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Wednesday, April 1, 2009 12:07 pm

Ten years of The Station

The Station performs Friday, April 10, at City Nights Theater in the Capital City Bar and Grill.

Please join me in offering hearty congratulations to The Station as they commemorate 10 years together as a working band in 2009. Over the last decade, the Chatham-based group spent about half of that time playing on the road, released three CDs, including a double live set, Speed of Sound (2008), and won in two categories of Illinois Times’ Best of Springfield in 2008, for Original Band and Band Most Likely to Hit it Big.

The nucleus of the group, known around here as the Two Daves — Carter on drums and percussion and Littrell on vocals, guitar and saxophone — are founding members of The Station. Two other original members swapped out with current Stationers, Kevin Lemen on lead guitar and John Kerska on bass, in 2004. According to Carter, that’s when they increased gig dates from 50 to more than 150 per year and began the transition, “from a young band starting out, into a working business with year-end plans, books to balance, and meetings to make.”

Many changes occurred in the music industry over the last 10 years and The Station has seen its fair share at the independent, working-band level. In 1999 most artists didn’t have Web sites, there was no MySpace and digital downloads on handheld personal players had yet to replace CDs as the favored form of listening to recorded music.

“I was 18 years old when we started, so needless to say, everything has changed for me,” said Carter. “Literally everything has changed for us as a band too, from marketing to music.”

Music-wise the band progressed from a jam-band-influenced group barely out of high school to a well-tempered combo of musicians able to perform dozens of originals and countless cover tunes on the spot. Through challenging themselves and their audiences by continually performing new self-penned material and doing fun takes on other music, The Station found themselves growing as a musical group and earning a credible fan base. All that is to be expected after 10 years of playing together, but what the band, or anyone else for that matter, couldn’t anticipate was the vast change of technological advances coming in the information world.

“In the last few years we’ve gotten over any fear of new technology and worked with connecting with fans and making personal relationships,” said Carter. “Understanding how to take full of advantage of all the technology out there now is essential to getting ahead.”

Carter should know. While working at a local Internet provider back in 1999, he started a band Web site just a few months after The Station’s inception. Since then they’ve ridden the wave of Web-based promotional tools available to music artists, including MySpace, Facebook, podcasts, Twitter and a host of other sites and programs, connecting the band to an ever-growing base of fans through the Internet.

“I can get on Twitter and Facebook at 2 a.m. after a show and going through ReverbNation, a Web site for bands, it gets started and immediately posted to everyone who’s connected to us. It’s amazing.”

With a celebration of the past comes an inevitable look into the future and as this quartet of young men, now having fun playing in the band, head toward the inevitable choices of mid-life, what might happen in the next 10 years?

“I see us continuing the trend of fewer and bigger shows, recording more albums, and all of us having families — I’d be ecstatic if we’re doing this same thing,” said Carter. “As long as this band and our music lights a fire in us and we’re constantly striving to create, we’ll keep going.”

The Station celebrates 10 years as a band with an anniversary concert at City Nights Theater in the Capital City Bar and Grill on Friday, April 10, with 56 Hope Road opening the show.

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