BLHS grad Sharp flourishes with rising country band
As far as Dusty Sharp was concerned, football came first in high school.
A self-proclaimed jack of all trades at Basehor-Linwood High School, Sharp drew collegiate interest from various small schools. However, a late injury brought any thoughts of continuing his career to a screeching halt. After hanging up his helmet for good, Sharp shifted his focus to music — an area he had enjoyed merely as a hobby during his days on the gridiron.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Sharp, a 1999 Bobcat graduate, was never a stranger to music. As a child in Overland Park, he grew up listening to his father playing guitar and his mother singing around the house. His family moved to Basehor when he started high school, and he quickly flourished in the school’s choir department.
However, despite earning high marks at numerous state competitions, his true passion remained on the football field.
“Honestly, I took choir kind of as an easy grade,” said Sharp, who was crowned homecoming king as a senior in 1998. “Football is what I did, really. I played pretty much the entire game, whether it be offense, defense, special teams or whatever.”
College football became a possibility, but those dreams were quickly dashed when Sharp suffered a neck injury late in his career. He was forced to forego his existing scholarship offers and call it quits when his high school career reached its end.
Change of direction
With football no longer in the cards, Sharp got a job as an all-purpose technician at Time Warner cable. He spent his first years out of high school playing guitar with friends on weekends. In 2003, he and four others were playing regularly as a group. Two years later, they dubbed themselves “County Road 5” — a name inspired by their homes on various county roads in the Kansas City area.
The band started garnering attention immediately, and shows quickly became more than just weekend events. Band members came and went — some started families and couldn’t commit the time required for the increasingly busy schedule — and the group’s following continued to grow larger.
“It took a little bit to build some steam,” said Sharp, who has also mastered the harmonica and madolin. “We started out just playing for beer money and having a good time, but it continued to grow.”
By 2007, Sharp had reached a crossroads that would ultimately decide the fate of his musical career. As the band’s schedule inflated, his free time diminished. It was only May, and he had nearly exhausted his year’s vacation time to fulfill musical responsibilities.
Knowing a change was necessary, Sharp used the little personal time he had left to mull over his options.
“I took a vacation to Mexico and thought about what I really wanted to do. I was in quite a pickle with the fact that I couldn’t take off work. It’s hard to maintain a normal job when you play that much.
“I went out, sat on the beach and contemplated it, then came home and quit.”
Bigger and better
Since devoting his time entirely to music, Sharp has seen the band transform from hometown heros to national celebrities. The current group — together since 2007 — consists of Sharp on lead vocals, drummer Kellan Moore, guitarist Dustin White and bassist Chase McRoy.
“The guys in the group now, we met through the music community and all kind of came to a head,” Sharp said. “It just worked out and we’ve been killing it ever since.”
“Gerome the Gnome,” a 50-pound concrete lawn gnome given to the band by Sharp’s family, also occupies the stage as the band’s unofficial fifth member.
The band has released three albums and has a fourth in the works. Its second album, “Out of Control at the Hilltop,” was recorded in 2008 at Helen’s Hilltop Bar in Tonganoxie — a venue the band still plays.
“When we play there, we always pack it,” Sharp said. “It’s always a party every time we’re there, so it makes us feel good to come back home and see the people that have been as dedicated as they have been.”
Nowadays, the band plays as many as 250 shows per year across the Midwest. It’s currently featured on XM radio and has shared the stage with several national country acts, including Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson and Toby Keith.