July 24, 1998
Blue Rodeo Appreciates Loyal Calgary Audience

by Ryan DeGama - Calgary Sun
Media

The Band. Gram Parsons. The Tragically Hip. Big Star

What do these artists have in common?

They all have creative canons equal to tomorrow afternoon's Calgary Folk Music Festival headliner, Blue Rodeo, and yet seemingly a much more significant place in music history.

In fact, if you're living in America it's still possible to see Blue Rodeo in a tiny club in front of a microscopic audience.

At the back end of their last tour, the group played to an insulting 12 people in New Orleans.

But bassist Bazil Donovan says despite a decade long snub from the majority of American radio programmers and more surprisingly, the inability of their major critics to recognize the group's achievements, he feels lucky.

"It's frustrating but we're a lot luckier than most of the bands struggling from town to town because we do well at home. The whole No Depression (alternative country) scene is not taking America by storm," says Donovan. "Bands like Wilco make enough to keep going, but that's it."

Though they've failed to woo Uncle Sam, Blue Rodeo has continued to keep on keeping on.

Speculation that co-frontman Greg Keelor's 1997 solo album, Gone, would be the first step towards the dissolution of the group has proven unfounded.

"Prior to recording it, Greg had been bringing these songs to rehearsal back then saying: 'I want to do this trippy meditative stuff' and he thought the rest of the band was too hyper," says Donovan.

"To his credit he did something really out there."

The freedom to work outside of the group may have actually made Blue Rodeo more productive.

Already half a dozen tracks are in the can for their next record due out next year.

Jim Cuddy is releasing his first solo album, All in Time, on Sept. 8 , which he calls "a tip of the hat to Gram Parsons with a couple of really rocking tunes too."

And the band is listening through the 75 live shows they taped touring behind Tremolo last year, selecting tracks for a live album.

According to Donovan, their main stage set for tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. will feature the more obvious numbers from their back catalogue --which probably means a set list heavy on the dreaded 'B' word.

"There's many people who perceive the band as a ballad group," says Donovan. "A lot of people only hear us in dentists' offices or only know the song Try or Falling Down Blue.

"Anybody who has seen us play though, knows that isn't what we're about."