ROCKINGHAM — In July 2015, Weston Wilson had just graduated from Richmond Early College High School and was planning to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when he heard the siren song of the gap year calling his name. Now, he lives in Los Angeles and is part of a band touring the nation through mid-December.
In 2014, Wilson auditioned for NBC’s “The Voice.” He made the top 70 in the nation before being eliminated.
“I’m in a band called Harletson with two other guys,” he said in a telephone interview with the Daily Journal Wednesday. “We’re trying to do an Eagles and Crosby, Stills and Nash type thing, but with a more contemporary feel to it. We’ve been playing a lot of shows. We played a music festival in Hershey Pensylvania called ‘Show of the Summer.’”
The two other guys, Jackson Singleton and Nathan Harrington, are friends he met once he moved to LA.
“I think it was like one day we were all riding on the road in the car, and we just realized that we all listened to the same music,” Wilson said, explaining that the band is heavily influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys and other classic groups with prominent harmonic vocals.
“It just kind of connected and naturally flowed in that direction,” he said. “We were three guys, we could do harmonies, and it just landed us in that spot, I think. It’s like a classic kind of, but also has a new age feel. People talk about the harmony. After the show, that’s probably the main thing we get. It’s like, ‘Wow, your vocal blend is really crazy.’”
Singer Sabrina Carpenter took notice of Harletson, and now the band is set to open for the remaining dates of her “Evolution Tour,” culminating in Charlotte’s McGlohan Theatre Dec. 13.
“I met her maybe a year ago now,” Wilson said. “I just ran into her and we’ve just been friends for a while now, and she was nice enough to pick us to go on tour with her. We have 18 shows, and all of them are sold out. We’re about halfway through the tour.”
Wilson said it’s familiar in some ways, but different in others.
“Before that, we’ve just been playing shows, and this is a big step,” he explained. “We’ve opened for people before, but this is the first actual tour, so it’s exciting. It’s going from New York to Chicago, to Florida. And we’re driving with the band, it’s gonna be crazy. We will be doing that ourselves. We have a van, but it’s going to be a very cool story.”
Wilson said Carpenter’s style is different from Harletson’s.
“She (sings) something like pop, but a little bit different than pop,” he said. “It’s credible pop, it’s got real instruments. Her band is awesome. She writes her own music — something very rare for the people in the industry today, that they write their own music.”
Harletson, he said, won’t be playing original music exclusively.
“We’re doing a mix of both covers and originals,” he explained. “Covers, because we are less known than she is, obviously, ‘cause it’s her show. The covers will warm the people up to us, I think, especially those who haven’t heard our original music. I’m sure there will be a few who have, but I think the covers will help us until we are more well-known.”
After the tour, Wilson will be spending some time with his family in Richmond County before returning to the West Coast.
“We’re going to take a break after the tour during Christmas, and I don’t know what we have planned for after that but we’re going to do something after the break, because this tour, I think, is going to do a lot for us,” he said.
In July, 2015, Wilson was a subject of the Daily Journal’s “Notable Neighbors” series. At that time, he said, “I can’t see myself doing anything but music. I’m flying out to LA a week from tomorrow and I’m going to stay as long as I can. I’m going to go and see what happens. I won’t be one of those people who never went after what I really wanted to do.”
Asked whether he imagined back then that he would be touring with a pop star within a year, he echoed himself.
“No, honestly,” he said. “I had no idea what was going to happen. I’ve played a stadium. I’m like, ‘What in the world?’ I’ve done a lot of things and I’ve found out a lot about myself. I’ve gotten so much better at this, just writing and creating and playing. It’s amazing how much better you get by focusing on it. I’ve got friends back home and they’re in college and they’ve got homework, and I can’t see myself doing that. I just can’t see it. I think you can make it at anything you do as long as you’re the best at it.”
For Wilson, one of the things he most looks forward to about coming home for Christmas is the climate.
“I’m actually really excited about that because I miss the cold there,” he said. “Sometimes I want it to be like 30 (degrees), just because I never thought I’d miss that about the weather, being cold — but I miss cold weather. I haven’t been home when it’s cold in like a year.”
For more information about Harletson, visit the band’s website at www.harletson.com and on Twitter @harletson.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.