Gord Bamford joins the Wolfe pack

5a56674388af2300013aea8a_Neon-Smoke_Square_v3.jpgAustralian-born Canadian country music artist Gord Bamford is back in Australia and joining the Wolfe Brothers and Jody Direen on the Wolfes’ Country Heart tour, in support of his latest album, Neon Smoke. Bamford has won more Canadian Country Music Awards than Shania Twain, and his fan base in Australia grows with each visit. I spoke to him not long before he kicked off his latest visit to Australia at the Deniliquin Ute Muster.

You’re coming to Australia for the Deni Ute Muster and then you’re going on tour, and you taking the Wolfe Brothers with you and Jody Direen. This is obviously now a long association with the Wolfes – what are they like as touring buddies?

Oh, they’re great.  They’re just very positive guys and just great people to hang around. Obviously we know how talented they are, so I just feel really lucky to be able to kind of ride on their backs and into their fan base and be with them. Lee [Kernaghan] has been really good to me, and we’re going to try and get the Wolfe Brothers over to Canada too, to return the favour. That’s the thing, you just never know what’s going to happen.  We’re not genies in a bottle, but if we can put each other in front of a fan base, give each other an opportunity to play our music, and you just never know, it’s been really good for me in Australia.

I know you brought your own band last time, but when you come out this time, are the Wolfes going to act as your band or will have your band with you?

I’m actually bringing my band again this time. [Manager] Steve [White] has been looking around, this will be the last time I do bring my band.  I feel it’s important to use musicians that are Aussies, so we’re going to hire our own band in Australia, because I’m going to be coming back there a lot and I really want to dedicate my time in that market. And obviously I was born there, and have a lot of family there, and I want my family to come over and experience it some more.  But this time, our band is coming from Canada and it will be great, it will be fun.

For you, this is turning out very much like you’re running dual careers almost.  It’s the same career but you know what I mean, you’ve got a fan base here, fan base in Canada and you’re straddling both.

Yes, for sure. I’ve enjoyed a pile of success here in Canada, it’s been great for me and my family, and I’m starting over in Australia. You’ve got to be willing to do that, you’ve got to be willing to come down at the bottom and earn your stripes so to say, and battle your way to the top, and try and bring people to music, and I’m enjoying it.  I’m really enjoying it, I’m really thankful to the fans in Australia with the embrace that they’ve given me so far, and I’m really here to pursue it and be a part of the country that I was born in and have a chance to spend some time there.  It’s just interesting how life works and how it all comes back eventually. My dad and I have rekindled our relationship.  It’s been good.

Does he come to see you play?

Yes, we’ve got to try and keep him away, he wants to come to everything.

I imagine he’s very proud of you.  It’s an extraordinary thing to have your son be a touring musical artist.

I think so, but when you don’t have a relationship with your father for twenty-something-odd years or more than that – I think you only have one dad, so whether you bury the hatchets and enjoy getting to know him again, it’s just been good.  It’s good for everybody, so it’s been wonderful to have him around, he’s proud.

As you are touring quite a bit with the Wolfes, and this will continue, are there any recording collaborations in the works?

I’m hoping so.  I think Lee Kernaghan is maybe interested too, so that will be up to him.  He’s the king there, so that would be wonderful if we could, and it would be fun to do something like that, so I think it kind of makes sense.

You might as well take advantage of being in the same spot.

Absolutely. I’m going to get to spend quite a bit of time in Tassie here this time, while I’m down, which will be nice.  I really enjoy it there, and I hope to get some songwriting in.

You also have Jody Direen on the bill for this tour, and I know that you would have played with her in the Wolfe Brothers tour, probably two years ago now when there were a whole lot of acts on.  So, obviously you liked her enough from that to pick her for this tour.

I think Steve White put it together, so it wasn’t really up to me, but if it was up to me, she would be a no-brainer. She was a wonderful person and a world-class singer, I thought, just a great entertainer and really had her business together, she’s a really good business lady and that’s really neat for me, because I really loved the entrepreneur side of what I did, and my business side of stuff, so I was really intrigued by that with her. I’m already looking forward to having her around a lot.

Has it always been the case that you’ve been interested in the business?

Yes – not by design, it’s the way it had to go, I own all my companies and I have a deal with Sony here in Canada and I own the record, and I have my management in Australia, so we run our own businesses and we own everything 100 per cent and I don’t think that’s the way everybody does it but it’s definitely the best way to go if it works out for you. It’s very, very similar to what Lee’s done in Australia, we’re almost like twins when it comes to how we run our businesses and what we do is kind of surreal, and he and I have even talked about it.

For so long artists didn’t own the recordings and they often didn’t own the songs, and I think when you are creating something and you’re the one who is going up there to deliver it to fans, it must be hugely important to have that sense of ownership over the whole chain of it.

A hundred per cent, I think it really teaches you about the business too … I think it’s important to understand what’s happening on the day-to-day of your business as well, and there’s only one way to be really good at that, and that’s to roll your sleeves up and be a part of it.

Well, you certainly do roll your sleeves up, because you tour a lot, particularly out here, so I’ll go back to talking about that tour with Jody and the Wolfes and I’m wondering how the line-up will work.  Will you do one set each, will you be all on stage together at any point?

Well, definitely the Wolfe Brothers will be closing the show and they should be, so I’m going to have my band, we’ll be doing a set, and our bands are actually going to be backing up Jody as well. She’ll be coming out doing stuff with the band and I believe we will do something at the end together and I really want to put something together. It’s going to be a great night of music and collaboration.

And apart from the trip to Tassie, are you going to take any other time off while you’re here?

We’ve got a 50-day tour around Canada, so I’ve got two days home in Canada, and we’re out until Christmas time, so not a lot of extra time this time, but I believe I’m coming back to Tamworth and all that, and I think we’re back again in May and my family is coming and we’re going to spend five or six weeks there the next time.

My mind is boggling at the logistics of all of this, so trying to organise yourself, the band, your time, all that kind of stuff. 

You have to have an amazing wife at home to take care of your kids and everything while you’re gone. I’ve got one of them, so I’m lucky.

I presume she’s a country music fan, but or does she like other types of music?

I wasn’t really who I was when I met her, so it really had nothing to do with that … but she’s a fan of country music, and we’ve got three kids at home that are 14, 11, and 8, so she’s busy raising them, and as I said, in May, it sounds like we’re heading back for probably a month and a half, and the kids and my wife will be able to come with us, so they’re all excited about that.

Back to what you mentioned earlier about taking the Wolfes to Canada with you – what are you thinking you’d most like to show them about Canada?

I think probably not just the minus-40 weather. I’d like to try get them over here when it’s a little bit warmer. But I think I’m just excited for the fans in Canada to see how good these guys are, and it’s pretty neat to have an Aussie band over in Canada and perform. And the fans here are very similar to the Aussies.  I think the Aussies maybe a little bit rowdier at times, but they’re very similar. I think it’s going to be a great trip.

Are there any provinces in Canada that are more keen on country music than others?

No, it’s pretty wide. Quebec isn’t so much country but Alberta is a hot bed, Ontario ad BC, they’re hot beds for country music. Manitoba. Country music is a big deal here in Canada; it’s as strong as it’s ever been, really.

Because you have been so successful, and you’ve been touring for a while, releasing albums for a while, do you feel like you have a lot of peers, I guess is the word I’m looking for. Are there a lot of other artists who are doing what you’re doing?

For sure. We just had our country music awards two nights ago, so I just got back yesterday and there were 16 000 people at these awards. They’re big and there are lots of up-and-coming artists that are doing well here, and I say this all the time, it’s very similar, they’re very similar: you’ve got Lee, who is strong, and the Wolfes doing their thing and you’ve got Travis Collins, and then there’s a lot of great young acts that are coming up and playing great music. That’s the curious thing about music, anywhere in the world, if you’re a country music fan, you can usually find it.

Yes, and I think also a commonality between the two countries is the wide open spaces which tend to inspire a lot of country songwriters, and the distances required to travel from one place to the other. 

Yes, we love the Aussies here, they love the Aussies, and I found that any Canadians that come over, it’s very, they’re very hospitable. I tell them I’m born in Australia and I am a Canadian. Some people think I’ve got an American accent, but I’m Canadian. I’m an Aussie/Canadian. There’s a great synergy between the two countries and lots of similarities and I think it’s going to be great to have the boys over here in Alberta and show them around some of the ski resorts where there’s a ton of Aussies working. It should be good.

Gord Bamford on tour:

Wednesday 3rd October 2018
Devonport Town Hall Theatre, DEVONPORT TAS
www.decc.net.au | (03) 6420 2900
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

Thursday 4th October 2018
Burnie Town Hall, BURNIE TAS
www.burniearts.net | (03) 6430 5850
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

Friday 5th October 2018
Hotel Tasmania, LAUNCESTON TAS
www.oztix.com.au | (03) 6331 7355
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

Saturday 6th October 2018
Wrest Point Entertainment Centre, HOBART TAS
www.ticketmaster.com.au | 1300 795 257
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

Thursday 11th October 2018
Dubbo Regional Theatre, DUBBO NSW
www.drtcc.com.au | (02) 6801 4378
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

Friday 12th October 2018
Bathurst Entertainment Centre, BATHURST NSW
www.bmec.com.au | (02) 6333 6161
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

Saturday 13th October 2018
Rooty Hill RSL, ROOTY HILL NSW
www.rootyhillrsl.com.au | (02) 9677 4916
w/ The Wolfe Brothers & Jody Direen

 

Gord will also be attending the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2019.

Wednesday 23rd January 2019
The Albert Hotel, TAMWORTH NSW
www.oztix.com.au
w/ The Wolfe Brothers

Thursday 24th January 2019
Tamworth Entertainment Centre, TAMWORTH NSW
www.trecc.com.au | (02) 6766 2028
w/ Lee Kernaghan

www.gordbamford.com

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