How did local pop-rockers Calendar for Preston end up soundtracking Major League Baseball highlights, sandwiched between the likes of Daughtry and Elton John?

How did local pop-rockers Calendar for Preston end up soundtracking Major League Baseball highlights, sandwiched between the likes of Daughtry and Elton John?

The good fortune started when Columbus native Tara Gore, a New York-based content producer for MLB.com, saw them at a New Year's Eve show in Columbus.

"She saw the future, I guess, and wanted to be a part of it," guitarist Joey Sexton said.

Fast-forward: The band found itself in the Big Apple last month, playing songs on a Major League Baseball sound studio that has hosted the likes of O.A.R. and Counting Crows. As of this Saturday, they'll be dubbed "Major League Artists" as part of the league's official entertainment package.

It may seem bizarre for the baseball brass to pluck a band out of obscurity and sit them alongside such established stars, but Calendar for Preston's lack of label ties and other red tape actually makes it much easier for the league to deal with them, they explained.

That's not keeping them from actively courting major labels with their full-length debut, Paint by Numbers. The album, recorded in Philadelphia with Grammy-nominated engineer David Ivory, is packed with carefully honed, radio-ready tracks - a little bit Fall Out Boy, a little bit Incubus, but all distinctly Calendar for Preston.

The band credits Ivory with helping them streamline their sound, cutting out pointless bass lines and extraneous drum fills. He even advised them to change some of their song titles to make them more memorable for listeners. Hence "Paint by Numbers" became "Change It Up" because the chorus says "Change it up!"

"We were just a regular garage band before we met him," bassist Tom Gutman said.

Before that, they were an acoustic trio. Sexton and singer Stephen Jordan had been jamming around the house when a friend called up and offered them a gig.

"We had never played a show. We just played Incubus [covers]," Jordan said.

They recruited Gutman to play bass and practiced incessantly until the show. After getting a good response, they hunted down drummer Ryan Harris through local music website Cringe.com, and within a few months they scored free recording time by winning a battle of the bands.

The resulting EP ended up in Ivory's hands, and by early last year they were regularly commuting to Philly to work on their debut with the acclaimed producer. The travel took its toll on the band's romantic life, even as it fueled songwriting about the age-old topics of make-ups and breakups.

"Calendar for Preston has now claimed three and a half relationships," Harris said.

Their toil and turmoil has finally yielded a finished album, ready for consumption this Saturday at CBR's.

The band knows this is only the beginning - they're bracing for several years of paying their dues before achieving the sort of success they seek, not unlike young ballplayers working their way through the farm system, awaiting their call-up to the big leagues.

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com