Chase McRoy, 22, upright bass player for band County Road 5, credits his musical success to the support of his parents Rick and Luci McRoy, of Sedalia, his fiancee Liza Arl, of Smithton, and others.
McRoy, now based in Kansas City, began is career at 13 and will perform with County Road 5 this Saturday night at Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que.
“I got a bass for my 13th birthday and I was lucky enough to start working and actually making money about six months later,” he told the Democrat on Tuesday. “My first paying gig was when I was 13-years-old, that was with a band called Billy Bill and the Whiskey Shooters.”
He added that he worked with several local groups around Sedalia from the time he was 13 until he could drive at age 16. Although he never took formal lessons, music always made “sense” to him.
“When I turned 16 I started getting actual professional gigs in Kansas City, St. Louis and Jefferson City,” he said. “I played for a long time for a band called 2 Buck Drunk … for about two years. A lot of kids want to be rock stars, but I just wanted to make a living doing it, which I’ve been lucky enough to do.”
Family, friends and teachers believed he would be successful.
“My parents were fantastic,” McRoy said. “From the moment I stuck with it and showed signs of being good at it they have been right there.”
He also credits his brother and best friend Chad McRoy, of Sedalia, and others who believed in his musical goals.
“What I thought was cool, was nobody ever doubted it,” he said. “It was never ‘if you can make your living’ it was ‘when you do this.’”
McRoy, who graduated in 2011 from Smith-Cotton High School, said he was also influenced by former S-C Band Director Tom Thorpe.
“I still keep in contact with him,” he said. “He lives in Nebraska now, and he comes out and sees us when we play in Nebraska.”
McRoy is blessed with perfect pitch; he can hear a tune and automatically know how to play it back in the correct key.
“To me it always feels like you just know where on your instrument to go,” he said. “I don’t find myself thinking about it, your hands just instantly goes to that spot, and you play it. It’s not a conscious thought.”
When asked if he ever thought he’d be where he’s at professionally at 22, he said he didn’t think he would be moving forward so fast in his career at this point.
“It’s all I’ve ever done to make a living, so it’s no surprise, but I’m a big planner,” he noted. “I kind of had it planned out that around 30 I would be doing this and then planed on retiring between 40 and 50 and then teaching (music) after that. I never expected to be on a tour bus and on planes this fast.”
McRoy said the band plays 300 to 310 shows a year.
“I’m on the road most of the time,” he added. “Typically, we’ll be on the road for a month to two months. Then we’ll get a week or two off, and then we’re back out again. If I’m home, then usually I’m freelancing or subbing with guys at local bars, friends of mine, for fun.”
From time-to-time, McRoy plays for well-known blues singer Samantha Fish. He recently spent time at a gig in Kentucky with the singer.
“She was playing in Louisville, Kentucky, and she didn’t know anybody there,” he added. “So, she flew me to Louisville and I played a gig for her.”
County Road 5 is based in Kansas City, but they play across the United States.
“We tour a lot with Eric Church and we just played with Blake Shelton last weekend in Manhattan, Kansas,” McRoy said. “We tour on our own. When we’re touring as the headliners we play in smaller theaters, but if we are touring with someone bigger we get to do the huge 20,000 people crowds.”
McRoy said the biggest crowd he’s played for was 26,000 people when he was subbing as an electric bass player for Samantha Fish’s band.
“The biggest crown I’ve gotten to play for that was drawn by us (County Road 5), where we were the headliners, was about 8,000 and that was in Kansas City,” he added.
McRoy said County Road 5 plays what he calls “real country.”
“It’s an original band, we’re not a cover band,” McRoy said. “Most people would harken the music to Waylon Jennings.”
The group writes all their own music and they are a “show band.” During performances, McRoy plays the upright bass and often entertains the audience by standing and balancing on the instrument.
“A few years ago we had a No. 1 song on Texas radio, it was actually before me,” McRoy said. “‘A Drink I could Not Handle’ was the tune. That song got some decent radio play, and we were recently on the Travel Channel on a show called ‘Fandemonium.’”
He added that another television show, “Junk Gypsies,” recently bought one of the group’s songs, “Trailer Up For Sale,” to use for their episodes.
McRoy said the group plays frequently in Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Colorado.
“You go where you are on the radio,” he said. “Texas and most of the states I’ve mentioned we chart there.”
County Road 5 original songs now playing on the radio are “Country’s What You Got,” “A Drink I Couldn’t Handle,” and “Trailer Up For Sale.”
McRoy said he hopes in a few years to transition back to jazz music.
“I studied jazz and that’s what I love very, very much,” he added. “The problem with playing jazz is … you’re constantly working to get six and seven gigs a week. You’re just kind of a freelance bass player. I’m incredibly honored and lucky making my living playing music, period. But, the only way that could be cooler is if I was doing that playing jazz.
“To me it’s more of a language and less than a music style,” he added. “I firmly believe, if you study and play jazz everything else is just easy.”
County Road 5 will take the stage at Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que, 4860 S. Limit Ave., at 9 p.m. Saturday. The group will have CDs and a live DVD shot at a concert at Lansing Correctional Facility available for sale. More information about Chase McRoy and County Road 5 can be found at countyroad5.com; and their music videos can be viewed on YouTube.
Reach Faith Bemiss at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.