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Friday, April 25th, 2014
Musician Profiles

Wailin’ Jennings

Austin Jennings may be new to the area, but he has caused quite a stir.

“I just wanted to try to play music here,” Jennings says of the move from Scottsboro, Alabama. He vacationed in the area many times, and felt like it was time for a change of scenery. “I played two or three days a week back home, but it was getting kind of monotonous. I needed a little change in my life.

“I think that coming here is the best thing that I’ve done for myself in a really long time.”

He thanks other area musicians like Dave Posey and Zack Rosicka for being supportive and making the transition to Destin easier. “Any networking you can do, it all helps, because all the musicians here are super helpful.”

Beachcomber Music award winner Rosicka got things rolling when he invited Jennings up to play a couple songs at the Boathouse in Destin. “He said, ‘You must be a musician,’” says Jennings. “I responded, ‘How do you know that?’ And he said, ‘Because you’re really listening.’ He let me get up and do maybe three songs. I got a booking at the Boathouse from that, and now I play there every Thursday.

“When I first came down, I had no idea where I was going to live, I didn’t really know if the gigs I had were going to go well,” shares Jennings. “And now I’m playing six days a week. It has been really good, these last six months.”

Jennings is enthusiastic about the way the area embraces original music, “It’s such a songwriting community here,”

he says. “Everybody is eager to show you the ropes and have jam sessions.” He plans on adding to the cache of locally written songs, “I don’t play as much original music as I used to. I am working on getting back into that because it is more acceptable here.”

He’s been singing since he can remember. “I remember singing like Whitney Houston and Paula Abdul when I was like five years old,” says Jennings. “I turned to karaoke when I was about 16, and I really enjoyed it. My dad bought me a guitar for Christmas in 2004 and I haven’t put it down since.”

Jennings is also quick to make the distinction that he is “not a guitar player— I’m a singer who plays the guitar.”

And his biggest dream? “I just would like to be a respected songwriter. When I think about people like Amos Lee, these prolific songwriters that aren’t necessarily getting mauled by a crowd in the mall… they are really well-known and respected songwriters. I’d like to be at that point, I just have to find my groove in creating material.”

Whether his immediate future holds collaborating with other area songwriters or a potential full band, Jennings currently is in high demand as a solo performer. “Right now, I’m just trying to teach myself how to play five or six days a week and not die. It’s not something I’m used to, but it’s so awesome.”

Discover more at www.reverbnation.com/austinjennings.