Local music fans are very familiar with Jamboree in the Hills country artist, Tristen "T-Bone" Smith. The now 19 year old musician was born in Wheeling, WV on August 19, 1992.
He recalls receiving a mini telecaster electric guitar at age 4 and by age 11 he had decided on his career choice and was performing regularly at local fairs and festivals across the Ohio Valley.
Before age 13 he had won a Colgate Country Showdown, he began performing at WWVA's legendary Jamboree USA in Wheeling, WV. He won Jamboree USA's Star Quest competition and later that year, he became the youngest performer to take the main stage at Jamboree
When I talked with Tristen last week he was excited about his most recent accolade as he won the Belmont University Country Showcase,
Tristen attends Belmont University, in Nashville, TN, where he is a junior in the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. In February of 2012, as a sophomore, he was selected as Belmont University's Country Showcase Winner and earned his spot in the university's prestigious Best of the Best Concert.
As a result of that performance he was approached by Big Machine Music and has recently signed an artist development/publishing deal with their label.
"That really opened up a lot of doors for me, it all seems so unreal sometimes," said Tristen. "When I first moved here it was a big old city full of strangers but now I am making connections with the other song writers and so many artists, I am realizing just how small the Nashville family really is."
Tristen said he is getting the opportunity to co-write with some of Nashville's finest songwriters. His writing affiliation is with BMI Nashville and he now has his own publishing company, Scratched Vinyl Publishing.
It was a little surprising when he was approached about coming back home to St. Clairsville and Jamboree in the Hills.
"I got a phone call, went to lunch with some of the people from Big Machine and they asked me. When do you want to play JITH again?" Tristen said. "That is the show I grew up with, I have not been on stage there since 2009 so I was excited to get the chance to come back this year."
"I got asked to play with all the Big Machine label groups that are going to be there on Saturday, so it really an honor for me to be back on stage again," Tristen related. "Live performance is the way I want to go."
In addition to his solo work, Tristen has also served as the touring lead guitar player for Kevin Skinner, the winner of NBC's 2009 America's Got Talent.
"I got a taste of the road and touring," said Tristen of the experience. "I was most impressed with the fans from home who drove sometimes 6 hours, just to see me play guitar, that was amazing."
"I am having a lot of fun right now, and it is neat to hear people I am working with talking about me, complimenting me," Tristen added that despite the growing fan base and a demand for his guitar playing from some of Country Music's top names, he is determined not to let the recent wave of success go to his head, " Above all, you have got to keep humble."
"I have a great family and some really good friends and they help me to keep the world in perspective for me," he added. "I know I have to keep on working hard and that will come across in my 45 minutes on stage this weekend."
"I really want my fans to have a good time," he added saying that he will be in town this week rehearsing with his band.
Tristen is tentatively scheduled to perform at 1:10 pm. Another local favorite, Ron Retzer 1170 will kick off the Saturday concert following opening ceremonies at 11 am.