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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Rochester going country for week four of Down by the Riverside

Rochester going country for week four of Down by the Riverside

For country music fans in Rochester, this week can’t be beat. After Scotty McCreery and Parmalee played the Olmsted County Fair stage, rising country star Chase Bryant will headline week four of the Think Bank Down By the Riverside free outdoor concert series.

The local opener, JT & the Gunslingers, has made a name for themselves playing across the region for the past five years. We recently had the chance to talk with lead singer JT Thompson about the upcoming show, his time in the military and his take on the growing music scene in Rochester. Below are a few excerpts from that interview.

Q: Where does this show rank among the most exciting gigs you’ve ever booked?

A: I think it’s definitely in the top five. It’s a hometown crowd at Mayo Park with a great artist like Chase. It is exactly what we set out to do. We never started this journey to become the best cover band in the Midwest, so these shows are exciting for us.

Q: You spent some time as an Army Ranger before coming back to music. How did that experience influence how you write and play music? What is your writing process now? 

A: I would have to say my experience grounded and humbled me. I try to take that approach in my writing, so it is relatable to our listeners. It is hard to enjoy songs when you have no clue what they are talking about or feel the lyrics — at that point it might as well be white noise. So I aim for that with every song I write.

Q: As Rochester grows, what can people do to better support local acts?

A: Go to the show! That’s hands down the number one thing. No-cover shows are aplenty in Rochester, and there is great music too. Go to the shows of these artists and leave the notion that you want to hear "Sweet Home Alabama," "Brown Eyed Girl," and "Mustang Sally" played for the 12th million time by the 6th million cover band at home. Dig for originality. All those bands and musicians were sitting where we are now. The biggest part of what got them to where they are is the fans!

What: Chase Bryant with opener JT and the Gunslingers

When: Sunday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

Where: Mayo Park (behind the Mayo Civic Center)

Cost: Free

Isaac Jahns is a 2015 graduate of Mayo High School and a current journalism student at the University of Missouri. His main passions are writing music and telling people’s stories. Follow Isaac on Twitter.

Story produced with support from Riverside Concerts

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