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Local country band 12/OC to open for Michael Ray at Carnaval Maine festival

Carnaval Maine is scheduled for March 8 through March 13 in Portland's Old Port, and a popular Maine band is returning to the main stage.

PORTLAND, Maine — The entertainment at Portland's third annual winter festival will include a country music group that's continuing to make a name for itself in Maine.

Carnaval Maine organizers announced Tuesday that 12/OC will open for Michael Ray on Saturday, March 11.

12/OC, which opened for Scotty McCreery at last year's festival, consists of three Maine brothers and a friend. While they started out playing covers, the band is now performing more of their own original songs.

The Nichols brothers, Jack, 23, Will, 20, and Reid, 17, learned music from their father when they were barely old enough to ride bikes. Jack and Will picked up a few chords around the kitchen table and then, as big brothers do, inspired Reid to follow suit. 

When Reid was 12 years old, his older brothers realized he could sing while messing around with a karaoke machine. They've been pushing him to the front of the stage ever since. 

Several years ago, Reid and Will started to get a little more serious about their music, performing their Bluegrass-inspired sound at open mic nights with their father, using each stage as a chance to grow their confidence and their sound. But it wasn't until Jack asked an old high school buddy, George Chaison-Lapine, to come to play drums for them that 12/OC really started to find its rhythm. 

"I had played drums in college. I said, 'Let me see if I can pick it back up,' and then we started playing in my mom's basement, and it felt like a switch went off. And we haven’t stopped since," Chaison-Lapine told NEWS CENTER Maine in April 2022.

The band name is a unique one. Their uncle christened them 12/OC after a carpentry mistake. 

"We have a camp on Moosehead Lake, and we were up there building a bunkhouse," Will Nichols said.

Instead of framing the floor 16 inches on center, a standard in carpentry, the brothers framed the floor joists 24 inches on center. What resulted was a floor that bounced like a trampoline. The brothers went under the bunkhouse to fix their mistake, this time overcompensating, and added new supports that were 12 inches on center. Their uncle suggested it as a name for a business, but Will adopted it for the band. 

The Carnaval Maine festival is intended to be a celebration of Maine as a state for all seasons. It's scheduled for March 8 through March 13 in Portland's Old Port.

“We are so excited to be performing for our hometown fans once again at Carnaval Maine,” Reid Nichols, the lead singer and writer of most of the band’s original lyrics, said in Tuesday's release. “It’s such an honor to be invited back to open for Michael Ray and to play on the Snow Stage.”

Michael Ray's latest release, "The Bootleggers Sessions," features classic country covers, including Tracy Lawrence’s “Time Marches On,” George Strait’s “The Chair,” and Randy Travis’s “Three Wooden Crosses." The Florida native has garnered four No.1 singles and has performed at the Grand Ole Opry more than 65 times, according to festival organizers.

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