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The Lucas Cates Band at Alex's

For 10 days this month, The Lucas Cates Band, based in Madison, Wis., will travel through 10 states — playing gigs in five states — and spend roughly 75 hours in its 15-passenger Dodge van, lovingly named Red Rocket.

During these long drives, frontman Lucas Cates says he and his bandmates — guitarist and violinist Kenny Leiser, drummer Jesse Warmka and bassist Mark Noxon — read, sleep, listen to music, play cribbage and stare off into the distance to pass time.

On this summer tour, the band will make its annual Southern Oregon appearance.

TLCB, as the band frequently is called, will play at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 6-7, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

This year, the band is scheduled to play nearly 200 shows nationwide. However, due to exorbitant gas prices, most of these shows are within a five-hour radius of Madison.

The band plays a comprehensive repertoire of rock, pop, alt-country, folk, jazz, funk and R&B. Its newer material, including such songs as "White Flag," "New Freedom" and "Good Folk," has social and political themes.

"We've been described as Dave Matthews meets the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers meets the Eagles," Cates says.

TLCB's 2010 album, titled "The Lucas Cates Band," has a rock edge and is more risqué and upbeat than the band's first three projects.

"I put the rock in front of the pop instead of the pop in front of the rock," Cates says.

Currently, the group is working on a yet-to-be-named album for release in October. Half the record will lean toward rock and alt-rock, and the other half is "the usual" TLCB blend, Cates says.

Over the past four years, the band has garnered 11 Madison Area Music Awards, including Rock Performer of the Year in 2010. This year, the band also was voted Pop Artist of the Year by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry. Cover to the band's shows at Alex's is $5. Call 541-482-8818.

Left to right: Mark Noxon, Lucas Cates, Jesse Warmka and Kenny Leiser are the Lucas Cates Band. - Photo courtesy of Charlie Breuni