OWATONNA — The summer’s next edition of Downtown Thursday will be this week, and, among the highlights, Travis Thamert — who was born and reared in Owatonna — will perform in the green space at 215 N. Cedar at 5:30 p.m.
Now a resident of Minneapolis, “I don’t get back all that often” to Owatonna, so “it’s nice to do this,” Thamert said. “It gives people a chance to see (me),” and his audience can expect a mix of covers and original pieces.
Thamert, a 2012 graduate of Owatonna High School, “always wanted to be a singer,” even listing it as his desired future career on a kindergarten assignment, and he picked up percussion as an adolescent before adding guitar to his arsenal, he said. There are “a lot of great musical minds I knew in Owatonna,” including Chris Harris, director of choirs at OHS, who “was a huge help with my vocals.”
At age 20, “I got a callback for the second round” of NBC’s “The Voice,” which was “pretty cool,” and Thamert eventually joined the band Drop Tailgate after one of its members, Chris Durow, was impressed by videos he’d seen of Thamert performing in River Falls, Wisconsin, where Thamert attended college, he said. Thamert is now a solo artist — “it’s a lot easier with scheduling” as a solo performer than as part of a larger group — but he remains thankful for the lessons he learned while part of Drop Tailgate.
“That taught me a lot,” from pricing to crowd-pleasing, he said. “I learned the ropes, going with the flow of the band.”
Thamert released the single, “Midnight Air,” roughly a year ago, and “it’s done really well,” including garnering radio play, “which is cool,” he said. “I wrote it with my producer,” and the song details “enjoying the night and taking a deep breath of the air” while “out with a gal.”
More original music from Thamert is on the agenda soon, as a three-song EP — including “Midnight Air” and a duet, “Burned in my Brain” — should be released by the end of the month, he said. That duet, “memories of a guy and a girl,” actually came to Thamert one day while he was out in a field working the land.
“Some songs come out of the blue, and you try to jot them down,” he said. “I had a job where I was driving a lot, and if I ever turned down the radio so I could think, I’d” often discover ideas for songs.
Thamert certainly considers himself a “country” artist, especially with his low voice, he said with a laugh. “The lower end is my forte.”
Tone Music’s Jerry Besser has heard Thamert on multiple occasions and thought he’d be a felicitous fit for Downtown Thursday for several reasons, including the “popularity of country music” locally, Besser said. “This follows our theme of providing a variety of music” with this concert series.
Thamert is familiar to many in the community, and Besser recalls Thamert being a high school student at a “time when there were a lot of bands” comprised of local student-musicians.
“A lot of those guys have continued to play,” too, like Thamert, Besser said. “He has a very good country voice.”
Individuals can learn more about Thamert and his music on his website, travisthamert.com, as well as his Facebook page. They can also request his music be played on 102.9 The Wolf, a Minneapolis Country station that spotlights Minnesota musicians each Sunday night.
Following Thamert’s set Thursday, the Owatonna Community Band will perform in Central Park at 7 p.m.
The Owatonna Community Band is “full of such amazing musicians of all levels,” and the roughly 60 members range in age from teens to retirees, according to Amy Vincelli, a member of the Owatonna Community Band for 14 years. The band, which rehearses May-July, with outdoor concerts throughout the summer, is “entirely volunteer, made up of people from surrounding towns.”
This will be the summer’s second Downtown Thursday, an idea that started last summer as a way of bringing crowds downtown, and the final 2019 edition is set for Aug. 1. The evening closes off a couple of blocks of Cedar Avenue for food purveyors, artists, and — obviously — musicians. The inaugural edition in August 2018 was successful enough for Main Street Owatonna to plan three this summer.
Restaurants, bars, and shops are planning special offerings and experiences in their businesses Thursday during the event, scheduled from 4-8:30 p.m., said Main Street Owatonna’s Shirley Schultz. There will also be some new craft vendors.