Well, CCMA week is over, but I have opted to continue this week with covering some other Canadian artists. I promise American friends, I will get back to some awesome talent from other parts. This week will not have a “Riser Friday”. In fact it will be “Riser Tuesday AND Friday”. I have been very fortunate to have had a great response to the blog, with readers and artists alike. So, it may very well continue with 2 artists a week! If you have any suggestions for artists that you would like to see on here, let me know and I will touch base with them to see what we can put together.
In some exciting blog news, I am working on some t-shirt designs for Red, White and Country! My wonderful and talented friend, Teena Lee, is helping me work out some of the graphic work. She is actually the creator of the new banner you see on here! I will have some shirts for sale here in Winnipeg and I also have a Café Press site set up so that those of you who aren’t in my home-town can still wear them. The site will have hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles and other really great merchandise for sale all with the Red, White and Country designs on them! As soon as it is ready to go, I will let you all know! I am so excited for you guys to see them!
On to the news…
I am not doing 3 pieces today. I thought in light of the fact that the CCMA’s are over for another year, that I would recap the winners for you! If you didn’t watch it, some of the highlights were: Tim Hick’s killing it, Thomas Rhett singing as sweet as can be, Florida Georgia Line tearing it up, and Johnny Reid…well…being Johnny Reid…AMAZING! Jessi Cruikshank was fantastic as a hostess! I actually laughed out loud at most of her stuff last night. Kudos to her on a job well done! So, here are you CCMA 2015 Artist Award Winners (courtesy of www.ccma.org):
FANS’ CHOICE AWARD
FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR
GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Where A Farm Used To Be – Gord Bamford
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Upside Down – Dean Brody
SONGWRITER(S) OF THE YEAR
Where A Farm Used To Be
(Written By: Gord Bamford, Buddy Owens, Phil O’Donnell, Performed By: Gord Bamford)
ROOTS ARTIST OF THE YEAR
INTERACTIVE ARTIST OR GROUP OF THE YEAR
CCMA DISCOVERY AWARD
For a complete list of the winners, please see the CCMA website.
Yes. Jeans are a wardrobe staple. But there is one style in particular that warrants a discussion all on their own – bootcut jeans. The story of the bootcut jean is an interesting one. It was inspired by the pants worn by sailors in the 1850’s. They were designed for them to be able to wear their boots with no problem. They became used by ranchers and cowboys because they were comfortable but afforded them the ankle room they required for their boots. In the 1940’s, jean manufacturers started bringing in cowboys as consultants for creating the famous style. If anyone knew what went in to creating the ideal pair of jeans, it was them. In 1941, Lee Jeans enlisted Sally Rand (wife of a famous rodeo star) to help improve the fit if their jeans. She restructured the pant to have a tighter fit with a slight flare at the bottom to fit her husband’s boots, thus creating the “bootcut jean”.
The pant leg openings expanded through the 1960’s and 1970’s to a bell bottom. However, this style only lasted until the 1980’s, when the boot cut style made a resurgence. The style, which is still extremely popular today, now comes in a variety of washes and denims. From the standard to jeweled, from a low-rise (below the navel) to a regular rise (at the natural waist) which is the standard. They are available in all price points, making them accessible to everyone. Here are a couple of then and now photos of the beloved bootcut:
There is something about being from the Prairies that makes you a little different from people in other areas of the country. Admittedly, Canadians in general are known for being extremely polite and each area has something that they are known for. I would have to say, having travelled from coast-to-coast of our magnificent homeland, that Prairie folk are not only friendly, but they are very open. Most of us will tell you our life stories if you want to know it over a cup of coffee and without much coaxing. Codie Prevost is no different. I’ve been very lucky thus far to have gotten to speak to many wonderful and wonderfully talented people and Codie most certainly fits in to both of these categories. Of course, I sort of knew what to expect. His reputation had preceded him. When I had mentioned to other artists that I was going to have the opportunity to talk with this Saskatchewan native, I was told (on more than one occasion, I might add) “Oh! He is such a nice guy! Just wait!” Honestly…I couldn’t agree more.
From the get-go, it was plain to see that Codie had come from a small town. Although he has had the opportunity to open for names such as Florida Georgia Line, Big & Rich and Joe Nichols, Codie comes across as relaxed and easy to talk to. He is so down-to-earth that I honestly felt more like I was having coffee with a good friend from town rather than an award nominated and award-winning country artist. Being from a smaller town myself, I asked Codie to describe his hometown of Archerwill to me. “It’s a small town in Saskatchewan. It’s basically about 300 people. It’s your typical small town; there’s a bar, which actually, my mom owns the bar, then there’s a post office, a Co-op gas station, a Co-op grocery store and a Co-op farm supply store and that’s what basically makes up a small town. It’s such a great place to grow up. Everybody is so friendly and the slogan for the town is “Where you’re only a stranger once”. I definitely believe there’s some truth to that.” Having had my own experiences in rural Saskatchewan (Strasbourg, to be exact), I spoke to him about being able to walk down the middle of main street at 6 in the evening. Codie laughed, “Oh yeah! You can do that in Archerwill for the most part. It’s a pretty quiet town, in the evenings especially.”
Growing up on a farm, you’d think that it would be instinctual for Codie to gravitate toward country music. He learned how to play the guitar from his Mom and Uncle – and this WAS country. But in a turn of events, his first band was actually a punk band. I was curious to discover why Codie made his way back to country. “I had a close uncle of mine pass away suddenly and he loved country,” Codie started. “He always played guitar. He lived in Calgary but whenever he’d come down, he’d bring his acoustic guitar and I just remember being at family functions and he’d pull out the guitar and it was just awesome having live music at those events. So when he passed away, I was performing in the punk rock band in high school and my family and I were getting ready to travel to Calgary to attend his funeral. I went in to a guitar store there; I had saved up some money from working on road construction the summer before so I had about $1100 saved up and I was really hoping to buy an electric guitar on that trip for the rock band because things were starting up. We were starting to play more and more. But something happened when I went in the music store. It was my Dad who actually talked me in to going in to the acoustic room. I picked up this Takamine which is a brand of acoustic guitar. I did one strum and I just knew that I had to buy that acoustic guitar. So that day I bought it and after the funeral, I came home and learned “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny cash and ever since, [I’ve] been playing country music. I mean, it kinda makes sense as to where I came from. I grew up on a farm my whole life. And so when we’re working on tractors and on the farm, there’s always a country music radio station playing. It’s definitely where my roots are so to get back to that was definitely a great thing.” Codie continued, “I guess that’s one thing I’ve always said. People ask me why I do music and I say, ‘Back when I was 14, I watched my Mom and my Uncle play at family reunions. There is nothing like the smile it could bring to people’s faces with just a guitar and a voice.’ When I was 14, that’s why I picked it up and started teaching myself to play and still to this day that’s why I do it. You know, there is no better feeling than being at a concert and somebody in the crowd is laughing at a song you’ve written or laughing at a joke you’re telling, or maybe feeling emotional toward a song that is a little more personal and just connecting with an audience on that level. That for me is where the reward is in music.”
These rewards have not been without sacrifice. Artists in larger cities have things more accessible to them; like more places to play and more people to hear them play. Coming from a small town presents its own set of challenges when trying to start a music career. Codie is no exception to that rule. “I think anything you want to do in life, if you want to make it as far as you possibly can, you just got to look at it as it’s not going to be an easy road. The main thing to remember is that if you love to do it you can always find a way to make it happen. So when I was starting out, I was in high school and I graduated from high school and my Dad actually talked me in to going to college for a year. I really wanted to pursue music; I just wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. You know, growing up in Saskatchewan in a small town, not a lot of other people played music or wanted to pursue that as a career, I was kinda the one out of the bunch,” Codie laughed. “So I ended up going to college for a year. Through that year at college, I entered a talent contest and I ended up meeting this guy Al Leblanc. We started writing songs together because he was working in a recording studio in a small town in Saskatchewan with a guy named Rory who had become a quadriplegic. Rory was a musician himself and so what they did is they built him a recording studio that he could run just using his eyes as the mouse which was super incredible.” This was just the beginning of the relationship between Codie and Al. “So Al was helping him out at this studio and Al had been at the talent contest where I was performing. They were looking for artists with original material and I had been writing songs since I was about 16. So I had played a couple of my originals and ended up making it to the finals that night. Al came up after the show and said, ‘Man, I loved what you did. I’d love if you came down to the studio and we could write together and try to record a few things.’ So I went the studio a couple weeks later and [we] started working together. I did that maybe 2 times, 3 times a month where we’d get together and write songs. Eventually I just felt the need to ask him if he’d be interested in helping me book some shows and he said yes to that. Next thing I knew I was playing in small town bars for a hundred bucks a night. Nobody could really say no because they’d sell 5 beer and pay for the band.” Codie and I both laughed, mainly because we both knew this to be true of small town bars. “It didn’t take a lot to convince them to get me into perform. But it was great! I know it was only a hundred dollars but at the same time when you’re starting out you really need to get experience playing and just get in front of crowds. So every weekend I had 2-3 shows and it was non-stop. I was playing every night. I did this for about a year and I felt the need that I really want to record music now, I think that’s the next step in this music business and my music career.”
Codie continued his story, “I was taking vocal lessons in Saskatoon from a lady named Jessica Robinson and she had been recording down in Nashville with a guy named Steve Fox. I asked her, ‘Would you be interested in hooking me up with Steve? I’d love to work down in Nashville on my first album.’ Steve was in Saskatchewan writing with her and came out to a performance I was doing and said, “I’d love to work with you on your first album. Basically what he told me was I would need about $20-25,000 to be able to record this first album in Nashville. So there was the first mountain. I was like, well how am I going to get $25,000? What happened next is I put together a business plan and Al helped out with it and I went in and saw my local bank and surrounding banks. I just wasn’t having any luck. I was about 19 years-old at the time and really didn’t have any collateral to my name to put up to be able to get this $25,000. So I went to a small community near Archerwill, Tisdale, and met with a group called Community Futures. They fund rural business in rural Saskatchewan to keep it thriving. I sat down with the ladies there and they were impressed with the 5 year business plan that we had put together and they invited me back a week later with my guitar because they were having a board meeting. They said, ‘We can’t really make the decision here today. We need all the board here because we’ve never invested in something like this.’ So a week later I showed up with my guitar and sat down in the board meeting that day and played a couple of songs that were going to be on that album. It was a week after that I got a phone call that said that I was approved for my first small business loan which enabled me to travel to Nashville and record the first CD. So it’s kind of a long story but that is basically where it started.” I loved hearing this story from Codie. We talked about how sometimes we forget that there are things in place in our communities to help people get a start. He replied, “I got a Facebook message from another musician and he’s like, ‘Oh hey! I just wanted to let you know I got a small business loan through Community Futures for music.’ He was like, ‘I read what you did.’ And that is so cool for me to read, looking back on where it all started.”
The hard work and sacrifice has certainly paid off for Codie with huge dividends. He has been nominated for numerous awards (both SMCA and CCMA) and has been the recipient of several awards. Being as I have yet to win any awards for anything (scratch that, I was a finalist in a beauty pageant in 1999, but that is a whole other story); I wanted to know what it feels like to reach this level of success. So I asked Codie about the first time he was ever nominated. “It was for Rising Star at the Saskatchewan Country Music Awards. It was definitely one of those moments where the hairs on your arm stand up. You kinda know where everything started and that’s what’s so cool about coming from a small community and kinda going through a lot of hoops to get that flowing and doing a lot of that stuff. When something like that happens, there are no words for the amount of appreciation you have and the thankfulness to be nominated and up for an award like that. When that first happened, I’ll never forget it. It almost makes you want to do that much more stuff and further yourself that much more because you know you’ve made it to this milestone. Now you wanna get to that next point and that next milestone. Let’s just say it was incredible and it was something I will never forget. That was actually the first award I won and just knowing that my family was there and they supported me through all of that and just the people who are closest to me and my manager Al, you know everybody who was a part of it. It’s just so incredible when you have that many people to share something like that with.” That was his first one. So I followed up by asking does that feeling change as he is nominated more and more? Codie answered, “When a nomination comes in, I am blown away. I always think of it like ‘I’m just this guy from Archerwill! How did I get nominated for this?” I guess that is still in my mind – when you are just a small town kid and that’s who you grew up as. I remember being nominated for the CCMAs last years for album of the year. I was up against Dean Brody and Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks and all these country artists that have record labels behind them. I was sitting in the crowd, and again, it’s one of those moments when the hairs on your arms stand up. I am sitting there with Al (who I am still working with) and it’s just an incredible ride, and my wife and I look around and I’m like, ‘Man! This is incredible to be sitting here and just to be nominated in here with these people.’ You know, words can’t explain the feeling you get.”
Understanding that Codie is an award-winning artist and a seasoned performer, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any moments when he still gets a case of the nerves before performing. He told me of a recent experience where he did get some nerves, “Actually I just did one that I was pretty nervous for. There was a massive Children’s Hospital fundraiser in Saskatoon. They’re putting up a new children’s hospital which is incredible. They got Garth Brooks in and so basically I was the opening act for Garth Brooks, who was speaking and performing at this event. I have had Garth Brooks’ CD’s and music in my house since I was probably about 8 years-old and to just know that he is one of the best entertainers in the country music business in the world. Just being there and performing on that stage, I was nervous, like definitely, the first couple of songs I was really nervous and then I kinda got more comfortable after that. But you know, I think there’s something about being nervous that also keeps you on your best game at the same time.” I asked him if he got to meet the man himself, “I met him,” Codie said, “He’s just a great guy and down-to-earth.” Codie went on further to explain to me more about the Children’s hospital project. “They’re putting in a child fun zone in the Saskatchewan Children’s Hospital and it’s the first one in Canada. They have 11 of them in the U.S. already but the first one they are putting in Canada is going in Saskatoon. So it was amazing being a part of it.” His perspective has certainly changed over the last year, he admitted, “My wife and I had our first baby girl in November so that kind of changes a lot of things for me, you know. It just makes me more aware when things like that in the community are happening and how incredible it really is.”
His philanthropic ways do not stop at the Children’s Hospital. Codie is also helping out the North Battleford Humane Society by donating a “Cruisin’ with Codie” night, where auction winners will receive dinner with the singer, photo opportunities, some swag and a few songs. His friend Brock Andrews (who works with Fender) has come along for the ride to perform with Codie and Fender has donated a guitar to be auctioned off. “It turned in to this massive thing!” Codie said of the event.
Another cause that he is involved in is the “Imagine No Bullying” tour. It was started by his friend Stephen McGuire and they have been working with the Red Cross to spread awareness about bullying to different communities in the province. Stephen had invited Codie to be a part of it and it took off from there. Stephen started getting calls and messages from people, asking him to bring the event to their community. He then asked Codie if he would like to be a part of it. I asked Codie why the interest? He replied, “I grew up in a small town. Bullying is everywhere. I was bullied probably somewhere along the line. I think everybody sometime throughout their life has been bullied or they’re the bully. It’s about creating awareness and making a difference in all these communities.” They go in to the schools and put on a performance and they are joined by a representative from the Red Cross to give the facts. Codie firmly believes that this has made a difference.
After meeting the “business” side of Codie, I decided to check out his sense of humour. I asked him who he would pick to play him in a movie made about his life. Codie laughed, “That’s a good one! Who would I pick…” At first he seemed conflicted, but then replied, “Maybe Ben Affleck? I don’t know why that came to mind.” I suggested the reasons that maybe Ben Affleck would be a good choice – they are both talented, have a great sense of humour, are self-starters and both want to give back. That sealed the deal, “I’m going to go with that choice!” Naturally I moved on to my “finishing move” and asked what the last photo he took with his phone was. He answered with an obvious smile, “It was of my daughter. She just started walking. It was actually last night. She’s 9 months old. She can make it a good 20 yards then she loses balance. But she’s doing pretty good.” He was awesome enough to share that photo of Lyriq with me:
What’s up next for Codie? A lot of travelling! He will be heading to L.A. in October, as he is working on a new album to release in the beginning of next year. He’s also heading to Australia for the second time this year in November. Codie’s first tour there was in January of this year. He ended up signing with a record label and his visit will have him playing at some festivals there.
I am really looking forward to hearing more from this really nice guy who made me feel like a friend. I can’t wait for his new album to be released, but in the meantime here is “All Kinds Of Crazy” by Codie Prevost: