Saturday, October 20, 2018

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Being true: In debut album, ‘American Idol’ semifinalist and Ellsworth native finds he has much to reflect on

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    Reed Grimm performs a set on “American Idol” season 11 in 2012. Six years later, the Ellsworth native is set to release his debut album, “Reminders.”

    Contributed photo courtesy of Fox

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    Ellsworth native Reed Grimm’s debut album, “Reminders,” drops Friday. He will do two release shows this weekend: one in La Crosse; the other in Minneapolis.

    Contributed photo

It can be easy to get lost in stardom. 

But Reed Grimm, an Ellsworth native and American Idol season 11 semifinalist, didn’t want to let national fame get to his head.

After his Hollywood stint in 2012, Grimm returned to his current residence in Minneapolis and took a few deep breaths. He paused to reflect on his life, his goals and his current accomplishments — something he thinks people should do more often. 

“It was necessary to come back to reality,” Grimm said. “I spent some time remembering my roots, my family and all of the life truths I want to carry with me.”

Now, six years later, he is putting some of those “life truths” to music in his debut album, “Reminders.” It means, he said, exactly what it sounds like.

“It’s a bunch of reminders to myself of things I want to exemplify and be true to,” Grimm said. “If I feel like I need to be reminded of these things, then someone else might need to be reminded of it too.” 

Grimm will head to La Crosse for a CD release show at 7 p.m. Friday at the Cavalier Theater, 118 Fifth Ave. N. He will also play a release show at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis. Both events are all-ages. 

His shows will include a nine-piece band with a horn section and percussionists. Though the music is thoughtful, “Reminders” also features a toe-tapping, head-bobbing array of tunes.

Or, as Grimm describes it, “There’s some funk, soul, pop and a little jazz sprinkled on top.” 

Insightful sound

Perhaps it is the philosophy minor mixed with the Bachelor of Fine Arts in performance percussion he received from UW-La Crosse in 2008, but each song, each decision, Grimm makes ties back to a deeper purpose.

He could easily have rolled off the “American Idol” fame and released a record immediately following that season, he said, but knew it wouldn’t be the music he wanted to make.

“My intention was to really produce music that felt true and honest, and I feel like that came through,” he said. “Lyrically, I wanted honesty, and stylistically, I wanted it to be enjoyable for myself.”

With “Reminders,” he thinks both are true. The tunes feel good, but if listeners are looking for a message in the music, they will find that too. 

One song, “Out of Reach,” questions the idea that a person’s dream can be too lofty, Grimm said. That kind of thinking will lead to giving up on something without trying, and he said he challenges that idea in this song.

“I don’t want to live thinking ‘this is just how life is,’ and I don’t think anyone wants to live that way,” he said. “This song opens the doors to that potential and shifts the vantage point.”

He didn’t give up on his goals, and that’s how “Reminders” came about. It was made possible through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $28,000. 

The album was recorded in Leiper’s Fork, Tenn., with the help of “amazing musicians,” Grimm said, whom he flew in from Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and California. 

“The music that came through is a testament to my initial influence, but everyone had their own little flavor added to it,” he said. 

Learning from ‘Idol’

Being a semifinalist on “American Idol” was an experience he won’t soon forget. Even now, looking back, he’s still a little star-struck.

“I got to perform for 20 million people, which is just mind-boggling,” he said. “Your mind can’t even wrap around 20 million people at one time.” 

He also has made new connections and learned about the business world of music he then knew little about. 

“Being at the center of pop culture really gave me some insight into the music industry as a business, and you need that if you really want to make it a career,” he said.  

Which he plans to do. Grimm is a full-time musician in Minneapolis, from playing gigs to producing music to teaching private lessons. 

But he’s happy to take those experiences and grow them into something meaningful, as he has with every aspect of his life.

“I really want to champion that creator inside,” Grimm said. “Life seems so much fuller when we’re bringing something that’s unique to each one of us out into this world. As long as I can do that, I’m going to be happy.”

Contact: 715-833-9214,, @KatherineMacek on Twitter


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