Local country-rock band Whits End can add another check to its bucket list – signing with a record label and prepping to record its first single.
Justin Ray Williams, senior director of Pearl Street Records, came to Lancaster Monday night to sign the band and celebrate the occasion.
“Whits End is the perfect fit for our portfolio at Pearl Street,” Williams said. “They have this passion…. Bands that work as hard as they do are going to make it big.”
Pearl Street has studios in Nashville, Florida and Los Angeles.
Williams said he came across Whits End when the group performed at last month’s Pageland Watermelon Festival.
“I saw them and thought, this is what country needs to go back to,” he said. “This is what people want to hear today.”
Lead vocalist Chris Whitaker said Whits End has been blessed the past few months and he can’t wait to see what the future holds.
“It’s amazing. Pearl Street was on the lookout for talent, and out of all the bands they’ve seen, they chose us,” Whitaker said.
The five-man band’s profile has been rising quickly. It won a battle of the bands competition at Charlotte’s Whiskey River in May, and that sent the band to its first big stage, playing for thousands at June’s Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach.
The group is made up of Whitaker, guitarists Brandon Ashley and Dillon Locke, bassist Brad Williams and drummer Steven Branham.
Justin Ray Williams said he likes the band’s assurance that it will never leave behind its hometown fans in Kershaw and Lancaster.
“This is a band that wants to stay true to its roots and stay connected,” he said. “Sometimes we forget where we came from, but Whits End is grounded. They know where they came from, and I think it’s wonderful that they want to stay close to that.”
For the past year, the band has performed regularly at local bars Coates Poolroom in Kershaw, Mason’s on Beaver Creek, Cooter’s Bar in Lancaster and some other local venues.
The next step for the band, Williams said, will be to record its first single within the next month.
Williams is also executive director of the S.C. Entertainment and Music Hall of Fame. He said the band will be among those participating in an upcoming hall of fame project called Warriors: The Album, which will raise money for veterans’ scholarships.
Whitaker, an Army veteran, said the band is happy to donate its time to help the U.S. military. The band played in Dillon over the weekend, sending off military troops – a last-minute performance after the original entertainer had to cancel.
The band will perform at Lancaster Motor Speedway this Saturday and at Horseplay Farms Aug. 24. It will be the opening act for Old Dominion and LANCO in Greenville on Aug. 31.
Next month, Whits End will share the stage in Kentucky with some of country music’s biggest stars, including Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Little Big Town and Luke Bryan, as well as bands from other music genres like Foo Fighters, Robert Plant and ZZ Top.
“This is just awesome,” Whitaker said. “That’s the only way to describe it. And now, it’s time to go to work.”
For more information about the band and upcoming performances, visit Whits End’s Facebook page at facebook.com/WhitsEndBand.