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Tuesday
March 26th, 2019

lendon hartshornLendon Hartshorn performs at a concert recently. The former Liberal resident will be coming to town Jan. 25 to give a concert at Billy’s Blue Duck BBQ. Courtesy photoROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

Former Liberal resident Lendon Hartshorn now lives in the midst of the Colorado Rockies in Denver, and  while he has been performing since he was a child, he only began singing about three years ago.

However, those three years have found Hartshorn making great progress with his new career, so much so that he said he has already begun climbing the mountain of success similar to those where he now presides.

“You’ve got to look at it as a mountain,” he said. “I’m just kind of on that first little baby peek, and hopefully, this thing just keeps going up and up. With the group of guys I have with me, I think that we can make it happen.”

Hartshorn will be in Liberal Jan. 25 for a concert at Billy’s Blue Duck BBQ. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. He said the event came about after locals heard he was going to be in town to perform at a private event for his grandparents.

“We made it work, got in contact with Billy’s and got everything squared away,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. People who saw me growing up, they saw the very beginnings of this when I was running around lip syncing and everything. Now, they get to kind of see what it’s turned into with a full band and actually hear me sing, which kind of surprises some people.”

Hartshorn said the persona he has on stage is just slightly different than the one he gives in person.

“If you talk to me and meet me in person, I probably won’t say 12 words, but if you get me on stage with my guys and we start going through our show, you’re like, ‘There’s no way this is the same guy. He’s off the wall. This is like a poor man’s Garth Brooks concert,’” he said. “It’s going to be a good time. I’m really hoping that we have a good turnout. I want to have a good time out there. There’s a lot of people I’m excited to see at our show out there.”

With his career still in its young stages, Hartshorn said he is still testing the waters to find out what will and won’t work.

Hartshorn’s performing days date back to his childhood when he won his age category at Liberal’s Pancake Day Talent Show, and he said coming back to Southwest Kansas for the Jan. 25 concert will be like getting back in touch with where he came from and seeing how big he has gotten since he started.

“I think that’s what’s going to be fun, showing my band, ‘Hey this is where we had the Pancake Day Talent Show. The Pancake Day thing is a huge deal here, and I won that when I was in fourth or fifth grade,’ he said. “It’s just going to kind of be a reminiscing type deal, but kind of a ‘Hey look what I’ve turned into’ type deal too.”

Above all else, Hartshorn said coming to Billy’s will be a good opportunity for people in Liberal “to see what I’ve turned into since they saw me as a kid running around and just give me a chance to show my guys off too.”

Along with Pancake Day, Hartshorn’s roots come from performing at many talent shows by lip singing. He won the Pancake Day show in either the fourth or fifth grade.

Much of what he learned about performing, Hartshorn said, came from watching DVDs and videos from country music superstar Garth Brooks.

“Just kind of ran around acting like him lip syncing, using an empty toilet paper roll and making a microphone out of that and using a piece of tin foil to make the top of the microphone,” he said. 

Hartshorn said his talent simply evolved as he got older.

“I didn’t really start singing until about three years ago,” he said. “That’s what was nerve-wracking. Performing’s always been fun, but actually, the singing part was pretty nerve-wracking. That was all new to me, so that took a little bit of getting used to. I picked up guitar about seven years ago.”

Hartshorn said he wanted to do what Brooks did, but he would first learn how to play a guitar. People he knew were likewise encouraging him to continue his progress with the vocal part of his talent too, though he seemed reluctant to do so.

“They’re like, ‘You’re going to have learn how to sing,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t know about that.’”

The same year Hartshorn won his age division at the Pancake Day Talent Show was the same year Liberal native and country singer Jerrod Niemann won his. At the time, Hartshorn said he did not think much of winning with Niemann.

“I didn’t really know what he would go on to be,” he said. “I didn’t know him either, but that was always something cool to hang my hat on when people ask me where I’m from.”

Prior to the start of his actual singing career, Hartshorn had little training in vocal music. He did participate in choir, but he admitted singing was not his goal of taking part in the class.

“Honestly, I was in choir because there were pretty girls,” he said. “I started playing, and people are like, ‘Oh you gotta sing. You gotta sing.’ I never had any training. I’d sing in the shower when I thought people weren’t really listening. In reality, I’m pretty sure my parents were listening and going, ‘Oh wow, he’s actually kinda good.’”

As he got older, Hartshorn said he would go to bars and dance with girls, and as they danced, the pair would sing to the song. Many of those girls would hear him and tell him he needed to further pursue a career.

“A lot of girls were like, ‘You need to sing.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea,’” he said. “Finally, my guitar teacher would put together a show where we got to play with a full band. He was like, ‘You need to sing.’ I just kind of went out there and let it hang out, and as I’ve gotten more comfortable, it’s second nature now. I’m confident enough in it where I’m not second guessing myself going, ‘I hope this sounds good, or I hope people are liking this.’ It’s come a long way.”

Hartshorn said he picked up playing the guitar after finishing college.

“With me going to college on a cross country and track scholarship, I didn’t have enough time,” he said. “When I got out of school, I started working. I said I’m just going to go buy a guitar. I’ll find somebody to give me lessons. I googled guitar teachers around my area. The first guy I had, he was very by the book. I’m like I just want to play songs. I just want to play songs to impress girls. How can we speed this process up? I stuck with him for about a year, and I quit going to him and laid out for about six months. I found the second teacher that I went to, and that guy’s the one who really got me where I’m at now.”

Hartshorn said that teacher made learning the guitar a lot easier than the first one.

“I always thought it was going to be super hard,” he said. “He made it super easy. It really wasn’t that bad. It was pretty easy looking back on it. I always thought it was going to be super hard, and I’d never get to where I’m at.”

Hartshorn has a single out right now, “Population You And Me,” which can be found on YouTube and Facebook. The song is the first he had written and put with music.

“We had to have it pushed out for a big summer festival we played up in Greeley,” he said. “They said ‘We need an original,’ and luckily maybe a week before that, I wrote that. Me and my guys sat down and put music to it and played a couple of times, and we went ahead and recorded it.”

Hartshorn said he began playing in Denver after seeing the house band at the Grizzly Rose night club in Denver.

“I was like, ‘Man these guys are really good. What do I need to do to be that good?’” he said. “I slowly just kind of became friends with him. He was really the one who inspired me to want to pick up the guitar and try to do what he’s doing. You don’t hear him on the radio, but he’s got albums out. He tours full time. He’s got a tour bus. That’s what I set my mind to. Whatever he’s doing, that’s what I want to do.”

Hartshorn said he has tried to model what he does off the success of that artist, Chancey Williams, because of how well Williams’ career has worked out.

“I don’t think I would be in this position I’m in if I wouldn’t have gone out to his shows and really paid attention to what he was doing live and also what he does on the albums,” he said. “He’s right up there with Garth. He might even be above Garth.”

Hartshorn said he does have other musical influences such as country singers Dwight Yokum, George Strait and Merle Haggard as well as newer singers like Cody Johnson and Aaron Watson.

“Those guys are further down on the list. I take some different things from different artists, but I think Chancey and Garth are one and two and that could go either way,” he said.

Hartshorn said he has even taken a page from 1980s hair bands such as Kiss, particularly with the effects those musicians use in their shows.

“I’m not made to stand there like George Strait and just sing a song,” he said. “That’s not my personality. That’s not how I want my shows to go, and I really think once people see us live, they understand that.”

Hartshorn has opened for Williams a couple of times, and he has also been the first act for other big name artists like Ricochet, Diamond Rio and the Casey Donahue Band, the last of which he said brings a crowd to every show.

“The guy sells out places wherever he goes,” he said. “I got to open for him to a sold out crowd of a little over 600. We’ve got some other shows lined up this summer with some other guys that I’m going to be pretty excited to announce when that time comes around. It’s really opening some doors.”

With his career still in its early stages, Hartshorn said he is still very green.

“We need to sit down and get back in the studio and do some writing and some recording of our original stuff,” he said. “I’d like to put out possibly an album this next year of our stuff, and we’re continually growing our set of covers because that’s just what’s going to keep going us shows around here and getting our name in people’s ears.”

Hartshorn is already receiving some recognition for his talent, though.

“We’ve got the Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards, which is just a little smaller version of the CMAs, this Sunday, and I’m nominated for New Artist of the Year,” he said. “If we happen to win that, that would really jump start our 2019. That would top off everything I tried to do in 2018. That was the top of my list – to get nominated and win for 2018.”

Hartshorn admits he still has a long way to go before he achieves the level of success he wants to with music.

“I want to eventually be playing hopefully Cheyenne Frontier Days on the big stage someday, places like the Greeley Stampede big stage. It’s kind of endless, maybe even sell out the Pepsi Center. Who knows?” he said.

And naturally, Hartshorn said he is looking forward to seeing some of that excitement when he comes to Billy’s later this month.

“We feed off that energy, and if that place is packed, it’s going to be a good time,” he said. “It’s going to be a good show. I wouldn’t put it by me if I’m hanging off the rafters by the end of the show.”

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