He’s played big fairs and festivals, packed arenas and toured with some of the biggest names in country music, but Platinum-selling Canadian country music artist Gord Bamford is looking forward to his latest tour of dive bars, honky-tonks, and at least one smaller-town theatre.
Bamford is about to depart on a pair of tours, the first taking him across Australia and the second to smaller venues across Canada. The Honky Tonks and Dive Bar Tour kicks off in Calgary on October 17 and visits seven provinces, stopping in cities big and small.
Some tour dates are already sold out.
The tour has one, lone stop in Saskatchewan, at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on November 7.
“It’s a grassroots show to go back to where we began and hit some smaller towns,” Bamford explained during a phone interview Wednesday.
“We’re playing honky-tonks and dive bars across Canada, and popping into some smaller theatres. We’ll be bringing that show and running video and all sorts of stuff.”
The show is selling well, including in Prince Albert, where two of Bamford’s band members are originally from.
“We’ve got a couple of P.A. guys in the band. They’re excited to get home,” Bamford said.
“Chad Melchert plays drums for me and Robin Pelletier plays guitar. They’re originally from Prince Albert, so it’s good for them too.”
Bamford has been planning this tour for a while. It fits well with his latest single, Dive Bar, which just hit number one on the Billboard chart for country radio airtime in Canada.
“That’s a huge feat for me,” Bamford said.
“We planned these small-town honky-tonk dive bar things. That’s where we started, that’s what I am.”
While the Rawlinson Centre is neither a dive bar nor a honky-tonk, it does have that same, intimate feel, Bamford said. Only so many people can fit inside the theatre for the show, and the artist is able to come up and get really close to the audience.
“It’s definitely a little bit more up close and personal, a little more intimate,” he said.
“It’s just going to be a honky-tonk party for the most part. We’re not going to really change it because we’re in a theatre. The show is set up that way and I think the theatre will be rocking in P.A. that night.”
One reason this tour is selling so well, Bamford said, is because it isn’t that common for a big-time band like his to play the smaller venues.
“People think it’s a cool thing to see artists of our calibre, what we’ve done with the band and the success we’ve been lucky to have come and play a honky-tonk. It doesn’t happen anymore. This tour seems to be something everybody is really excited to do, and it’s going to be a great way to cap off a great year for us.”
In addition to Dive Bar hitting number one, their first single, Neon Smoke, is number one on the CMC charts in Australia, where Bamford was born and lived until he was five.
Dive Bar is his second number one hit. When Your Lips Are So Close made it to number one in 2013, earning a gold digital single certification along the way. In his career, Bamford has been nominated for several Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Juno awards, winning CCMA categories 16 times. Active since 2000, Bamford has an extensive catalogue to choose from, and said he will be bringing newer and older music with him to the Rawlinson Centre.
“I’m a fan of music, so I don’t like going to shows playing stuff that people haven’t heard,” he said.
“We’ve been fortunate to have many, many songs on the radio that have done well, so the whole set is full of hits, full of songs everyone is familiar with. No surprises. Old and new, it’ll be all radio stuff.”
Tickets for the Nov. 7 Prince Albert show are still available online and at the E.A. Rawlinson box office, or by calling 306-765-1270.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everybody,” Bamford said.
“Grab your tickets. See you guys soon.”