Avon Dale
Gig Seeker Pro

Avon Dale

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Rock Blues




"Avon Dale Summer Tour"

"Avon Dale has that 'just right' sound of the summer!" - Takedown Radio

"Avon Dale at House Blues"

“Avon Dale's combined the energy of an alternative sound with a rockin' twinge of country/rock music throughout this set. What made this set enjoyable was the band's flair for the dramatic that was vibrantly heard from the intricate music composition and rhythmic tempo thus creating two different complimentary styles between the Avon Dale's guitarists.Each vocalist had his own way of making the crowd feel tender sentiment and/or the raw angst of the "every man" tone to draw you deeper into the meaning of the lyrics being expressed over the mic. Fans also wildly delighted in the band's gritty guitar riffs which gave the semi-acoustic sound a slight razor sharp edge especially during the instrumental bridges.” - Southside on the Town

"From Wrestling to Avon Dale"

Trading in pins for guitars and drum sets, former Illinois wrestlers Conrad Polz and Matt McCarter met as teammates on the wrestling team their freshman year at the University of Illinois and combined their interest in music to create the band Avon Dale. The two self-taught musicians derived the band from rock and blues influences and bringing in Avon Dale drummer, Alec Heist - another Illinois graduate - to create the trio, the group added the talent of Andrew Allen on bass this spring and now is on their first ever tour this summer.

Avondale Avenue
McCarter and Polz both redshirted their freshmen season in 2008-09 at Illinois. An Orland Park native, Polz reigns from the high school wrestling powerhouse of the suburbs, Carl Sandburg High School. Conrad's father is legendary wrestling coach Mike Polz, who left his coaching legacy at Carl Sandburg and coached both of his sons in school before Conrad and Clinton went on to wrestle at Illinois. Polz finished his senior season at Illinois with a 27-8 overall record, notching his second All-America honor after placing a career-best fifth at the 2013 NCAA Championships. Polz was an academic All-Big Ten selection and NWCA academic All-American. McCarter was a four year letter winner and also an academic All-Big Ten selection as an Illini.

In Avon Dale, Polz is the lead vocalist and electric guitar player, McCarter is a vocalist/acoustic guitarist, Heist is on drums and Allen is on bass for the band. Through their college years the trio balanced their busy schedules with jam sessions and nights spent writing songs on the roof of Polz's college home on Avondale Avenue, which is where the name for the group came from.

"There was no intention of creating a band, it was just having fun," McCarter said about the band's start. "For a few years that's all it was, Conrad and I would bounce ideas off each other, usually making songs as jokes, but then it slowly turned into a hobby and passion. I met Alec through the education department, he heard some of the songs we had written and decided to bring his drums down. From there it all quickly snowballed into Avon Dale."

Heist met McCarter in the History/Education program. He comes from a family of drummers spanning generations, but he mostly practiced his craft in private from middle school onward. After hearing some of the solo recordings McCarter had done, Heist's interest was piqued enough to haul his drum set down to school. The trio formed in September of 2012 and began to practice in a friend's basement. Between student teaching assignments and the wrestling schedule, band practice was a tight fit but Avon Dale had their first show at the Green Street Café in Champaign just a few weeks after Polz returned from Nationals as an All-American.

"We come from some non-traditional music backgrounds," McCarter said. "We are all self-taught on our instruments. Our music is all about the feeling that the sound creates. We draw from many different influences, so it can be tough to classify the type of music we play. Usually songs will range from a crunching rock jam to a soulful melody with a blues twist. I think the band draws some of its inspiration simply from the feeling of creating. When we all come together and put in an effort to make something unique, it's an overwhelming feeling of happiness."

On the Road
After graduation in 2013, the band decided to hit the road and pursue their musical aspirations in Memphis, Tennessee. Polz, McCarter and Heist had all envisioned careers in education upon receiving their degrees. Heist was accepted into Teach for America, a non-profit organization whose mission is to "eliminate educational inequity," and he was headed to Memphis. Polz and McCarter had thrown around the idea of moving to Nashville, but they knew that pursuing their music had a limited time frame and Memphis was the right place to dedicate themselves to their music.

"We never set a timeline for the band," McCarter said. "We were just a few college seniors that were having a good time. After a while we realized that we were on the verge of something special. The way we talked about music, the ideas we all had and the dedication to playing, it was never something that had to be discussed; we were all just interested in making music. Although it all happened so fast, it just felt like the right decision."

They have since settled in Memphis, working on new material, recording demos and playing gigs in the larger Memphis and Chicago areas, including Chicago's iconic House of Blues and headlining the sold-out New Year's Eve show at "The Elbo Room" in 2013.

"All of us can draw from similar experiences at the University of Illinois," McCarter said. "The hard work that goes into getting a degree from Illinois can be recognized in our band's work ethic. We're constantly trying to improve and get to the next level. Through wrestling at the university, Conrad and I have seen what it takes to be fully committed to an end goal, and that kind of passion and dedication can be seen in every member of Avon Dale. Our time at Illinois has shaped who we are today."

As they continue to make a name for themselves in music, Avon Dale has been featured on Rock 103 Memphis' Made radio program. They also won the 2013 Beale Street Battle of the Bands at the New Daisy Theatre and were the winners of the King Sound Studios Fall 2013 Demo Competition. Avon Dale was honored to have the opportunity to record a short demo with Mike Wilson at the historic Ardent studios, which has cut records for legends like B.B King, Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes and Bob Dylan. The band also recorded their recent single, "OMG," at King Sound Studio in Paducah, Kentucky with Rick King.

Just this past March, Avon Dale added bassist Andrew Allen to join the original Illini trio, and recently kicked off their first tour as a band in Memphis on June 12. The guys have shows throughout the Midwest over the summer months, including stops in Chicago, Iowa City and Denver to name a few, as well as a return to where it all started in Champaign, June 18 at the Green Street Café.

"The tour is a big step for the band, we are all really excited," McCarter said. "To be able to share something that you've created with people who are excited to hear it, is always a bonus. All the while, we will be stopping in cities that we're connected to one way or another. Champaign is a special place for us. It's where we first came together. Being able to come back and play a show at Green Street Café, where we had our first show last Easter weekend, will be one we won't forget.

"After the tour, we will head back to Memphis to record more music at Ardent Studios. Throughout the fall we will be bouncing around playing shows throughout the mid-South and Midwest. From there who knows, but the overall plan is to continue to play great music for great people."

Check out Avon Dale LIVE June 18 at the Green Street Café! - Fighting Illini

"Strummin' Home"

Avon Dale guitarist Matt McCarter hopes to see some friendly faces in the crowd when his band plays at Kiss The Sky record store in Batavia later this month. McCarter, 24, who now lives in Memphis, Tenn., was born and raised in Batavia and is a 2008 Batavia High School graduate. Avon Dale will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 29, at Kiss The Sky, 180 W. First St., Batavia, as part of the store’s “Live From Kiss The Sky” music series.

More information is available by visiting Kiss The Sky’s website, www.kissthesky.net.

Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to McCarter about the band and the upcoming show.

Eric Schelkopf: You must be pretty excited about the upcoming show.
Matt McCarter: We’re very excited to return to Batavia, not only to see friends and family, but it will be great to come back home and kind of take what we developed down in Memphis and bring it back up to Batavia.
Schelkopf: You guys have a busy summer. Your summer tour goes from Thursday, June 12, until Thursday, July 24. Is that where you guys love to be, on the road?
McCarter: Since I teach full time and our drummer also teaches full time, we really haven’t had the opportunity to do that long stretch on the road. So this will be the first time that we really have that good chunk of time off.

We’re really excited. We haven’t really done anything like it, so it’s a big step for the band.

Schelkopf: I understand Avon Dale formed while you were attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
McCarter: It started as a collaboration between Conrad Polz and I, the other guitarist in the band.

I spent some time at my lake house for a summer, and I recorded an acoustic demo and brought it back to school. Alec Heist (our drummer), was in the teaching program with me and he had heard it, and that’s what kind of got him to bring down his drums.

Schelkopf: And I understand that none of you actually read music.
McCarter: It’s all through our own. Conrad and I kind of helped each other learn guitar and songwriting. I was an athlete all through high school and at the University of Illinois, I was on the wrestling team, and that’s where I met Conrad.

Schelkopf: I understand the band is named after the street where you and Conrad first started writing songs.
McCarter: Conrad’s parents had owned a house on Avondale Avenue, just off campus. That’s where we first started writing songs, on Conrad’s roof. - Kane County Chrornicle

"Moline Native Returns to Ribco"

Alec Heist remembers playing a drum solo while he was in sixth-grade band in Moline, but then he kept his musical ambitions hidden.

"I hadn't picked up the sticks in front of people until my senior year in college," said Heist, whose athletic career at Moline High School included being captain of the soccer team.

Heist entered the education program at the University of Illinois, and it wasn't until he met a couple of other jocks — wrestlers Matt McCarter and Conrad Polz, the latter a two-time all-American for the Fighting Illini — that his music dreams were rekindled.

Heist and McCarter were both in the history education program at Illinois, and Heist said he was impressed with a self-recorded album by McCarter when he heard it.

"I listened to it and said it was good ... and said, 'I play drums, I'll bring my drums down,' " he recalled. "Next thing I know, there was a house off-campus and we started playing his songs and some old rock covers."

McCarter introduced him to Polz, who had written some songs himself.

"Pretty soon we were playing the songs he had written," Heist said. "Next thing I knew I was in a band."

That band, Avon Dale, is now based out of Memphis and will make its Quad-City debut Friday night at the Rock Island Brewing Company.

Avon Dale, Heist said, combines blues, soul and rock. Comparisons could be made with the band Kings of Leon, he added.

"You can definitely tell the inspirations, individually, of the three of us. As a drummer, I'm a big Dave Matthews Band fan," Heist said. "Our lead guy, you'll see from a lot of the singing and songwriting (that) he's a big Van Morrison fan. We're very, very eclectic."

The band recorded an EP at the Ardent Studios in Memphis, where the likes of Matthews, Bob Dylan, Jack White and ZZ Top have performed.

"The list of names kind of drops your jaw to the floor when you're in there," Heist said.

The band's most recent single, "OMG," was recorded at a studio in Paducah, Ky., the result of winning one of several battle of the bands competitions.

"An album will be down the road, but we want to make sure it's something we really get into and not just rush through," Heist said.

Living in Memphis, he teaches history, economics and government through a program called Teach for America.

Heist said Illini wrestling fans initially were interested in the band because of Polz, but they stayed with it because they liked the music.

"It's kind of cool for him to show another side and for all of us to show a music side," Heist added. - Quad City Times

"Where are they Now"

Batavia native Matt McCarter didn’t set out to become a musician.

After graduating Batavia High School in 2008, he went to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign on a wrestling scholarship. He planned to become a teacher. But a twist of fate led him to try playing a guitar for the first time. His life hasn’t been the same since.

Today, McCarter splits his time between teaching and playing acoustic guitar with Avon Dale, a rock/blues band he started with his friends.

While he lives in Memphis, Tenn., Avon Dale will play in his hometown as part of the band’s summer tour, playing at Kiss the Sky music store June 29.

McCarter’s other job is teaching. He started thinking about becoming a teacher when he was in sixth grade. His mother was a teacher and so were his older sisters. Between this and his fondness for history, it seemed like a no-brainer.

McCarter wrestled in high school, and he continued wrestling in college. Between wrestling and working toward his teaching certification, he was fairly busy.

But when surgery forced him off the mat for eight weeks, he found himself trying something he never seriously considered before.

“My friend Jordan had left his guitar at my house, and I figured it would pass the time,” McCarter said. “From the moment I started playing, I was hooked.”

His friend and fellow wrestler Conrad Polz helped him figure out how to write his own songs. When they were seniors, they formed a band with Alec Heist, whom McCarter met through the university’s education program. They called the band Avon Dale, after the street where Polz and McCarter started writing songs.

McCarter describes the band’s sound as a mix of rock, blues and soul influences.

“Our sound is difficult to classify; it really bounces around from song to song,” he said. “One tune could include crunching chords with a total rock feel — then the next is caught between a soulful feel with a touch of blues.”

Because of the members’ other commitments, finding time to practice and getting everybody in the same place was a challenge, but the band persevered. On Easter 2013, they had their first show.

“If was an exhilarating feeling,” McCarter said. “It was very similar to the nerves I felt before wrestling matches. I sometimes catch Conrad and myself doing similar nuisances before our shows that you would normally see before a wrestling match. I guess nerves are the same regardless of what you’re doing.”

When the trio graduated, Heist got a position working with Teach for America. The rest of Avon Dale decided to follow him. The band split the time between their day jobs and music.

Slowly but surely, their music careers started to take off. That fall, Avon Dale won the New Daisy Theater Battle of Bands. Their song, “Roll Your Tongue,” was featured on Rock 103’s Memphis Made radio program. On New Year’s Eve, they played a sold-out show at Elbo Room, a venue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

Because their teaching jobs leave the summer free, the band decided to put together a nationwide tour. It will include stops in Chicago, Denver and Ann Arbor, Mich., among other, smaller destinations.

The trio also agreed to make stops in their hometowns. McCarter said he’s looking forward to playing in Batavia — especially since he will get to play at Kiss the Sky.

“Kiss the Sky has been around since I can remember,” he said. “It is an honor to be among the list of people who have played there. Going to Batavia is not just a stop on the tour schedule, we are all looking forward to playing there.” - Chicago Sun Times


Still working on that hot first release.



Avon Dale is a band that draws its influences from rock, blues and soul. The band originated with an unlikely duo. Lead vocalist and electric guitar player Conrad Polz and vocalist/acoustic guitarist Matt McCarter met as members of the wrestling team their freshman year at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Through their college years they balanced out the intensity of wrestling with jam sessions and nights spent writing songs on the roof of Polz’s college home on Avondale Avenue. Both Polz and McCarter are self taught guitarists and singers; they let the lyrics and the music flow around the theme or the aesthetic they are creating. “Both of us were new to song writing”, states McCarter, “we started writing music as a joke to entertain friends, but it slowly turned into a hobby, then a passion.”

Avon Dale drummer Alec Heist also attended U of I, where he met McCarter in the History/Education program. Heist stems from a family of drummers spanning generations, but he mostly practiced his craft in private from middle school onward. After hearing some of the solo recordings McCarter had done the previous summer, Heist dug the sound enough to haul his drum set down to school. The trio formed in September of 2012 and began to practice in a friend’s basement. Between student teaching assignments and Polz’s Division 1 wrestling schedule, band practice was a tight fit, and Avon Dale had their first show at the eclectic Green St. Café in Champaign just a few weeks after Polz returned from Nationals as an All American. After graduation, the band packed up the basement gear and decided to hit the road and pursue their musical aspirations in Memphis, Tennessee. They have since settled in Memphis, working on new material, recording demos, and playing gigs in the larger Memphis and Chicago areas.

Avon Dale has played shows all across the country from Michigan to Colorado. Along the way, they have played some very prestigious venues such as: The House of Blues in Chicago, Double Door Chicago, 12th and Porter in Nashville, TN, and New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, TN. 

As they carve out their name in Memphis, Avon Dale has been featured on Rock 103 Memphis’ Made radio program. They also won the 2013 Beale Street Battle of the Bands at the New Daisy Theatre and were the winners of the King Sound Studios Fall 2013 Demo Competition. Avon Dale has recorded several different projects at Historic Ardent Studios in Midtown Memphis

Avon Dale continues to play all around the country, leaving fans excited and wanting more!

Band Members