Nashville country singer Dustin Olson just released the official lyric video for “Memories We Didn’t Make,” with the single coming out March 1. The song was written more than a year ago with co-writers Adam Smith and Shelby Lee Lowe at Banner Music. “I had the hook for this song and the general idea, just thinking about a recent breakup and the pain in that.” Dustin says he had to fight back tears while writing the song. “It was a hard one for me; the breakup was fresh.”
Watch the official lyric video below.
Use this link to pre-save or pre-order the video before March 1.
Most fans would be surprised to learn that Dustin has a Masters Degree in Business and Finance, and never planned to pursue music. “I did everything backwards.” Dustin grew up in what sounds like the perfect setting for a country song – a house on a gravel road in a small farming community of 1500 residents. When asked where he’s from, Dustin tells people, “Fly to Chicago, start driving west until you see corn, then go 15 to 20 minutes further and you’re there.”
He learned to play sax in middle school and dabbled in piano, but was mostly into “sports and chasing girls.” His parents encouraged him to go to college with the advice, “Get a degree so you have something to fall back on, then do whatever you want, as long as you have that piece of paper for Plan B.”
After college, Dustin worked in the banking industry for several years but then came to the realization, “I’m not cut out for the 9 to 5 grind of an office job.” His next pursuit was working on cars. Dustin’s brother bought him a guitar for Christmas, and he spent several years honing his skills, occasionally playing in a band with his brother and sister-in-law. Then, something totally unexpected happened that set the stage for his future.
“It was a ‘right place at the right time’ kind of thing.” Dustin was working as a production manager for a local band that was playing at Country Thunder Wisconsin – one of the largest country music festivals in the US. One of the country artists who was scheduled to perform on a side stage dropped out at the last minute, and the stage manager whom Dustin had befriended told him, “You’ve got until Dierks Bentley is done to go get your guitar and come back to play.” Dustin had never played a show solo before, only as part of his family band. “Here I am scared to death. I went back to the camper, changed clothes, did a shot of Jack – or three, grabbed my guitar, and went on stage.”
From a side stage that looked down on a crowd of 30,000 country music fans, Dustin played an impromptu set of traditional and Texas country music along with a few of his original songs. When he saw the crowd of people dancing and singing and shooting videos of him, he says, “It was the biggest rush ever, and that’s when I was hooked. That moment is what did it for me.”
Within a couple years of that performance, Dustin moved to Nashville in 2016 “in the middle of a crazy snow and ice storm.” For the first six weeks (until he saved enough money to find a place of his own), he slept on a couch in the Green Room at a friend’s bar. “I would lay in bed at night on a futon and could literally see down the stairs and see the band playing on stage. The bar didn’t close until 3 or 4 AM.”
The following year, Dustin released his first EP, which included the song, “Dust On My Dashboard.” He is on the roster of Laminate Entertainment (a Nashville-based artist management and consulting agency), but has a strong work ethic and does most of his own promotion DIY-style. “I’m working on music or a job 18 to 20 hours a day, and getting four to six hours of sleep at night, seven days a week, with no vacation or days off.”
Like many other talented artists in Nashville, Dustin finds that ‘the struggle is real’ when it comes to making a living in music. “A lot of times you end up just breaking even personally, and the band guys are making more than you are for the weekend. I’ll play showcases at venues in Nashville, and it costs me $150-250 per show. That’s the price of exposure and getting your name out there.”
After “Memories We Didn’t Make” comes out March 1, Dustin plans to release a single every six weeks, then combine the tracks in an album at the end of the year.
Despite the challenges of the music business, Dustin has no second thoughts about the banking career he left behind. “It’s a happiness factor. Even with the highs and lows of this industry and how much it beats you up, I’m happier doing this than I have been doing anything else.”
For his tour schedule and more info, go to www.DustinCountry.com
Catch Dustin's next live Nashville shows March 2 and 3 at Piranha's Bar and Grill.
Photo credit: Alexis Taylor
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Sounds like: Steve Earle meets Eric Church
Musical influences: 90’s country, Dr. Hook, Jason Boland, Robert Earl Keen
Favorite restaurants: Martin’s Barbecue (sampler platter) and Bar Taco (ribeye rice bowl)
Favorite Venue: Whiskey Jam or wherever friends are playing
Best concert: Eric Church. Dustin paid $250 to see Church at a bar in Chicago when the Chief album came out and he did an acoustic tour with his songwriters.
Favorite movies: Spaghetti Westerns, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and James Bond (Favorite Bond is Daniel Craig)