July 23, 1997


Boys On the Bus
by Lisa Wilton - Calgary Sun


They've sold loads of records, been critically praised from shore to mighty shore and are one of Canada's most beloved bands.  

But what makes Blue Rodeo really smile?  

A nice tour bus, of course.

  "The bus we used was (terrible)," recalls the Toronto-based band's singer-guitarist Jim Cuddy.  

"We swore we'd never use a bus again because the first one was so awful."

  In fact, the country-flavored sextet -- who play the Calgary Folk Music Festival Sunday at Prince's Island Park -- didn't use another bus for nearly three years after their first experience.  

"We'd have opening bands showing up in their buses while we'd be driving a 12-seater van."  

But a few years and a few less scary tour buses later, Blue Rodeo have overcome their fear and are gearing up to hit the road again in their home away from home to promote their recently released seventh CD, Tremolo.  

"I don't think people can imagine how much time bands spend together," says Cuddy about the strains of touring.  

"Imagine going on a six-month car trip with your family.... It's just spending unnatural amounts of time together."  

He adds with a laugh: "And then doing it all over again."  

But Cuddy says the band -- which is rounded out by singer-guitarist Greg Keelor, bassist Bazil Donovan, keyboardist James Gray, drummer Glenn Milchem and Kim Deschamps on lap and pedal-steel guitars -- still loves touring as much as they ever have in their 12-year career.  

"We enjoy being together and we certainly enjoy playing together. When we have a good show ... it certainly renews the interest."  

Tremolo -- with its trademark Blue Rodeo twang mixed with some brasher rock riffs -- has arguably some of the best recorded material by a band some have described as one of the defining groups in Canadian music.  

"How do you define Canadian music?" asks Cuddy.  

"We can add whatever we want to our music without thinking we're breaking any holy law.  

"Canadian music ... has an ironic twist that I don't think many American bands have."  

Although Blue Rodeo's first proper tour for the album doesn't start until September, the band is polishing up its live show with a few folk and summer festivals around the country.  

He says the Calgary folk festival crowd can expect a lot of new songs and a few surprises.  

"It depends on the weather," says Cuddy.  

"That's the beautiful thing about outdoor folk festivals -- they're sort of controlled by the weather."