Shortly after Scotty McCreery won the 10th
season of American Idol, Bridgeport’s Aaron Gallagher found himself playing for him.
Gallagher is a member of the Raleigh, NC-based Chris Hendricks Band, which not only entertains audiences with their signature alternative rock, but also enlightens and encourages high school students.
“Chris speaks to the kids about growing up with Cerebral Palsy,” Gallagher said.
So at one of those assemblies – at Garner Magnet High School in Garner, NC – the band was doing their thing. Hendricks delivered his speech to the students and then the guys obliged in playing some tunes.
“I look down and there’s Scotty McCreery in the front row,” he said. “We knew he was going to be there, but didn’t expect to be playing my guitar 10 feet in front of this country music mega star and American Idol winner.”
After the show, McCreery came upon stage and wanted to meet the band members.
“He totally fixated on Chris and his message,” Gallagher said.
The boys all had plenty of time to chat backstage.
“I talked to him 15 or 20 minutes. He’s a really good, down to earth guy,” Gallagher said.
Among topics which came up was baseball.
“I said that I heard he was a pitcher and he said yeah, that he used to throw a little bit,” Gallagher said. “I told him that I played in college (West Virginia Wesleyan).”
The boys found they had a mutual friend associated with the sport.
“One of my friends – Pat Watkins – played baseball for the Cincinnati Reds and he went to Garner High School,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher was quite impressed with McCreery for a number of reasons.
After talking to the Garner Magnet High School principal, Gallagher discovered that McCreery had just the night before been featured on The Jay Leno Show. He flew home on the redeye, arriving in town at 3 a.m. and still made it to school. He was in shorts and a T-shirt, blending right into the student body; not causing attention to himself nor bragging about his newfound fame.
“He didn’t act like he was cooler than any of the other students. That’s the reason I really liked him,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher later ran into McCreery, who made a special musical appearance with Brad Paisley - with whom he ended up touring during his senior year of high school. The fact that a kid who was on the concert circuit, touring with one of country music’s biggest names on the weekends and attending high school during the week, made a lasting impression on Gallagher, he said.
Also, he was and continues to be impressed with McCreery's musical talent.
“As an entertainer, I think Scotty has a voice well beyond his years. When I first heard him sing, he was 17 and sounded like a seasoned veteran,” Gallagher said.
And it’s pretty cool, Gallagher said, to see a performer develop over time.
"When (McCreery) was younger, you could hear a lot of influence from the American Idol people but more and more recently, he’s starting to find his own sound," he said.
McCreery also toured with The Band Perry, who happened to include guitarist Jebb Holmes – who played on The Chris Hendricks Band’s first studio album, “Noise.”
“Nashville really is a small place,” Gallagher said.
With all that being said, I asked Aaron Gallagher if he and McCreery happened to talk about the fact that Gallagher hosts a Web site, www.freeandeasyguitar.com
, which has taught some 15 million people worldwide how to play guitar.
He never mentioned that, he said.
I say: Pretty impressive.
Gallagher also happened to be the one who got Hendricks into the music business. He backed him and promoted his talent. By "chance," the two met one day in a coffee shop. Gallagher was inspired by Hendricks' story, backed him as an agent and began promoting his talent – as well as his message about achieving dreams despite disability. The guys' message and music have garnered attention around the globe.
So today’s blog may be about music, but it's also about humility – a double dose. Sometimes, it seems, it's the lesser-known connections that really make a difference.
To read Connect-Bridgeport’s story about Gallagher, who found his musical talent after his 2003 graduation from Bridgeport High School, click HERE
To read about McCreery's Weekend Roadtrip, which has stops later this month in both Pittsburgh and Charleston, click HERE
Pictured is Scotty McCreery with Aaron Gallagher and The Chris Hendricks Band.