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Tomlinson to make WE Fest debut Saturday

Trent Tomlinson has been writing songs since he was a teenager.

"I was probably 13 when I wrote my first one," he said. "Everyone told me it was pretty good."

Tomlinson, however, admits that in retrospect, "it was terrible."

One of the biggest problems with that early songwriting effort, he recalled, is that he was writing about things he didn't know.

"It was about drinking and partying," Tomlinson said in a Monday telephone interview. "I had a knack for writing about things I hadn't lived yet."

It wasn't until he had kicked around the Nashville music scene for more than a decade that something "clicked" and he began to realize that the key to successful songwriting was "telling the truth, about real-life situations."

His debut CD, "Country Is My Rock" -- released earlier this year by Lyric Street Records -- reflects that change in philosophy.

"I lived every one of those songs," he said. "I wrote or co-wrote all of them myself."

In fact, Tomlinson was involved in every aspect of the song selection and production for the album. After 12 years of practically living in the studio, with five failed publishing deals under his belt, he was ready to take charge of producing his own sound.

Once he started recording songs that reflected his own experiences, his fortunes began to turn around. He is grateful that radio stations across the country have begun to play his songs, and is looking forward to bringing those songs to Detroit Lakes' WE Fest this Saturday, Aug. 5. He is scheduled to play at noon and 3:30 p.m. on the main stage, and 9:30 p.m. on the ranch stage.

"I'm looking forward to coming up there and playing for everyone," he said, noting that he genuinely enjoys touring.

"I've been on tour all year," he added. "It's a busy time in my life, but it's good times


"I get to play music, and that's what I love to do."

Though he now says that he got into music because "it's the only thing I know how to do," that wasn't always the case. At one time, he had flirted with the idea of a career in basketball. His father, who stands 6 feet, 8 inches tall, is a former star of the sport, setting scoring records at the University of Missouri and being drafted to the Cleveland Cavaliers before knee surgery sidelined him permanently.

"I was really good at it," Tomlinson said of his high school basketball days (where he was coached by his dad). "But I wasn't big enough (at 6 feet, 2 inches). The chances of making a career out of it were slim to none for me."

He tried college, but after six months, he realized he really needed to give himself a shot at a music career, and moved to Nashville.

He took a job with Stanley Steemer and began making money by winning talent contests at a club called Barbara's, in Nashville's Printer's Alley, and others around town.

He was signed to publishing deals five different times, until he signed a deal with Cal IV Entertainment.

He landed three of his songs on the first record released by Emerson Drive, and eventually landed a deal for a CD of his own.

It may have taken him 12 years to become an "overnight" success, but he's finally done it.

"Nothing comes easy in the music business, ever," Tomlinson said. "This has been a long time coming."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454