Local Band Sticking to its Guns

July 27, 2018 01:11 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- There’s a lot of local talent, but breaking into the music industry can be challenging. The internet is becoming increasingly saturated with artists, and local venues that host live shows seem to be closing faster than they are opening.

One Rochester band is sticking to their guns, and it's paying off.


JT Thompson formed “JT & The Gunslingers" about four years ago. He brought in Lead Guitarist Todd Owen, Drummer Jeff Stewart, and Bassist Jimmy Elliott.

“At the beginning, it was rough because we didn't set out to be the best cover band in the Midwest,” said Thompson. “We wanted to do something more original.”

Thompson got the band’s name from their song “Gunslinger”. "We have outlaw country songs, we have pop country songs, southern rock songs,” he said. “It's a playlist, it’s not just one genre."

Thompson says familiarity goes a long way in the business. However, their love for music propelled the band forward. JT & The Gunslingers put on about 160 shows a year, including at the Olmsted County Fair.

Brandon Helgeson is a board member of the fair. He books the Gunslingers each year. “I have seen a lot of progressions when he [Thompson] was first a solo acoustic guy … to now with a full band,” he said. “I think it just shows there are creative people no matter where you are at.”

Within the last two years, the Gunslingers fan base has grown.

“There are places that we will go to that we haven't been to before and they know the single [Midwestern Girls],” said Thompson. “I think we are on 15 radio stations that are in proximity to bigger towns.”

ReverbNation recently named JT & The Gunslingers the third best independent band in Minnesota.

Thompson’s goal, “Not to be Scotty McCreery or Luke Bryan but just to be a good original Midwestern band that has a presence throughout the Midwest, not just the upper Midwest,” he said.

JT & The Gunslinger's biggest gig is yet to come, the band is set to open for Chase Bryant at "Down by the Riverside" on Sunday.

The free concert gets underway at 7 p.m. at Mayo Park.


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