Two Harbors musician rises to country music challengeDerrick Hietala is an ordinary Two Harbors resident with extraordinary talent.
By: Lizz Berge, Lake County News Chronicle
Derrick Hietala is an ordinary Two Harbors resident with extraordinary talent. He has made it past the first three rounds in the 30th annual Country Showdown, a competition set on finding the most promising country music talent to give them a chance at the big-time.
Each year, more than 50,000 artists compete throughout the country to become the next Martina McBride, Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert, Neal McCoy, Sara Evans, Brad Paisley, or Billy Ray Cyrus. All have been past winners in the Showdown.
In November, Hietala will be heading to Northern Lights Casino in Walker for the state level competition of the Showdown. The eight acts that made it to state will be competing for a $1,000 prize and advancement to the regional finals — the last step before the national Showdown with five finalists at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The winner will receive a grand prize of $100,000 and the title.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good shot at making it to the next round,” Hietala said. “I’ve written some really good songs the past couple of years and my family and friends will all be down there supporting me.”
He will be playing Saturday outside the American Legion at 6 p.m. as part of the Two Harbors Block Party – performing the two songs he plans on playing at the state competition. He will play with the Fish Sandwich Band, one of nine bands performing 1 p.m. to midnight downtown.
Hietala has been writing and performing rock and country music since he was 15. He gives credit for his talent to his father, Jerry, who was a country singer who traveled the country to perform with the band Wild Bill and the Plainsmen.
The family lived in several states before coming back to Two Harbors when Derrick was a sophomore in high school.
Hietala remembers going on tour with his family and watching them perform, his father the lead singer and his mother, Victoria Lidmark, a back-up singer.
Traveling with his father was a big part of Hietala’s inspiration and motivation to become a performer.
Music was a big part of the Hietala household, not only writing and performing, but also listening to music of all kinds, from classic country to the Beatles and The Doors.
When Hietala isn’t writing songs and performing, he has plenty of other things to keep him busy. He is the father of seven children and coaches football in the fall. He works as a bartender at the Viking Legends Bar and Grill and at the American Legion. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.