Living by the old adage of finding strength in numbers, two of Canada’s country music stars, Aaron Pritchett and Gord Bamford, have joined forces for a tour they have dubbed the Rowdy Boys Tour 2011. Though each of the performers has found success on their own, both see a distinct advantage to joining forces for the tour.
“I feel this show is great because it offers a different dimension to both of our images,” Pritchett explains from down the phone line in Owen Sound, Ontario. “The tour is not merely a matter of the two of us playing separate sets; there is actually a point in the show where we perform together on stage and I don’t think there is anybody else out there right now doing anything like this.
“This tour is less about ego and all about fans and putting something together for them.”
Bamford echoes his tour-mates opinion stating, “Being a music fan, I like to get value for my money. With the Rowdy Boys Tour, you have two Canadian country music acts that have each found success on their own but have gotten together for a tour solely for the purpose of ensuring that our fans feel valued when they leave the show at the end of the night.”
Though each musician has found success independent of one another, their careers have unfolded in similar ways: Bamford has four records to his credit to Pritchett’s five. Pritchett has been awarded the Canadian Country Music Association awards for Independent Male Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year (both awarded in 2007) while Bamford walked away with an impressive four CCMA Awards at the 2008 ceremony.
Having grown up what he calls a “closet country music fan”, Pritchett goes onto explain that growing up in Vancouver, country music wasn’t exactly hip.
“I listened to a lot of rock bands in the 80’s. The first record I purchased was by Loverboy,” he laughs, recalling the memory. “From there, I got into Bryan Adams, AC/DC, Def Leppard; the list goes on.”
Eventually, country music found its way to Pritchett’s ears and once the genre was engrained in him, there was no turning back.
“Seeing what guys like Dwight Yoakam and Randy Travis did to help country music resurge like it did was inspirational. I have found that the biggest difference between country music and pop music is the fact that country music fans are probably the most loyal in the business. Pop music is driven by youth where in country, you’ve got guys like Toby Keith in his 40’s and still successful. That says a lot about country music fans.”
As a country music fan himself, Bamford’s roots in the genre harken back to what many consider to be the golden era of country music: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. He initially started singing songs by these artists around the campfire however it wouldn’t be long before his friends were encouraging him to pursue music as an occupation.
“Ironically, I never really considered it,” Bamford says. “I sang at get-togethers and at school but that was about it. I entered myself in a number of talent searches in Alberta and in 1994, I won radio station Q91’s ‘Search For The Stars’ contest.”
Asked what they feel the biggest challenges impacting Canadian country music artists today, both Aaron and Gord respond with advice for budding stars.
“The business is ultimately what you make of it,” Bamford starts. “I feel that if you believe in something, you can achieve it. I surround myself with great people, people that I trust and that believe in what I am doing.”
“I feel it is especially important to have something to fall back upon,” Pritchett continues. “There are so many people who think that making a CD is all that they need to do but the truth of the matter is, CD’s aren’t selling like they used to so you really have to figure out what you really want to get from your career before you even start.”
“Ultimately though, success starts and ends with a great song,” Bamford notes. “Finding songs that will truly connect with people is essential to anyone’s career.”