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The Grand Magnolias: From Auburn to the Real World

The Grand Magnolias, formally known as Hightide Blues, originally started playing in Auburn, Ala. Michael Thompson, college roommate of one of the band members, tells about how they began.

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It all began with two Auburn students who began playing the guitar and writing songs together.

After realizing their potential, Jonathan Pears and Paul McDonald formed the band Hightide Blues in spring 2005.

Michael Thomason, Pears' college roommate, has witnessed, first hand, how the group began and where they are today.

Thomason says they had a group of people over at their apartment at University Corner one night, and Paul's car broke down so he came inside and joined them.

"J.P. happened to be practicing playing his guitar, so Paul brought his into the apartment and they started playing together," said Thomason. "They've produced some great music, and it's great to see how far they've come since college."

Along with two other original members, Phillip Gayle and Scott Rollins, Hightide Blues began playing at tailgates, small bars and clubs and fraternity parties.

A limited edition EP was released in 2007, and in 2008 they produced the album, "Love Come Easy" at the House of David in Nashville, Tenn.

Radio stations began playing songs, including "Let It Roll" and "Dancing with the Angels," a song that was written by McDonald the night before the funeral of a close friend to the band, Meg Ingram, who passed away from cancer at the age of 21.

The band performs each year at the Meg Ingram Memorial Scholarship benefit concert in Huntsville, Ala.

The members of the band moved to East Nashville in August 2010 to take their career to the next level.

The group decided to launch a campaign to change the name of their band to steer away from being associated with the "blues." Thousands of fans voted, and the name "The Grand Magnolias" was the winner.

The group released its first album under its new name this year, with songs written by Pears and McDonald.

McDonald auditioned for "American Idol" in fall 2010 in Nashville and made it to the number eight spot in the 10th season.

The Grand Magnolias music and merchandise available for purchase. Their newest release of "New Orleans" that you can purchased at www.thegrandmagnolias.com. Part of the proceeds from purchasing that song will be donated to the relief effort in Japan.

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