Rising country star

Posted on April 27th in Feature Story

Nathan Ritches poses for a photo with country star Sara Evans after one of her shows at the Oregon State Fair in 2006. Evans was one of the people who inspired Ritches to seek out a career in country music. (Submitted photo.)

Nathan Ritches responsible for bringing singer Blaine Larsen to Burns for concert

By Tammy Downs
Burns Times-Herald

Country’s coming to town thanks to local resident Nathan “Nate” Ritches. He is finding his niche behind the scenes in the country music industry. Ritches is the tour manager for country music artist Blaine Larsen.
It is interesting how he got to where he is now. Ritches is the owner of Hilander Sound & Light, a disk jockey company he started while he was attending Burns High School. Back in 2006 he needed some new sound equipment and ordered it through Suntrack Sound.

Through Suntrack Sound he got hooked up with the Deschutes County Fair and started working stage production at their events. Ritches got to know the fair manager, Ross Rogers, who told him that country music is where he needed to be and introduced him to Clint Higham, one of the executive vice presidents of Morris Management Group out of Nashville, Tenn. They were impressed with Ritches and offered him employment.

Ritches’ being new to the country music industry is a bonus for the company he works for because they said he is like an uncarved block of clay that they can mold into what they want.

Blaine Larsen will perform May 5 at the Burns Elks Lodge. (Submitted photo)

Ritches is the  main-man behind Blaine Larsen’s west coast tour. Morris Management Group knew Larsen and Ritches would be a good fit to work together as they are both from the west coast and are only a year apart in age. They work well together as they have the same thought process. Ritches does everything from tour managing/marketing director to chauffeur.

Larsen’s west coast tour is going from Seattle, Wash., to Bakersfield, Calif. The night before Larsen’s concert in Burns he will be in Boise, Idaho, and the night after he will be in Redmond. Ritches saw the chance to bring Larsen to Burns in between the two concerts. Ritches contacted Harney County Arts in Education Foundation and worked closely with them to get this accomplished, and all benefits from this concert will go to support their efforts in keeping music and art in education.

Ritches is still very busy running Hilander Sound & Light, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary of being in business next February. He has jobs all over Oregon, Idaho and Northern California. Sixty percent of his clientele base are weddings, and the rest are split up between school functions and other fund raisers. He is trying to keep this business from getting too “big for its britches” as he believes in quality not quantity. His friend Wyatt Shelley, who also DJs, steps in and services events when he can.

Growing up in Harney County has helped mold Ritches into who he is today. He attributes growing up in a small town to making him more grounded and driven.  Being active in 4-H and school leadership helped him gain public speaking skills and people skills.

Ritches is not living full time in Nashville yet; as he put it “he gets his mail and does his laundry in Burns but does rent a home part time in Nashville.” He spends a lot of time on the road but does foresee himself full time in Nashville  by next year.

After getting established in Nashville, if the opportunity presents itself with today’s technology to work virtually anywhere, he would like to move back and be based out of the Northwest.

Ritches said the most asked question he is getting from people is what is he doing in Nashville? Ritches explained, “This show (Blaine Larsen) I see as a ‘showcase’ with the talent I am now working with.”

With a George Strait cut under Blaine Larsen’s belt Ritches can see a strong future ahead for him. “Give it a couple more years and we will be able to look back and say, ‘Wow! He was in Burns,’ ” Ritches said.

One Response to “Rising country star”

  1. Victoria Peterson Says:

    Awesome! Good for him and for bringing ‘something’ into Burns. I can remember when there were a few concerts at the fairgrounds including some famous country bands like Sawyer Brown. It was a break from the humdrum of living in a rural community with nothing to do.

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