McCall Chapin and Tobacco Rd Band are our featured entertainers for this year’s Independence Eve Celebration. We’re looking forward to a great night of live music as everyone gathers at Riverfront Park on Sunday, July 3 from 5 to 11 p.m. McCall Chapin will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., followed by Tobacco Rd. Band starting at 6:30 p.m.

Our headline entertainment, Tobacco Rd Band was formed in Tallahassee in 2010 by CMT touring artist Eric Durrance. Eric’s songwriting is complemented by the guitar playing of Ben Castro, Dale Shumate on bass, and drummer Joe Markham. This impressive four-piece band describes itself as “hard rocking country.”

“Music runs in my family,” Eric says of how he got started in the business, “My mom and her dad have always been very musical. I got my first break in 1998, the same year the band Creed was discovered out of Tallahassee and went on to sell millions of albums. We signed to the same label, Wind Up Records. That was my first record deal, what kicked off everything, and we’ve been going ever since.”

After their first single “Stiff Drink” received lots of airplay on country radio stations, the band started touring bars and clubs around the South East and went on to open shows for Josh Turner, Jake Owen, Jason Aldean, and many other artists. They teamed up with Colt Ford in the studio to record their hit “That’s Country.” The video of that song on YouTube just surpassed one million views. Eric’s talent as a songwriter also led him to co-write Jake Owen’s top 10 single “Eight Second Ride.” The band just returned from Nashville, Tennessee where they played at the Country Music Association’s CMA Week Music Festival.

“We’re really excited to be part of this event,” Eric says of Apalachicola’s July 3 celebration, “We’ll be playing lots of our original country songs, plus covers of classics, and stuff you hear on the radio every day. We’ve been working on a July 4th themed set list with some feel-good patriotic songs.” Guitarist Ben Castro is working on a solo of the national anthem, described as “Jimmy Hendrix meets Brad Paisley.” I can’t wait.

Opening for Tobacco Rd. Band will be McCall Chapin, a talented 16-year-old singer/songwriter from Tallahassee. She first picked up a guitar at age 8 and discovered she had a gift for songwriting at age 12. McCall describes her style as “Urban Pop Country,” blending meaningful, layered lyrics with her well-honed guitar skills.  She has now written over 40 original songs.

McCall draws from a variety of musical genres, and is particularly inspired by artists like Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, Miranda Lambert, Rascal Flatts, and Lady Antebellum.  She has often been compared to multiplatinum recording artist Taylor Swift, who began writing her own songs at 12 years old and released her first album at age 16.

McCall started performing live during the summer of 2015, beginning with performances at Rock the Sunblock for the Victor Over Cancer foundation and at open mic venues.  She was selected to compete in the Thomasville, Georgia Flaunt Festival Battle of the Bands in Oct. 2015, winning the youth event despite stiff competition from a number of excellent local bands. McCall has grown her following at Tallahassee-area venues and events such as the Junction at Monroe, LeMoyne Arts Festival, Atmosphere Bar, and Apalachicola-area favorites Harry A's and Tamara's Tapas Bar. She has opened for a number of nationally touring acts, including The Currys, Danika Holmes & Jeb Hart, and Blind Joe, and enjoys meeting with and learning from different artists.

"I'm thrilled to be back in Apalachicola and opening the Independence Eve Celebration for Tobacco Rd Band,” she says.  “It's going to be a really fun night!"

Both McCall Chapin and Tobacco Rd. Band are on YouTube and iTunes, if you’d like to check them out in advance of the event.

Augusta West is executive director of Apalachicola Main Street, a non-profit organization dedicated to downtown economic development and historic preservation. She can be reached at awest@apalachicolamainstreet.org or (850) 274-1321. Main Street’s mailing address is 1 Avenue E, Apalachicola, FL 32320