Three years after graduating from Montana Tech, Tanner Laws’ job looks a little different than one might expect of someone who majored in civil engineering.
The rising country music artist spends most of his days on the road, traveling to performances across the western U.S.
“I think I have one free weekend all summer,” Laws notes. Every other weekend will be spent playing at county fairs and music venues, including the Red Ants Pants Music Festival, which will be headlined by country music legends Tanya Tucker and Marty Stewart.
The hard work that has put Laws into the same venue as world-class musicians began in his time at Montana Tech. He started to be more dedicated to practicing guitar at the university. Outside the classroom, he spent hours watching the finger movements of some of his favorite artists, like Tyler Childers, on YouTube. He eventually started playing at local bars.
“I think that the songwriting kind of came on its own,” Laws said. “The way I approach learning, I just wanted to play songs by other people. Once I figured out how to change chords while singing a song, I started writing songs.”
Laws got a job as a project engineer right after graduation. It was the culmination of what he had dreamed of as a high school student in Thompson Falls.
“Coming out of high school, I did a ton of research,” Laws said. “My strengths were math and physics. I narrowed it down to what careers use math and physics and settled on engineering. From there, I decided what kind of engineering you could do while living in a rural area. My plan was to live in a small town and be a civil engineer.”
Four months in, he was still feeling the pull toward music.
“I knew I was quitting a very stable engineering job with good pay, but I just prayed on it for a full month and tried to follow my gut,” Laws said. “I was giving engineering 50% and music 50%. Now I can give 100% of my time and energy to one thing.”
So far, Laws has recorded two albums, “Montana Livin’,’” and “Laws.” He was recording in studios in Western Montana in early May, working on new songs. He’s looking forward to a summer jam-packed with performances.
“I absolutely love it,” Laws said of being on the road. “It’s different and it’s weird doing it full time. I drive all the time. I get to meet a lot of interesting people and explore new places. It's cool to have so many friends and family that listen to my music. I'm very blessed with the support I receive and am very grateful for the opportunities I've had and for my fan base that now stretches around the world, which is pretty cool."
Laws will have the opportunity to connect with thousands of music lovers at the Red Ants Pants Festival, which has attracted as many as 18,000 attendees in the past.
“Red Ant Pants festival is a huge step for me,” Laws said.
And if he ever gets tired of playing music, he’s confident his Montana Tech degree will be valuable.
“I still have the degree and I’ve been offered several jobs since I left my first engineering position,” Laws said. “It’s good to know that I always have the opportunity for those entry-level engineering jobs just because I have my degree.”
For more information on Tanner Laws, visit tannerlawsmusic.com.