Little bit country, little bit rock ‘n’ roll

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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Local band 507 County gets people on the dance floor


By Linda Baier

Front man Riley Olson, of the band 507 Country, was born in the wrong era.

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To listen to him sing and hear him play the guitar you would think you were being transported back to the 50s, 60s and 70s.

“I was introduced to classic country from a young age,” Olson said. “I always loved Johnny Cash and Waylon (Jennings) and some of the classic country women. They always spoke about hard work and dedication, and I could relate to that.”

507 Country was formed almost two years ago by Olson and Kory Klouse, who was the band’s longtime drummer. They knew each other from music classes in high school and it was a mutual decision between the two to start the band. Klouse has recently left the band to pursue other interests.

Olson talked about how the Austinaires group at the High School helped him with his aspirations for wanting to perform professionally. It would be the first time that he would have a solo performance.

“He surprised us all with his voice, we knew he could play all kinds of instruments, but he never sang for us until the last Austinaires show (albeit with a mask),” His mother Julie Ann Olson said. “He had his senior solo and oh my gosh, we were amazed!”

She said people were all standing and they turned and looked at her and asked when she knew her son could sing and with such a low voice? “Just now!” Julie Ann remembered saying.

His talent may very well be hereditary.

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“He always said he was going to sing for my mother who passed away from cancer and was unable to hear his voice,” Julie Ann said. “She was a yodeler and in her younger days was in Austin’s Roy Lilly show and her dream was to go to Nashville, but she had a family and that came first.”

When asked who influenced him the most with his music, Olson said his teacher Brian Johnson, who retired at the start of his sophomore year. He was the first choir director in high school that saw potential in him. After that Kalle Akkerman was his choir instructor for three years.

“He pushed me to perform solo and gave me a ton of helpful tips for my voice,” Olson said.

Long before high school Olson was playing a variety of musical instruments, but the electric guitar is his first choice. However, he never played any of them in school. He instead focused on choir classes.

For him music is second nature, he can read sheet music, but he doesn’t use it when learning new material. He instead listens to tracks and is able to pick up what he needs to know from them.

“We try and keep the music original, but I will put in a few more guitar licks when I can,” Olson said.

For a young man of 19 years old, Olson has a good mind for business and hard work. He is not only the lead singer for the group, but also the band leader that makes up the set lists, sets the tempo for each song and starts and ends them. He takes care of all of the financial aspects and bookings.

He owns the equipment that the band uses for sound and lights, and is very meticulous in its set-up prior to their performances. He truly wants 507 Country to look and sound its best.

“I have been at shows from set up to tear down and am incredibly impressed on how he handles every aspect of being part of a band,” said MacPhail Center for Music Director Cheryl Berglund. “Not only is he a wonderful musician but his professionalism rivals those who are three times his age.”

The band also includes left-handed bass player, Jaime Paulsen from Austin; a seasoned musician with 20 years of touring experience in a rock band, among others. He replaces Owen Culbert who also left the group in December for other interests.

Logan Bustad also recently joined the band as the drummer. He is a 15-year-old from Taopi and has been playing drums since the age of eight.

Prior to Culbert leaving the group, the original band spent some time this past fall in Nashville. They worked with a producer and recorded an original song that they wrote while they were there. Wanting to check out the Nashville music scene they went with their families to the 2nd Fiddle bar. It was there that Olson was able to go up on stage and sing a few songs. They went back the next night, and this time Klouse and Culbert were invited to join Olson on stage for three or four songs.

Nashville is the farthest from Austin that 507 Country has played. They have been hitting the bar scene and other music venues closer to home and have performed over 100 times since the humble beginnings at Olson’s family reunion in July of 2021. Since that time they have amassed a large following of fans, many of which come to every performance they have.

“The first time I heard them was at a birthday party at the Legion. As soon as they started to play, I was so surprised,” said Connie Schaefer. “Tapping my foot, chair dancing, (it’s) the first time in years my husband has asked me to dance. I tried to figure out how they would know all the old songs and do them so well. There is a lot of talent in these guys.”

Schaefer is not the only person that shares sentiment.

“507 Country plays music for all generations! For me they play music that brings me back to my childhood,” said Sarah Anderson. “I remember when my dad would drive us around in his 90s Ford Taurus and we’d listen to 80s and 90s country.”

507 Country plays the classics and Olson’s deep velvety voice is reminiscent of Waylon Jennings with a twinge of Merle Haggard thrown in for good measure. The band’s first set of an evening will likely consist of 10 to 12-year-old country standards like Johnny Cash’s, “Come On Get Rhythm,” “Luckenbach Texas” by Jennings, Haggard’s “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson and why not throw in a little Kitty Wells “Honky Tonk Angels” to round it out.

After a short break the guys are warmed up and ready to go with Elvis’s “Fools Rush In” and “Burning Love.”

Olson knows how to play to the crowd with his guitar playing and singing, and the dance floor is full of people that are young and old, dancing, singing and having a great time.

“507 Country gives you that feeling of the good ‘ol days,” said Melissa Luna. “The band provides a show that gives you hope, freedom, and a beat that you can’t help but groove to! The lead singer’s voice and passion for music is present in all songs and performances.”

So how did the band’s name come about? Olson and his grandpa were sitting in a truck in the grocery store parking lot and Olson was bouncing off name ideas via text message to Klouse. They both liked the three numbers 507, not only because it is Austin’s area code, but it looked good. After several attempts Olson suggested “507 Country,” saying it sounds like radio stations call letters, it’s catchy and it rolls off your tongue.

As for the future of 507 Country, Olson said he is ready to go wherever it takes them. He has a day job and is going to college for business, but he would like to be in Nashville at some point and doing tours. The band is working on a deal right now that could have them performing this summer at a large Outdoor Country Music Festival. There will be big name acts performing as well as up and coming groups like 507 Country. It could very well turn out to something very good for 507 Country.