Johnny Reid holds good memories of Moncton

No matter how massively popular Canadian singer Johnny Reid becomes, he is the type of performer who will never forget the people who helped make him what he is today.

For many touring artists, a ‘Cross-Canada’ tour means playing from Vancouver to Montreal. And at this stage of his career, Reid could easily stick with playing Canada’s major centres. In speaking with the affable Reid however, it is clear that he would never do that.

Currently touring behind his exciting new record Fire It Up, the Scottish-born Reid is returning to Moncton for a show at the Coliseum on Monday night.

From backstage in Barrie, Ontario, Reid tells the Times & Transcript that when the initial discussions with tour promoter Live Nation around the Fire It Up tour had started, he felt as though many secondary markets had been overlooked. Although Moncton was on the first draft of tour stops that he was presented, Reid asked Live Nation to revisit the tour itinerary to include some of cities that were perhaps considered to be secondary markets. Reid wanted to be sure that he was able to share his music and his love of playing for all who wanted to hear it.

‘I have made a lot of friends throughout Canada and not just in the big cities,’ Reid says. ‘I never want to forget about these people when it comes to touring the country.’

Born and raised in Scotland, Reid says that he has always held an affinity for Southeastern New Brunswick. In 2007 when Reid performed as one of the supporting acts for the Tim McGraw/ Faith Hill concert on Magnetic Hill, it was the type of show that cemented his love for the Metro Moncton region.

‘I was standing on Magnetic Hill in front of tens of thousands of people. It was pouring rain but the whole audience stood there for my show; no one moved. That performance reinforced my belief that if you take care of people, they will in turn take care of you.

Nowhere was that more evident than that day on Magnetic Hill.’ Recorded in both Toronto and Nashville, Fire It Up stays true to Reid’s unique blend of R&B, country and rock. He says that while he will be eternally grateful to have been embraced by the country music community, he has never explicitly said that he considered himself to be a country music artist.

‘I think not having a narrow focus with respect to the kind of music I should be making has helped quite a bit,’ he says. ‘I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel and I am certainly not trying to put on an act. I’m an entertainer first and foremost and am simply trying to write songs that will connect with those listening to them.

‘It is a very interesting dynamic. I think that some people had difficulty trying to understand my music and me for a number of years because they were trying to fit me in a box or within certain parameters that I simply wouldn’t fit in. I think it could be very narrow minded of people to think that a country artist has to wear a cowboy hat and jeans to be considered a country music artist. Ultimately, fans or going to connect with your music or they are not. For me, I am very lucky that it is the former.’ For Reid, the decision to make his newest record between two major cities was largely out of convenience. With homes in Tennessee and Ontario, Reid ended up recording Fire It Up in both cities, although the advantage of working with some of the industry’s finest songwriters and musicians in Nashville held a sort of competitive edge over Canada’s largest city.

‘The process of recording started in Nashville, however being able to jump into the studio in Toronto was nice as well,’ Reid says.

‘At the end of the day, you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Toronto boasts some incredibly talented musicians that I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with, but the calibre of talent in Nashville is undeniable.’ In a world of one-hit wonders, auto-tune, and senses of entitlement, it is clear that Reid’s humility and genuine desire to do the very best he can for his fans is a continuous driving force behind his popularity. At a time in the music business when album sales are on the decline, Reid’s album sales continue to increase with each record.

To date, Reid has sold more than 1 million records in Canada and has earned numerous Juno and Canadian Country Music Awards. The relationship that Reid has with his fans is indeed a special one and is nothing that he ever plans to take for granted.

‘Regardless of the agents, promoters, and managers that I have worked with over the years, I have always insisted that no one is to interfere with the relationship I have with my fans,’ Reid says.

‘The people I am writing songs for are just like me; they want to work, make a living and take care of those they love.’ ‘I love to entertain people and give people a show they will never forget when they come to see my concerts. My father is a diesel mechanic and though he couldn’t tell you the difference between chords on a guitar, he can tell if something doesn’t sound great.

Fans know when you’re being genuine and when you are not. I can’t imagine getting up on stage every night and try to pretend to be something I’m not. It is such a humbling experience for me to get up there, put on my jacket and shoes and hope that I can help people forget about their problems for a couple of hours.’

Article published in May 12, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript