BY ZACHARY CORMIER
CCMA award-winning country artist Gord Bamford is set to make his return to Central Alberta next week when he brings his Certified Country Tour to the ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer on April 8th.
The show, which Bamford is co-headlining with American country artist Joe Nichols, will be the Lacombe-raised musician’s first concert in Central Alberta since moving to Nashville in August of last year.
“It’s exciting, you know? Obviously, growing up in Lacombe, it’s going to be great coming back home. I’ve been looking forward to it since it got booked,” said the 39-year-old about the show.
Next Friday’s tour stop won’t be Bamford’s first performance at the Centrium, he opened there for Brooks and Dunn back in 2009, but it will be the first time he has been a headliner at the Westerner.
And if that wasn’t enough, making things more exciting for the 2015 CCMA Male Artist of the Year is the fact that hisnewest album, Tin Roof, drops the same day as the show in Red Deer.
“It’ll definitely be a great atmosphere and a great way to kick off this new record and celebrate it.”
The record, his seventh, is Bamford’s first album of original music since 2013’s Country Junkie.
“The album’s a little bit different,” he said, adding that the new music has a fresher sound than on previous albums, thanks to new producer Phil O’Donnell (Craig Morgan, Justin McBride, High Valley).
His past six records were produced by close friend Byron Hill (The Boom Chucka Boys, Hey Romeo).
“I’m kind of excited about it. It’s got a different set of ears on it. It covers all sorts of different topics. There’s lots of great country stuff as well as some more of that mainstream radio stuff that’s happening right now,” said Bamford, adding that working with a new producer has been enlightening.
“It was really tough because I’ve been so lucky to have so much success with Byron and myself doing all our records. Some may think it was crazy to make the change, but at the same time having a new set of ears and a different vision on what therecord should sound like is always a good thing. Change is never a bad thing.
“I believe I might have just made the best record of my career.”
One unique thing about Tin Roof is its length. The album features 15 new songs.
“It’s a different thought process nowadays with everybody doing EPs and no more than five or six songs with iTunes. But I have such a great fan base of people who buy my records I just wanted to give them value for it.”
According to Bamford, they orignally cut around 25 tracks before cutting it down to just 15.
“It was tough to narrow it down to 15, so I’m excited to get it out there.”
Two advance singles from the new record — Don’t Let Her Be Gone and Heard You in a Song — have already become hits on country radio around Canada.
In fact, Heard You in a Song reached number one on the Canadian country air play chart just last week while Don’t Let HerBe Gone went all the way to number one in Canada and peaked at number two on Billboard’s Hot Country list in the U.S.
“Just couldn’t get past that Thomas Rhett single,” Bamford laughed, adding he’s been extremely happy with how the two songs have done.
“As far as radio and singles go, the album’s off to a great start and I think we’re going to release quite a few singles off this album. Some of my favourite songs I’ve ever been a part of are on this record.”
Born in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia in 1976, Bamford moved to Lacombe with his mother when he was five-years-old.
“I went to school in Lacombe, Kindergarten through Grade 12 and in the early ’90s Garth Brooks was the biggest deal going and that’s kind of what got me into country music,” Bamford remembered, adding in high school he used to play in the auditorium with one of his friends at lunch time.
Now he’s playing the Centrium, one of the largest venues in Central Alberta, and that’s something that he said is pretty special.
“The Big Valley Jamboree, the Red Deer Centriums, the Rexall Places, I mean I practically grew up down the road. You watch concerts, you watch hockey games, I’ve played hockey games in those places. You always have goals and dreams and definitely being able to stand on stage and play music in those places as a headliner in front of people who listen to yourmusic and enjoy your music. It’s something that feels really good and rewarding.”
And Bamford won’t be alone on this tour either. The billet also features MacKenzie Porter and the Washboard Union as opening acts and, of course, co-headliner Nichols.
“It’s going to be a great country show. Joe’s roots are very deeply planted in country music, as well as mine,” he said,adding touring as a co-headliner is quite a bit different than touring as an opening act.
“I think the fact that being able to be a headliner and a co-headliner makes it easier to do a lot more of what you typicallydo in your own show, have a little bit more freedom on stage and be able to design a show the way you really want it for your fans.”
Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.