Making headway in the music industry is not an easy task, but is a journey the Nashville based country duo, Dairy Daughters, embrace with passion and wholehearted dedication. Music is their life.
“I love everything about it,” said guitar player and lead vocalist Shelby Dressel.
Dairy Daughters was formed two and a half years ago. Dressel said after she and violinist and harmony singer Megan Gertken had played on shows and written songs together for several years, it only made sense. Since both had also grown up on dairy farms, the name, Dairy Daughters, connected them to their roots, she said.
“Dairy farming was just something that connected us and still is a big part of our lives,” she said.
While Dressel grew up on a large dairy farm with about 1,000 Holstein in Avon Park, Fla, Gertken’s parents, David and Georgia Gertken milked about 66 cows on their farm in Albany.
Learning the value of hard work growing up, Dressel and Gertken said they have brought that same work ethic with them to the music industry. Having that foundation helps them tremendously, they said.
“You do everything. You’re your own driver, you’re your own writer, business people and sales people,” Gertken said. “In many ways, it’s similar to farming because in farming you have to do your own bookkeeping and other things. You wear many hats.”
Gertken said she started playing the fiddle when she was about 9 years old. A few years earlier, at age 6, she had been drawn to the violin after she heard her piano teacher’s children play at a recital.
“We were just really inspired by it and begged mom for a fiddle,” she said.
That eventually led to playing in many fiddle contests, weddings and other events. She has also played at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and has performed across the United States, Canada and Europe with 2013 America’s Got Talent contestant Fernando Varela.
Dressel said besides farming, her dad, Gary, also had a musical side. She believes that’s where her love for music stemmed from as she’s been singing since she was just little girl.
“I sang at church. I would also sing with my dad’s bluegrass and country band at the bars, music festivals and things like that, so I think just being around it, is what got me into it,” she said.
Dressel has also competed in American Idol and was a top 40 finalist from season 9 in 2010.
Writing their own songs as well as performing other people’s songs, Gertken and Dressel find their inspiration in real life events, their thoughts and more.
A few years ago, both lost loved ones around the same time. Gertken lost her grandparents, George and Florence, who died 53 days apart.
Dressel lost her mom, Kathy, who died from a rare form of brain cancer.
“So we wrote a song about her grandpa and we wrote a song about my mom,” she said.
Both have found music to be very healing whether it is in time of a tragic loss or when they’re just having a bad day.
“It’s like therapy,” Dressel said.
In 2017, the Dairy Daughters released their single, “Tomboy” and a year later, the single, “Farmer’s Day Off.”
Now having reached one of their small goals, the duo will release their first extended play (EP) sometime this summer.
When they are not performing, Gertken and Dressel enjoy spending time with family and friends, yoga, being outdoors, fishing and more.
“What’s so much fun about fishing in the ocean is that it is so active versus when you go on a lake,” Dressel said.
Not too long ago, Gertken caught a stingray that weighed about 50 pounds.
“That was pretty cool,” she said.
Gertken and Dressel also like to travel. So far their musical adventures have taken them to various places all across the United States, Norway and Denmark. They hope it will eventually lead them on a trip to Australia as it is a place they want to visit.
Recently the Dairy Daughters traveled through Central Minnesota and stopped to perform the Stand Up Celebration music fest, a fundraiser for the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, June 7.
The Eagle’s Healing Nest works with Camp Ripley, including the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program and provides services to veterans and active Minnesota National Guard members.