the time as the Thomas Brothers Band the trio often frequented the same venues as their friend Josh McSwain who played in a local cover band.
An admirer of McSwain’s musical ability, Matt Thomas invited him to play with Scott, Knox, and himself.
With all four growing up around musically inclined families they instantly meshed well on stage.
“We all started playing music when we were kids. It’s always been a family thing,” explained Thomas.
Their first gig as a newly formed band was at a local bar/restaurant called Corrigans near East Carolina University where the four went to school.
Taking the stage, the group secured its positions with Matt Thomas on guitar and lead vocalist, Scott Thomas on drums, Knox on bass, and McSwain on guitar.
A new country sound was created that night in 2001 and Parmalee was born.
“We kind of make our own sound” explained Matt, “We’re more of a band, like a rock band with lots of harmony.”
“We spent quite a few years building a local fan base then just grinding, doing everything we could,” recalls Thomas, “It’s lots of hard work.”
The band got its name from their rehearsal place, Parmele, North Carolina. The extra “E” in the band’s name was added to make it easier for people who aren’t local to pronounce.
Every Tuesday and Thursday the guys would gather for practice in the barn they nicknamed “Studio B” after its builder. Always the gentlemen, Parmalee’s rehearsals ended at 11 p.m., since the entire neighborhood could hear the band practicing.
After steadily growing regional popularity, Parmalee made its next move to broaden its horizons.
The journey took the band members out of North Carolina and to New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between.
At each destination they were met with the same advice, “You guys need to be in Nashville.”
Armed with a dream, instruments, and an RV, the guys made it to Nashville’s famous Demonbrewn Street.
The four called the RV home for the next month while they concentrated on writing new material and networking. Their determination eventually paid off as it earned Parmalee a co-writing session with David Fanning. Fanning belongs to the production team for New Voice Entertainment.
The North Carolina native’s song “Carolina,” which they recorded with New Voice, gained overnight popularity.
“Well it’s obviously home,” said lead vocalist, “It’s just about home, it reminded us of it.”The band’s other hit single, “Close your eyes” is available to watch on Vevo. While it doesn’t have the sentimentality to Parmalee that “Carolina” holds, they don’t seem to mind.
“It’s actually a song that was passed down the pipeline to us,” said Thomas “we’re so glad we made it [ours].”
When the song’s music video premiered on Vevo, Matt’s reaction was humble excitement. “It’s really cool to see it, it’s crazy.”
Parmalee’s fame continues to rise and it continues to conquer any obstacles in the way including their band-mates near death experience.
In September 2010, the band was involved in an attempted robbery and shoot-out in its RV outside the club at which it had just played. The incident came on the eve of Parmalee traveling to Nashville for a showcase with Stoney Creek Records.
Scott Thomas, the drummer, was shot three times and was airlifted to a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was given a five percent chance of life by doctors, but miraculously survived after spending 35 days in the hospital, 10 of which he was in a coma. Having fully recovered, Parmalee continues on a different touring path which led it to Tunkhannock’s Kiwanis Wyoming County Fair.
Tickets for Parmalee are available at Gay’s True Value, Tunkhannock, and Burke’s Gun Shop, Route 6 in Black Walnut.
General admission is $10 and reserved seating is $15 with a handling fee of $1.50 for each. To order tickets, patrons can visit www.wyomingcountyfair.com/entertainment.
Currently the band’s plan, according to Thomas, is to “Keep doing what we’re doing. It’s great, we’re busy playing every night of the week.”