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Midnight Clear

Time to rise and shine

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Rory Knapton was probably the only resident of Dahlonega who wasn't tuned to the "CBS Early Show" on Thursday, Sept. 20, when the winner of the program's "Living Room Live!" battle of the bands was announced. Knapton's Dahlonega-based band, Midnight Clear, had made it to the finals, but the drummer couldn't bear to watch the results. He chose to sit outside on his porch, waiting. "I just didn't want to look," Knapton says.

Then the shouts came – from his wife, from neighbors – and he knew his band had won. The CBS contest broadcast videos from three bands each week during the competition, letting fans vote online for the winner. To get top prize – an opportunity to perform live on the Sept. 24 "Early Show" – Midnight Clear survived two elimination rounds and bested bands from Richmond, Va., and Chicago in the finals.

Midnight Clear, which also includes vocalist Jeremy French, keyboardist Brant French and guitarist Derrick Gaddis, was relatively unknown outside North Georgia. "Six weeks ago, no one knew our name," Knapton says. Now fans from as far away as Sydney, Australia, drop by the band's MySpace page to leave comments. These newfound friends also remained vigilant when CBS producers broadcast the wrong video in the second round. Organizers apologized and played the correct video the next day, with little damage to the polls.

Knapton, who remains humble about the band's victory, is looking forward to performing on Atlanta-area morning shows after returning from New York, harnessing whatever momentum comes from the CBS performance. "We want to turn it into more than a trip up there and a bologna sandwich, so to speak."

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