By Chris Brown on January 11, 2018.
As one of the first shows in Medicine Hat in 2018, Brett Kissel is pretty intent on setting the bar high — very high — for all those who follow him to the city this year.
It’s been close to four years since the Canadian country star and his band were last in the Gas City and he says there is a lot of pent-up energy among them and they’ll be guns a-blazin’ when they take the stage at the Esplanade on Monday.
But it will take more than just the energy from the stage to make it the best show it can be. A little friendly competition between the crowd and Kissel and the band will go a long way.
“The minute we hit the stage there’s this excitement. Well, the more excitement I get from the crowd the more excitement I want to give. Then I believe they want to give it back even more, and then I want to outdo them, and then they want to outdo me,” Kissel said recently. “It’s this very friendly one upping that we try to do. I know for a fact we’re going to get to see that in Medicine Hat just being that it’s such a strong country market.”
The Medicine Hat show is one of the first of Kissel’s near-60 date We Were That Song tour that will take him back and forth across the country until the end of March.
For Kissel though, there’s no place he’d rather be.
“Me, my heaven is the stage,” he said. “That is without question my favourite place to be. Big venue or small, huge crowd or small crowd, it really doesn’t matter. As long as I’ve a got a guitar in my hand and I get to perform that’s when I’m the happiest. For me and for my band, we all share that same passion and that same excitement and we think it’s going to be so much fun to hit the road and go across Canada.”
The tour shares its name with Kissel’s latest album which was released last month. He says the jury’s still out on the album but is hearing a lot of positive early feedback for its diversity, variety and the risks he took. The best measure of that diversity is likely a pair of duets, one with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and the other with country legend Charley Pride.
“Nobody would ever think a Canadian country singer would have a duet with the leader of arguably one of heavy metal’s greatest bands. Then there’s the traditional aspect of a really special duet with Charley Pride, and that’s really, really special to me.”
Kissel says he’s been getting a lot of “thumbs up” for the album on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels, where he’s very active in connecting with and reaching out to his fans.
A little more than a year ago the Alberta native made a huge connection with the song “I Didn’t Fall in Love With Your Hair.” The song became an anthem for and tribute to anyone who has battled cancer. Proceeds from the song — which reached $50,000 in the first month through downloads alone — were donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. Kissel calls it the most special song he’s recorded.
It’s a good bet that song is on the set list for Monday, along with other hits like “Started With a Song,” “Airwaves” and “Cool With That.”
It promises to be a good time.
“I think there’s no better way to warm up in the winter than to come out to a country concert,” Kissel said. “I’ll get you out of your chair and we’ll get partying together.”
Dan Davidson will open the show.
Tickets $45 plus service charge and GST, are available at http://www.tixx.ca, by calling 403-502-8777 or in person at the Esplanade box office or the Medicine Hat Mall customer service desk.
Learning from a legend
Every musician has a bucket list and for many one item on it is touring or playing with their idol. Brett Kissel’s career is in the early stages, but he’s already got that one checked off.
After touching cowboy hats with Garth Brooks in 2012 during the latter’s show during the Calgary Stampede — “it was like this bolt of lightning,” he said — Kissel has shared the road with Brooks for many of his Canada stops on his current tour.
“I just couldn’t believe that I got the chance to not just open for my hero but stand shoulder to shoulder with him and get to know him and visit with him and speak with him and learn from him,” Kissel said. Those are things that have inspired me more than anything else possibly ever could in this business. I’m very, very lucky to have Garth as a mentor and as a guy I can look up to and really learn from.”
Asked if there is one particular thing he’s learned from Brooks that stands out above the rest, Kissel was at a loss. Getting to witness how Brooks treats the backstage crew, how he treats his longtime band members and seeing him command 20,000 people from the stage with just his finger all left an impression on Kissel.
“Everything that Garth does has inspired me and if I could be one-one hundredth, or honestly one-one thousandth of what Garth has been to country music I’ll be a happy man,” he said.
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