When Scotty McCreery's mother asked Blue Country & the Showcase Band to play for Scotty's homecoming concert this month, the group jumped at the chance.
"She knew that we would be honored," said Melanie Horton, Blue Country's manager and band director. "It's just a major honor even to be asked."
The Goldsboro band was already familiar with Scotty, the 17-year-old Garner High School junior singing his way to the top on "American Idol." Blue Country is the house band for the Country Music Showcase at Johnston Community College in Smithfield, where Scotty has performed.
When the band members found out Scotty was a finalist and would be coming home for a concert, they immediately got to work.
"We pulled out the charts and started practicing," Horton said.
At the Country Music Showcase, Horton's band is used to performing for about 1,100 people. Garner officials estimate up to 30,000 people attended Scotty's concert at Lake Benson Park on May 14.
That was the largest crowd lead guitarist Brent Shattuck had ever played for.
"It all went so fast," said Shattuck, 32. "But we really enjoyed it. When the crowd got into it, it would get really loud."
Drummer Ken Eubanks agreed.
"It's the loudest thing I've ever heard in my life except for a jet engine," said Eubanks, 35, of Princeton.
Scotty had a tight schedule, so the five-member band and three backup singers didn't get a chance to chat much with the teen.
But it was still a great experience, they said.
"It was unreal," Eubanks said. "It really was. Just knowing what kind of person he was made it even better."
The concert was the "highlight of my career," Eubanks said.
Country music star Josh Turner was a surprise guest singer for the concert. Blue Country's members knew Turner was set, but they had to keep it under wraps.
Scotty seemed shocked when Turner appeared, Horton said.
The teen was supposed to perform at the Country Music Showcase in February, but he had to cancel because of his obligations with "Idol."
But Scotty was in North Carolina for a visit and he showed up at the showcase and signed autographs in the lobby, the band said. His mother, Judy, was by his side.
"We thought that showed a little bit of their character, because they didn't have to take the time," Horton said.
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