a difference in age of more than 50 years, but that doesn’t add up to a generation gap between a Lewiston songwriter and a 9-year-old country music singer.

Jim Flynn is right in tune with the ambition and talent of young Brian Philip Wardwell of Limerick. Flynn has written a number of songs that Brian performs as he racks up award after award at local and regional shows from Tennessee to northern Maine. The songs are also on a CD called “The Opening Act” that Brian recorded last summer.

This weekend presents an opportunity for local country music fans to experience a performance by Brian at Boyd’s Auction Barn on Route 11, Mechanic Falls. The program sponsored by DECMA (Down East Country Music Association) is called “Winter in the Country.” It’s scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 11, from noon to 5 p.m.

Lots of youngsters belt out country/western songs at amateur shows throughout the state, but the style, talent and determination of Brian Wardwell set him apart. Most kids sing covers of songs by popular artists. Brian seeks out original material that’s appropriate for his age but appeals to all listeners.

That’s where Flynn fits in. A songwriter for many years, he has developed connections with some significant individuals in the country music industry.

“I haven’t hit it big yet, but you never know,” Flynn said. His flirtation with success includes original songs that caught the attention of some Nashville figures and were described as “near hits.” Over the years, Flynn has pitched tunes to many Maine and national artists.

Currently, he is getting a lot of satisfaction in seeing his songs advance Brian’s fledgling career. He came in contact with the young singer through mutual acquaintances among Maine country music associations and Brian’s parents, Adam and Monica Wardwell.

Flynn agreed to come up with a song expressing Brian’s concept that he would one day be “The Opening Act” for a major star. He said he was astonished at Brian’s quick study and on-target stage presence and he went to work on several other songs that he felt would fit the boy’s needs.

“I made sure he had wholesome material, but it had to be material that anyone can relate to,” Flynn said. He points out that some of his songs that Brian performs have themes that fit just as well for adult singers.

Flynn shares writing credit on the CD title song, “The Opening Act,” with Brian and with Tommy Dean, a Bar Harbor DJ. Some of his other contributions are “Anybody Going To Nashville?”; “I’m the Happiest Kid in Town,” by Flynn and Brian’s grandmother, Sandi Wardwell; “Hot Stuff;” “Everything Keeps Changing;” “Jimmy Straight;” “The Country Way;” and “The Military Man.”

Juanita Graves, a songwriter from St. Albans, also wrote two of the CD’s songs, “I Ain’t No Cowboy,” and “There’s a New Star Rising Up.”

Flynn’s songs are new, except for “The Country Way,” a tune he wrote for a group called The Malibus, house band several years ago for the Country Way restaurant in Norway.

Flynn said he has almost completed a very special song for Brian. It’s called “The Legend of L.L. Bean.” Flynn said he feels it’s just right for the young singer to extol the “style and grace” of this Maine man the kid once heard about from his grandfather. He hopes the song will be introduced when Brian appears at the annual Maine Country Pioneers show in Augusta this spring.

There’s also a Wardwell Family Christmas Album CD with four of Flynn’s songs.

Flynn recalls growing up listening to and meeting many of Maine’s country music pioneers such as Gene and Flo Hooper, Ken McKenzie, Tony and Juanita, Hal Lone Pine and Betty Cody, Doc Williams and Dick Curless. After a hitch in the Army, Flynn returned to Maine; and while attending business school, he worked three years as a part-time announcer for radio station WLAM. He worked as a news reporter during the week and as a DJ Saturdays when he had his own show which featured a lot of country music.

Flynn worked at the studio control board when Gene Hooper would come in to sing live in the early morning. It was also during this time that Flynn started writing country songs. The first complete song he wrote, “Phantom Freighter,” became a local radio hit on WJAB in Westbrook in the mid-60s for a Maine group called The Citations.

In 1967, Flynn received a contract for one of his songs from Jimmie Davis, writer of “You Are My Sunshine” and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Although the legendary singer-songwriter did not record the song, Flynn said it gave him a tremendous boost of confidence and inspired him to keep writing.

Hooper recorded Flynn’s “Caroline Stood By Me” in the mid-70s and in 1991 his song “Blue Denim Cowboy From Maine” won second place in the “Recording of the Year” category from DECMA. Several Maine singers have recorded Flynn’s songs in the past three years.

Flynn lives in Lewiston with his wife, Joan, to whom he has been married for 43 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.

The Jan. 11 show at Boyd’s Auction Barn in Mechanic Falls also includes appearances by several area country music performers. The price of admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children under 12.


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