The Stories of the Upstate™ #320: (Gwen Pollard) " When I was a teen, I was probably the hardest kid my parents had to raise."

                 Story #320 comes from Gwen Pollard with Hawaiian Shirts for Deployed Soldiers

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6,341 Hawaiian shirts have been deployed so far.  U.S. military men and women deployed overseas open a box to find a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt with a Thank You note in the pocket, and some snacks from home bringing them the joy of knowing we, here at home, are thinking of them and supporting them.  Gwen Pollard began Hawaiian Shirts for Deployed Soldiers in response to a request from her son and now people all over the country join her through her Facebook page and donate shirts, snacks and cash.

                                                                   To learn more, click here.

The Stories of the Upstate™ #316: (Tyler J. Pearson) "My childhood was baseball, fishing, dogs and listening to music in my bedroom."

                            Our 316th story comes from Easley singer-songwriter, Tyler J. Pearson

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Music was a personal escape from extreme teenage shyness and awkwardness for Easley SC singer-songwriter., Tyler J. Pearson.  Tyler told us that only his family knew he played music.  Now, he says playing music is therapeutic, "These thoughts, these emotions, these words, these ideas and perspectives are constantly swirling around in my head so to let these songs out is somewhat refreshing and therapeutic."  Pop music, esp. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie with their mesmerizing hooks were great influences for Tyler's music which often starts with just a hook.

                                                       Follow Tyler J. Pearson on Facebook.

The Stories of the Upstate™ #313:(Taylor McCall) "When I was first learning to play guitar, they had me playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" but I wanted to play Ozzy Osbourne."

                             Easley singer-songwriter, Taylor McCall shares our 313th story.

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"My music is bits and pieces of the artists who inspire me and all the genres of music that have influenced me," is how Easley singer-songwriter, Taylor McCall describes his music. This collection of influences and inspiration explains why his music fits in a variety of musical style: alternative country, folk music, folks rock and alternative.  He says that he's striving to create music that has depth and meaning.  

                                                                      To learn more, click here.

The Stories of the Upstate™ #296: (Tom Strange) "I raced dirt bikes as a teen."

Story #296 comes from Tom Strange, Senior Director of Research and Development with Abbott Laboratories

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Tom Strange told us that his goal in life is to turn his passions into something that can make people's lives better and he's done just that.  From his childhood, science was his constant companion.  He loved the Space Program and TV nature programs.  He explored his back yard and used a microscope he got as a kid to look for the secrets science had to offer.  But it was physics and something as routine as capacitors that would allow Tom to turn passion into life saving.  While working for a company on commercial capacitors, he tried to understand how they worked, what was the root principal and that led to him making a discovery that led to an invention that revolutionized the implanted defibrillator and the creation of St. Jude Medical, now Abbott Laboratories.  His passion definitely made people's lives better as nearly 1/3 of all defibrillators implanted today have his technology in them.  On a personal level, a defibrillator from his company saved his sister's life. 

The Stories of the Upstate™ #290: (Mark Webb Jr.) "I was an emo kid as a teen."

                                 Story #290 comes from Easley singer-songwriter, Mark Webb Jr.

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"I would take a timeless song over a hit song every time," Easley singer-songwriter, Mark Webb Jr. told us.  He also told us he was obsessive when it comes to music and keeps his ear to the ground for what is current in the music scene while being inspired by the timeless songs from legends like the Beatles.  His grandparents started him down this music road when the gave him a guitar and encouraged him to take lessons. It's taken years of studying music, practicing, performing, crashing and burning and learning from the failures to get him to where he is today.  He told us his favorite part of being a singer-songwriter is connecting to people through his music, emotionally and spiritually.

                                                To learn more about Mark Webb Jr., click here.

The Stories of the Upstate™ #199: (Raybandz Saxz) "I was a band geek in high school."

                                   Easley saxophone musician, Raybandz Saxz plays us Story #199.

Jean, Sierra, Mindy and Big Bertha play a crucial role in the life of Raybandz Saxz.  No, those names don't belong to ex-wives or girlfriends, they are the names of his saxophones.  Raybandz Saxz grew up in a musical family; mom was a singer and dad was a drummer, and Raybandz played in the band in high school, so being a full time saxophone player today shouldn't surprise anyone.  Whether he's playing Jazz, the Blues or Gospel, Raybandz Saxz moves people with his music.

                                                             Follow Raybandz Saxz on Facebook.