COLD SPRING -- When the country music festival Firefest kicks off this Saturday in Cold Spring a man originally from central Minnesota will be taking the stage.

Aaron Clafton grew up in Sauk Rapids and, after graduating from Bemidji State University, he moved to Nashville in 2016.

He recently quit his day job so he can focus full time on his music career.

Yes, I quit working full-time to focus on music.  I have a part-time gig as well, but it's been so nice to have the flexibility of being able to take time off whenever I need to and not having to worry about keeping it within a certain number of vacation days.  It's just been really good.  I'm the happiest I've ever been.

He has found a few regular places to take the stage play in the music city.

I've played pretty consistently at this event called Nashville Tour Stop, which is what I'm playing tonight down here.  My friend, his name is Aaron as well, hosts several writers' rounds and artist showcases throughout the week.  I also play at this place called Nashouse Southern Spoon & Saloon, which is like a hotel bar, and it does pretty well on Saturdays and Sundays.

Clafton released an acoustic EP titled "Kentucky Ave." last summer.  He says he'll be performing several songs from that album on Saturday.

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Clafton says recently he's been primarily performing his music, but he's looking forward to focusing on writing some new music for 2022.

Aaron Clafton
Aaron Clafton

He says the opportunity to perform in Cold Spring on Saturday is his biggest gig yet.

Oh yeah, this is like the biggest opportunity that I've had to play on a huge festival stage, so I'm really excited and nervous about it.  I think it will be a lot of fun.  I'm trying to remind myself it's just another stage, but there's definitely some nerves.  But, overall it'll be a good time.

Clafton was also scheduled to perform at last year's Firefest before it got canceled due to COVID concerns.

Earlier this summer he has made other appearances in Minnesota up in Grand Rapids and at his hometown Sauk Rapids Food Festival, but he says this will be the first time he'll be playing with a full band in Minnesota.

The schedule for Saturday is the national anthem at 4:45 p.m. with Aaron Clafton playing immediately following, Blackhawk is at 5:45 p.m., Jo Dee Messina is at 7:15 p.m., Jordan Davis is at 9:00 p.m., and the headliner is Dustin Lynch at 10:45 p.m.


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