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The alternative CCM group Smalltown Poets was formed in Tifton, GA. by singer/guitarist Michael Johnston, keyboardist Danny Stephens and drummer Byron Goggin, high school pals who'd played in bands together throughout their formative years (including Villanelle, which released an independent-label album titled Pinwheels and Orange Peels in 1996). In the spring of 1996, the lineup grew to include guitarist Kevin Breuner and bassist Miguel DeJesus; a year later, the Smalltown Poets signed to Chordant to issue their self-titled debut album. A series of lineup changes followed before the group -- now consisting of Johnston, Breuner, DeJesus and drummer Nathan Blackstone -- resurfaced with Listen Closely in 1999 and Third Verse in fall 2000. ~ Jason Ankeny