PELL CITY — Pell City singer Tristen Gressett is preparing for the next step in his musical journey: saying goodbye to his hometown and heading to the West Coast.
Gressett will perform a farewell concert Aug. 12 at the Pell City Center for Education and the Performing Arts as he gets ready to move to California to continue his dreams as an entertainer.
“It's really farewell to Alabama,” Gressett said. “I'm going to be leaving for a while.”
Over the last year, Gressett certainly has been busy. After his run on season 20 of “American Idol,” where he made it to the Top 11, Gressett returned home In April ready to work. He said he has been working.
“I have done so many shows, man,” Gressett said.
He said he has performed in Alexander City, Muscle Shoals, the World Games in Birmingham, and even one in New Brunswick in Canada. Gressett said he has also performed with several fellow Idol alumni from Alabama, such as Taylor Hicks, Paul McDonald and Cadence Baker.
“I’m really excited about this farewell concert," he said. "It's going to be huge.”
He said having the show at CEPA also means a lot to him. He performed there as part of Pell City High School's drama club, and it remained important to him, even through his run with “American Idol.”
“There's kind of a beautiful irony to it,” Gressett said, “because the CEPA building was the first place I played when I came back from Hollywood and it's going to be the last place I play before I leave. I want to go out with a bang.”
He said he is working to make sure it's a show to remember. Gressett said he has plenty of songs planned, including plenty of original songs. He said he even plans on breaking out a keyboard, an instrument he added to his act only recently. Gressett said it's been good to incorporate that to his live performances. After all, one of his first musical goals in high school was to learn to play piano.
“That's actually the first instrument I wanted to learn how to play,” he said. “It was the piano because I was a super huge Elton John fan.”
Gressett said the instrument has circled back around to his music in the last several months and it's really affected his process.
“The way I look at it, the way I have always looked at it, is the more instruments that you know, the easier it will be to get the idea from here to here , “ he said, motioning from his head to his hands. “That's something that's always been so important for me because I have always wanted to make what I hear in here in my hands.”
Gressett said it also is something he feels brings him closer to his inspirations that have that ability to translate what's in their heads into their music. He mentions powerful multi instrumentalists like John Lennon, Paul McCatney or Neil Young.
“Those kinds of people just never go hungry,” Gressett said.
Despite his hope that the show will be big, Gressett is also aware that it will mean goodbye to his hometown for a while
“Not only is this a big show but it's a big goodbye.” he said. “I really want to see everybody before I go and this is a big chance to do that.”
Gressett said he already has connections he's worked on since leaving Idol. Once he finally makes the move he said his focus will be digging in his heels and doing the work.
“In my mind, I have always believed that moving to the place where you want to make your dreams come true is half the battle,” he said. “I just want to be the person who takes that step, and I want to make an example to a lot of my friends and a lot of people who haven't graduated yet that it's ok to go for it.”