Dean Brody with Small Town Pistols
When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
Where: McPherson Playhouse
Tickets: $29.50 at the McPherson Playhouse box office
Country musicians in Canada are rarely given the same privileges as the top rock and pop stars, who appear to have no shortage of opportunities — from publicity to performances — at their disposal.
More often than not, those who inhabit the country genre are left to their own devices. If they succeed at all — and many do not — it is usually the result of incredible amounts of hard work.
B.C. native Dean Brody, who was raised in the East Kootenay village of Jaffray, knows this better than most. The singer-songwriter has released three albums in the past four years, the likes of which have kept him on the road non-stop.
He’s learned a few things about being a country artist abroad.
“It’s a different dynamic in Canada than it is in the U.S.,” Brody said Tuesday, in between planning meetings for his upcoming national tour.
“In the U.S., country is as huge a genre as rock, maybe bigger. That’s because rural America has so many people. Rural Canada is pretty sparse.”
Brody has spent considerable amounts of time in nooks and crannies of this country, from the Bulkley Valley town of Smithers (where he was born) to his current home in Chester, N.S., which he shares with his wife and two children. Cities suit him fine — Brody began his career as a songwriter in Nashville — but there’s no denying he feels more at home on the outskirts.
“I have friends who hunt and fish, and who are super passionate about it. They wear camouflage,” Brody said with a laugh, adding that his roots in the wild expanse of B.C. aren’t all that different from his current environs.
“There’s some backwoods country folks in Nova Scotia. People would be surprised.”
Brody’s self-titled debut caught listeners off-guard in 2009 when it made instant waves in the U.S., eventually peaking at No. 32 on the U.S. country charts. His run of success continued with his second outing, Trail In Life, resulting in considerable success on his home turf: multiple awards and nominations, including a Juno nod, along with the honour of being the most-played Canadian country artist on the radio in both 2011 and 2012.
His ever-expanding list of accomplishments grew even bigger with the release his third studio album, Dirt, led by chart-topping single, Canadian Girls. The song, unabashedly Canadian in celebration of Gordon Lightfoot, hockey and “Moosehead beer and white-tail deer,” was one of the more difficult tunes Brody has ever worked on.
“It was a really tough song to write. When we first put it out, I didn’t know if it was going to resonate.”
Resonate it did. Canadian Girls — his ninth single to hit No. 1 on the Canadian country charts — remains Brody’s most successful song to date, with 100,000 copies sold.
Despite his strengths as a recording artist, the idea of traversing Canada as a headlining performer was something Brody approached with caution. He has toured the country twice, once as the opening act for Terri Clark and once with fellow Can-country stars Aaron Lines and Deric Ruttan, but carrying a tour on his own was taking a big leap of faith financially.
“It’s always a big step when you start your own headlining tour. So I went to my manager and booking agent and said, ‘If you guys think I’m ready, let’s do this.’ It has been really encouraging to see the passion from my fans.”
The gamble paid-off incredibly well for Brody. Heading into the first night of his tour, which gets underway Thursday in Victoria at the McPherson Playhouse, a dozen shows on the trek have already sold out, with another handful expected to hit their capacity by showtime.
The range of cities that furiously scooped up Brody tickets — from Cranbrook to Medicine Hat, Alta., Swift Current, Sask., to Summerside, P.E.I. — reads like a grab-bag of geography, which is exactly how the singer likes his scheduling to play out.
Smaller cities are often the most fun, Brody said.
“When you pull up and see a line stretching down the street and around the block, that’s when you know it’s going to be fun. People call them secondary markets, but really, they are my markets.”
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