By Kerry Drager, Correspondent
Balancing a career you love and the family farm is no easy task. It’s a full-time job getting the cows fed and the crops planted without busying the schedule with a second job, but Jeremiah James Korfe of Eagle Bend isn’t letting a full workload keep him from following his dreams.
Born and raised in Clarissa, Korfe grew up on his family’s farm. There is no doubt that agricultural is in his blood but even at the tender age of 12, music was a driving force in his life. At 14, Korfe and a few of his friends formed their first band and played for anyone who would take them.
“If we broke even playing at shows that we got paid for, we were stoked,” said Korfe. “You were so excited about playing for strings. Looking back, holy smokes — no wonder it was hard to get gigs. The covers we were doing were underground rock. When you are the only fish in the pond, you have nothing to compare yourself to.”
At the age of 21, he could no longer deny the calling to do something bigger with his music and he made the decision to move to Los Angeles.
“That was before Facebook and Twitter,” Korfe said. “I didn’t have any way to chat with and get to know people. I slept in my car and would share my peanuts with the homeless guys on the pier.”
Korfe eventually found work as a musician at a mega church. Every Sunday morning he would play Christian rock in front of 8,000 people. While working at the church, he began to meet new individuals to form a band with, and from there he began to perfect his music while doing Warp Tours and other events and festivals.
There came a spark of hope in making it big when he signed with his first label. But when the label went bankrupt and all his hard work for the company went nowhere, he learned a valuable lesson about success in the difficult business of making music.
“It put a bad taste in my mouth. Many rights went to them and I didn’t get paid. It was good to go back home and focus on a different style of music,” he said.
The swine flu epidemic and the deterioration of his record label forced Korfe to return to Clarissa and help his family manage their farm. He used this time to re-examine his music career and by the winter of 2011, he had made the decision to switch his genre and try his luck in a different city.
“I love rock and roll, but I grew up country,” Korfe said. “I thought Nashville was strictly just for country music. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I couldn’t search where the best place to go was, so I threw my guitars in my car and drove out there.”
Korfe said music has been evolving at a quickened pace since the early 2000s. Sophisticated technology has not only changed the way music is distributed and promoted, but genres are beginning to change.
“The new country is as rock and roll as it gets,” he said.
He floats between his home in Eagle Bend and Nashville juggling his farming and his music. Technology has made it possible to do both as he can now write and produce music in Minnesota after his cows are tended to and his crops are planted.
“Farming is always what I’ll be. It’s not a job. Music is the same. It runs in my blood like farming. You live it all the time. Even when I am not at the farm.”
With is father, Korfe farms 2,000 acres. The Korfe family ran a dairy operation for 45 years but recently downsized to just beef, pork and crops. He went on to purchase his own land and is busy trying to remodel his home between music writing, production and performances and his farming responsibilities.
“It’s kind of a joint venture now, but Dad’s still the captain of this ship. He tries to say that I am the captain, but I do not want to wear that hat any sooner than I have to. I’ve learned a lot from that fellow and it’s nice that I can take a lot of the weight, but I can still keep my attention on music.”
Korfe is on the verge of reaching his dreams and becoming a country star. While in Minnesota he performs at many festivals during the summer. In the winter, he returns to Nashville to work on recording and networking. He has been approached by several labels, but has learned a large lesson about forming relationships with label companies and is waiting for the right one.
Though his journey into his music career is not complete, Korfe is happy with the progress he has made. He feels that the success in his music will only make his farming life easier and more enjoyable. He is hardworking and has country in his blood. Like a true country singer, he does it for family as well as the satisfaction of accomplishment.