All 12 Real-Life Artists Who Performed At TRIC & Karen’s Cafe


  • Real-life artists were woven into the fabric of One Tree Hill through powerful needle drops at key moments and musically-inclined characters.
  • Many real-life artists performed at venues like Karen’s Café and TRIC, including Gavin DeGraw, Sheryl Crow, and The Wreckers.
  • Fall Out Boy and Kid Cudi were the only non-actor musicians to perform on the show multiple times, and their songs were heavily featured throughout the series.



One Tree Hill had some outstanding music moments, especially when it came to performances from real-life artists. Crucial to the fabric of One Tree Hill, music was woven into the show through powerful needle drops at pivotal One Tree Hill moments, as well as musically-inclined characters like Peyton Sawyer (played by Hilarie Burton) and Haley James Scott (played by Bethany Joy Lenz). For actors on the show who were also musicians in real life (like Lenz, Tyler Hilton, or Kate Voegele, among others), music was incorporated into their characters and storylines, which provided them plenty of opportunities to perform their own songs on the show as their characters.

Many of the real-life artists who were not actors on the show, but whose songs often played non-diegetically on One Tree Hill, were also invited to perform on the show. Some artists like Nada Surf, Angels & Airwaves, and Cheap Trick, performed for specific events (prom night, an alumni party, a USO concert for Marines) at different venues, but most of the performances by real-life artists took place at either Karen’s Café, which hosted a handful of performances in season 1, or the all-ages club, TRIC. Here are all the real-life artists (excluding those who played characters on the show) who performed at these two venues on One Tree Hill.

12 Gavin DeGraw

Season 1, Episode 10, “You Gotta Go There To Come Back”; Season 5, Episode 18, “What Comes After The Blues”; Season 9, Episode 13, “One Tree Hill”

It’s fitting that Gavin DeGraw, the man behind the iconic One Tree Hill theme song, “I Don’t Wanna Be,” was the first-ever real-life artist to perform on the show. DeGraw appears in season 1, episode 10, “You Gotta Go There To Come Back” and performs “I Don’t Wanna Be,” at Open Mic Night at Karen’s Cafe. A live concert version of this song appears on the first One Tree Hill soundtrack, One Tree Hill: Music from the WB Television Series, Vol. 1.

Aton of DeGraw’s other music is featured on One Tree Hillover the course of the show, including an acoustic version of his song, “Jealous Guy,” in season 3. This song also appears on the second soundtrack, Friends with Benefit: Music from the Television Series One Tree Hill, Volume 2. This soundtrack is a compilation album put together by Peyton and her biological mother, Ellie (who was diagnosed with breast cancer on the show) in season 3 to raise money for breast cancer research.

DeGraw goes on to perform “I Don’t Wanna Be” on the show two more times. Season 5, episode 18, “What Comes After The Blues,” opens with DeGraw playing the song on the piano at TRIC as he teaches Nathan and Haley’s son, Jamie, the lyrics. DeGraw returnsfor the series finale of One Tree Hillin season 9, episode 13, “One Tree Hill.” After performing his songs “Soldier” and “Belief” onstage at TRIC, DeGraw closes the show – literally – with one last performance of “I Don’t Wanna Be,” as the episode and series come to an end.

11 Sheryl Crow

Season 1, Episode 16, “The First Cut Is The Deepest”

Sheryl Crow on One Tree Hill

In season 1, episode 16, “The First Cut Is The Deepest,” Haley tries desperately to get tickets to the Sheryl Crow concert in Tree Hill, but to no avail. However, her luck turns around when the artist herself stops by Karen’s Café while Haley is closing up. In exchange for free coffee, Haley and Nathan (played by James Lafferty), get a private concert from Crow as she performs her cover of Rod Stewart’s “The First Cut Is The Deepest.” This acoustic version of the song is featured on One Tree Hill: Vol. 1.

10 The Wreckers (Michelle Branch & Jessica Harp)

Season 2, Episode 13, “The Hero Dies In This One”

Prior to splitting in 2007, Michelle Branch and her former backup singer, Jessica Harp, performed onstage at TRIC as The Wreckers, a musical duo. Prior to their performance, Peyton introduces Haley to The Wreckers, who tell the aspiring singer that they’ve heard rave reviews about her. Later, while The Wreckers are performing “The Good Kind,” their opening act, Chris Keller tells Haley that the Wreckers want her to join them on tour, which she does. In reality, Lenz and Hilton joined The Wreckers on a 25-city One Tree Hill Tour in 2005. It’s worth noting that multiple songs from The Wreckers can be heard in One Tree Hill, including “Lay Me Down,” “Way Back Home,” “Good News For People Who Love Bad News,” “Hard To Love You,” and “Everything in its Right Place.”

9 Jimmy Eat World

Season 2, Episode 22, “The Tide That Left And Never Came Back”

Jimmy Eat World on One Tree Hill

As Tree Hill High gathers to celebrate the end of the school year, Jimmy Eat World takes the stage at TRIC to perform. Their set includes a total of three songs, beginning with “Work,” followed by “Polaris,” and concluding with “Hear You Me.” Outside of their live performance on the show, Jimmy Eat World’s music is featured heavily on One Tree Hill. Earlier on in the season, their song, “Kill,” played at the end of episode 3, “Near Wild Heaven.” Their other song, “23,” closed episode 10, “Don’t Take Me For Granted,” and is featured on Friends with Benefit.

8 Fall Out Boy

Season 3, Episode 4, “An Attempt to Tip the Scales”; Season 3, Episode 15, “Just Watch The Fireworks”

Besides Gavin DeGraw, Fall Out Boy, whose music is also featured heavily on the show, is the only other real-life musical act to perform on One Tree Hill more than once (of course, excluding those who play characters on the show). In season 3, episode 4, “An Attempt to Tip the Scales,” the pop-punk band performed their hit, “Dance, Dance,” at TRIC’S Halloween Masquerade Party. Later in the season, they return to the stage at TRIC in episode 15, “Just Watch The Fireworks,” to perform “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me.'”

This performance takes place at the benefit concert Peyton throws to promote Friends with Benefit and raise funds for breast cancer research in memory of Ellie, who has recently died from the disease. Another one of Fall Out Boy’s songs, “I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song),” is featured on the Friends with Benefit album. Later in the season, in episode 18, “When It Isn’t Like It Should Be,” Fall Out Boy’s bassist, Pete Wentz, returns and has a fling with Peyton.

7 Jack’s Mannequin

Season 3, Episode 15, “Just Watch The Fireworks”

Jack's Mannequin performing on One Tree Hill

Jack’s Mannequin also performs at Peyton’s benefit concert for breast cancer research at TRIC in season 3. The cause was close to the band’s heart, as the lead singer, Andrew McMahon, is a leukemia survivor. According to McMahon, the “Jack” whom the band is named after also suffered from childhood leukemia. During their set, the band performs three songs, opening with “The Mixed Tape,” followed by “Holiday from Real,” and “Dark Blue” to finish it off. “The Mixed Tape” played earlier in the season in episode 8, “The Worst Day Since Yesterday.” Hilarie Burton, who plays Peyton, also appeared in the official music video for “The Mixed Tape.” Later on in the series, their song, “Orphans,” plays in season 6, episode 5, “You’ve Dug Your Own Grave, Now Lie in It.”

6 Lupe Fiasco

Season 4, Episode 4, “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started”

Lupe Fiasco performing on One Tree Hill

In One Tree Hill season 4, episode 4, “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started,” Lupe Fiasco takes the stage at TRIC. The rapper performs his hits, “Kick Push” and “I Gotcha,” the latter of which is also featured on The Road Mix. The following season, his song, “Superstar,” plays in season 5, episode 11, “You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side.”

5 The Honorary Title

Season 5, Episode 7, “In Da Club”

The Honorary Title performing on One Tree Hill

Prior to splitting in 2009, The Honorary Title performed at TRIC in season 5, episode 7, “In Da Club.” After Mia Catalano (played by the aforementioned Kate Voegele) opens for them with her song, “No Good,” the band takes the stage to perform three songs: “Thin Layer,” “Stay Away” and “Far More.” Earlier in the series, “Stay Away” played in season 4, episode 17, “It Gets Worse at Night.”

4 Noisettes

Season 7, Episode 4, “Believe Me I’m Lying”

Noisettes performing on One Tree Hill

In season 7, episode 4, “Believe Me I’m Lying,” Brooke Davis (played by Sophia Bush) hosts a fashion show for her clothing brand, Clothes Over Bros, at TRIC. The fashion show also features the musical stylings of Noisettes. The indie rock band performs “Don’t Upset The Rhythm” while the models walk the runway. Once they have the stage to themselves, they perform two more songs: “Never Forget You,” followed by “Sometimes.”

3 Kid Cudi

Season 8, Episode 10, “List, Plans”

Kid Cudi performing on One Tree Hill

Ahead of his performance at TRIC in season 8, episode 10, “List, Plans,” hip hop star, Kid Cudi, is introduced by Haley to his opening act, Erin Macree (played by Laura Izibor). Erin is an Irish singer signed to Red Bedroom Records, the record label attached to TRIC. After Erin performs her song, “If Tonight Is My Last,” Cudi takes the stage to perform his hit, “Erase Me.”

2 City & Colour

Season 8, Episode 15, “Valentine’s Day Is Over”

City & Colour performing on One Tree Hill

In a parallel to Sheryl Crow’s appearance in season 1, City and Colour performs a private concert at TRIC for Clay (played by Robert Buckley) and Quinn (played by Shantel VanSanten) in season 8, episode 15, “Valentine’s Day Is Over.” Earlier in the episode, Clay tells Quinn that he wasn’t able to get them tickets to see City and Colour in concert the following week. Later, after complaining that their Valentine’s Day is “ruined” because TRIC appears to be closed, Clay surprises Quinn with a private Valentine’s Day date inside the empty club. City and Colour takes the stage to perform his song, “The Girl,” followed by “The Northern Winds.”

1 Olin & The Moon

Season 8, Episode 19, “Where Not To Look For Freedom”

Olin & The Moon performing on One Tree Hill

After their opening act, Alex Dupre (played by Jana Kramer) plays her song, “Whiskey,” Olin & The Moon take the stage at TRIC to perform their song, “Not in Love”. Their other song, “Gonna Make You Mine,” was played on the show two episodes prior in episode 17, “The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get.” “Not In Love” had also previously played in One Tree Hill season 7, episode 20, “Learning to Fall.”

  • One Tree Hill Movie Poster

    One Tree Hill

    Release Date:

    Chad Michael Murray, James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton, Paul Johansson, Sophia Bush, Barry Corbin, Craig Sheffer, Bethany Joy Lenz, Moira Kelly

    Drama, Romance, Sports



    Season List:
    One Tree Hill – Season 1, One Tree Hill – Season 2, One Tree Hill – Season 3, One Tree Hill – Season 4, One Tree Hill – Season 5, One Tree Hill – Season 6, One Tree Hill – Season 7, One Tree Hill – Season 8, One Tree Hill – Season 9

    The CW

    Streaming Service(s):

    Mark Schwahn


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