Having the opportunity to open a number of concert dates for country superstar Brad Paisley is not lost on Calgary native Lindsay Ell.
“I had the opportunity to perform a couple of shows with Brad last year and was instantly struck by what a genuine, generous human being the guy is,” Ell says in advance of her show at the Moncton Coliseum tonight. “Even though we were only scheduled to play a couple of dates together, both he and his crew took us in like we were family. To have that kind of support from someone who is so well established in the music business is priceless.”
While Paisley has consistently made waves in the business in no small part thanks to his impressive guitar chops, Ell is more than capable of standing her ground when wielding her own six-string, a potent combination that has fuelled her hits like “By The Way” and “All Alright.”
Ell’s knowledge and appreciation of music runs deep, having been brought up on country music before she found herself gravitating towards acclaimed blues players like Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton. Although her move from Calgary to Nashville a number of years back would effectively serve to bring her back to country music, her playing more than capably reflects her history.
“Growing up, I never could have imagined I would be standing on stage one day trading guitar licks with Brad on [Paisley’s track] ‘She’s Everything.’ The whole journey has been a little surreal.
Ell would be the first to tell you she has learned the art of the guitar from one of the best in the business. At the age of 13, the now 26 year-old musician was discovered by Randy Bachman of BTO and The Guess Who fame.
“Randy got his hands on a demo CD I had recorded that included me playing a Jann Arden song as well as a few instrumental tracks I had written,” she says. “We ended up getting together for some writing sessions, which proved to be invaluable to helping me develop as a songwriter. It was like a bootcamp experience I will never forget.”
She says it was Bachman that temporarily turned her attention away from country music towards blues and jazz guitarists. While she was perfectly content to expand her musical horizons, the influences of which echo throughout her music today, she insists that country music was never far from her mind.
“Shania Twain was my idol growing up, but Randy opened me up to a whole other world of what the guitar can do. As a songwriter though, I was writing country songs because I knew that was where my heart lied and what I wanted to pursue.”
With a new EP reportedly set for release in the next month, Ell is looking forward to bringing her music to audiences in Atlantic Canada.
Also supporting Paisley this Friday night is Texan native Chase Bryant. The seeds of his decision to make music a full-time career were aided in part by his grandfather, who had the amazing fortune of playing alongside both Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings.
“I knew pretty early on in life that I was going to end up playing music,” Bryant says. “It was something that I found myself naturally drawn to in no small part thanks to my grandfather who instilled a lot of great music in me.”
It didn’t take long before others began taking notice of Bryant’s talent and knack for songwriting. It was Orbison’s widow Barbara that gave the musician one of his first significant breaks, providing the young artist a publishing deal with her company Still Working Music. He was the last artist Orbison signed before she succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2011.
Two years later, Bryant signed a recording contract with Red Bow Records, which subsequently issued his self-titled EP in 2014 and last year’s single “Room To Breathe.”
“There are a lot of people vying for attention in the music business these days. I’m just fortunate that I found my niche in something that I feel perfectly represents me as a musician, an artist and as a person.”
What: Lindsay Ell & Chase Bryant, special guests to Brad Paisley
When: Friday Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Moncton Coliseum, 377 Killam Dr., Moncton
Remaining tickets are $109.50 plus service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Moncton Coliseum Box Office, by phone (506) 857-4100 and online at tickets.moncton.ca.