Graham Colton didn’t want to be that guy.
“When we opened The Jones Assembly, when I first had the opportunity to have my own place with my partners, everyone asked me, ‘You have to play the first show.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no.… I don’t want to do that,’ “recalls Colton.
“But four and a half years later… since we opened our doors, it feels good. It’s fun. It’s like a time for us to celebrate and come together.”
On Thanksgiving Eve, Colton – the Oklahoma City singer-songwriter who went on to become restaurateur, venue operator, and civic leader – will take to the stage he helped build with operational partners Brian Bogert, Scott Marsh and Courtney Mankin. The November 24 show will not only be his first at The Jones: it will be his first gig in seven years, a hiatus he could not have imagined 20 years ago when he embarked on his career. musical.
“I have a lot of things that I’m really grateful for: I’m exactly where I need to be. What I know here in 2021 is that things turned out exactly as they should have – and life is. kind of like And that’s the subject of a lot of my songs, ”Colton said.
Concert to mark the 20th anniversary of his first album
When Colton graduated in 1998 from Heritage Hall, where he was the quarterback for the state championship football team, he had a clear vision of what he wanted to do with his life. The OKC native headed south to Southern Methodist University with the intention of doing more of what he had already started in his hometown: writing and performing songs.
“You throw COVID in there, and you can take liberties with your math. But it’s the 20th anniversary of my eponymous first outing, which had seven songs that I recorded in my freshman year in college when I moved to Dallas, ”he said. noted.
These songs found their way to some well-known record companies and musicians, including Adam Duritz of Counting Crows. The newly formed Graham Colton Band were chosen to join the Crows on their “Hard Candy Tour”, which led to a four-year tour with Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, Needtobreathe and Jason Mraz .
Colton signed a deal with Universal Records, had his first hit song with “Best Days” and made the rounds on TV talk shows.
“At first it all happened so fast – and it kind of turned out the way I thought it would. It was kind of like, ‘I’m going to write these songs, I’m going to form a band, I’m going to get in. a van, I’m going to take a tour and I’m just going to keep going, ”Colton said.“ Things weren’t as complex as they are now in the music business… and I knew I could. do, if I was doing the right things, I had the right songs and I had the right band. ”
Now 40, Colton admitted he was naïve and got caught up in the lifestyle.
“As things tend to happen in life, you just get your ass kicked a bit,” he said. “I think the best thing that could happen to me was to come back to Oklahoma City and reestablish my roots. And I’m just going through this loop moment.”
COVID-19 pandemic brings music back to the fore
Since moving in 2006, Colton has moved to OKC with his wife Betsy and their two children, Gray and Colette. He started the Lunar Manor recording studio and was instrumental in organizing events such as the Scissortail Park opening concert featuring the Kings of Leon and Edmond’s Heard on Hurd festivals. He has served on the boards of the Oklahoma Aids Care Fund, Allied Arts, and the Oklahoma Arts Council.
And he became an operational partner of the Social Order Dining Collective, opening and operating the popular restaurant, bar and concert hall The Jones Assembly.
“I was surrounded by incredibly talented people who I knew would support and help me. But I felt like when I first went on tour, I was making albums or j ‘was writing songs for the first time.… You just don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re like,’ OK, we’re making something magical, ‘”he said. “So that got me thinking, ‘OK, well, this is the next phase. I think music will always be a part of me. I still want to write songs and do it, but I think the acting and the performance is behind me. ‘”
Then, the COVID-19 outbreak forced The Jones Assembly to close for three months in the spring of 2020. During the shutdown, Colton recorded an unexpected album, “Inside Out,” his first since “Lonely Ones” of 2014.
The release of her first album in six years last summer heralded her first concert in seven years, a sort of celebration of coming out of the pandemic. Over the past four months, he said The Jones has put on a diverse series of sold-out or near-sold-out shows with enthusiastic crowds.
“And for me, I just don’t think this album or this show would have happened without taking that hiatus, without COVID, without all of these things. I’m going to have my kids there, and they never even got me. seen playing, ”said Colton, whose children are now 6 and 8 years old.
“They don’t even know daddy as the guy on stage. They just know daddy is the guy who kind of has his silly songs that they hear every now and then on TV and in the movie ‘Toy Story’.”
For his debut on The Jones Assembly stage, he’s planning a pre-show barbecue, an after-party, surprise appearances, and a set list that will include songs from each of his albums – and even a few tunes dating back to his days. high school students playing in local restaurants.
“In a way, I don’t feel any different from when I was 20 writing songs that I didn’t know anyone would hear,” he said. “Now I’m so lucky and so happy, especially coming out of this crazy time. I just think this show might be the first of another chapter – whatever that means.”
Graham Colton – The 20th Anniversary Concert and BBQ
When: 6.30 p.m. on November 24.
Or: The Jones Assembly, 901 W Sheridan Ave.
COVID-19 protocols: Ticket holders must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours.
Information and tickets: https://www.thejonesassembly.com.