A young South Dakota guitarist is looking to make it big

FLANDREAU, SD (Dakota News Now) — A young guitarist from Arlington, South Dakota gets a chance to show off his skills on the big stage.

Rylee Chavez, 17, is a finalist for the Dallas International Guitar Festival Ten Under 20 Competition.

Rylee says this opportunity is a boost for the next five years of his playing career.

“I’m going to end up in a jam band that’s had mixed success. That’s the goal!” said Chávez.

Rylee’s musical journey began about four years ago when he received a ukulele for Christmas.

“After about a month of playing that, I got curious and picked up the electric guitar, and just started playing that, and never really looked back,” Chavez said.

Since then he has been working hard to master his craft and the long hours have paid off as he landed his ticket to a much-loved competition.

“I couldn’t believe I got in at the start,” Chavez said. “I was really, really lucky and I’m lucky to have made it.”

Rylee’s dad, Russ, says luck has nothing to do with it.

“It’s above and beyond, he can make that dream come true, and he puts the time and effort into it,” Russ Chavez said of his son. “This competition is going to mean everything to him and give him some national exposure, maybe.”

Rylee says quarantine during the pandemic has given her plenty of time to be alone with her guitar.

“If you practice, practice, practice, you’ll get there with most things, I think,” Rylee said.

Since last summer, Rylee has been playing with The barn fliesa local group from Flandreau.

Rylee’s teammate Casey Wilson would like him to stay but knows the youngster is destined to go far.

“We told him it was kind of a temporary gig for him because we wanted to see him go beyond our regional band,” Wilson said.

Rylee says live performances with The Barn Flies have given him the experience he needs for what’s next, the big show in Dallas.

“I’m just going to play as hard as I can and I’m just going to have fun playing,” Rylee said of her upcoming performance.

Although he’s humbled about his talent, those around him know that Rylee has a real shot at winning it all.

“I have nothing but faith in Rylee, he won’t surprise me anymore,” Russ said.

Wilson agrees, adding, “He can go as far as he wants.”

The competition will take place on May 1.

The trip to Dallas will be a bit pricey, so Chavez and The Barn Flies are performing a concert on Friday, April 22 to raise funds.

It will be at their usual location, Sioux River Spirits and Mercantile, in downtown Flandreau. Locals know him as “Merc”.

You can also make a contribution to Chavez’s Go to Fund Me page if you would like to help pay for travel expenses.

Follow Rylee on Instagram @chavezguitar.

Copyright 2022 Dakota News now. All rights reserved.

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