When it comes to getting your parents’ blessing for a music career, it helps to keep winning accolades and getting your songs on the radio.
Those are the happy circumstances surrounding Daniel McBurnie and other members of Good for Grapes, the B.C. band that performs on Thursday at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer.
McBurnie was planning to get a practical business degree after graduating from high school in Surrey. Instead, he was diverted in a more creative direction by a weekend busking trip he took to Victoria with his Grade 11 theatre friends.
McBurnie recalled drawing a big crowd as he and his pals “free-styled” music on the ferry across the Juan de Fuca Strait.
The reaction was so amazing, that McBurnie — along with fellow musicians Graham Gomez, Alexa Unwin and Robert Hardie — decided to see where starting a band would get them.
It was pretty far, actually.
Their first Good for Grapes EP and live shows became so popular, the group was asked to open for Mother Mother and Paper Lions. This led to performances at Rifflandia and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and getting featured on YouTube’s Green Couch Sessions.
Good for Grapes also made it through the Vancouver auditions for Canada’s Got Talent, and the band’s catchy Skipping Stones song became the “Check This Out” tune for the local The Peak radio station.
The winning streak culminated in beating dozens of other bands to land the top prize of $102,700 in B.C.’s The Peak Performance Project in 2014.
With so much momentum, the young musicians never had to justify their career choice to their parents or anyone else, said McBurnie, Good for Grapes’ singer and acoustic guitarist. “We’ve been lucky that we’ve had just enough success that other people did the convincing.
“When your songs are put on the radio, it’s perceived that we’re doing pretty well …”
The prize money from the Peak project was used to make a couple of music videos and record the group’s latest album, The Ropes, released a couple of weeks ago.
The new folk-rock tunes, with added country flavour, seem to be going over great with the band’s old followers, and hooking new ones too. “Fans are pretty stoked,” said McBurnie, with the first single, Show Me the Ropes, which is getting played by various radio stations.
The Good for Grapes musicians never had any particular direction in mind when making the recording — “we just did what feels right,” he added. “We used some pedal steel guitar. We weren’t afraid to take that leap. And we were trying some new weird sounds on the electric guitar …”
As the group’s main songwriter, McBurnie had the freedom of going with whatever ideas occurred to him. On this album, the lyrics are relationship-related, with several songs focusing on the choices people make between partnerships and other obligations — “like spending time on the road.”
McBurnie admitted he had a lot to say on that topic. “I’m single right now, so that probably explains a lot!”
He grew up in a family that listened to a lot of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Simon and Garfunkel. Although McBurnie was sidetracked as a teenager into metal and hard rock, “I slowly found my way back to folk music … I liked how human it seems … how authentic its lyrical contents is.”
Although no one else in his family performs professionally, his uncle, in particular, was hugely supportive about his guitar playing. “He bought me my first guitar, and my second — and third!”
McBurnie said he’s really looking forward to appearing again at Bo’s in Red Deer, calling it “one of the funnest places in Canada to play … They’re really pro-artist and really nice to you.”
Tickets for the show are $10 from the venue or www.ticketfly.com. Doors open at 8 p.m.