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Music City Success

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Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013 12:20 pm | Updated: 2:37 am, Sat Oct 18, 2014.

After playing everywhere from Las Vegas to Miami, Dalton-born guitarist Schylar Shoates is returning to his hometown with his new band, The Low Down, Aug. 10 for a performance at The Dalton Depot.

Shoates, who now calls Nashville home, is making his mark on Music City as a songwriter, producer, singer and guitarist, alongside vocalist Brian Bandas, drummer Will Sanford and bassist Brandon Onstad.

“This is the first time in nearly a decade I’ve had the opportunity to play original music where it all began,” Shoates said. “After playing in some of the nation’s best venues, I’ve discovered how great the acoustics are at the Depot. Sometimes you have to go away to appreciate your own grass.”

Shoates and Bandas, previously of the Top-10 country band Love and Theft, formed a songwriting partnership in 2010 with a vision of creating unlikely original rock’n’roll in a city known for its glossed-over pop-country draw. The Low Down released their first EP, “Cut Loose,” which Shoates co-wrote and co-produced with fellow band members and producer Erik Hellerman in April.

The band is currently recording a full-length album and working with fellow Dalton native, Hunter Myers, on a documentary about their quest for authenticity in the new paradigm of the changing music industry.

A 1998 graduate of Dalton High School, Shoates began his journey as a musician at age 11, inspired by heroes such as Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. Self-taught, with an ear for sound, the natural-born musician followed the trail of Ziggy Stardust to Middle Tennessee State University, where he graduated in 2004 with a recording industry degree.

Having studied the licks of Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Mick Ronson and the sounds of producers ranging from George Martin to Sam Phillips, Shoates has experimented with influences from Chic to The Scissor Sisters to bring a new sound to classic blues-inspired rock. It’s his love for chasing sounds that led him to start Sound + Sight Production, a company that takes burgeoning artists to their first recording and established artists to their next hit.

“The name was inspired by one of my favorite Bowie songs titled ‘Sound and Vision.’ I changed it to ‘Sound + Sight’ because it matches my initials,” Shoates said. “Bowie talks about ‘the gift of sound and vision.’ Truly that’s what music is — a gift.”

Also, since 2006, Shoates has taught private music lessons at Gene Ford Music, where he started Rock Band, a program that places students in bands and gives them the opportunity to perform at Nashville’s top music venues. As a guitarist, Shoates works with new artists, offering live and session work, and occasionally playing with The Jaggered Edge, a Rolling Stones cover band. Shoates had the privilege of closing the Bamajam 2012 festival alongside acts such as Kid Rock and Sheryl Crowe.

The Low Down recently starred as the on air guest for Hunter Briley’s Local Buzz program on 102.9 The Buzz, with the song “Low Man”  featured as the local cut of the week. They will record their next single, “If I Had a Gun,” an original song by Shoates, Aug. 16 at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn. where greats such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash blazed trails for new styles of music.

“There’s a line in ‘If I Had a Gun’ that I got from a John Lennon lyric, which he nicked from an Elvis recording. Aug. 16 also happens to be the 41st anniversary of Elvis’s death. The historical significance of recording at Sun represents what The Low Down is all about. In today’s over-processed, mediocre music industry, we strive to create records that have a real spirit and timeless energy captured in the recording,” said Shoates.

“Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back.”

Shoates looks forward to returning to Dalton where his journey began. The Low Down can be seen and heard at