So, to you who have followed this space before, welcome BACK to my blog! For the rest of you, just WELCOME! I’m going to do this in English sometimes to reach a wider audience, Google Translate works fine I guess but in a way it’s just easier for me to write it in English and not worry about corny translations. With that said…
I’ll start with a quick (re)introduction of myself - my name is David Henriksson and I’m a Swedish musician, mostly guitarist, living in Nashville, Tennessee since the summer of 2017. Quickly after I moved here, my career took off WAY quicker than I had imagined. Crazy stuff happened within just a few months, but you can read more about that in this interview here.
I’m here on work visa, specifically for music, called an O1 visa. It’s also described as a visa for ”Aliens of Extraordinary Abilities”. In February next year, less than 4 months from now, my visa expires. Since I’ve had such a blast over here, I definitely want to get another visa to see what more the future might hold for me over here. To get a new visa I have to prove my ”extraordinary” accomplishments in several different ways, one way is that I’ll have to get recommendation letters signed by people in the music industry that I have some kind of professional relationship with.
Therefore, I have spent some time lately hitting up people I’ve gotten to know during my time in Nashville, to see if they wanna help out in this bureaucratic process to extend my stay here in ”Music City” – Nashville’s popular nickname. I’ll try to not make this seem just like bragging and name dropping, but rather be real about how this process works. Some very well respected and amazing musicians have been kind enough to agree to help out which I’ll be forever grateful for. If you don’t know who these people are, check them out as I’d rather tell you how I hooked up with them instead of what they’ve achieved. You’ll find that through our mutual friend name Google
Brent Mason – I ran into him the first time during a recording session in April last year with my former boss, country singer Tracy Lawrence. After that I booked a guitar lesson with Brent, which ended up being mostly a relaxed hang where we chatted way more than we played guitar. Afterwards he bought me dinner and a beer. What a guy! He also recommended me to the position as lead guitarist for country singer Aaron Lewis (former singer of the rock band ”Staind” who’s sold 15 million records worldwide). Brent himself plays guitar on Aaron’s albums so the fact that he recommended me as the guitarist who would have to cover his parts live meant a whole lot. To be completely clear here, I didn’t end up taking this guy for a few different reasons. Brent’s willingness to help out with the letter for my visa application also shows what a nice guy he is!
Vince Gill – I met Vince a couple of times in the fall of 2017 when we both played the ”Grand Ole Opry” and the ”Ryman Auditorium” during the same nights. Vince complimented my guitar playing and I was starstrucked like never before haha! Recently, were reintroduced to each other by a mutual friend and when asked if he would help me out with a letter, Vince invited me and our mutual friend over to his house to hang out for a bit and gladly signed the letter. What a guy!
Brad Pemberton – We met while recording at one of Nashville’s oldest active recording studios called ”Cinderella Sound Studio”. Other musicians on this session were Robert Reynolds (former member of Grammy Award winning band ”The Mavericks”) and Al Perkins (also a Grammy winner who’s played on albums by Dolly Parton, Eagles, The Rolling Stones etc.)
I’d call myself quite damn lucky to have these kind of people in my corner while trying to get through this tricky process once again. The first time I applied for a visa we sent in more than 100 pages of documentation, now my lawyer says that we should aim for 300 pages this time. I’m glad there are other ways to prove my accomplishments than just recommendation letters. Otherwise I’d be VERY stressed to get 300 of them together before February haha!
More stories from Nashville and the visa process coming your way soon!