The week is coming to an end here at Rockridge Canyon. Over the past 3 nights we saw all of the Top 12 artists perform a 20 minute set. All of the artists here are so different – I feel like all segments of country music were represented well this week.
The first two nights of showcases we saw artists backed by the Project WILD house band. These guys are absolutely mind-blowing players. I performed on the first night of showcases. Andrea and I used the full house band for our set- Matty McKay, Darrek Anderson, Greg Peace, Spencer Cheyne and Darcy Phillips. I really wish that we could have played longer than 20 minutes, it was SO much fun playing with some of the best in western Canada. Also showcasing on the first night were Brad Saunders, Dustin Farr and Tanya Ryan. Everybody performed so well. I got to know Dustin a little bit as we were paired up as co-writers, and his performance really connected with me. I love the old-school Waylon Jennings vibe that he showed on a couple of songs.
Night 2 I got to sit back and listen without worrying about performing. The featured artists were Ryan Langlois, Mikaila Cooper, Karac Hendriks and Charlie James Band. The performances were all fantastic and unique. I was very drawn to Karac’s performance as a fellow lead player/band leader, it was interesting to see how he made that work. After showcases, everybody retreated to their studios to record for the rest of the night. Dustin and I had already tracked everything on our song at this point so we had a chance to wander around and see what everybody else was up too. I managed to squeak my way on to both Lucette and Karac’s track on guitar. Sometime into the wee hours of the morning I ended up watching a Matty McKay/Russell Broom “solo-off” in Spencer’s studio. I navigated my way to the front of the crowd to get a good view of Russell’s fingers, and hopefully learn a new trick or two. After the smoke coming off of Russ’s fingers had cleared, I somehow found myself with his beautiful 50’s Esquire in my hands. I was a little bit nervous to follow two players of that caliber, but I’m pretty confident that my solo started and ended in the same key. In my sleep deprived state, I scored it as a success.
Night 3 was the last night of showcases, and the first night of showcases without the house band. For me, it was time to take off my artist hat and put on my sideman hat to showcase with Lucette. We had an excellent set, and Connor looked incredibly cool in his shades. I am so pleased that I am able to participate in Project WILD as one of the top 12, but also as a side-person. Also showcasing on the final night were Andrea Nixon, Mark Times and Nice Horse. It was great to see a few familiar Edmontonians up on stage.
The boot camp is almost over and I think we are all tired and ready to sleep for a whole day when we return home. This experience has been so incredible and I have learned so much. I realize after this week that I have a ton of work to do when I get home, and I can’t wait to get started on it… on Friday.