By Chris Brown on October 11, 2018.
Who says you can’t put on an arena show in a bar? Definitely not Gord Bamford.
The Alberta-raised country music star is an arena veteran at this point in his career. He’s been on major tours with Reba and Brooks & Dunn and locally played at the Canalta Centre in 2016.
He’s returning to Medicine Hat next week on his Honky Tonks & Dive Bar Tour to play in — you guessed it — the city’s best-known honky tonk. Bamford will be at Ralph’s Texas Bar & Steakhouse on Oct. 19. Doors open at 7 p.m.
“What’s cool about this tour is we’re bringing an arena-type show right into the bar, right into the honky tonk,” he said. “We’ve got video running, great lighting. It’s just going to be a party. It’s going to be something that people are going to walk out of the room going, ‘holy crap I can’t believe what I’ve just seen.'”
The tour takes Bamford back to his roots, though in truth he’s never really strayed far from his western heritage and farm upbringing.
“I’ve obviously been sonically changing things a little bit to fit with the times and what radio’s playing but I’ve always kept my stuff pretty simple and thought going back to where it all began might be a cool thing to do,” the 24-time Canadian Country Music Award winner said. “Everybody in the band is really excited to be a part of this and it’s going to be a great time.”
It’s no coinicidence that Bamford is on a “Dive Bar” tour while he has a single of the same name at radio. But the single has performed better than expected, giving an extra boost to the tour. As he was rehearsing, doing press and putting together video for the tour, “Dive Bar” reached the top of Billboard’s charts.
“That’s a huge feat for a Canadian, not many get it. It’s tough to hit Billboard No.1 competing with the Americans,” he said days after the song hit No. 1.
Bamford notes the music industry may be going through a sort of changing of the guard right now when it comes to that. Dean Brody, Lindsay Ell and Dallas Smith have all topped the chart recently.
“It’s a step in the right direction for Canadians to be put on top of that pedestal because we should be. It’s as good a talent as anywhere. I think we need to start being a little more patriotic to our own people,” he said.
This will be Bamford’s second Medicine Hat show of the year, after performing at the Esplanade in February. Making his Ralph’s debut is a chance to reach a different audience that may not have come to the Esplanade. It’s all about catering to his fans.
“Sometimes the shows we do the kids can’t come to, so we want to make sure we get to the theatres because kids can’t get in casino shows, you know. And then sometimes the college students or the younger demographic don’t want to come to theatre shows because they can’t stand up and have a beer and have a good time so now they’re coming to the honky tonks.”
Bamford, who counts “When Your Lips Are So Close” and “Is It Friday Yet?” among his biggest hits, was nervous about putting a second 2018 show in Medicine Hat, but those nerves quickly went away when ticket sales boomed. In fact, the show sold out not long after it was announced. Bamford said Medicine Hat has always been supportive of his music and his shows any time he’s come around.
Like the saying goes, you can never have too much of a good thing.
JoJo Mason to open the show
JoJo Mason’s future is looking pretty bright. The CCMA award nominee will be on tour with Gord Bamford for much of the Honky Tonks & Dive Bar Tour, including the Medicine Hat show.
Mason released his single “Future” this month, the follow-up to his 2017 album “Both Sides of the Bar.” Naturally, the track highlights Mason’s growth as an artist and gives hint of what’s to come.
“In my life, and in my career, I knew it was time to grow, and that’s really what (‘Future’) is about,” Mason says in a release. “It has a bit more maturity to it. You always want to get better and evolve, and while I think the sound of my previous music is great and I’m super proud of it, it’s time to move forward and give fans something new.”
Mason previously performed in Medicine Hat on Canada Day in 2017.
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