If you’re looking to see JT & the Gunslingers perform this summer or fall, you’re in luck. The band’s summer and fall season will consist of 50 shows, an all-time high for the group.
“It’s a different pace for us, but we are managing well,” said JT Thompson, the group’s lead singer.
While the group tries to schedule about two gigs a week, there are some weeks where they have as many as five.
“It’s a strain on vocals and it’s a strain because the guys have family lives and a couple of them have day jobs, but they make it work because they believe in what we are doing,” Thompson said.
For Thompson, the biggest challenge of the new gigs has been fighting exhaustion.
“It’s a struggle because you give it all away on stage because you want to have your best show each time, like it doesn’t matter if it’s 50 people or five thousand,” Thompson said.
His solution: a large coffee with two shots of espresso – a drink that Thompson and the lead guitarist use to stay awake and energetic during their shows.
The group also switched to doing shows completely sober, which is something Thompson says they knew they should have always been doing, but they didn’t commit to 100 percent until last winter.
Thompson also attributes the group’s ability to increase their workload to the fact that the band members get along so well.
“We are fortunate to get along with each other and not have any animosity in the band,” Thompson said.
Thompson is very close to his bandmates, specifically with lead guitarist Todd Owen. The two are so close that Thompson is often referred to as Owen’s “second wife” by Owen’s own wife.
Owen and Thompson genuinely miss each other when they aren’t able to perform together over an extended period of time, he said. Even a previous two-week absence was palpable.
“I got back and we played a show and he was like, ‘Hey man, I missed you,’ and I was like, ‘I missed you too,’” Thompson said.
The driving factor behind the Gunslingers’ new schedule? Ambition.
They decided that they want to take the band to the next level after performing at a Travis Tritt show last year.
“That’s where we kinda decided that we could do what we had set out to do as young men, now that we are seasoned and decent musicians, and level-headed, for the most part,” Thompson said.
The band has already booked tours in Texas and in Arizona for this winter, and the group’s new manager Scott Rose has been talking to bigger bands about having JT & the Gunslingers open for them.
One of the bands Rose has been talking to is Blackberry Smoke, a favorite of Thompson and his bandmates.
Thompson credits the increase in the band’s gigs to the handwork of Rose.
“I gotta chalk it up to our manager Scott Rose for believing in us and putting in the work and effort to get us bigger and better shows,” Thompson said.
Rose has only been with the group for two months, but Thompson is very excited about what is in the works and how quickly Rose has been able to make bigger gigs happen. One of those gigs is singing the national anthem at a Twins game.
“I popped that idea by Scott and within four hours he goes, ‘Well, July 7th you’re on for the Twins,” Thompson laughed. “And I was like, ‘That was only four hours, my friend!’”
While Thompson and the rest of the band members have their eyes set on bigger and better gigs, they will never forget their beginnings at the North Star in Rochester.
“We gotta stay loyal to our roots, no matter how big we can be or what we’re doing, who shows we are doing,” Thompson said. “We always gotta come home.”
So fans don’t have to worry about JT & the Gunslingers leaving Rochester behind.
“Rochester’s home and the 507 and the North Star were our launching points, that will always be where our heart is,” Thompson said.