So busy that I wasn't really aware that I hadn't been on my blog in a while.
Below is the column I wrote about hanging out with Gord Bamford.
And Gord Said . . .Tales From Riverside Jam 2008-08-05
Gord Bamford had finished meeting his fans. It seemed like every person at Riverside Jam wanted to meet him. I was in the beer tent with Tami, waiting for my interview with Gord, watching Lorrie Morgan, trying hard to give her show the attention her talent deserves.
The line around the Y101 tent was growing short. I knew I had to get my bootie backstage if I still wanted to talk to Gord and his band. I told Tami I was going, gave the rest of my beer to a friend and went backstage, flashing my all-access pass at the security guard.
Just in time, Gord rose from the fan table and motioned for me to follow him. Yeah, Gord Bamford wanted me to follow him.
Wait? Where was Tami? The professed world’s-biggest-Gord-Bamford-fan was nowhere to be found!
I went in without her.
Hanging out with a major country star is different than I thought it would be. The first thing Gord asked is if I wanted a beer. Who am I to say no to a CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) nominee?
We sat at a classroom table as the rest of the band grabbed food and beverages and sat around the table as well, chatting about how the show went, how it sounded, what everyone thought of one another’s performances. I learned that having the right sound man on the boards is like having your own pitcher at the home run derby. I learned that this group of performers are just like the rest of us, and that they fit in just fine in Lanark County.
There’s Sue Levesque, the bass guitar player and the only female member of the band (girl power!). She told about one of their ‘wine drinking’ nights and naked fishing or something like that (that’s all I’m allowed to print). When I asked Gord if he would tell me the funniest thing that’s ever happened to him on the road, the whole group burst into laughter as they took turns telling a story of the night before, when steel guitarist Jeff Bradshaw almost lost his pants while trying to squeeze through a window of their locked cottage (Sue had the keys in her pocket and was miles away).
Gord and I talked about music. His die-hard favourites are Chris Ledoux, George Strait and Merle Haggard. The things he finds most surreal about his career are that more and more people keep buying his music and showing up at his concerts. “It’s surreal when you see a fan singing your words back to you,” he said.
I asked if he was proud of all the award nominations he’s received. “Sure, you can’t help but be proud, but I’m not in this for the awards or politics. I just really love the music and will write and sing as long as they let me.”
Sue rolled her eyes and laughed as she told me about the teenagers screaming his name. The whole band laughed. Apparently, they know Gord better than legions of screaming girls.
My missing pal Tami showed up, breathless and big-eyed as she entered the room. Drummer Mark Branconnier immediately poured a beer and ordered her to drink up.
She asked if she could gush for just one minute. “I was so excited when Joyce offered me this pass. The first thing I said was ‘Oh my gosh, I get to meet Gord Bamford’. I love your music so much. I’ve been such a fan for a long time.”
Gord smiled and thanked her. He looked at me and said, “Now that’s surreal.” We all shared another laugh, and it felt like hanging out with friends.
We cracked more jokes, shared more stories and waxed sarcastic (totally my kind of people). Drummer Mark said some crazy words about being on the road by 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning.
All part of the business, nobody groaned at the ridiculous hour. Sue sighed and cemented the thought in my mind that she’s cool when she said: “There better be a Timmy’s we can stop at on the way.”
After an hour, photos, hugs and handshakes, Tami and I wandered back out into the rain to watch the rest of Lorrie Morgan’s show.
I couldn’t imagine what it would be like meeting Ms. Morgan or Mark Chesnutt. If they were all as cool and friendly and real as Gord Bamford and his band, I don’t know if there would be a newspaper big enough to gush about it.
But sadly, access was denied, even with the ironic ‘all-access’ pass I was wearing. I was only close enough to Mark Chesnutt to say ‘have a good show’ and get a quick handshake and thank you (along with a dozen other well-wishers). That’s okay for Chesnutt though. He sings enough of my favourite songs to speak to me through his music.
I thought of one thing later that night, as Mick Armitage and his band played on.
Gord Bamford? He’s now my pal, and that’s bumped Chesnutt down a notch or two.
See you next year at Riverside Jam!