Tristan Dunn, Nashville, TN

From the very first time Tristan Dunn played at Sharky’s, a memorial night for Topper Price [ the famed Gravel voiced Birmingham native that  could blow Blues Harp like nobody business], Tristan realized that he was not only stepping out in the late night Alabama air, but that it was time to start to realize his ambitions to play Southern Rock, with his early roots in the family favorite traditional Country, Tristan wanted to play Southern rock, the road travelled by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, The Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and Molly Hatchet.

“My Great Grandmother’s favorite was Hank Williams Sr., but, when I was Fifteen I picked up on an album called Skynyrd Friends where different Country Artists were playing Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Alabama played “Sweet Home Alabama” and I started learning Southern Rock on the Squire Telecaster my parents got me when I was thirteen. Fifteen was the year when I decided this is what I wanted to do.”

Tristan with Rollin Roger

Tristan has a strong voice that can carry a Merle Haggard tune just as strong as Merle himself.  Even more than the voice, Tristan went from guitar to learning the fiddle when he wanted to master Charlie Daniel’s “ South’s Gonna Do It Again”. The song has become a showstopper for his band, Rollin Roger who play regularly in Alabama playing all things Classic Southern Rock.

“South was the first song of the second set when we were playing a show at The Central Club, one of our favorite venues in Leeds, Alabama, and there were these three College age Guys. I realized if I could do something to remember us we could get some Frat gigs. I was laid out on the table wailing away when one of the guys started pouring Beer into my mouth and I knew we had a hit then.”

Rollin Roger started in 2006 with Forrest, Roger the Soundman and Mike the drummer who had played in several bands over the years.

“I was checking want ads at Bailey Brothers down in the Southside (Birmingham) in November 2006. We were on the same musical page but it took us until 2008 to get the right people in the band.”

Tristan was born in 1984, he jokes,”…and the world went to hell the next day”.  Tristan was diagnosed with a form of Autism known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder. “It shows up when you’re younger but as you get older you learn how to communicate better. A lot of the Obsessive Compulsive tendencies go away as I get older. The hardest thing growing up was dealing with kids my own age.  I moved to Vestavia, (A Birmingham suburb) when I was eight years old from Hueytown. Vestavia kids were such that if you were different in any sort of way you were an outcast, got picked on, and exploited, that sort of stuff. I used to come home crying just about every day when I was young.”

Tristan with The Purple Fiddle

Tristan was asked by the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council to be a Consultant. He regularly travels down to Montgomery representing as a Functioning Adult with ASD to give input on whatever programs they plan to put into effect for the State of Alabama.

Music helped Tristan deal with his differences and gave somewhere to focus the anger and negative energy and turn it into something good. “I did a show called “Vestapalooza” in 10th grade. There were bands and I was the only solo act playing Fiddle, Guitar and Singing. “

In the last couple of years Tristan has become a “go to” Harmonica man and has sit in with several Birmingham artists such as Todd Simpson & Mojo Child, Adam Guthrie, Chris Porter and Stuart McNair. In a way he has picked up where Topper Price left off but doing it his own way.

Tristan has also been on stage in Nashville with Tyler Dickerson at Tootsie’s and Jake Bowry at The Broken Wagon Wheel. “Garth Brooks’ Harmonica man, Terry McMillan was the most sought after Harmonica player in Nashville and he played on “Aint Goin’ Down Till The Sun Comes Up”.” Whenever he heads out into the night, he wears a custom fitted shirt with three or four harmonicas ready to join in on the Blues, Country and Rock and Roll. Tristan feels “In Color” by Jamey Johnson should have had his Harp playing on it.

In the last couple of years Tristan has been an extra in a couple of Indie films, October Baby with John Schneider was a lot of fun being a fan of The Dukes of Hazard, also “Company M Mob of Soldiers” where he was featured in three scenes as well as playing a juror. “I was kind of found by ACT (Americas Choice Talent) Models and Talent Rep. Sativa “Andy” Banks.  Andy has been a big supporter of Tristan who he said originally pointed out his hair and thought he would be great for hair care product promotions.

One of Tristan’s favorite hobbies is getting involved in Civil War re-enactments. “When I am running around in a color guard I forget I am in 2011 and begin to think I am in a combat zone in 1861. When I  put on my clothes I am a whole other person. I feel like I am in an actual battle and could actually be killed and it makes my body react better on a subconscious level.” Tristan was told this was a mark of a true professional and he feels it has helped him with his acting.

Tristan can be found in and around Birmingham with Rollin’ Roger or sitting in at Metro Bistro and other venues as he develops his playing and writing with an eye towards the future.

Tristan, Birmingham, Alabama 2007

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, Tennessee