Justin Biltonen of 3 Doors Down will share his solo acoustic country side at two shows in Fredericksburg.

Dec 9, 2020–Before he arrived at country music, Justin Biltonen traveled through gospel, punk, rock, and southern rock. Most fans know Biltonen as the long-time bassist for the American rock band 3 Doors Down. But he’ll be performing in Fredericksburg this week as a country music singer/songwriter.

The North Carolina native doesn’t regret one step of his musical journey.

“It made me a better musician,” he said. “It’s good to have had that variety rather than stick to one path. It’s almost like a spiritual journey. All the different kinds of music go with different aspects of my life.”

But even while playing in church gave him his first experience on a stage with an audience, he admits that he “still throws on some heavy metal” while sitting in traffic.

With that variety of performing background, his real focus now is writing music. He’s learned the first lesson–that he has to write to please no one but himself.

“A lot of people lose their way, thinking they’ve got to write a song to sound like a Top 40 hit out right now, with the same hooks and same melodies,” Biltonen said. “But when you do that you end up chasing something that you’re always going to be behind, instead of writing something true to you that you want to portray.”

While being identified with such a successful band that’s hit the top Billboard charts and toured internationally has given him a huge built-in fan base, wasn’t there push-back from those who might not have been comfortable with his new direction? Not at all, it turns out.

“That was my concern when I started putting out music on my own, but the response was overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “It is absolutely true that we have the best fans in any group I’ve encountered. They are super supportive, and send me messages all the time, saying things like I didn’t like country until I heard your songs. I’m on the right track with something, and that’s a huge blessing.”

Still, switching from side man to front man was “very intimidating” for Biltonen. He got his feet wet making the writers rounds in Nashville. He calls it his “sink or swim” approach.

“I was sitting with great writers, people who can sing their asses off,” he said. “But I thought, if I’m going to do this, if I have a passion for this, if I believe in my songs, I’m gonna get out and do it. No one’s going to give you a record deal if you’re just singing in the shower.”

It’s like second nature now, although he admits to still getting excited before every show. Fredericksburg fans can experience that excitement first-hand when Biltonen performs his originals in Fredericksburg on Wednesday and Thursday, including his newest singles Wild Mustangs and Worth Hanging Onto.

He looks forward to meeting fans, old, new, and skeptical.

“It’s better than sitting at home watching TV. Here are some songs, and some live music to help you get out of your head for a minute. Even though it’s solo acoustic, it will still be high energy. It’ll be fun.”

Justin performs for Stephen K. Morris’ Songwriters Circle at Western Edge in Fredericksburg TX. Photos by Phil Houseal

Justin Biltonen performs his acoustic originals for the Outsider Songwriters Series at Western Edge on Wednesday night, Dec 9, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., then at Texas Silver Rush on Thursday evening, Dec 10, at 6 p.m.