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To Nashville and back

A few years ago, Adam Wayne Wollenburg was helping out at a Down by the Riverside concert in Rochester, carrying crates for a friend working the sound booth.

Afterwards, he had a chance to talk with the evening's headliner, country music artist Eric Church. "I said, 'How did you get where you're at?'" remembered Wollenburg. "He said, 'You have to go to Nashville.'"

Wollenburg, an Austin native, followed that advice. He moved to Nashville, spent a couple of years in Music City, and this year recorded his first record there. Now he's back in the area promoting his record and career — and performing as the opener for Sunday's Down by the Riverside featuring Frankie Ballard.

"It's definitely a privilege to be a part of something that's one of the main music events in the southern half of the state," Wollenburg said.

Wollenburg's record, "Good Pennies Keep Coming Back," is on the Origins Music Nashville label — not one of the major powers in Nashville, but a foot in the door for an unknown singer/songwriter trying to find his way in the music business. He talked last week about getting started as a recording artist.

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What's it like trying to get a break in Nashville?

It's definitely a hard business. You kind of have to take it in your own hands. Nobody hands it to you in this business. I actually went there three times before I made the move. But you have to go there and dive into it. You learn real quick. I guess I played every place in Nashville.

You've moved back to Minnesota.

I was in Nashville for a few years, and I don't really need to be there right now. I'm trying to play the music, let people know the music is out there.

How did you get started in music?

I've been writing, playing and singing for 10 years. Right after high school is when I fell into it. I wasn't really into country that much until I was about 17 or 18. That's when it started to change from an older type of country to a new type of country. But I like anything, from rock to blues to folk.

As a songwriter, do you set aside time to write, or do you write when something strikes you?

You can't really force it. You'll be walking down the road and something pops into your mind. I always carry a little recorder with me.

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Do you know Frankie Ballard, who you're opening for Sunday?

He's an up-and-comer. It's a huge opportunity for me. This is the kind of show I want to do. I play clubs here and there, but I want to be known more as an artist, not someone who plays just to sell beer.

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