Dillon Havins and his band are quickly winning fans throughout central Texas
Whenever Dillon Havins’ grandma babysat her grandson, she got an earful. The four-year-old would stand on a box, strumming a plastic toy guitar and pretending to play and sing the country songs he heard at concerts his father took him to.
“Nanny says she’s the one who got me started with music, and I give her credit for it,” says Dillon, who’s come a long way from pretending to playing. The 17-year-old sings and strums on a real stage now as the lead singer and guitarist for his band, Havins.
Dillon picked up a real guitar for the first time at the age of nine and became interested in artists such as Elvis and Chuck Berry. The first song Dillon learned was “Blue Suede Shoes.” Soon, he was writing songs and performing at open mics in the Austin area. He enjoyed jamming with other performers, but his first large-audience performance felt electric. He competed at the Old Settler’s Music Festival Youth Talent Competition in Driftwood when he was 11. “I knew then that I wanted to play music for the rest of my life,” Dillon says. “I knew that it was my calling to perform.”
From then on, Dillon sought new stages to perform on. In 2012, at the prompting of the Austin Blues Society, Dillon auditioned for NBC’S America’s Got Talent and made it on the show. He performed at Austin’s Long Center in front of 3,000 people and the celebrity judges and was voted through to the Las Vegas round. “I was really nervous before I got on the stage, but when I got up there it all went away,” Dillon says. “I felt ecstatic.” After America’s Got Talent, Dillon continued to play gigs with an adult backup band at venues around Texas such as The Salt Lick Barbecue, The Oasis, and area rodeos.
During one open night and blues jam at Antone’s Nightclub in Austin, Dillon met Cameron Riggs, a talented pianist about Dillon’s age. Their friendship turned into a musical partnership. Dillon and Cameron assembled a few other musicians for the Heart of Texas Blues Challenge in 2013. The band won an opportunity to represent Austin at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.
Soon after, Dillon and Cameron searched for a drummer and bassist. They met Wilson Reardon, a fast learner and enthusiastic drummer, at another blues jam and knew he was a “perfect fit.” Then they recruited Dillon’s longtime friend, Noah Cadena, to play bass and sing. “[Noah] provided a new sound for the band with stellar harmonies,” Dillon says.
It was then that the band really began to gel, developing a sound grounded in alternative rock and Americana with elements of blues and country. After playing together for several years, Dillon, Cameron, Wilson, and Noah have become not just bandmates but close friends. “We have a lot of inside jokes, and we’re always messing with each other,” Dillon says.
The band recently released their debut single, “Rain on a Sunday,” produced by Matt Noveskey of Blue October and recorded at Orb Recording Studios in Austin. In it, Dillon sings about his parents’ divorce, the loss of his sister, and his prayers during these events.
For Dillon, life is filled with music and family. He plays and sings for worship bands at churches on Sundays. “Music is more important to me,” he says, “than anything else in my life except for my relationship with God.”
Dillon hopes to continue playing with Havins and will audition for the Berklee College of Music in November. Regardless of what the future holds, he knows his path will be charged with music.
Havins will be performing at Roots in Georgetown on Saturday, November 5th, from 7 to 10 p.m.