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Ceres' Greg Scudder one of five in national Colgate Country Showdown
The Colgate Country Showdown - set for Nashville on Jan. 13 - may prove to be the catalyst to shoot lifelong Ceres resident Greg Scudder into the orbit of country music fame.

"I think I have a pretty good shot at it," said Scudder, 26, who has developed a large fan base in the area by singing at clubs like the Nashville West bar on Fourth Street.

That's a fair statement given how many people he's bested along the four stages of competition; he is now one of only five singers who advance to Nashville for a nationally televised singing competition.

On Aug. 26 in Reno, the 2002 Ceres High School graduate took the California state title of the Colgate contest, a singing competition from which many country stars have received their "big break." Then on Oct. 25 Greg advanced to the West Region competition held in Coos Bay, Ore., where he won over the audience and judges with performances of two of his songs, "If It Flies It Dies," (a hunting song), and "I Hope You Understand."

A spot in the five-way contest in Nashville is a coveted place for Scudder to be. Not only does get to play on the Ryman Auditorium stage - where legends like Hank Williams Sr. performed - he'll be exposed to talent scouts and agents and could pocket the grand prize cash award of $100,000.

Scudder, whose light-hearted, aw-shucks chuckling, down-home demeanor makes him a likeable guy, is surprised at the way his life has turned out in the past several years.

"If you'd have asked me, in high school. 'Are you going to be a musician?' I would have said no."

The son of Mike and Julie Scudder of Ceres had ideas to become a professional football player until a shoulder injury, and since the idea of college had no appeal, he opted to become a builder. Then family and friends urged him to try out for the first Stanislaus County Idol contest in 2003 - and he brought down house after house to win it.

In those early days of singing, Greg perfected his voice by recording and listening to it but admits disliking what he heard. "At first it was too twangy and not thought out, not pronouncing the words correctly and so after I finally got through all that I was able to figure out what I needed to do to get better. I still don't like to hear my own music."

Scudder, now a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), plans to perform a new song he wrote, "I Came to Dance," in Nashville.

"To me it's the best song I've ever wrote and I feel really confident about it."

Scudder has written about 20 songs.

"At this level you almost have to do your own songs," said Scudder, "because you get more points."

Peace and quiet are two musts for Scudder to successfully write songs.

"I've got to be by myself and got to be in the right mood and get to sit down with my guitar and play for hours and hours and come up with a nice little rhythm and try to write a song. Sometimes it doesn't happen."

He finds inspiration from life experiences, family and friends. Sad songs used to be his forte but today he prefers writing songs "about people having a good time."

Indeed, good times is what Scudder hopes to find after the contest is over.

"A successful career in music would be great," he said. "I don't need to make the 'big time.' I wouldn't mind if it was song writing, to sell a couple of songs, but I'd really like to do the whole thing and do music live. My goal is to eventually put out my first CD or at least have a great demo to share with the music industry."

Winning in Nashville would mean likely mean trading his 9-to-5 carpentry job for a musical career. Big name performers like Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley and LeeAnn Rimes all won Colgate contests in the past. Merely appearing in national competition but stopping short of the top spot could also result in work for Scudder. Members of the band Whiskey Road, friends of his from Kerman, walked away from last year's Colgate showdown with second place and are now working with a producer who worked with Travis Tritt and Waylon Jennings.

For the next weeks, Scudder's concentration will be in keeping body and voice healthy and keeping his voice in use. He likes to sing every day and that's helped by the formation of a new band, Greg Scudder & The Beer:30. The group has performed at over 40 venues over the past several months which he calls "a great learning experience."

"Whether performing solo or with the band I love to put on a high-energy show that entertains and gets the crowd involved."

Besides Scudder, band members are drummer John Mantheny of Riverbank, lead guitarist Seth Baker of Newman and bass player Vince Benham of Riverbank.

Scudder is scheduled to perform at the Nashville West in downtown Ceres from 9 p.m. to closing this weekend, Nov. 19-20. The Ceres bar is also hosting a raffle, silent auction, music, dancing and food at a fundraiser party from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21. The bar is only open to those 21 years of age and older.

When he's not writing and playing music Scudder enjoys camping, fishing, hunting, and hanging out with family and friends. He is also an active member - actually the youngest - of the Ceres Lions Club.

"I volunteer and get volunteered for many things; they think us 'young uns' have all the energy! I try to do a lot for the community, because I feel if I can make a positive impact now it will benefit future generations as well."

Readers can hear some of Greg's music online by visiting or or by logging onto and searching for Greg Scudder.