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Hampden teen performs at Big E

T. J. Dwyer plays lead and slide guitar with Cold Train. The band will perform at the Big E this Saturday. Reminder submitted photo
By Sarah M. Corigliano

Assistant Managing Editor

HAMPDEN At the age of 16 and with 12 years of experience under his belt, Hampden resident T.J. Dwyer will join other members of the band Cold Train at a Big E performance on Sept. 30.

Dwyer, a junior at Minnechaug Regional High School, explained to The Reminder that he has been playing the guitar since he picked up a toy plastic one at the age of two. By age five, he said his parents recognized his interest and enrolled him in private lessons.

While music has been purely an extracurricular endeavor for Dwyer, he said he participated in Minnechaug's Battle of the Bands last year, winning the "People's Choice" award.

He also tried some collaboration with other aspiring musicians his age, but said that the experience left him looking for something more organized.

"It's really hard just to get five guys to understand one idea," he explained.

So this spring he posted his profile on and shortly had an interview with Cold Train, a band that plays Classic and Southern Rock. After a 10 minute interview, he said the band members were impressed and asked him to join.

Despite the age difference between Dwyer and the founding members of Cold Train, he said the band was a good fit because much of what they play is drawn from the same rockers who influence him.

"I'm not much into new music," he said. "I can't really get a lot out of it, everything is the same."

He added that he has observed his contemporaries and other young adults paying more attention to classic rock than newer music.

"It's a change," he explained. "In the mid-1990s, in my opinion, is when the good music went away ... now the old stuff is new to them [young people]."

Dwyer described his musical influences as ranging from 1970s and 80s Rock to Southern Rock, including the bands White Snake, Skid Row, AC/DC, Led Zepplin, Government Mule, and The Allman Brothers.

After high school, Dwyer said he plans to pursue a career in music, most likely studying music production, promotion and recording.

Cold Train, with Dwyer on lead and slide guitar, will perform at the Big E Sept. 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Avenue of States, at the Connecticut Building. Their web site is

"We'll put on a good show," Dwyer said. "We'll get the crowd going ... I think people will like it."