Lucas Cates likes to dream big. Once he realized that song writing came easy for him, thoughts that included shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and television appearances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" began to fill his head.

Lucas Cates likes to dream big. Once he realized that song writing came easy for him, thoughts that included shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and television appearances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" began to fill his head.

"It's gonna happen," Cates says.

Cates and his acoustic rock band are based in Madison, Wis. He and bandmate Kenny Lesier are exploring the West Coast, Mountain State and Southwest regions to see what possibilities might be here for the group.

The two will perform as an acoustic duo — on guitars and violin— at 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at Alex's, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

"We're camping out and staying with friends," Cates says. "Hey, I'm all about small goals, too. They keep you focused and positive while achieving the larger ones."

Cates has two albums, "Contradictory" and "All the Pieces," to his credit. Hear his music at myspace.com/lucascates. "All the Pieces" is a new release and will be available at the show at Alex's.

Cincinnati's "City Beat" says the Lucas Cates Band plays "infectious pop that swings like Jack Johnson and bites like Elvis Costello."

Cates started his musical career playing trumpet while attending school in Madison, Wis., and in college Plymouth, N.H. But, he soon realized his natural inclination for guitar and song writing.

He returned to Madison, played some open mics and met Robert J., frontman for the band The Moon Gypsies and producer for PopBomb Records. J. and Cates recorded an acoustic demo in early 2005, and J. signed Cates to his label. Cates and his band began writing and recording "Contradictory."

For Cates, it's all about the music. He has licks or pieces of songs that eventually fall together to form verses, choruses and bridges. Then he experiments with melodies until he finds a tune he likes, he says.

"Contradictory" made the rounds at college radio stations across the country, and Cates and his band are garnering fans with their live performances.

The new CD, "All the Pieces," will soon be available at lucascates.com and cdbaby.com.

There is no cover charge for the show at Alex's. Call 482-8818.