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Young and talented and boy does he have the blues

Dylan Salfer, River Falls, plays a Fender Stratocaster signed by several famous musicians. Salfer, a 15-year-old River Falls High School student, plays blues with people often more than twice his age, often at various locations around the Twin Cities. (River Falls Journal photo by Gretta Stark)1 / 4
Dylan Salfer, who plays guitar and sings, is shown performing at The Recovery Church in St. Paul, Minn., one of several places he plays in the Twin Cities area. Salfer is the son of Diana and Scott Salfer. (Submitted photos)2 / 4
Dylan Salfer is shown at KFAI Radio station. He was interviewed in July, by Jacquie "Lady J" Maddix, for the Rollin' and Tumblin' show on the Twin Cities radio station KFAI, 90.3 and 106.7 FM.3 / 4
Dylan Salfer performs at Neumanns Bar in North St. Paul, Minn., one of many blues clubs he frequently performs at. Called an “old soul” Salfer’s style has been compared to blues star Stevie Ray Vaughan.4 / 4

Where most teens work cash registers, mow lawns or ask people if they’d like fries with that, 15-year-old Dylan Salfer is singing for his supper.

Salfer’s first job was teaching his father’s friend to play guitar. He soon moved on to playing and singing the blues with his band “The Dylan Salfer Trio.”

Unlike most teenagers, Salfer’s current job isn’t just a way to make money. It’s what he hopes is the start of a long musical career.

“I’m trying to stay as booked as I can,” Salfer said. “I don’t really want to do anything else.”

Salfer’s been working on his music career his entire young life. His earliest performances were as a small kid.

“He had a little play guitar that he always used to put on shows for us and our friends,” said Salfer’s dad, Scott Salfer.

Dylan would make them sit down in the kitchen while he got up on the table and performed.

One of Scott’s friends decided Dylan needed a real guitar, and gave him one when he was nine.

At age 10, Dylan started taking lessons at Brickhouse Music in River Falls. When he was 12, Dylan attended the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, Minn. with his grandparents.

“I liked what I heard, Dylan said.

And he’s been playing blues ever since.

“It was the most real music. It’s like the truth,” he said. “It’s like they’re just flat-out telling life experience, how it is and it’s really raw.”

He performed in public for the first time when he was still 12 -- at an open jam at Freddy’s Tiki Hut in Minneapolis.

He was one of several musicians who signed up to take a turn playing with the house band that night.

Dylan didn’t stop with open jams. He got his first gig at age 13, playing with the Brian Naughton Band in the Northeast Minneapolis club Shaw’s Bar and Grill.

“I liked it a lot,” Dylan said. “It was just a lot of fun.”

Now, Dylan has his own band, the Dylan Salfer Trio, and his own gigs. He’s performed all over the Twin Cities area blues circuit, and many other places. People are taking notice.

The best part of performing, he said, is when the whole band is in sync.

“(It’s) like we’re basically speaking telepathically,” Dylan said. “It’s almost like you’re channeling this energy, and it’s not even you playing. It’s when you don’t have to think at all.”

Dylan was interviewed on Twin Cities radio station KFAI 90.3 and 106.7 FM in July. He has also been invited to be a guest on a Twin Cities area public television show.

And, last summer, he played at the Chicago Blues Festival, which draws crowds of 500,000 people.

Several video clips of Dylan's performances can be seen on YouTube. Here is a link to one of his performances: For more information, visit the Dylan Salfer Trio Facebook Page.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 21 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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