Greg Bates is set for a gig at 115 Bourbon Street on Nov. 30.
♦ 7 p.m. Nov. 30
♦ 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 West 115th St., Merrionette Park
♦ No tickets/reservations; first-come, first-serve; $5 cover starting at 8 p.m.
♦ (708) 388-8881;
The easygoing country-soul groove of “Did It for the Girl” landed Greg Bates in the top 10 of Billboard’s Country airplay chart with his first single. The singer, whose music takes a neo-traditionalist bent, recently wrapped a string of dates opening for Brantley Gilbert.
“At every show, there were more people singing along,” he says. “As an artist and as a songwriter, that’s all you ever want, is for people to sing your song back to you.” Bates, 25, released a five-song EP in July and has a full-length album, already recorded, due next year.
The Nashville native grew up around songwriters, often the parents of children who attended school with him. “I was going to writers’ rounds constantly, long before I was going to concerts,” he says. “It was amazing to me that a guy could get up on stage with a piano, go, ‘This is what I wrote this song about,’ then play it. And you’d go, ‘That’s a song from the radio.’ It blew me away.”
Bates performed 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite” in the eighth grade at his middle-school talent show. “That was the first time I got up on stage and the first time I forgot the words in front of people,” he says. His first song came at age 15, while bored in study hall. “I remember being so proud of it but, at the same time, didn’t want anybody to hear it. I think every writer goes through that phase where you think, ‘There’s no way this can be good. This is good only to me.’ ”
Bates studied music business at Nashville’s Belmont University, graduating in 2010. “I started meeting with publishers my sophomore year,” Bates says. “I would go to publishing companies in the morning, play them songs and meet with them, and go to publishing class in the afternoon. Then I’d go to another publishing company.” He got a publishing deal the summer after graduation and signed his recording contract in the fall of 2011.
Bates wrote his current single with Rodney Clawson and Lynn Hutton, who brought the idea for the song to the table. “We just started riffing on all the things guys do when we’re in relationships that we don’t do when we’re single, anything from what’s in the song to taking showers,” Bates says. Bates gives a shout-out to country icon George Strait and his 1982 hit “Marina Del Rey” in the song’s second verse. “I’m not a big proponent of doing that,” he says, “but it just felt right.”
Brother Chris Bates used to play bass for Greg but won’t be following him into the music industry. “He’s graduating from Belmont with a nursing degree in May,” says Greg, who included a song called “Brothers” on his EP. Bates wrote the song, inspired by his younger sibling, in his Belmont dorm room.
Bates got Nashville harmonica legend Charlie McCoy to play on his album, including a bass harmonica on a song called “Lost in Caroline.”
“He pulls it out, and it’s this big hunk of metal, rusted and nasty looking; he’s had it for years,” says Bates, who asked the musician about other records that had featured the instrument. “He’s like, I guess the coolest thing this harmonica has ever been on was ‘The Boxer,’ ” Bates says. “Then he looks at us, straight-faced, and says, ‘But I can’t really take credit for that. Paul Simon wrote out the whole part for me.’ ”
Gannett News Service