Sheldon Brandt was playing his steel guitar one night when he called out a song to the young Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton graduate who was singing along on stage.
The song was “The Chair,” an elegant and clever country tune that George Strait made a No. 1 hit in 1985. The song requires a soft and nuanced delivery — and the singer caught Brandt’s attention straight away.
“I got chills all the way up my arm,” Brandt said, himself a seasoned performer and Mankato native who placed well enough in a Nashville talent show in 1996 to earn himself a record deal. Before and since, Brandt has played in a variety of bands and continues to play in the area, and he knows when he hears something special:
“I looked at my wife and said, ‘This kid is phenomenal.’”
That kid was Chad Pfeifer and he’s been making his own noise in Nashville ever since striking out for the land of musical dreams in early 2013. Beginning today, he’ll be making some noise back home, too.
Pfeifer is among the impressive list of musicians participating in the Mankato Opry Jamboree today and Saturday at the Kato Ballroom (see accompanying story). In addition to representing one of the biggest productions so far for new Kato Ballroom owner Tania Cordes, the event includes nearly five hours of music with an all-star band and more than a dozen guest singers.
In addition to playing in the Opry Jamboree, Pfeifer will be showcasing the work he’s accomplished in Nashville when he holds a CD release party on April 19 at Mully’s on Madison for his recently recorded EP, “This Time.”
“The quality is top-notch,” Pfeifer said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Having grown up performing in his parents’ band as well as performing occasionally with Brandt and Gary Grindstaff’s country/rock band Relentless (both Brandt and Grindstaff were invited to play at Pfeifer’s release party), Pfeifer’s formative musical years were spent playing throughout south-central Minnesota and the Midwest.