Back to the land of dreams

Every performer who tours this vast country from end to end has war stories to share. One of Johnny Reid’s tales of woe involves his first gig in Red Deer six years ago. The Scottish-Canadian country singer recalled, “We pulled up in this wee U-Haul truck we’d rented and here they’d booked us at the Arlington Hotel!”

Johnny Reid comes to Red Deer on Wednesday

Johnny Reid comes to Red Deer on Wednesday

Every performer who tours this vast country from end to end has war stories to share.

One of Johnny Reid’s tales of woe involves his first gig in Red Deer six years ago. The Scottish-Canadian country singer recalled, “We pulled up in this wee U-Haul truck we’d rented and here they’d booked us at the Arlington Hotel!”

The city’s century-old downtown inn made an instant impression on his band. “Holy cow! . . . Everybody looked at me as if to say, ‘Are we staying here?’” said Reid.

The Arlington Inn, which is now closed and slated for demolition, was certainly rustic, from its uneven floors, to its low ceilings and panelled walls.

“You could say it had character . . . I swung open one bedroom door and, I’m not kidding you, there was a calendar on the wall from 1981! I’ll never forget it, it had a horse on it,” said the 34-year-old, chuckling at the memory.

“You call it paying your dues, and I’ve had many years of paying my dues.”

But Reid, who’s since come up in the world (his next Red Deer gig is a Wednesday night concert at the Centrium), can now afford to savour his many successes.

The singer/songwriter was named the Canadian Country Music Association’s 2008 Top Male Artist of the Year and had the top-selling Canadian recording, Kicking Stones.

His newest release, Dance With Me, went gold in just 48 hours earlier this month. In fact, this album and two of Reid’s previous releases held three of the top-five spots on the Canadian country sales charts last week.

Not bad for someone who emigrated to Canada with his family at age 17.

Reid thanked his “tartan army” of fans and admitted, “For the Canadian Country Music Association to name me, someone who wasn’t even born in Canada, as their male vocalist of the year is extremely humbling.”

While Reid spent much of the last decade living in the U.S., where he operates a music production company in Tennessee, he sounds eternally grateful to this country for helping make his dreams happen.

“My mother and father left Scotland for better opportunities for my brother and I. . . . For me to be able to accept a national award and look out at my mom and dad, it just (confirms) that they made a good decision. That’s something I’ll never forget,” he said.

Reid still spends his summers in Ontario with his family because he thinks his children (two of his three sons are American) should know where their mother hails from.

“I tell people Canada’s like a big bowl of confetti, there are all these little pieces of different sizes, shapes and colours, but you throw them up in the air and it looks beautiful,” he said, referring to this country’s multicultural policies, which differ from the melting pot U.S.

“Maybe sometimes ignorance is bliss . . . but with all the different cultures, ethnicities and diversity in the world, to know other people is key, and there’s no better way to know them than when they’re living right next door to you,” Reid added.

As far as his own ethnicity is concerned, the singer admitted he still feels squarely Scottish. He spent all his formative years in Scotland and it was there that he first started writing down words. “My pockets used to be full of these little bits of paper and my Mom used to get after me because she’d put them through the laundry,” he recalled.

“But I kept on writing these wee poems and I guess they were my first songs.”

Dance With Me contains characteristically poignant love songs, based on Reid’s relationship with his wife. It also contains a tribute to someone Reid loved and lost, called My Old Friend.

The singer confessed the tune is about a yellow Lab named Wallace that he first got when he was a student. “He was there when I met my wife and when we got engaged. He was there for all three of our boys” — until the old dog finally got sick last year and a broken-hearted Reid had to take him on a one-way trip to the vet.

“He’s a dear friend of mine. He was my best friend,” said the singer, who had originally wanted to keep Wallace’s identity a secret so the song would have more universal appeal.

He hopes people in need will still obtain comfort from My Old Friend, regardless of who they lost.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Who: Country singer Johnny Reid, with special guests One More Girl

When: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 1

Where: Centrium in Red Deer

Tickets: $39.50 or $29.50 plus service charges from Ticketmaster

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Patient information breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Most Read