In search of celebrity

Trimble's Wardlow seeks fame
in Nashville's country music scene

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

BEDFORD, Ky. (August 2004) – Trimble County, Ky., native and aspiring country music artist Ryan Wardlow recently released his first CD, an independent project titled “I Never Saw It Coming.” The CD was introduced in June at the Trimble County Fair, where Wardlow performed for a large crowd.

Ryan Wardlow

Photo submitted

Ryan Wardlow has released his first CD.

Wardlow, 25, is a 1997 graduate of Trimble County High School, where he played football and was president of Future Farmers of America his senior year. After graduating, he entered the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and was sent to Parris Island, S.C., for boot camp. Wardlow served for six years in the reserves and said he thought about joining the Corps for active duty but ultimately decided against it. After nine months of training, he returned home to Bedford, Ky., and eventually went to work for North American Stainless.
Wardlow was about 12 years old when he got his first guitar, picked up second-hand at a yard sale. “He asked for it and I said, ‘Son, you know how to play?’ and he said, ‘I can learn.’ So I bought it,” recalled his father, Leonard Wardlow.
The younger Wardlow kept his word. A friend taught him three chords, and he learned the rest on his own. “I finally just kept banging away until I could play a song or two,” he said.
He also started to sing and to participate from time to time in talent contests. The first was at a summer FFA camp, where he performed George Strait’s “The Fireman” in front of 300 people. “I was very nervous. I even messed up the song. I sang the second verse first and the first verse last.”
That experience, while not what he may have wanted it to be, gave Wardlow the confidence to try again. He began participating in more contests, and soon realized that singing was what he wanted to do.
In January 2003, Wardlow was called to active duty with his Reserve unit to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He spent six months in Iraq, and during that time vowed that when he returned home he would devote his time to a career in music.
Keeping the promise he made to himself in Iraq, Wardlow in February moved to Nashville, Tenn., in order to pursue his dream of becoming a country music celebrity. There, like many before him, he works a regular job to pay the bills while performing regularly at Nashville Crossroads and trying to get his foot in the door of the major record labels.
“He’s real focused, and I think he knew what he was going to face when he got here. He works hard.” said Wardlow’s friend and fellow musician, Carl Dunphy.
Wardlow said he is determined to succeed in the country music business, despite the odds. “I plan on staying here as long as it takes,” he said. “I love singing and I love performing. I could never really see myself doing anything else. It’s a dream and it’s a risk, you never really know what’s gong to happen. But I don’t want to look back and say, ‘What if?’ ”
Kristen Stokes, booking agent and general manager of Crossroads, said the response to Wardlow has been wonderful. “He’s only been performing here two months, and he already has a following, and that’s very hard to get here,” Stokes said. “He’s a breath of fresh air in Nashville. He does all the popular songs yet he has his own flair and technique.”
Wardlow described his own style as a blend of traditional and modern country music. He includes among his influences George Strait, Gary Allan and Montgomery Gentry.
Wardlow wrote eight of the 11 songs on “I Never Saw It Coming,” and said he considers “life” his best source for material. The title track is a song he penned about divorce. Although divorced, Wardlow said it is based on a friend’s experience.
Wardlow said he hopes to write “songs that people can relate to. I believe you get that extra feeling into your song when it comes from personal experience,” he said.
One of the three songs he didn’t write, “Daddy Was A Pistol,” was written by Bobby Robbins of the band, Young Country.
In July, Wardlow was vying for a place in the Colgate Country Showdown, a national country music talent search competition that includes Garth Brooks, LeAnn Rimes and Martina McBride among its past competitors. Wardlow hoped to be in the competition, scheduled for Aug. 4 at 4th Street Live! in Louisville, Ky. The winner advances to regional competition.
Carrollton’s 95.3 WIKI Radio has a copy of Wardlow’s CD, and the singer hopes that hometown folks will call the station to request his songs. Otherwise, the CD is available at Riverside Produce in Milton and online at www.ryanwardlow.com.

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