After air, food and water, "music is at or near the top of the things that make life worthwhile," said Dalton native and musician Schylar Shoates.
Shoates, a 1998 graduate of Dalton High School, and his band the Music City Stones, a Rolling Stones tributes band, will headline the Off the Rails Summer Entertainment Series concert Friday at the Burr Performing Arts Park in downtown Dalton.
Shoates said this will be the first time the group has played Dalton with its full nine-piece lineup.
"We've got a horn section, backup singers, a keyboard player," he said. "We've got some really heavy hitters."
The band's members are Shoates on guitar; Louis Lee, lead vocals; Tim Clo, drums; Tobin Dale, guitar; Seth Timbs, keyboards; and Dean Tomasek, bass, along with background vocalist Emmy Hickman and the Nashville Horns: Fredrick Weathersby, trumpet, and Barry Yarbrough, saxophone.
The Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia, the Creative Arts Guild, the Dalton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Dalton Development Authority present the concert series. The concerts are free, open to the public and family friendly. The series will continue every Friday through the end of July and return on Aug. 20 and Sept. 17.
COVID-19 caused the concert series to be canceled last year, and shut down live music across the country for most of the year. But as the pandemic has eased, live music has started to come back, and Shoates said audiences have been eager to hear its return.
"The energy that transfers between an artist and an audience is tremendous," he said. "When you work all week, you need those outlets."
The Music City Stones have been together 17 years.
"We are a Rolling Stones tribute band," Shoates said. "We are not like a Beatles tribute band. We don't wear wigs and try to look and play exactly like the Rolling Stones. We are fans of the music and try to pay tribute to the music."
"We were playing with a Beatles tribute band just this past week, and we were talking about how difficult it must be because you have to get every single note like it was on the record," he said. "With the Stones, it's about the groove and the feel. These songs were meant to be played live, unlike a lot of Beatles songs, which were meant to be studio productions. We want everyone to come out and dance and have a good time."
Shoates said the band will have some "special guests" join them.
"We'll have Mal Leonard, a very talented young musician (from Dalton)," Shoates said. "I'm producing his first EP (extended play record) at my studio in Nashville, Sky Studio. He's going to sit in on a song with us. Tanner Cline (who will be performing earlier in the evening) will sit in on a song with us. He's a graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School and a recent graduate of Middle Tennessee State University in recording production technology. We also have David Aft (president of the Community Foundation), so it's going to be a big Dalton fest."
Aft said he's looking forward to the evening.
"Schylar and I have known each other for years and played music together for years," he said. "And this band is great. I think people are going to have a lot of fun."
Shoates said he realized early on that music was his calling.
"I had to do it," he said. "It wasn't that I had to do this as a career, I just had to do it."
After graduating from high school, Shoates earned a bachelor's degree in recording industry production and technology from Middle Tennessee State University.
"You don't have to go to college to make records," he said. "But it was a bridge for me from playing guitar in Dalton, Georgia, to going to Nashville and being able to pay my rent."
Shoates' mother Gloria said she is very proud of his success and proud that he is coming back home to perform.
Shoates said throughout his career he's had the support of people in Dalton.
"I'm really lucky to come from such a great and supportive town," he said. "I'm really looking forward to coming back and playing for the people there."
Concert at Burr Park on Friday
The Off the Rails Summer Entertainment Series continues Friday.
• 6:30 p.m. -- Whitfield County native Tanner Cline performs in the Truist Tent.
• 7:30 -- The Austin Zachary Band will perform on the Burr Park stage.
• 8:30 -- The Music City Stones, a Rolling Stones tribute band featuring Dalton native Schylar Shoates, plays on the Burr Park stage.