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Derek Trenholm
Alone and Together

by Cindy-jo Dietz

I ORIGINALLY MET Derek Trenholm for this interview in Starbucks at the Miramar Outlet Mall, but the room was too loud. Instead we made our way to the grass alongside the lake behind the mall. We settled in to a scene of waterskiers and a late afternoon sky.

Derek is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Boston. After graduation in 2005, he earned his brokers license and headed to Southwest Florida excited about his budding new career in real estate. But because that was such a poor occupation to be in at the time, Derek felt it natural to fall back on his musical talents and soon began performing in the area as an acoustic solo artist. Over the course of a few years, he gained more and more notoriety, adding to his list of venues and performances.

Derek started playing guitar at nine, but only began singing about eight years ago. He currently knows about 250 songs. “When you want to learn new songs you make a playlist on your Ipod, you put it in your car and you put it on repeat and you don’t change it no matter how sick of it you get. You get it drilled into your head and you’re good to go. If I had known it would work so well for me I probably would have just recorded my notes in college and listened to a CD of it over and over again. A guitar part can be learned in about a half hour to forty five minutes. Once you’ve learned a certain number of songs, most things are relative, you can recognize patterns. Things just go together. The main thing is the lyrics. Since lyrics are unique to every song, that’s where the time really comes in.”

Derek eventually partnered with drummer, Tito Nieves, creating a duo they named Acoustic Addiction. Tito went on to other projects and was replaced by Darrell Nutt. Darrell, being friends with Mike Rogers (bass) and Heather Brooks (keyboards and vocals), introduced the two to Derek and The Derek Trenholm Band was born. The group may play as a three-piece or four-piece depending on the venue. The four are also known under the name The Grand Band when playing as the house band for one of their regular venues, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center.

Derek still plays cover songs as a solo act, performing one or two shows a week at bars. He explains, “Playing covers during happy hour is what helps pay the bills.” He says that it’s nice to still be able to get out and play solo from time to time. It gives him a sense of balance. Derek explains that if he played in a band all the time he would yearn for that space and freedom. At the same time, he notes that if he played by himself all the time he’d go crazy. He refers to it as ‘solitary confinement’. He wants someone to feed off of from time to time. With his current group he gets all that and says he feels really lucky.

Derek acknowledges a preference for playing with the group – especially with Darrell, Roger and Heather. “Everyone in the band is a full time, 100% professional musician. They are committed and solid.” He feels their strength as a group allows them to walk into any situation and feel comfortable.

He feels fortunate to be a working musician “especially during this time in history with so many people looking for just any job they can get.” He tries seeing the current recession as an opportunity to get to the next level – that level being able to earn an income playing his own music as opposed to someone else’s. His ultimate goal isn’t to be handed a million dollar record contract. To be an artist who could tour regionally would make him quite happy.

In the meantime, in addition to playing at the Davis Art Center, corporate events, weddings and the like, The Derek Trenholm Band still makes time to play the bar scene. Derek refers to the group’s regular Wednesday night gig at the Edison Restaurant in the Fort Myers Country Club as their ‘kingpin anchor’. Derek began playing there solo around two and a half years ago and now it’s the only venue they play regularly as a full four-piece band. He insists that it’s the busiest place in town on a Wednesday night: “The dancefloor is packed all night and parking is limited after 6pm”.

Derek’s upcoming projects include the independent release of a CD of original songs titled Beautiful Distraction. Everyone in The Derek Trenholm Band is contributing to the tracks. But with a full schedule of gigs everyone has found it difficult to find time for recording and busy weekends often leave Derek raspy. The group did recently find a spare day to shoot a video at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center. You can expect to see 30 second clips of 15 different songs on the new website for The Derek Trenholm Band, coming soon.

But for now, you can hear some of Derek’s music and find out where he’s performing — solo and with a band — at his website: www.derektrenholm.com. Or check out his page on MySpace or The Derek Trenholm Band page on Facebook. •

from the November-December 2010 issue

Whether playing solo
or with a band,
at weddings or in bars,
he's happy making music.