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Johnny Reid brings his music to the fans in what could be the longest tour of the year

Country singer presents Love Someone: An Intimate Evening with Johnny Reid
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Six-time Juno Award winner Johnny Reid performs tonight in Campbell River, the first of seven shows on Vancouver Island as part of his record-setting national tour. Credit: Halo Entertainment Group

IN CONCERT: Love Someone: An Intimate Evening With Johnny Reid

Where: Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave., Sidney

When: Saturday and Sunday, May 7-8, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Sold out

Note: Reid also performs May 5 in Campbell River at the Tidemark Theatre, May 9 in Duncan at the Cowichan Theatre, May 11 in Nanaimo at the Port Theatre, May 12 in Victoria at the McPherson Playhouse, and May 14 in Courtenay at the Sid Williams Theatre

Johnny Reid has played to more than one million fans in the plast decade alone, so there’s certainly a method to the madness of his current tour, one of the lengthiest ever by a Canadian musician.

“For years and years, I’ve asked people to come see me,” Reid, 47, said. “If we played Edmonton, I would ask people from all these different communities in a 150 kilometre radius to come see the show. Why would I do that this time? I thought, why don’t I go visit all these communities where I’ve never been?”

Love Someone: An Intimate Evening With Johnny Reid got underway Feb. 10 in London, Ontario. The tour, in support of the Scottish-Canadian’s new studio album, Love Someone, which arrived in October, lands on Vancouver Island tonight for a sold-out show at Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre, followed by two sold-out concerts at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney on Saturday and Sunday.

The Nashville-based Reid and his three bandmates will also perform May 9 in Duncan at the Cowichan Theatre, May 11 in Nanaimo at the Port Theatre, May 12 in Victoria at the McPherson Playhouse, and May 14 in Courtenay at the Sid Williams Theatre. The only one with tickets available for sale is the McPherson Playhouse performance.

“The reaction to the tour has been staggering,” Reid said. “Ninety-seven per cent of the shows have been sold out, so that alone is a very humbling experience.”

The routing is unique, for most provinces, in that Reid is playing multiple shows within a small footprint. That’s usually a no-no in the touring business, based on the assumption that diehard fans will purchase the best seats available, thus leaving the less-desirable seats unsold come showtime. Reid’s tour is bucking convention, in that regard. When he caught up with the Times Colonist on Tuesday, he was prepping for his sixth and final sold-out show in Abbotsford.

“If you look at the bigger picture, it’s somewhat daunting,” Reid said. “But I just felt like that this was the right thing. Where we’ve been in the last couple of years, it was a great opportunity to get re-connected by playing these smaller shows.”

During the pre-tour planning process, Reid’s booking agent said he could accommodate any number of dates on the tour. Reid jokingly suggested they start at 100, “and he hit that pretty quick,” he said. “They started adding more shows, and that quickly become 124.”

When it was announced in November, the tour was expected to close June 24 in Nova Scotia. Reid learned yesterday that his booking agent now has shows scheduled for him through October. There is a chance he could surpass the 200-show mark by year’s end. Playing smaller, more intimate shows for audiences who may never have seen him perform has been a surprisingly efficient way of minimizing risk during these uncertain times.

“We were watching all these other concerts go on sale, in these big rooms, and instinctively I wasn’t sure if audiences were going to be ready for that,” he said.

Love Someone is a product of the COVID-19 pandemic — it was was written and recorded amid the lockdown — but Reid chose to focus on songs with a positive perspective for his 11th album. He wrote deeply and reflectively about his life as a father and husband, in hopes that his new music will provide some sense of hope for fans.

He didn’t always have the chance to stop and smell the roses, Reid said with a laugh. He has been releasing albums since the late 1990s, when he was in his early 20s, and his gung-ho attitude/carpe diem philosophy didn’t always serve him well on those early tours. He’s been forced to conserve his energy on this run, for the sake of his mental and physical health.

“With age comes a wee bit of wisdom,” he said. “I’m trying my best to stay ahead of things. So far, so good.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com