November 22, 1995

MEDIA

Pot Set the Mood for Blue Rodeo
by Tom Harrison - Southam Newpapers

MEDIA

Languid and spacey, exploratory and dreamy, Blue Rodeo's Nowhere to Here prompts a question that, a few years ago, would have been an instant interview ender:

How much pot were you guys smoking when you made that record?

Although more and more musicians are candid about their use of various drugs, usually marijuana, it's still a touchy question. In the case of Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor, however, it wasn't necessary to pose it.

``I was doing a lot of dope,'' he confesses without being grilled

``Before we started recording, we had this killer sativa pot. We were drooling for a few days. Then I just quit.''

Nonetheless, the mood had been set. Nowhere to Here extends Blue Rodeo's string of fine, quietly idiosyncratic albums but it isn't the album that was expected. It isn't even the album the band expected.

As the follow-up to the amazingly popular Five Days in July, an album recorded at Keelor's farm, where the band's folk and country roots asserted themselves, it was slated to be a return to rock.

Instead, it is an album characterized by introspection, colored primarily by such keystone Keelor songs as Save Myself, Flaming Bed or Side of the Road and supported by the sympathetic playing of fellow writer Jim Cuddy, steel guitarist Kim Deschamps, bassist Bazil Donovan, keyboardist James Gray and drummer Glenn Milchem.

``Definitely,'' Keelor agrees. ``Even the playing, the collective playing, is introspective. It's a record that invites you to get inside it. I like that.''

If Five Days in July was the first album to bring new additions Gray and Deschamps into the fold, Nowhere to Here is the first to indicate the intuition and range of the current lineup. From start to finish, the album aims to create a total identity and complete experience.

``I think that we're trying to do that, although it's difficult at times because we're a six-headed monster,'' says Keelor. ``Yet this group has become special in that we connect somehow. I think it clicked while we were in Australia.

``On that tour, we started playing tons of music -- not just at the shows but at soundchecks and in our hotel rooms and on the bus.

``On this album we continued to do that. It's nice -- people playing music in a vulnerable, emotional way. You realize it isn't playing parts any more and you want to capture that.'' Which Nowhere to Here does.

Although it is Keelor's songs that dominate the record, Jim Cuddy comes through with some of the album's more upbeat, optimistic tunes. These offset the tone of doomed love and ruminations on death that Keelor admits have become a preoccupation lately. That the LP doesn't reflect a split personality the latter attributes to the others in the band.

``It comes down to the collective of the band,'' he believes. ``It works on a nonverbal level. It becomes telepathic.'' The Vancouver Province.