Nolen Sellwood’s imaginative songs have arrived in Duluth

Nolen Selwood

Nolen Sellwood brings his creative spark to the Northland.

Nolen Sellwood hit the music scene in January as part of a live event produced by Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Current.” His performance delivered a fresh, new sound to the Duluth audience.

At the event, Sellwood introduced his fellow performers, Sam Hovda (piano and trumpet) and Owen Reinert Nash (percussion and bass) as his high school band. Dressed in casual clothing, the group gave off a visual high school vibe, but their music told a different story. They produced a spot-on delivery of sophisticated original work, complete with a surprise saxophone solo by Nash’s father.

Most of the songs came from Sellwood’s first 10-song album, Otherwise, produced in Minnesota by New Folk Records in 2023. His lyrics were the most impressive part of the concert.

His songwriting method isn’t passive. “The songs and the lyrics happen to me when I’m in that transient state of falling asleep … half awake, half asleep,” he said. “I have to get up and go to my guitar before I forget.” Sometimes he has “a story in my head trying to get out and then I just work on it all night.”

His lyrics take the listener to a dream space. One can almost see a human figure, off to the side, watching the world swirl around. Consider the song “Otherwise.”

It’s hard to stay in this place
and stare at such elemental grace.
There is nothing I could do,
I just can’t stay away from you.
And I hope in this time
you’ll come to understand my mind.
And If that is alright
I’ll just stay here otherwise.

Nolen Sellwood

Nolen Sellwood joins the Duluth music scene in 2024.

“Music lyrics let me express myself,” Sellwood said. He strives to connect with his audience. “So many musical artists have molded me into what I am today. I would feel like I’m not doing my part if I didn’t try to do all I can to make a positive impact on others.”

Sellwood, in addition to pursuing his music career, is enrolled at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Prior Lake native is considering a future in the mental health field and he is also taking coursework in psychology and political science.

There’s more in the works for Sellwood and his group. They’re producing another album, Cadence to the Flame, which is due out later in 2024. Sellwood’s next performance is opening for Chastity Brown at Sacred Heart Music Center on April 5.

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