From a garage in Auburn to the big stage; meet Matt Helmkamp

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AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) – From small town Auburn, Indiana to stages all over the country, Matt Helmkamp is hitting all the right notes. His passion for guitar and music have led him to performing on the national stage. Most recently his performance with Ashley McBryde was on the Academy of Country Music awards where McBryde was nominated for three.

His parents, Gary and Nancy Helmkamp helped him to develop his love for music. They are both musicians and were always playing music around the house. He played trumpet while in school and joined the jazz band. He attributes much of his success to his former band director who encouraged him to look at colleges in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I ended up going to school in Nashville and from there I started playing and meeting like minded folks who were doing music and wanted to have music be more of their career. I just kept meeting more and more people touring with more and more artists, and that just continued to grow into a bigger network,” Helmkamp says.

That network landed him a spot with Travis Denning. Some of his hit songs include Abby and After a Few.

While playing with Denning, an opportunity arose to play with Ashley McBryde‘s band for the weekend. That opportunity turned into an audition. Helmkamp landed a spot in McBryde’s band and has been the guitarist for 2 1/2 years.

With the band, he has played on national stages, such as the Country Music Awards as well as performed for Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, Kelly Clarkson and Jimmy Kimmel. On April 16, the band performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these past few years have not been easy for most performers, including Helmkamp.

“The thing that we love to do, we haven’t been able to do it. Get out and entertain people and see people smiling,” Helmkamp says.

He has made the most of it. Helmkamp moved back to his hometown and has been working at Sweetwater in-between various performances across the country. The pandemic has made room for his creativity to shine. He spends almost every day practicing and writing music, some of which is featured on the latest album.

“I get my inspiration from everything that I listened to. I’m always listening for cool sounds or cool melodies, people who are like painters or anybody who really likes to draw are always kind of just doodling, for lack of a better term, so I kind of do that musically,” he explains.

This year at the Academy of Country Music Awards, Ashley McBryde was nominated for album of the year, female artist of the year, and song of the year with the hit “One Night Standards.” The band performed “Martha Divine” from her latest album.

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