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Paula Quam, Forum Communications, Published August 09 2012

Detroit Lakes grad has high hopes in Nashville

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Terry Mackner, a 1992 Detroit Lakes graduate and member of Fargo-based Silverado band, is headed to Nashville.

“I’m lettin’ ’er buck – that’s a DL saying,” Mackner said with a laugh.

The lead singer for Silverado could be seeing the break in his country music career he’s always waited for.

Mackner, who is a bit of a local celebrity with performances at WE Fest and the Grand Ole Opry, has spent the past month sending demos of his singing to different music producers in Nashville.

He wasn’t really even telling friends or family because he didn’t want to get anybody’s hopes up.

But just recently he got a bite – and it has the potential to be a big one.

“I got a call from a lady named Jennifer, who is the assistant to Michelle and William Gawley,” said Mackner.

The Gawleys are a husband and wife team of producers who’ve worked with some of the country’s biggest stars, including Keith Urban and Jason Aldean.

The producers wanted to hear more from Mackner, so he told them about some videos he had on YouTube of his performances.

“And they really liked my live stuff,” said Mackner. “They liked my look, my energy on stage and how I got the crowd going.”

In fact, they liked it so much, the producers are paying for Mackner to travel to Nashville, where they are setting him up to record a

five-song CD at Omni Studios.

“Omni works with the music industry’s top producers and singers like Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Jewel, Lynyrd Skynyrd … this is kind of huge,” said Mackner, who will be leaving in the next couple of weeks.

The plan is to spend five days in the studio working on those five songs, two of which were written by country music stars Keith Urban and Mark Wills.

“They’re just awesome, No. 1-type songs,” said Mackner, who says they are the right product for his voice, “they’re kind of like country-rock – the hooks and chorus are unbelievable.”

Mackner says the goal then is for the Gawleys to use their connections at Capitol Records and other major labels to try to push for him to get a real record deal while his mini-CD is tested in various markets to see if they “take off.”

That means he’ll be trying like crazy to get his music played in the Fargo-Moorhead and Detroit Lakes area as well.

If his music is well-received and a label does sign him to a record deal, Mackner says he’ll move down to Nashville because at age 38, he says it’s now or never.

“I had the chance back in 2001 to sign on to an independent label, but I didn’t take it because I was married and it just wasn’t going to work out, but now I don’t have anything tying me down,” said Mackner, adding that he will be making the trip with his girlfriend, Brook, and manager, Trevor Mills.

Although the plan initially was to fly, Mackner says instead they’ll be road tripping it, soaking it all in from the beginning.

“I’m just going to enjoy this – I’m taking a camera to get a bunch of photos all along the way,” said Mackner.

He says he’s excited at the thought of how quickly music artists can spring to the big-time.

“It can take a while, like I’m sitting here in Fargo and then six months from now I’m on tour,” said Mackner, talking about a conversation he had with Jason Aldean a couple of years ago while the two were performing at the Dakota Magic Casino, “and he said he’s just like me – playing in bars and smaller circuits and just got a break. So that’s what I’m hoping for.”

Mackner says although he knows how much is on the line during this trip, he isn’t really nervous as he prepares for what could be the biggest shot of his life.

“I’m more just anxious to get it all going,” he said, feeling confident, “because when I’m on stage I just feel … at home. And I just really want to bust this door down – like boom!”

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Paula Quam writes for the Detroit Lakes Tribune