Updated Tue, Jul 24, 2012 5:21 pm
Since forming at Ohio University in 1996, the Columbus-based band Red Wanting Blue has released nine albums and toured America, averaging 200 shows a year.
On July 18, those years of hard work paid off when the band appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, playing to an estimated audience of 3.2 million viewers.
For bassist Mark McCullough, playing at the Ed Sullivan Theater was a milestone.
"We all felt so humbled to perform on the same stage as many of our favorite bands had done in the past," he said.
However, that awestruck feeling was balanced with a few jitters while the group waited to go on.
"The main thing going through my mind was the repeating phrase, 'Don't screw up!'" he said. "The hours dragged but our time finally arrived, and as we made our way down to the stage, a sense of calm came over all of us. We looked at each other, smiled and laughed, and knew that we were all going to do just fine."
The band, which also includes singer/songwriter Scott Terry, guitarist/keyboardist Greg Rahm, guitarist Eric Hall and drummer Dean Anshutz, has come a long way since their days performing at Athens house parties and one particularly infamous Court Street bar.
"We survived those first few years by playing backyards and parties on High, Palmer and East State Streets," said Terry. "Our first official gig was at The Dugout on Court Street (currently Ski's Teases & Vintage T-Shirts). I remember that in the back room--our backstage--there was a corner with no walls, just a giant dirt mound."
While at OU, the band released two albums, Velveteen and The Image Trigger, before setting up camp in Columbus. Since then, the group has toured relentlessly, received national radio airplay, appeared on NPR's Snap Judgment and had a song featured in the 2012 documentary Unraveled.
The band's label, Fanatic Records, had been in touch with Letterman's music producer for the past couple of years, according to Josh Bloom, owner and president of Fanatic.
"Over time, several other trusted people in the industry tipped off the show about the band," said Bloom. "As the story grew, The Late Show became more and more interested. Eventually, they offered us a date and the rest is history."
Following the band's performance, phone calls, emails and texts came pouring in.
"All of our phones exploded," said McCullough. "I think the happiest people of all were our fans. They acted like proud parents after watching the show."
Although the Ed Sullivan Theater's green room is a far cry from The Dugout's "backstage," founding member Terry says Athens and OU will always have a place in his heart.
"We didn't know much back then, but we were okay with not knowing," he said. "We liked learning as we went, and making up the rules as we went along...we felt invincible. What can I say? It was college."
Visit www.redwantingblue.com for more information.