Niemann Excited for NDWS

Country music musician Jerrod Niemann is excited about coming to Valley City.

Niemann, whose latest album, “Free The Music,” was released in October, is scheduled to appear at the North Dakota Winter Show Friday, March 8.

His performance will be part of Party in the Dirt, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The opening act will be Gwen Sebastian of North Dakota.

Interviewed Wednesday via cell phone from an appearance in Alabama, Niemann said “In North Dakota everyone is so nice.”

The native of Liberal, Kansas, said he is looking forward to coming to North Dakota, at least partially because Hawaii and North Dakota were the only two states in the nation he hasn’t visited. After his Winter Show appearance, Hawaii will be the sole remaining state.

Niemann said his record label (Sea Gayle/Arista Nashville) told him Fargo, N.D., had more downloads of one of his tunes per capita than any other state in the country.

Niemann said he has visited South Dakota “a number of times,” but never crossed its northern border before. “Folks in both states are rural and kind.”

A professional musician for 11 years, Niemann said he has only been performing for two years. Before that he just wrote music.

Writing songs is definitely one of Niemann’s strong points, and “I wrote everything on my new album.”

He now lives in Nashville, but Niemann said Kansas gets snow and cold “although not 50 below,” and he feels ready for North Dakota in March.

Niemann’s band has eight members, most of whom have been playing together for eight years. “Two of them have been with us for two years. It’s a great group of guys. We love working as a team. I am the leader, but I feel we’re all equals. We are all there to give people a good time. I hope everyone comes out, and it’s a good crowd.”

Taking an unconventional approach to the recording process, Niemann and his producer Dave Brainard bucked modern trends and set out to make a record that sounded like nothing else in country today. To do so, they utilized a mix of classic and cutting-edge technology, reinvented instruments, and adhered to a strict set of musical limitations.

Every song on Free The Music features horns, and only acoustic bass is played throughout. Niemann said he wrote all the music for the album because few existing country songs have parts for horns.

“We were trying to develop a specific sound,” said Niemann, “and we kept the horns as the centerpiece of the project. Some of country music’s greatest songs are based around horns. And the acoustic bass? It doesn’t get more country than that.”

Brainard said the restrictions laid out on Free The Music spurred a keen sense of creativity in the studio. “There’s a philosophy I embrace as a producer that says limitations are style,” he shares. “By restricting ourselves to using, say, only acoustic bass, we were assured a unique sound. Those limitations created style.”

Also part of new album is the minimal use of the often ubiquitous electric guitar on Free The Music. Instead, Jerrod relied on an acoustic guitar outfitted with a B-Bender―a pulley mechanism attached to the B string that mimics the sound of a steel guitar or Dobro when pressure is applied to the neck.