Local rancher stars on ABC show tonight

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Ken Swick talks to "6 Degrees of Martina McBride" host Jay Schadler. Swick was one of six participants selected to take part in the ABC television show. It premiers today at 7 p.m. on ABC.

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Courtesy Photo

Local Ken Swick rehearses backstage in Nashville, Tenn. Swick is one of six contestants picked to participate in ABC's show "6 Degrees of Martina McBride." The show airs today at 7 p.m. on ABC.

— Ken Swick had two loves while growing up - music and ranching.

And although he's ranched nearly all his life, Swick never really pursued a singing career. That is until he found out about the ABC television show "6 Degrees of Martina McBride."

The show - set to air at 7 p.m. today - explores whether the six participants could link themselves to the country music star. The show is based on the theory that every person in the world can be linked though as few as six people. Contestants weren't allowed to call McBride's office or track her down at a performance. Instead, they had to go to approach someone they knew, who would then approach someone else, and so on.

Swick was wary of the idea at first.

Could he really meet McBride through just six people?

"At this particular point I would have to say, generally speaking, anybody in America from anywhere could get in touch with anyone in six people or less," Swick said. "I didn't totally believe it before, but what I've seen, it can be done."

Along with meeting McBride, Swick was performed at the famous Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn. The top three performers from the Wildhorse performance then went on to work with McBride.

Although Swick can't say whether he was one of the top three, he said the whole experience was something fresh and fun.

After making an audition CD and sending it to ABC, Swick heard back from a producer. The producer came out to the ranch where Swick works, got some film footage and heard him play. Three weeks later, Swick found out he was one of the six people chosen for the show.

"The whole thing, in a nutshell, was a wonderful experience," Swick said. "I made some wonderful friends and contacts inside the music business."

One of those contacts was famous country songwriter Tony Hazelton. Hazelton, who has written top-10 songs for George Strait, among others, and Swick quickly became friends. Swick has been invited back to Nashville to play the illustrious Blue Bird Cafe with Hazelton in the future.

"It's been quite an adventure to say the least," Swick said.

While Swick isn't sure if he'd pursue a music career, he said the opportunity ABC gave him and the contacts he made in Nashville have left that door open.

"You know what, I played music since I was 13 in a little town in Nebraska," Swick said. "I've always said, 'If the right opportunity presented itself, great. If not, I'm not going to worry about it.'

"From this point on, who knows? A lot of bigger things can happen. I'll just play the cards I was dealt."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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