Blues will never die
At age 20, Trent Romens , a blues guitarist out of Minneapolis, doesn't believe the stereotype that a musician needs to be older to play the blues.
"You can't tell me what I can and cannot play as far as music goes. I don't buy into it," he said.
He's found a kindred spirit in Rochester's Sena Ehrhardt, another young blues musician, who he will open for April 14 in Rochester.
"We're definitely in the same boat, a little bit," Romens said.
And that boat is headed against the tide as both musicians have debuted with a splash.
Ehrhardt and her band, who are signed to Blind Pig Records, are nominated for the 2012 Blues Music Awards Best New Artist Debut. The awards, which are recognized as the highest honor given to blues artists, will be presented May 10 in Memphis.
Romens' debut release, "Aware," made it onto the Grammy Award Entry List for Best Blues Album 2011.
Romens also recently returned from a tour in Memphis for the 28th annual International Blues Challenge. Yet some of his biggest shows have been in Rochester.
He's played at the Hambone Music Festival, St. Johns Block Party, and MedCity BBQ and Music Festival. He also opened for Everclear and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk at the Prairie Grass Music Festival in Houston, Minn.
Just last month, Romens opened for Jimmie Vaughan at Whiskey Bones Roadhouse in Rochester.
That's all left him with a positive view of Rochester's blues fans.
"Minneapolis has a crew of blues lovers, but Rochester has a tight-knit blues community that goes out of their way to help support the music," Romens said.
His next Rochester performance will be at the Night of the Living Blues show with Ehrhardt and Boom Boom Steve Vonderharr and the Knockouts, which includes Rochester native John Franken on guitar.
Living is the key word in the concert's title.
Although Romens said he was drawn to the blues by listening to the greats, Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Son House, he's also focused on the future.
The blues is dying, Romens said. Compared to 10 or 20 years ago, there's a smaller audience seeking out blues concerts, and the blues lovers who are showing up tend to be older, he said.
Even so, he said, "The blues will never die. Young players like me keep it alive."