Blue Rodeo stoked for P.A. concert

Matt Gardner
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Tickets have already sold out for the upcoming Blue Rodeo show at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre -- an unsurprising development given the band’s status as one of the most popular and enduring acts in Canadian music.

Members of Blue Rodeo include, from left to right: keyboard player Michael Boguski, bassist Bazil Donovan, guitarist/vocalist Greg Keelor, guitarist/vocalist Jim Cuddy, guitarist Bob Egan and drummer Glenn Milchem. Tickets have already sold out for the band’s Jan. 13 show at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

The sheer scale of the group’s success is something its members could not have anticipated when they formed the band almost three decades ago.

“We had delusions of grandeur,” founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Keelor recalled. “But I think that we were sort of realistic, thinking that if we could make a living from this for a while, this would be pretty good.

“To survive as long as we have is … quite a bit past what we expected.”

Twelve studio albums and 11 Juno Awards later, Blue Rodeo have long since put their struggling musician days behind them. Their appearance in Prince Albert next month is only part of a nationwide tour marking the 25th anniversary of their debut album Outskirts.

While life on the road can be monotonous, Keelor said the chance to play new songs keeps touring an enjoyable experience.

Another source of novelty is the addition of two new band members. Currently halfway through the recording process for an upcoming new album, the revamped Blue Rodeo lineup is helping shake things up.

“We’ve got Colin Cripps on guitar and Mike Boguski playing keyboards,” Keelor said.

“It’s a bit of a different sound for the band -- not too drastic, but they’re adding a lot and it’s a good batch of songs, so I think it’s going to be one of our best records in a while.”

Most Blue Rodeo songs are credited jointly to Keelor and guitarist/vocalist Jim Cuddy. But as with the songwriting partnership between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the majority of the duo’s “collaborations” are actually written by one man or the other.

“If he’s singing usually he wrote it, and if I’m singing usually I wrote it,” Keelor said. “We just do the Keelor-Cuddy thing on the titles as a bit of an adolescent hangover from our adoration of The Beatles.”

We’re looking forward to coming to Prince Albert. Greg Keelor

Despite early rock influences, the band’s name was ultimately inspired by their affinity for country music at a time when they were living in New York City -- a locale not known for its vibrant country and western scene.

Since their rise to fame, Blue Rodeo have maintained a regular output of fresh country-rock with a new album released every few years. Keelor’s personal favourite is their best-selling 1993 effort Five Days in July -- source of multiple hit singles as well as fond memories for the band.

“There were lots of friends hanging around and lots of friends playing on it and singing on it, and there were people camping,” Keelor said.

“It was just a good time, and it was a quick record. It did take just a week to record it, and it was summer. It was a pretty good time.”

Following its tour, Blue Rodeo will head back into the recording studio to complete their new album, set for a fall 2013 release.

In the meantime, the band is gearing up for tour rehearsals. There is no opening act for its show in P.A., which will feature two different sets.

“We’re looking forward to coming to Prince Albert,” Keelor said. “I want everybody to be in good throat so they can sing along all night.”

Blue Rodeo play the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Organizations: The Beatles

Geographic location: New York City

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