Austin native Sena Ehrhardt is expanding borders in music, life

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

One foot in front of the other

Later this month, former Austin resident Sena Ehrhardt will take the next step in her blossoming music career.

Ehrhardt released her third album, “Live My Life,” last month, and her song “If Trouble Was Money” recently reached No. 1 on the Roots Music Report’s blues chart.

Next, she’ll head overseas to perform 13 dates in Germany from Oct. 24 to Nov. 8, and she’s heading back overseas again in early 2015.

”It’s really exciting to get to do our first international tour,” Ehrhardt said.

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

Ehrhardt started playing music in Austin at a young age, taking piano lessons from Jan Muzik and other Austin residents. But at Austin High School, she focused more on sports, especially track and field and volleyball. But the 2000 AHS grad would come back to playing music through Austin bands like Plan B after she graduated from St. Cloud State and then earned a master’s in health care administration form the University of Minnesota.

When Ehrhardt started her career, she remembers first playing in Austin and having the goal to play in Minneapolis, then she wanted to branch out to the Midwest, then to both coasts.

After meeting those goals, she’s excited to head overseas.

But the tour is just the latest step in a career that also saw “If Trouble Was Money” debut at No. 12 on the Billboard blues charts.

“It’s been wonderful hearing how it’s done really well out of the gates here,” she said of her latest album.

With the chart success of her latest single, Ehrhardt said she’s humbled and excited, but her main focus is still putting on great shows and touring.

But it’s been a transformative time for Ehrhardt, who now lives in Rochester.

On “Live My Life,” she worked with a new band and was able to collaborate with many new people. She and her new guitarist, Cole Allen, wrote many of the songs for album, and she worked with producer David Z, who previously worked with Prince.

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

“It was really exciting to get to work with someone who has such an incredible resume in the music business,” she said of David Z.

Though David Z lives in Los Angeles, he spoke with Ehrhardt several times on the phone and flew to Minneapolis to get to know the band and see them perform before heading to Winterland Studios to record.

“He made it so much fun and he’s really a creative person and tries lots of different things,” she said, praising him for being open to trying different things and different techniques.

 Meeting her idols

Despite just releasing her her third album and planning to tour abroad, Ehrhardt has already had many memorable experiences on the road. She opened for B.B. King — one of her blues heroes — four times and met the legendary blues guitarist and singer. King spoke with her band before their set at one show, commending them for their sharp attire.

“He just held my hand and kind of looked at me for a second and said that we did a great job,” Ehrhardt said.

Ehrhardt said she was impressed by how he carried himself with class. She and her band are keeping King in their hearts, as the 89-year-old recently canceled eight tour dates after he became ill following a concert in Chicago.

“We’re certainly keeping him in our prayers that he makes a recovery and starts feeling better soon,” she said.

King wasn’t the only music legend they played with. Ehrhardt and her band also played with Robert Cray, who she described as kind and gracious, and with Johnny Winter a few weeks before he passed away. She and the band also played with ZZ Top, Greg Allmann and Dickey Betts.

“The last year has been just kind of incredible in that sense,” she said.

Despite playing with such big names, Ehrhardt noticed each musician had something in common: They all have a good attitude and took the time to talk to her, the up-and-coming musician.

“They all were pretty normal people,” she said. “They all were down to earth, pretty humble.”

Ehrhardt praised many of the musicians she’s performed with for taking the time to meet with her and the fans — it’s a favor she hopes she can one day repay as her career continues to grow.

“I hope to do that someday for somebody,” she said

She’s already gotten to meet with fans at the merchandise table after her shows and said many talk about her music video or quote a lyric from her song, saying they feel like they know her.

“That’s always really enjoyable to get to hear that from people who come out to the show,” she said.

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

Photo by Seth Hinrichs

Along with the support from other musicians, Ehrhardt has also gotten a lot of support closer to home. Ehrhardt thanked her friends and family for being supportive of her musical ambitions, especially her mother.

“She has been extremely supportive,” she said.

 Looking to the future

Despite a busy year, Ehrhardt continues to look ahead. She cited a interview with Vince Gill that she read a few years ago where he said he’s already working on his next album when he’s promoting his current release. Now, Ehrhardt is trying to put that into action, as she and Allen are already working on new songs.

“As soon as we were done recording our album, I was thinking of new song ideas,” she said.

Along with her own albums, Ehrhardt is going to be a guest singer on a few albums soon.

With all her recent success, Ehrhardt is stepping away from a career in the medical field to pursue music full time.

“It’s really the time to pursue this goal and dream that I’ve had for many years,” she said.

Before she takes off for Germany, Ehrhardt and her band will perform Oct. 17 at Wilebski’s Blues Saloon in St. Paul and then on Oct. 18 at the Wicked Moose in Rochester.

 

Mower County

Waters drop around Austin, clean-up begins

Mower County

Walz authorizes Minnesota National Guard to support emergency flood operations

Mower County

Afternoon storms brings more flash flooding to Austin

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Austin man injured in Friday evening crash

Mower County

Photos: Flooding creates issues across the area

Mower County

Area copes with aftermath of heavy rains, flooding

Mower County

Sargeant man involved in five-car crash in Olmsted County

Mower County

Photos: Llama Party — Lamapalooza settles in for another year at the fairgrounds

News

‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ begins June 27

Education

Apply for free during Minnesota State Week

Education

Austin grad part of SDSU team comes up just short for quarter-scale tractor threepeat

Education

Education: Accolades

Mower County

In Your Community: Duplicate Bridge

Mower County

In Your Community: Mower County Senior Center

News

Judy Garland’s hometown is raising funds to purchase stolen ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers

News

Historic Superior lighthouse sold at auction 5 years ago is available once again

News

NY prosecutors urge judge to keep gag order blocking Trump from criticizing jurors

Mower County

Humane Society recommends tips for keeping your pet safe during hot weather

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: June 10-17

News

FEMA is ready for an extreme hurricane and wildfire season, but money is a concern, Mayorkas says

News

The Supreme Court upholds a gun control law intended to protect domestic violence victims

Business

New liquor store opens at Clark One Stop Liquor & Tobacco

Mower County

UPDATE: Flood watch, flood warning put into effect for Cedar River, Turtle Creek

Agriculture

Heavy rains and climate change troubling for agriculture industry, emerging BIPOC farmers