Jan. 15, 2007

Country singer Rockie Lynne to perform at Blue Note in Winsted

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Since the last time Rockie Lynne was in Winsted, many things have changed in his life, and he’s enjoying every minute of it.

The nationally known country singer, who calls Minnesota his home, is scheduled to perform at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted Saturday, Jan. 27.

Being no stranger to Winsted, Lynne performed at the Winstock Country Music Festival in 2005, just prior to signing his record deal with Universal South.

“I really enjoyed doing that,” Lynne said about playing Winstock. “That was fun. Those guys that ran that place were wonderful. I enjoyed that.”

Not long after that appearance at Winstock, Lynne’s first single, “Lipstick” took off like wildfire and shot up the country music charts. The song spent 10 consecutive weeks at the number one spot on the Nielsen Soundscan singles sales chart.

His debut album hit the streets, and has done well for the southern-born Lynne, producing hits like “Do We Still,” and his current single that’s receiving a lot of airplay on radio across the country, “More.”

“‘More’ was inspired by my mom,” Lynne said. “I was adopted as a young man, when I was about four years old. My mother was the first person that ever really cared, like, whether I had a bath or clean clothes or something to eat. She was an amazing influence on my life; an amazing woman.

“My whole life, when I’d say to her, ‘I love you mama,’ she’d always say back to me ‘I love you more,’ Lynne said.

“I thought up until I wrote this song, that just we were the ones that said that. I didn’t know anyone else ever said ‘I love you more’ like that, but what happened was after she passed away, I got to thinking, ‘I wonder what mom meant when she said that she loved me more?’ and I really believed that she loved me more than herself.”

Lynne wrote the chorus to the song with the words “I’d give you my seat on the train to heaven, if only one of us could go.”

“That song really just kinda really tears people up,” he said. “I’m amazed at how well it’s being received, but I’ve had people coming up to me every day that say ‘Man, we say that to each other. That’s what my mom or dad has said to me my whole life.’”

Lynne said that he is currently doing a lot of songwriting for his second album, and also playing about half a dozen shows a month in the early months of the 2007. He said some are acoustic-style; some are full-band. His show at the Blue Note will be with his full band.

He expects to do some new material at the Blue Note, and hopes to “try them out” on the crowd.

“I don’t know which ones we’ll do yet,” Lynne said. “I don’t ever plan a show. The guys that have been playing for me are my friends; they’ve been playing for me 15 to 20 years, some of them, so I just kinda wing it and we’ll see what comes out.”

He said there is no release date yet for a new single or his second album, and said he is still getting a lot of airplay from “More.”

He added that songs seem to be moving slower on the charts across the board, and that he may be working “More” through spring or even beyond that.

Unlike many country artists, Lynne does not watch the charts, or keep track of where his song is at each week when the charts come out.

“I really don’t,” Lynne said about tracking his songs. “I don’t think it does any good to look at other artists peripherally. I’m grateful that one person would like my songs and buy my record; I’m just grateful to be able to do it.

“A lot of people play that numbers game, and they really get focused on that and become obsessed with it, but I just really want to be concerned about making really good music and doing things that are positive.”

Even though he calls Minnesota home, Lynne has been spending a majority of his time lately either on the road, or in Nashville, writing and working on his follow-up album.

“I really miss it up there,” Lynne said about Minnesota, after asking what the high temperature of the day was. “Oddly enough, I like the cold weather. I enjoy the briskness of the air and the cleanliness. I love living up there, and that’s why I hate that I’m gone as much as I am.”

Lynne has called Minnesota his home for about five years, and said he has about two more years where he’ll have to “be gone all the time,” but hopes after that to be able to spend more time in northern Minnesota.

“I really enjoy the opportunity that’s been given to me,” he said. “I like playing and traveling; it’s what I’ve always done. It’s a little bit like a gypsy in that you’re gone all the time, but Minnesota feels like roots to me, it feels like home. I grew up in and out of orphanages, so the first place that I really had that felt like a home was there, so I enjoy being there.”

The songs Lynne is working on for his second album are different than those for the first. He said his second album will be more up-tempo, but will still feature songs with lyrics that hit home.

“For me, I write about real life experiences; usually relationship kind of songs, or life experience songs,” he said. “I don’t write so much about drinking or stuff like that ‘cause I don’t drink. I’ve never had a drink in my life.

“I really believe that if you just write about regular things, everybody feels they can relate to it,” Lynne said.

Keeping true to ‘doing things that are positive’

For the past three years, Lynne has been a part of a benefit called Tribute to the Troops that takes place in September.

“Before the concert, we take three days, and we visit every family in Minnesota who’s lost a family member in Iraq who wants a visit.

“It’s not pro-war, it’s not anti-war; we go visit families that lost these heroes,” Lynne said. “We just go to them and say, ‘We know you lost your son or your daughter, and somebody cares, somebody notices.’”

His song, “Red, White, and Blue,” has taken on a life of its own at memorials and tributes. Lynne has even performed it on Good Morning America, for wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, at the Pentagon, and for the president.

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Lynne said, adding that plans are already underway for the 2007 run and concert.

Each year, the benefit has grown. When he started it with his friend, Greg Smith, Lynne said there were 28 motorcycles that did the three-day trip. The following year, there were 300, and last year, despite the rain and cold weather, there were 500 motorcycles.

“This year, it’s going to be warm and sunny, and we’re going to have half the state with us I believe, ‘cause it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

For more information on the three-day event, visit www.tributetothetroops.org.

From meager beginnings to national country star, Lynne feels he is blessed

Lynne grew up in North Carolina, and played music since he was a young boy.

He said his life has always gravitated to music, and that he played in many bands while he was in high school.

“We had a million different names,” Lynne said. “We were always getting fired. They wanted us to play covers, but we played my songs. We would get fired, and a few weeks later, I would book us at the same place under a different name and some other band’s photo.”

He entered the US Army, and was stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C. After his three years of active duty were up, Lynne moved west, to Hollywood.

“Man, talk about a fish out of water,” he said with a laugh. “Between my upbringing and the Army, I had no social experience at all. I was so shy and unsure of myself in that environment that I had to buy sunglasses just to walk down the street.”

He enrolled at the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, but when calls for musicians were unsuccessful, he headed back east. He performed for two years with a popular local singer and eventually moved north, to Nashville.

Eventually, he got sick of lack of personal expression by always playing with someone else. He set out on his own, and the rest is history. From logging 300 tour dates a year some years, Lynne seems to have found his niche.

“I’m one of those people who think the mountain we’re trying to climb should be high; it should be a big tall mountain, and it should be hard,” Lynne said. “There’s so many people that are trying to do it, that it would be a disservice to them to not give it every single thing I’ve got. I got lucky and I got an opportunity, and I’m trying to make the very most of the opportunity I’ve been given.”

He said he has never been in it for a national record deal, but jumped when the opportunity seemed to present itself to sign with Universal South.

“It’s pretty crazy, but it sure is a blessing,” he said. “It’s a big opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.”

Lynne said he is looking forward to returning home to Minnesota for the show at the Blue Note, and said he can’t wait to meet some new people in Winsted.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Lynne added. “I love music, and I always have. It’s been something that in the dark times of my life, the music was something that always seemed like a refuge.”

Lynne said it’s “proof positive” that if he can do it, anyone can, and that he hopes people see that and use that as an inspiration.

“There’s not really anything special about me,” he said. “I just really love music and I work hard at it.

“I got lucky.”

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