When Parmalee, a Greenville, N.C, quartet, plays the Blind Horse Saloon this Saturday night, it will be a big show in more ways than one.
The band, together since 2001, spent a decade touring the Southeast relentlessly before being signed by Stoney Creek Records at the turn of the decade. Their debut album, “Feels Like Carolina,” has spawned three straight top 10 singles: “Carolina,” “Close Your Eyes” and “Already Callin’ You Mine.” By landing all three songs in the Top Ten, Parmalee tied The Band Perry’s record for consecutive hits, and “Carolina” was certified platinum for sales of 1 million copies.
But in another, much more personal way, the real triumph for Parmalee is that they’re still together at all. In 2010, after a show in Rock Hill, drummer Scott Thomas, brother of singer/guitarist Matt Thomas, was shot in the leg, stomach and shoulder during a robbery attempt on the band’s bus. He was in a coma for 10 days, and wasn’t able to return to the band for eight months.
But rather than giving up, Matt Thomas says that that tragedy made Parmalee more determined than ever to succeed.
“As hard-headed as I was before, as determined as I was before, after that it was even more so,” he says. “I was going to make this happen. It does make you appreciate life more, but you want to continue to keep going and keep working hard.”
As Parmalee becomes more and more successful, “appreciation” is a word that comes up a lot. Since the band worked for more than a decade to get where they are, Thomas says that they have a better sense of where they came from than most.
“Every day is surreal,” he says. “Every time we get on the bus, and we realize that we don’t have to pack up our gear after a show, there’s a crew that does it for us, we still talk about that. I don’t think that will ever get old. We’ve come from working all week and then going out to play shows on weekends to where we are now, and we try to keep that in the top of our minds all the time.”
Thomas says that the band’s slow climb allowed him to get a sense of momentum building around them, and he could tell the band’s fortunes were changing.
“You notice it when you go places you’ve never been, and people are singing the words to your songs,” he says. “You can tell when your song is in the Top 20, then the Top 10, and when you hit that Top Five, that’s when you can really tell. That’s when a song has really connected with people, and that’s what brings them to the shows. You’re packing out places you’ve never been before and people are singing the words back to you, that’s the coolest thing.”
Parmalee w/ One Eyed Jack
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 7, Doors open at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Blind Horse Saloon, 1035 Lowndes Hill Road, Greenville
COST: Tickets: $15 advance/$17 day of show