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Austin Luther stepping up to be the ‘performer’

Marshall High School graduate looking forward to ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ gig

Photo courtesy of Austin Luther Marshall High School alum Austin Luther with his ever-present bass poses for a publicity shot. Luther is part of a hot new band, King Calaway, which recently opened for a Garth Brooks concert.

MARSHALL — Garth Brooks, Jimmy Kimmel, Ricky Skaggs, Austin Luther. Wait, who? Austin Luther, a Marshall High School graduate Class of 2012, that’s who.

Luther, a member of the up-and-coming band, King Calaway, will appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Monday on ABC. The band will perform “World For Two” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCOfmCVBsvk .

Luther is looking forward to the Kimmel gig. The group flies out to L.A. Sunday for the Monday afternoon performance. As a back-up musician, he has performed on talk shows before — “Conan, Fallon” — but “it’s a totally different thing when you’re the performer.”

The guys will sing “World For Two,” which their website https://www.kingcalaway.com/ says it shows “the full range of their sound, mixing groove, grit and rootsy stomp in equal doses.”

Luther has been playing bass since he was 10 years old. He had watched a YouTube video of U2’s Adam Clayton and something clicked in him. He then asked his parents, Karla and Eric Luther, to buy him a bass for Christmas.

He had already been taking piano lessons for a couple years at Music Street in Marshall from Pete Lothringer.

“He taught me bass also,” said Luther, said in a telephone interview Wednesday with the Independent.

Lothringer was a “musical guide and mentor,” he said.

“He was really cool. He taught me not just lessons, but about music in general, the big picture,” Luther said.

Lothringer said he taught Luther for about 10 years — “piano, bass, some guitar.”

As a high school student, Luther took music theory classes at Southwest Minnesota State.

In addition, Lothringer, who has a PhD in music theory, said Luther audited an advanced music theory class of his.

“It wasn’t even for credit,” Lothringer said. “He was there every day for a whole semester. He was my best student. He’s an excellent bass player.”

Lothringer remembers Luther being “obsessed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers” for awhile.

Luther also took piano lessons from Dana Funk up until graduating from high school.

Luther commends the music program at Marshall Public Schools and supports music in the schools in general.

“Marshall has huge numbers for participating in music,” Luther said. “There is jazz, pep, marching band… For a town of about 15,000 in southwest Minnesota to have that kind of program is really great.”

After a stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Luther moved to Los Angeles for a year. After three weeks of living in L.A., he started playing bass as a backup for Sabrina Carpenter, a Disney actor and singer. He had responded to a musical director’s website that provides backup musicians.

“Because she’s so young, they wanted young people accompanying her,” Luther said.

A highlight of the Carpenter gig was flying to New York to appear on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” https://kellyandryan.com/video/sabrina-carpenter-on-her-upcoming-tour/

After that they toured Europe, Brazil and Japan.

Then a buddy of his, who was in the backup band for singer and songwriter Rachel Platten, said he had another gig and could Luther take over for him? Platten is known for her hit single, “Fight Song.”

Highlights from the Platten gig included appearing on “Good Morning America” and performing at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdlgPrTTy0c

Then last year, Kelly Clarkson’s music director, Jason Halbert, and Jon Shoen (One Direction’s former music director, were enlisted by a music producer to look for talent — male musicians “no older than 24,” Luther said. “I met with the other guys and it just worked out really, really well,” he said.

Luther, Caleb Miller, Chris Deaton, Simon Dumas, Jordan Harvey and Chad Michael Jervis now comprise King Calaway.

Luther said the name came from “three or four sessions of brainstorming, writing stuff down, when the drummer, Chris, threw out the name Calaway, who was someone he knew.”

To differentiate it from the Callaway Golf Co., they threw in a “King” as well.

Since then it’s been a whirlwind of music, interviews and performances.

In January, King Calaway appeared on the “Bobby Bones Show.” https://bobbybones.iheart.com/featured/bobby-bones/content/2019-01-24-newly-formed-king-calaway-comes-from-all-across-the-world/

Bones is known for being a mentor on “American Idol” and for his radio show, which originates from Nashville, Tenn. Luther has lived in Nashville since last July. He said it is in the 80s there now with lots of humidity, which is different from Los Angeles. Humidity aside, he loves Nashville because it truly is “Music City.”

“You can hear music every day until midnight,” he said.

King Calaway has played at the Grand Ole Opry twice. Recently, Bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs was the host and joined the band on mandolin for a rendition of The Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road.” https://musicmayhemmagazine.com/king-calaway-joined-by-ricky-skaggs-at-grand-ole-opry-for-seven-bridges-road/

“That was really, really cool,” said Luther. “I got to play some upright bass on that one.”

After that song, Luther said, the announcer called it “a special Opry moment.”

“One of the probably top three coolest experiences” for Luther so far has been the band’s interaction with Garth Brooks.

On May 3, King Calaway opened for Brooks at the U.S. Bank Stadium. Brooks had two sold out shows.

Luther said Brooks held off the time for King Calaway’s performance by 45 minutes until more people were in the seats.

“We were supposed to go on around 8 o’clock and he held it off so the arena could be more full,” Luther said. “We played for around 60,000 people.”

Furthermore, as the group were in the stadium tunnel before going on stage, Luther turned around and there was Brooks.

“He said he was going to do something he had never done before — introduce the opening act,” Luther said. “He said, ‘give me a mic.’ It was the best intro. A really special moment and to be in Minnesota was great.”

The band got to hang around Brooks for “most of the day,” he said. “He is a sincere, fun-to-be-with and genuine guy. A great role model. How he is onstage is how he is offstage.”

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