Canadian country singer Deric Ruttan has a few big reasons to celebrate these days. The popular artist just released his latest CD last week Take the Week Off, and it’s packed with a slate of potential radio-friendly hits.
He’s also on the road with artists Chad Brownlee and Jason Blaine for the ‘Your Town Throwdown’ tour, with a stop in Red Deer Nov. 9 at the Cowboys Bar & Nightclub.
So the CD’s release and the tour, which kicked off in Prince Edward Island last week and wraps up in Vancouver in mid-November, comes at a perfect time for Ruttan, who is based in Nashville these days. It’s a time to reconnect with his homeland, catch up with friends and family and introduce new tunes to his growing following.
Ruttan has a keen ability for capturing the people and places that populate his songs so listeners can see them in their mind’s eye.
In part, that’s a product of his earliest musical influences – Gordon Lightfoot, rock artists CCR and Bruce Springsteen, and crossover country stars like Steve Earle. “I’ve always been drawn to songs that paint pictures in your mind as you’re listening. It’s something I’ve always tried to do as a songwriter.”
Over time, Ruttan’s ability to paint such lyrical portraits has led to opportunities to write with a growing list of his peers including Aaron Pritchett, Eric Church, Doc Walker and Dierks Bentley. His success as a recording artist garnered him a Juno nomination for Best Country Record in 2010 for Sunshine, as well as multiple nominations for the 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards, including Male Artist, Songwriter, Single and Video of the Year for That’s How I Want To Go Out.
In addition, Sunshine’s lead single, Up All Night was the most-played Canadian country single of 2010.
As for the current tour, he was immediately interested in teaming up with Brownlee and Blaine. A couple of years back, he hit the road with Dean Brody and Aaron Lines for the 2011 CMT Hitlist Tour. “I really enjoyed the package tour concept, and the camaraderie that comes with sharing a bus and sharing a stage and taking a show like that on the road,” he explains.
For the Throwdown tour, all three guys have the same booking agent, so the tour came together smoothly. “The energy of our music is similar, and I’ve known Jason for eight or nine years. We all know each other pretty well. And if last night (the tour’s first show) is any indication, I think we are going to have a really fun time.
“The reason we called it the Your Town Throw Down is because we are all from different places. As we roll across Canada, it’s not about where we come from, it’s about your town. We’re asking people to bring the party to us, so to speak. We’re trying to keep the focus on the energy, and have as good a time as we can. I’m also so excited to get back to Alberta to play – it’s one of my favourite places to play country music.”
For Ruttan, a knack for songwriting was sparked early.
“When I was 12 years old, I got my first guitar and pretty much immediately I started writing songs. Before I even got a guitar, my cousin and I wrote a song in an old fishing hut his dad had sitting in a field by their house. In the summer, that was our fort. We’d sit there and write songs – of course they were terrible,” he adds with a laugh. But still, the interest – and the ability – grew from there.
He won a national songwriting contest in high school via a teacher’s encouragement.
As the years unfolded, he kept writing, formed a few bands and then in 1994 he headed down to Nashville to try his luck at breaking into the business.
“About a year and a half in, I got a publishing deal writing for a company. Nineteen years later, I’ve had three publishing deals and probably spent 15 of the 19 years I’ve spent in Nashville writing for different publishing companies.
“It didn’t come quickly. I was in town for about seven years before I had anyone record one of my songs, and nine years before I heard one of my songs on the radio.”
That was What Was I Thinkin’ by Dierks Bentley. Perseverance indeed pays off. Superstar Blake Shelton included a co-write with Ruttan called Mine Would Be You on his latest disc as well. That tune happened to be number one in Canada as of last week.
Ruttan’s latest project certainly mirrors his continued growth as a prolific writer, singer and artist on so many levels. Although Take the Week Off didn’t start out with a particular vision.
“Basically when I begin to make a record, I look back and look at all the songs I’ve written over that period of time and I try to pull the best ones out. I try and think of my fans, and also think of it from an ‘onstage’ perspective. You learn lessons from the stage – what fans respond to and what they don’t. You try and make the best record possible, and occasionally a theme will emerge.
“On this one, there’s kind of a theme of taking a little time and relaxing, enjoying a few beers with your buddies or relaxing with your wife or girlfriend,” he says. “But then there is also the counterpoint to that which is waking up the next morning with a bit of a hangover and being in a reflective mood, which you hear in songs like What a Memory, Good Thing Gone and The Space Between.”