Country duo High Valley performs in Red Deer just days before the release of their major label CD debut – Dear Life.
The brothers (Curtis and Brad Rempel) play the Memorial Centre on Nov. 10th.
The highly anticipated project features the Top-15 Canadian country radio hit Every Week’s Got A Friday – they also performed the track at the recent Canadian Country Music Association Awards where they accepted the award for Group or Duo of the Year for the second consecutive year.
“There’s some stuff on it that is more pop, and there is some stuff that is more bluegrass,” explains Brad during a recent chat. He and his brother originally hail from the tiny community of La Crete in northern Alberta.
“But it’s all centered around that ‘old school country sound meets with brand new production’.”
The disc was produced by Seth Mosely – the ideal fellow to craft the tunes to a kind of polished perfection without losing that distinctive raw edge.
“The first time I met Seth, he was in a pop/rock band and he was about 25 years old. We became friends, and when (High Valley) was completely independent, he said, ‘I’m producing some country stuff’, and we needed someone on the County Line record. So we recorded everything in his house!”
Meanwhile, High Valley is catching the attention of the critics in the U.S. too, already having been named ‘Artist To Watch’ by Taste of Country, CMT, Spotify and garnering the ‘Country Song of the Summer’ title by Billboard.
Currently based in Nashville, the guys grew up on a 1,400-acre farm with music, farming and family as the basis of their entertainment. Indeed – the Rempel’s musical language was formed at a very young age.
When they started out, the guys booked gigs anywhere they could, playing cover songs to audiences of about 100 to 200 people.
As to the current swing up to their native land, “It feels like we are coming home,” says Brad of the short tour which also touches down in Calgary and Edmonton. “Where we are from is so far north in Alberta, we just consider all of Alberta home,” he added with a laugh. “Anytime we get up there, it’s all good. It feels like a homecoming anytime we get anywhere in the province.”
The guys also grew up in a musical home, so following a path in the industry seemed the natural course to take.
There was always lots of singing in the family, at church and at any number of community events over the years. But it was back in 2007 that the guys decided to pursue it professionally.
Brad quit his day job, Curtis packed up his high school materials to take on the road and they pretty much never looked back. Their debut Broken Borders was named Album of the Year at the 2007 GMA Canada Covenant Awards, while the song Back to You was awarded Country Song of the Year. They met with almost instant success.
Their second album, High Valley, was released in Canada and the United States in 2010.
In 2011 the band won five GMA Canada Covenant Awards, including Artist of the Year and Group of the Year.
“It’s not that we weren’t allowed to have a radio,” explains Brad of their early days. “We had radios, but you turned them on and heard a lot of static from an AM station 300 miles away.
“When it was cold enough you could hear the farm report, the price of grain and the occasional old school country song. We finally got FM in our town when I was in 10th grade,” he said.
“That’s why the record was called Dear Life,” he added. “Because that song for me was like trying to write a journal entry to my life and say, ‘I really have loved every mile of this road.’
Looking forward, they are hitting the road with Martina McBride this fall, and they’ve already wrapped a trek overseas and are gearing up for another set of dates across the pond as well.
It can seem like a bit of a whirlwind, but the guys are careful to take it all in stride. And there is that undeniable sense of gratitude there as well. Tunes on the new disc like I Ain’t Changin’ mirror those sensibilities.
“That was a very important song for me because of our upbringing,” said Brad. “The chorus is like, ‘I ain’t changing the way I talk, I ain’t changing the way I pray, I ain’t changing my last name.’
“I remember coming to Nashville six years ago and thinking about 100 different things that would blow my mind – and they’re all happening. I don’t want to wake up one day and say, ‘Wow, I’m completely different than what I was’.”
As to the new project’s title, he recalls his wife telling him one day about how their kids were getting older so fast, and about how they were kind of, ‘Hanging on for dear life’.
“I kind of paused and thought that Dear Life could be a song title.” The tune was later penned at the beach during a family vacation.
“We wanted to write the song not just about hanging on for dear life, which is very true right now, but also as a letter to life. ‘Dear life, here is what I’m worried about right now, here’s what I’m thinking about, here’s what I’m thankful for’.
“If you listen to the whole project, there is a lot of nostalgia there. A lot of hopefulness, a lot of dreaming. A lot of thinking – and that’s why we wanted to call it Dear Life. We feel like the whole thing is kind of a big diary – a kind of journal entry.”
For ticket information, visit www.blackknightinn.ca.