A Hastings keyboardist and the country band he is a member of was honored at an awards show on Feb. 17.
Jake Nelson, a Twin Cities-based country musician, and his seven-member band won Best Music Video and Song of the Year for his song "You're Not Alone." The band was also nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year at the Midwest Country Music Association's awards show in Medina.
Nelson's band includes Brian Schommer on keyboard. Schommer co-owns Schommer Insurance in Hastings with his wife, Mary.
"It's a true honor ... to be nominated for three categories is pretty awesome," Nelson said.
Nelson's award-winning song "You're Not Alone" is about mental health and suicide awareness and was inspired by the real-life experience of one of his late friends.
Schommer called Nelson a talented songwriter and said that the band's success has been more than he expected. In his previous stints in other bands, he has mostly played for smaller, older crowds, he said.
"I see a lot more potential ... with (Nelson)," Schommer said. "We're blessed to be a part of the band."
They have played shows at country music festivals and venues throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
"It's really kind of nice to just sit back and make music with some extremely talented individuals," Schommer said. "We all just get along really well."
Nelson has played music since he was 13 but didn't start a band until about a year and a half ago. He asked Schommer to join after the two performed and met at a Jack Daniels-sponsored event in the Twin Cities.
Schommer was filling in for a band performing and met Nelson, who was headlining the event. The two said they bonded over their passion for music, became Facebook friends and eventually Nelson asked Schommer to be a part of a band he was forming.
Nelson said he tries to schedule rehearsals and shows around band members' families, rather than trying to push the band schedule. This can mean booking rehearsals a month in advance or avoiding shows on back-to-back weekends, he said.
"You want to love something you're going to do, not make it something you have to do," Nelson said. "It's really a relationship with seven people."
Schommer, 52, is the band's oldest member and its "goofball," Nelson, 29, said. He laughed and mentioned that the keyboardist's stories often range from three minutes to 30.
"We love Brian. I think he has been a good add to our band, he's one of the core members," Nelson said. "He's just a good dude and he's got a good heart, we definitely bond personally and on a music level."
The band's next performance is March 15 at the Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul, followed by March 23 at Wild Greg's Saloon in Minneapolis. They are set to release a new album this summer, featuring increased involvement from the band members, Nelson said.