Local musician brings true country grit to the Midwest

Music has always captivated Tyler Anthony, even as a little boy.

“My parents got me my first guitar and I learned John Denver and Johnny Cash on it,” Anthony says.

Growing up on a farm right outside of Gretna, Nebraska, Anthony would feed cows in the morning, sing in his school’s choir, perform in theater and speech, and even play baseball after school.

“There were a lot of dualities to my life as I was growing up,” Anthony says.

The country artist says he gained inspiration from John Balcer, his elementary choir director at Gretna, who traveled to Africa and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. When Balcer came back, he taught the students several Swahili and Tanzanian songs along with many of his original songs.

“I realized that music is more than just words you write on paper,” Anthony says.

Anthony drew inspiration to write his own music from his choir director, who shared his own compositions with his students.

He held off pursuing music full-time and attended college for a year and a half, majoring in business and minoring in music.

“I found out I didn’t like the business degree and eventually told my parents I wanted to stop college,” Anthony says. “That was a hard thing to talk about, but they supported me, and I started playing shows.”

Anthony sings and plays both electric and acoustic guitar. He performs with three other band members, who play bass, steel guitar and drums.

The band plays all over Nebraska, Iowa and most recently performed in Minnesota and Kansas City.

“The ultimate goal is just to play everywhere,” Anthony says.

During the summer, the band is completely booked, typically playing eight to 10 shows a month.

“Being on that stage and connecting with the audience is amazing,” Anthony says. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or 300, it’s truly what motivates me to keep doing what I do.”

One of the challenges of live performance is when the crowd isn’t paying much attention. Anthony says he tries to find the energy in the crowd, even if it’s just one guy tapping his leg.

 “One of the biggest difficulties in the music industry is knowing your worth,” Anthony says. “It’s a business at the end of the day too, you need to make money because you want to grow and flourish.”

Anthony says his songwriting process is always changing. It can range from him writing words in his notes app to hearing something cool in a western movie, or even picking up a guitar and starting from scratch.

“I think the overarching theme of my music isn’t love, heartbreak, or partying,” he says.  “It’s relatability.”

A pivotal moment for Anthony was performing at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where he saw Dolly Parton, Artimus Pyle and actor Dennis Quaid.

“I was kind of surprised at how nice everyone was,” Anthony says. “Everyone was an open book and was willing to talk about anything.”

The song he performed was an original called “Ice Cold Beers,” which is about drinking a beer with his dad for the first time and it’s also about how he was raised.

“It takes you through the story of how I was raised and finally getting to have that beer with my dad after all those years of me getting him one,” Anthony says.

Anthony’s debut album “What Are You Waiting For?” combines true Midwestern grit with a southern rock flare.

One of his most popular songs is “Kenworth,” a original song about the life of a trucker.

“The trucker is someone I made up,” Anthony says. “But I just think of the general life that this trucker might live.”

Another fan favorite is Anthony’s song “It’ll Sound Wrong.” The ballad, set in a breakfast joint at 2 a.m., follows a young couple full of lust and emotions.

“I take things that I’ve gone through or maybe have heard, and I make it into a story,” Anthony says. “That’s what my music is.”

Anthony says his advice to anyone who wants to pursue music is to understand the importance of knowing your worth.

“If everyone can start to understand that,” he says, “I think this world could change a lot. If you want to pursue music, just do it.”