I met Trent in quite an inauspicious way. While at the New Daisy theater in Memphis a young, very attractive lady was handing out postcards about an artist who I had heard of thru Blind Raccoon, I mentioned that I enjoyed his music and she said “…well tell him, this is Trent” I was totally unprepared - before me stood a very young man, polite, proper and quite genuine in his approach to conversation and able to converse on a wide range of topics.
After some minutes I felt like I had met someone from my past – an old soul of sorts. Throughout that weekend we often spent time together chatting, poking fun at each other and generally having a kindred experience. Let me introduce you to this 20 year old blues-man from Edina, Minnesota. He is bold, passionate and with just enough audacity to make me truly like him as an artist and as a person. Trent Romens……
B411: First off I have to tell you, I truly believe that ‘you get it’. There is a certain aura to you and the way you handle yourself in public and on stage is beyond your years and speaks volumes about you.
Trent Romens: Thank you, I appreciate that. It’s very cool that you feel that way.
B411: Let’s touch on something that is very current and very cool, you are opening for Jimmy Vaughn. Tell me something about that and how it came to be.
TR: Well yeh it really is, it’s in Rochester, MN at the Whiskey Bones March 23, 8:00PM– I am really excited about it. To be able to open for someone of that stature is just enormous, hopefully I will be able to meet him and talk to him some. That’s a pretty cool step in the process for me. My manager talked to the venue after hearing that Jimmy was coming in and she jumped on it.
B411: If I can flash back to my first statement to you about ‘getting it‘. I have called you, and heard others also say that you seem to be ‘an old soul’. How do you feel about something like that. Does it get old, or is it a pressure situation for you?
TR: I’ll tell you what, it’s better than people telling me I’m going to be famous. That stuff just gets in your head.
B411: How do you feel about that, how would you explain that and what does it mean to you?
TR: I’ve listened to a lot of older music, and I think it has had that type of effect upon me, hence my soul is old. While some of the newer music I really don’t like it that much. Most of my generation really digs that music, I don’t. I personally think it’s a cool thing to have said about me.
B411: So what did you listen to as a younger person? You have been playing the Blues for a long time but prior to that.
TR: When I was really young I just didn’t get the Blues. Nor did I get some of the music I get and am into today, like the Grateful Dead. I liked the Backstreet Boys, Aaron Carter, pop stuff, I wanted to just get up and dance. I was a victim of the record labels back then.
I started to get into classic rock and Blues and some Jazz – this was in Middle School – and that’s when I started playing guitar. Since then this is the music I listen to and I really enjoy it. Take Derek Trucks, he’s an old soul right there. He has modernized the genre, he does his thing and it sounded so cool and awesome that it showed me that this music is really great and to look at where it came from and where it is now. In a way it made the music legitimate to me.
B411: That’s pretty good thinking on your part. I must confess that I re-visited your release ‘Aware’ after meeting you – I heard a mix of subtle sounds from various artists such as the Allman Brothers, Derek Trucks, Derek and the Dominoes etc. It is not a strict style or, as we often hear, a seventeen year old white boy playing SRV. It is your sound.
TR: I am kind of a genre whore, that’s what I like to call it.
B411: That’s a good one, can I use that? See I believe that roots and influences are different. Influences can change as to what you are into at the moment, or if you suddenly get hipped to a band or sound that you dig….Roots on the other hand are the foundation or core of what you as an artist is.
TR: I dig these questions, people don’t often think of the differences between these two important things.
So let’s start with the roots first. I grew up with two brothers and one older sister, the brothers are two years younger than me. It was in a great neighborhood, and had a very loving family. Very supportive with us kids, which made it easier for me to dive into other types of music. I didn’t need to listen to angry music because I didn’t have that in me. I also feel that I have a good head on my shoulders,it’s on pretty straight. Those are my roots.
Now influences, Derek Trucks is a huge influence on me. He was the bridge, he made me want to be good, as good as him. I wanted to do that. I studied him constantly – listened to his music, and the music of people he covered, I literally ate him up. I wanted to be able to play like him.
It sort of went like this – I wanted to play guitar, well what does that mean? I wanted to play this song or this riff, I like it, it’s cool, I then wanted to be able to do that – to solo like that ….I kept having more fun, to this day I am still learning and having fun along the way. Wanting to learn new things with my craft, so finding certain players and music helps make that happen.
B411: Speaking of learning, are you still taking lessons, practicing do you consider playing out practice and learning enough?
TR: It’s a little bit of both, this is stuff I am learning even now. For guitar it used to be I’d learn a scale and notes and hear an artist so I would try to recreate that sound or riffs. Then once you understand the riffs you can start to put your own spin on it. You learn to play and then decide to play this way – or that way and go from there.
There’s also a technical/exercise side to it. To play certain riffs, to play them fast or to be able to move your fingers to those places your fingers have to be strong and master executing those riffs. I am still learning, to this day, to think about the technical side to guitar playing. Mostly the shredder style like Eric Johnson stuff. But it shows how practice is essential.
We also have just listening to music and playing with a band. Vocal exercises are important too, I usually try to do thirty minutes of vocal exercises a day. There are all sorts of levels and the deeper you get into it the deeper and more stuff opens up to learn. Tell me more about it, since it sticks out in my mind.
B411: Your release “Aware”, on New Folk Records, is an exciting combination of Blues styles, but one stood out for me – ‘Hey Now’. Very deep stuff, personal, up to date almost out of the sixties a spot on topical song with Bob Marley rhythm, with an anthem-like chorus. Tell me more about it, since it sticks out in my mind.
TR: That was just a sitting down with an acoustic guitar kind of song. I was sitting there and played a G-chord and started going off that, the melody came along and the words were ‘hey now’ for some reason. Yeh, it had that Marley feel and it was such a harmony based song – especially when the chorus comes in.
Bob Marley is such a huge vocal influence on me. I was always a guitar player who didn’t sing. But I wanted to do a CD and I need to sing on it, so I have been singing for two years on stage now. It is a very comfortable style of singing, and his songs and stories were so powerful.
B411: We finally got to meet in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. I had a blast, how was the whole experience for you?
TR: It was great ! I loved playing with different musicians, in different venues, with different people around. I don’t get a lot of that in Minneapolis. I play where I can but usually with people I know, and even with people I know in the crowd, or even a venue I know. It was a whole different world for me.
It was so cool to play before people who didn’t know me, but loved Blues music – to play with musicians who I had no idea of who they were, nor did they know me. It was a treat for me to see people really enjoy what we all did.
B411: With all the music I saw I still did not see everyone, but I did catch some of the Youth Showcase and jams during the week. They were just fab !
TR: That was great. All those jams playing with the younger kids – there are so many talented musicians out there. These folks made me want to go home and practice even harder. But to also come back next year, and did I mention how cool the people in the audience were, they made it so easy to just play and share the music, the whole Blues community were amazing.
B411: Trent, it has been a pleasure to meet you, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us. I know I will see you again on the Blues Highway and the sooner the better.
To learn more about this rising young blues artist visit his web site at:
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease