The 2017 Nash Next challenge is down to 10 finalists, and in the lead-up to the announcement of the champion on Nov. 1, NCD will be profiling each of the 10 finalists.
Today, we are getting to know finalist Mike Rut.
In May, Cumulus Media and Big Machine Label Group invited aspiring country artists and bands to participate in Nash Next 2017, a grassroots talent search and artist development program for country music. Sponsored nationally by Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, the winner of the competition will receive a recording contract with Nash Next Records under the Big Machine Label Group and garner substantial exposure, commensurate with a major-label release, on Cumulus radio stations nationwide.
The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of country radio professionals and will be judged in the finale by a group that includes Brooks & Dunn’s Kix Brooks and Scott Borchetta, president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group. The 10 finalists will perform at the 2017 Nash Next finale event at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is open to the public.
Market: Salt Lake City
How did you get started in music?
Growing up, my dad was always listening to music in the car. He loved The Four Freshmen, The Lettermen, Burt Bacharach, Mel Torme, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole and a ton more. I just acquired a love for good music. In the fifth grade, I was selected to be in the opera Carmen at the University of Michigan with about 10 kids from my elementary school. I loved it. I wasn’t nervous at all. I thought it was pretty cool up there. I still feel that way, but I probably won’t be getting cast for any operas anytime soon.
At what age did you realize you wanted to make music your career?
16. I didn’t even have a guitar yet, but my friend was a drummer and his band kept their equipment in his basement, so when the band wasn’t there I’d go over and jam with my friend. I got the bug right then and there, and I haven’t stopped playing since.
Who are your musical influences?
Dan Huff. He is amazing and has the Midas touch. Everything he’s involved with seems to turn gold. So many of the country records I love have his fingerprints all over them, but so many rock and pop records do too. His guitar playing and singing is amazing, as is his talent for producing. I love to record and produce records, so I think what he’s already accomplished is crazy. Maybe he can work with me on the next Mike Rut record.
What three words describe you?
Insatiable. Diverse. Hardworking.
What is unique about your sound?
If you’re hearing it, there’s a good chance I’m playing and singing and recording it myself. The stories that I tell are coming from real-life experiences.
What three albums would you take with you to a deserted island?
Gretchen Goes to Nebraska by King’s X. White Album by the Beatles. Me and My Gang by Rascal Flatts.
What’s a song you wish you had written?
The first time I heard Rascal Flatts’ version of “I Know You Won’t.” I actually said to my wife, “I wish I had written that song.” Any song that tells a story so clearly that evokes an emotion and takes you on a journey where you can relate is a song I wish I’d written.
What was the first concert you attended?
Not sure, but one of my favorites was Foreigner a couple weeks ago. They crushed it and I knew every single song.
What’s the last song you heard that blew you away?
Kelly Clarkson’s live acoustic performance of “Piece by Piece” on American Idol. Yep, I’m a big fan. It was such a real moment. My heart broke and I sat there crying listening to it that night. My heart still breaks every time I hear to it. I have kids, so I get it. I love the pitch and wavering in her voice due to her raw emotion and the fact that she couldn’t get through it without crying herself.
Who is the “King” of country music?
For me, the king has to be Johnny Cash. He did it his own way. He set his own rules and wrote what he wanted to. He’s a legend.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve performed?
I’ve done most of the usual places—basements, bars, clubs, churches, amusement parks, malls. The hardest place was performing at the funeral of the wife of one of my closest friends. While it was an honor to be asked, it was pretty tough.