Away from the stage, they’re all just typical teenagers, but get the Carroll County-based band Stagecoach in front of an audience and you’ll quickly realize they’re anything but.
Ranging in ages from 16 to 19, Stagecoach has been quickly building a following in Carroll County and Surry County, N.C. with a hard-rocking style of classic rock and southern rock well beyond its years. The band has performed the last two years at the Carroll County Agricultural Fair and will play this Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Second Annual Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout.
Whether they are nailing the extended live version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird or blasting some Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stagecoach is a must-hear for any local fan of classic or Southern rock. Considering many of their peers are into rap or today’s popular music, Stagecoach’s mastery of tunes from 40 and 50 years ago is even more amazing.
“I guess our parents just raised us right. It’s just what we grew up with,” said the band’s frontman Ethan Ayers, who sings and absolutely shreds on lead guitar.
On and off, the band’s only been together for about two years, but you wouldn’t know by listening to them live. Recently, the band was a big hit on Saturday night at the new Hillfest music festival in Hillsville. They also played both the Carroll and Surry County fairs this summer as well as a Fourth of July celebration at a winery in Dobson, N.C. Locally, the band has also played venues such as Legends in King, N.C., Draper Mercantile, Creek Bottom Brews and the Pie Factory in Mount Airy, N.C.
“We are known for kind of rocking out other bands. A lot of bands around here don’t really play what we play,” said Jacob Easter, who plays rhythm and some lead guitar.
You certainly won’t see many bands try to tackle the 14-minute version of Freebird, but Stagecoach nails it in large part due to Ayers’ talent on the lead guitar. Just 18, Ayers graduated from Carroll County High School in 2016. His brother, Luke, plays drums for the band and is just a sophomore at CCHS. Bassist and part-time guitarist Sam Sumner is 19 and was a two-sport athlete at CCHS in football and baseball before graduating in 2015. Easter, 17, is a senior who homeschools in Cana.
Aside from Freebird, you are likely to hear Stagecoach play such CCR classics as Travelin’ Band or Lodi, The Allman Brothers’ Ramblin’ Man, Blue Sky or One Way Out, as well as songs like Bob Seger’s Night Moves, Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, The Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See or even Workin’ Man Blues by Merle Haggard. You could even hear a couple of original songs the band has been composing. Easter puts it bluntly, saying the band just plays whatever they are in the mood for at the time, which adds to Stagecoach’s energy on stage.
“If you make a set list, it ruins the energy,” he said. “And when you have a crowd, it makes a big difference.”
Stagecoach is scheduled to play from 2-5 p.m. on October 1 during the Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout. The band hopes it will be an audition for an even bigger performance in Hillsville, at one of the downtown Summer Cruise-Ins.
“We’d love to have a shot at it,” Ethan Ayers said. “But right now we are looking forward to playing for the Town at the Chili Shootout.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN