Bixby on his way to City later this month

Country music singer, Canadian Idol runner-up and CCMA Rising Star Nominee 2010 and 2011 Jaydee Bixby will be in Red Deer later this month.

All set with a full band and new album in November as well, Bixby performs at Cowboys on Nov. 30.

Following up on Cowboys and Cadillacs and Easy to Love, Bixby released his third CD Work in Progress this past summer.

Work in Progress was written with longtime guitarist D. Klinger and produced and engineered in Vancouver by John Webster and Bill Buckingham. In addition to classic country, the musicians incorporated the spirit and style of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. One of Bixby’s favourites is the Conway Twitty cover of It’s Only Make Believe.

“I love oldies – the sound and style. I don’t think there’s anything else like it. I love the simplicity of that kind of music,” he said. “It’s a story and a song, and I like that you get to hear every word I say when I sing.”

Bixby was the runner-up in fifth season of Canadian Idol in 2007 at age 17, during the same season as third-place contestant (and now global star) Carly Rae Jepsen.

It was a natural progression for Bixby as he’d grown up singing in a family band, The Bixbys. By age seven he performed at bars, weddings and rodeos around his hometown of Drumheller.

Today, at age 23, he still listens to classic country artists such as Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton. In recent years Bixby has felt a push to produce ‘pop’ country but he won’t budge from his roots. He is staying true to himself and to ‘real’ country music, and he always will, he says.

He and his band put on a high-energy show with a combination of country and rock originals (such as Bixby’s hits Old Fashioned Girl, Boy Inside the Man and Dream Bigger) and cover tunes of artists such as Buck Owens, George Jones, Hank Williams and more.

Local fans also had the chance to hear Bixby this past summer at Westerner Days.

Bixby, who lived in Red Deer during his high school years, said it’s largely audience reaction to particular songs that determines whether they make it on an album or not. How a new tune gels with the guys in the band also is an indicator of whether it’s ultimately recorded.

Also, family reaction is important.

Looking back on the Idol experience, he says it was a foundational step in his career.

From there, his life was a whirlwind of high-profile shows and media attention.

He’s never really stopped since.

He opened for icons like Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney and cracked the top 10 on the Canadian Albums Chart with his debut disc – the aforementioned Cowboys and Cadillacs in 2008.

He continued to mature as a performer and a composer, collaborating with songwriters in Nashville and releasing Easy to Love in 2010.

This was followed by extensive touring, which helped cement Bixby as one of Canada’s premiere country talents. He’s even launched his own record company as well.

But at the end of the day, it’s connecting with fans that make it complete.

“My career highlight has been going on the road,” he said. “Just a big old tour bus and my band. Whether we were playing a sold-out show in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or we were in the middle of the bald-headed Prairies in Manitoba, that was the happiest I could ever imagine myself.”

Certainly, there’s plenty of fun to be had on Work in Progress.

Drop the Tailgate is a stomping party number that highlights Bixby’s baritone and rustic yodels, while the acoustic guitar-driven Walk You Home captures the youthful excitement of new love and was inspired by the innocence of the Beatles’ hit I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

The CD even includes an old-time country duet Hate to Love You which is sure to please traditionalists.

“I’ve gotten to do some pretty phenomenal shows,” he adds. “I’ve gotten to do the shows that I’ve always dreamed of doing. Now, it isn’t a competition and I’ve got nothing to prove – I just want to play music.”

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